Directed by Matthew Vaughn and loosely based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, the film proved a box office smash, raking in $414.4 million off the back of a modest $80 million budget.
As such, it came as no surprise when 20th Century Fox announced that a sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, was in the works for a 2017 release date. Arriving on 22 September, the follow-up – which continues the story of delinquent turned secret agent Eggsy – looks set to be even bigger than its predecessor.
Given the anticipation surrounding the Golden Circle, there’s no better time to revisit the original entry in the Kingsman franchise. This is especially the case as – despite its enthusiastically over-the-top style – the movie is actually layered with plenty of easy to overlook details.
To make life easier for you, we’ve used our own espionage and infiltration skills to compile this list of 15 Things You Completely Missed In Kingsman: The Secret Service. So read on, and remember: Manners Maketh Man!
15 The Nightclub Target’s Name Is A Clue
In literary terms, a “red herring” refers to a plot device designed to throw the protagonist – and readers – off the scent off the true culprit.
Unsurprisingly for a group of well-educated, aristocratic spies, it appears the Kingsman – or at the very least, Merlin – are aware of this term, if the recruits’ nightclub mission is anything to go by.
This is evidenced by the mission target’s last name, which is – you guessed it – “Herring”.
By including this small detail, Merlin is giving the rookies – and more astute viewers – a clue that they are being mislead as to the true purpose of the mission.
So when the recruits are later drugged and subjected to terrifying test of loyalty, it’s fair to say that they really should have seen it coming!
14 Eggsy Breaks All Of The Kingsman’s Rules
Admittedly, this entry is easier to spot if you’re familiar with the Kingsman tie-in website, but it’s still there in the film itself: Eggsy fails to follow any of the Kingsman’s rules of conduct!
As mentioned briefly by Harry when upbraiding his protege over his behaviour, the rules – officially labelled “The Gentleman’s Guide” – outline how a Kingsman operative should conduct themselves.
There are six core principles in the Guide, only a few of which are explicitly mentioned by Harry. These range from keeping one’s own business private through to ignoring the rudeness of others.
Rough diamond that he is, Eggsy manages to break – or at best, strenuously stress-test – the entire half-dozen throughout the film's run. At least by the movie’s end, he appears to have the sartorial side of things down pat!
13 All Of The Kingsman Codenames Have Deeper Meanings
Part of the Kingsman initiation process is being bestowed a codename taken from Arthurian legend (hardly surprising, considering the espionage service’s name).
What you might not have realized is that each of these covert handles is laden with a deeper meaning.
In the case of some characters, their codename reflects their personal qualities.
For instance, Sir Galahad was the purest of the Knights of the Round Table – making the noble Harry (and eventual inheritor Eggsy) a good fit for this mantle.
Then there’s Roxy, who masters her fears as a recruit in order to become worthy of the title “Lancelot”, in honor of the bravest of King Arthur’s allies.
In other instances, the rationale behind the codenames is rather less romantic.
Take former Kingsman top dog Arthur: given that he was exposed as a traitor, he hardly embodies the virtues associated with the ruler of Camelot. Instead, the “Arthur” nom de guerre is an allusion to two things: his role as the head of the organization, and his real name – Chester King!
12 Mark Hamill Was Cast As A Shout Out To The Comics
As touched upon already, Kingsman: The Secret Service only really follows the broad strokes of its comic book inspiration.
One plot point from the comics that didn’t make the jump to the big screen involves Valentine kidnapping his favorite celebrities, keeping them safe from his scheme to induce global mass murder.
Whilst Vaughn and co-screenwriter Jane Goldman tried to work numerous celebrity cameos into the script, they ultimately scrapped the idea, opting to feature fictionalized high profile figures instead.
Even so, Vaughn still wanted to include a small wink to fans of the source material, which is why Mark Hamill was cast as abductee Professor James Arnold. Not only is this a nod to Hamill’s appearance as himself in the comics, but it also acknowledges Valentine’s original moniker, as the nogoodnik went by James Arnold in the comic.
11 Valentine’s Lisp Is A Tip Of The Hat To Bond Villains
It’s no secret that Kingsman owes a sizeable debt to the James Bond franchise, which makes sense, given that without 007’s cinematic legacy to riff on, this film couldn’t exist.
Eggsy’s first outing homages the Bond films in many ways, but the connection between the two is made plain in the interactions between Harry and Valentine.
