Kingsman: The Golden Circle director/co-writer Matthew Vaughn has explained why the sequel originally included references to Donald Trump that he ultimately chose to omit. The Golden Circle is the follow-up to Kingsman: The Secret Service, which took the world by storm in 2015, grossing more than $ 414 million worldwide and garnering largely favorable reviews from critics as well (74% on Rotten Tomatoes). While the reviews of Kingsman: The Golden Circle are more negative than positive (49% on Rotten Tomatoes), it still remains a hit among audiences worldwide, raking in $97.7 million worldwide, in its opening weekend.
The Kingsman franchise is a satire and in many ways a throwback to classic James Bond films, with Vaughn's filmmaking sensibilities guiding the way. Both the filmmaker and the Kingsman franchise are no strangers to controversy; from including an unsubtle reference to anal sex in the first Kingsman movie (and blowing up the heads of several recognizable world leaders, including - seemingly - U.S. President Barack Obama) to staging the now-infamous "Glastonbury scene" in The Golden Circle, Vaughn continues to cross lines. However, one line that Vaughn wasn't willing to cross with The Golden Circle involved making reference to Donald Trump.
In an early draft of The Golden Circle script, the villain Poppy (Julianne Moore) expressed her interest in hosting The Apprentice - which was Trump's own reality TV show for quite a long time. Speaking to EW, Vaughn explained why that Trump reference (among others) were eventually dropped from the film:
In the edit, we toned down some stuff. We actually took out the Apprentice line because we felt it was too close to the bone. I think America’s going through a pretty interesting and rough ride at the moment and I wanted this movie to be escapism. And that means not suddenly have half the audience going, ‘That’s not cool, that’s not funny!’ as the other half is cheering.
The mention of half cheering half not, speaks volumes of Trump's polarizing run as the President of the United States, thus far. Vaughn may have a point, though. Regardless of which side of the camp you choose to sit in, Trump's run as president has affected the lives of many. Blockbuster cinema has always been a great form of escapism; a chance for people to not think about real-world problems for two hours, which is exactly what the Kingsman franchise is. A mention of Trump could've been a major downer for those who do not celebrate his presidency.
Vaughn revealed to EW that the 2016 U.S. presidential election (which was ongoing when The Golden Circle was filming) was nearly referenced in another way in the Kingsman sequel:
We were building a White House Oval Office in the style of Trump Tower. We were making it in all gold and blinging it up. This was in May of 2016 and then I had an inkling. I remember saying to my American production designer, ‘Trump might win, you know? Would this be as funny if Trump won?’ And he was like, ‘Trump will never win.’ And I said, ‘You know what, I have a weird feeling he might. So let’s build a normal Oval Office and scrap the Trump version.’ I think my instinct was right. If you go too far — if movies get political when they’re meant to be fun — then it weighs everything down a bit too much.
It is true, in the early months of 2016, many were confident that a billionaire, reality TV host with zero political background, stood no chance in actually becoming the President of the United States; a few months later, the narrative flipped on its head, Game of Thrones style. As for whether or not there is a place for political commentary in a franchise where super spies use umbrellas as shields and people's head explode like fireworks on the 4th of July - as far as Vaughn is concerned, it appears there is not.
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) release date: Sep 22, 2017