Here, the two characters express their fondness for classic films in the series with their flamboyant villains – and ribbing the more recent movies for becoming too self-serious.
It’s therefore no coincidence that Valentine – himself a scenery-chewing bad guy – shares at least one trait with the villains he so admires. He has a physical foible; in this case, a lisp.
Now, it has to be said that Valentine’s speech impediment was an invention by Samuel L. Jackson – as scripted, the evil genius had perfect diction. However, once Jackson began playing the role with a lisp (he joked it caused Valentine to break bad in the first place), Vaughn went along with it, likely aware of the additional Bond tie-in it created.
10 The Safe Zone Coordinates Are Totally Bogus
Now this one really is next to impossible to get whilst you’re watching the film – unless you have an uncommon (and scarily specific) knowledge of global coordinates, that is!
During the finale to Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eggsy, Roxy and Merlin trace coordinates Valentine supplied Arthur to a safe zone bunker in a Siberian mountain range.
If that sounds impressive, you’ll be disappointed to discover that entering those same digits into a real-life GPS will instead direct you to a boring ol’ empty field in Russia - minus the mountain.
Another downer – at least for those travelling through Southern England and hankering for a Big Mac – is that despite what one of Eggsy’s fellow recruits may think, there’s no McDonald’s at the Winchester Services!
Obviously, neither of these reality-based quibbles detract in any way from the film – within the fictional confines of the story, both the safe zone and the McDonald’s locations are correct.
Even so, it’s interesting to see what settings the filmmakers invented, particularly when several real-life locales actually do feature in the movie (more on that later).
9 The Kingsman Actually Have A Hit-And-Miss Track Record
Based off a quick glance at the tabloid front pages plastered all over Harry’s office wall, you’d think the Kingsman rarely botched a mission.
After all, each of these sheets of paper is meant to commemorate an occasion when Harry successfully saved the day, averting a catastrophic headline in the process.
But consider this: the outfit was formed in 1919 in the wake of the First World War, in order to prevent similarly devastating events from ever happening again. So why have so many happened anyway?
When you factor in World War II (not to mention the many other major conflicts that followed) as well as the rise of global terrorism, the Kingsmen’s track record starts to look pretty patchy, indeed!
Sure, nitpicking like this sucks the fun out of the film’s escapist charm – and who’s to say that in their universe, the Kingsmen didn’t avert at least some of these calamities? But based on what we know, these guys kinda suck at achieving their stated goal.
8 The Love Actually Easter Egg
If you want a good example of just how much Colin Firth was really cast against type, consider that one of the actor’s most beloved roles is as heartsick writer Jamie in Love Actually.
Interestingly though, that’s not the only thing the two otherwise polar-opposite films have in common.
See, it turns out Harry’s house in Kingsman: The Secret Service is located on a street that plays a prominent part in one of Love Actually’s most iconic scenes.
You know that moment when The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln rocks up on Keira Knightley’s doorstep with a boom box and a stack of handwritten signs to confess his love for her?
Well, guess what? That was shot a few doors down from Galahad’s bachelor pad!
7 Arthur Slips Into a Cockney Accent At One Point
A major theme in Kingsman: The Secret Service relates to the social divide between working-class plebs and upper-crust snobs – and nobody epitomizes this snobbery better than Arthur!
The leader of the Kingsman strongly believes that all of the organization’s secret agents should come from the upper echelons of society. It’s what makes his ultimate defection to Valentine’s cause – which involves preserving only the world’s elite citizens – so easy to believe.
One assumes that Arthur was born with a silver spoon given his prejudices and refined intonation, but interestingly, when he dies after failing to poison Eggsy, he actually affects a cockney accent!
Now, could this be the case of actor – and the world’s most famous cockney – Sir Michael Caine unintentionally breaking character during a physically demanding scene? Sure.
But could it also be a hint that the Kingsman’s biggest prig had been concealing a far more modest upbringing?
6 Every Action Scene Is Centrally Framed
The action sequences in Kingsman: The Secret Service are distinctive from those of other spy movies – heck, from other action movies, in general! – for a couple of reasons.
The first is the ultra-fluid choreography, which – when married with the almost staccato effect applied to the hyper-violent footage – results in a bravura mash-up of video game and fever dream aesthetics.
The second is how the action itself is framed. Vaughn and cinematographer George Richmond have made the unusual creative choice to capture all the carnage within the dead-centre of the lens.
This means that the viewer’s gaze (and therefore, their focus) is always entirely on the fight at hand – drawing them into the action, and further contributing to the aforementioned fluidity.
5 Colin Firth Did 80% Of His Stunts
The fact that Colin Firth performed the lion’s share of his own stunt work is arguably less something you might have missed, and more something you likely wouldn’t have believed.
Between the Oscar-winning actor’s reserved British demeanor and age – he was 53 when filming commenced – viewers could be forgiven for assuming a stunt performer handled most of the action.
But not so, if Kingsman’s stunt coordinator Brad Allan is to be believed. Allan has gone on record as saying that Firth completed 80% of the vigorous fight routines Harry Hart engages in.
In order to get in shape for the role, the actor hit the gym for six months prior to the shoot. Closer to filming, he also undertook several hours of intensive stunt-specific training every day.
This hard work ultimately paid off, as Firth – typically known for playing more genteel types – is utterly convincing as a killing machine - most notably in the church massacre scene, which took a week to complete!
4 You Can Visit The Kingsman Tailor Shop In Real Life
In a nice bit of secret agent synergy, the front for the Kingsman’s base of operations is the same tailor shop where the spies’ bespoke (and bulletproof!) suits are made.
What fans of Kingsman: The Secret Service based outside of London might not know, however, is that you can actually visit this store in real life!
While the sign in the window reads “Huntsman” – and the actual interior is somewhat different to what is depicted in the film – if you turn up at 11 Saville Row in Mayfair, you’ll still be met by a very familiar sight.
The overlap between Huntsman and its made-up counterpart goes even further – the Creative Director of the former has cameo in the film. The sartorial accuracy doesn’t stop here, either. The hat shop that Harry mentions, Lock & Co. Hatters, also exists, and again, the address provided is legit!
3 The Skydiving Scenes Were Shot (Mostly) For Real
Another entry that falls in the “you probably didn’t believe what you saw” camp, it’s worth pointing out that, in an era of largely digital set pieces, the skydiving sequence was done mostly for real.
Yes, some of the footage featured in the finished film was the product of visual effects wizardry. However, most of what you see onscreen really did take place in the air, courtesy of the Red Bull skydiving team.
Surprisingly, these aerial hijinks were overshadowed in the danger department by another, land-based scene – the moment when Merlin floods the recruits’ dorm.
According to Vaughn, a computer glitch related to how much water the tanks were supposed to release resulted in the entire set rapidly filling with far too much H20! Fortunately, none of the cast or crew members were hurt, but for an idea of just how close this came to disaster, pay attention to the actors’ genuinely alarmed expressions, which were captured on film!
2 The Trading Places Reference Pays Off Later
When veteran Kingsman agent Harry Hart is initiating Eggsy into the covert organization, the conversation turns to classic movies that reflect their current situation.
Whilst the young rookie catches his mentor off-guard thanks to his familiarity with My Fair Lady, he proves ignorant of other retro flicks such as Pretty Woman, Nikita, and Trading Places.
Aside from being a funny exchange – which also reinforces Eggsy’s hidden depths as a character – this scene also sets up a moment later in the film.
After Eggsy suits up in full Kingsman attire, fellow agent Merlin compliments him on “looking good.” His reply – “feeling good” – references similar dialogue from Trading Places.
This suggests that the junior agent managed to find the time to get up to speed on the Eddie Murphy/Dan Ackroyd classic – which is fitting, given how he grows to respect Harry.
1 Harry’s Alias Is A Nod To The Director’s Real Name
In an attempt to uncover Richmond Valentine’s villainous plot, Harry poses as a mega-rich property tycoon to draw the baddie’s attention.
The ploy works, and the Kingsman agent soon finds himself invited to dinner with Valentine, who is equally interested to learn more about his guest’s true motives.
Given the tense nature of the scene – despite the polite conversation, both men are simultaneously probing for answers and issuing tacit threats – it’s easy to miss the alias Harry provides to Valentine.
Those of you who did pick-up on Harry’s choice of pseudonym, “Mr De Vere”, will probably have enjoyed a mild chuckle – provided you’re a big Matthew Vaughn fan, at least!
That’s because Harry’s assumed identity is actually a shout out to the director’s real name, Matthew Allard de Vere Drummond, something devotees of the Layer Cake auteur are surely aware of.
What other things in Kingsman do people completely miss? Let us know in the comments!