Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman prequel The King's Man takes place against the backdrop of WWI, primarily from 1914-1916. Announced in 2018 under the title Kingsman: The Great Game, The King's Man is a somewhat confusingly named film that reveals how the Kingsman secret intelligence agency came to be. Kingsman 1 & 2 helmsman Matthew Vaughn is once again directing the movie from a script that he cowrote with his writing partner, Jane Goldman. Of course, since the prequel takes place in the early 20th century, Taron Egerton and Colin Firth won't be returning as Eggsy and Harry.
Harris Dickinson (Trust) stars in The King's Man as Conrad, a young soldier who's fighting in WWI when he's recruited by Ralph Fiennes' character to become a member of the newly-formed Kingsman organization. The synopsis indicates that WWI was the result of a conspiracy plotted by "history's worst tyrants and criminal masterminds" in the movie, which is also what led to the Kingsman's creation to begin with. One of those tyrants even shows up in the teaser trailer, in the form of the infamous Russian "holy man", Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans).
Judging by the trailer, it looks like Rasputin will serve as The King's Man's central villain. That means the film should end around 1916, which is when Rasputin was assassinated in real-life. And speaking of assassinations: the teaser also shows the violent killing of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand at around 1:15. Since Ferdinand's death was the event that triggered the start of WWI, this suggests that the bulk of The King's Man will take place during the war's first half (from 1914-1916).
While it's possible that The King's Man will includes scenes set both before and after this period, the film at large is shaping up to be a fictionalized take on the initial world war. As a result, Vaughn's prequel should end up looking and feeling pretty different from the first two Kingsman movies. In addition to being set in the present-day, those films were very much cheeky riffs on the James Bond franchise (more specifically, the pre-Daniel Craig era). By comparison, The King's Man is expected to hew closer to something like Wonder Woman in the way that it combines stylized comic book movie action with grittier trench warfare.
It's definitely a good thing that Vaughn is mixing things up with his latest Kingsman movie, too. The filmmaker is already planning to begin shooting Kingsman 3 either later this year or in early 2020, which means it could hit theaters within twelve months (or so) of The King's Man. In other words: by the time that Kingsman 3 arrives, it will be the fourth Kingsman film released in potentially as little as six years. There a risk that audiences will start to feel burnt-out on the franchise before then, so it's a smart move on Vaughn's part to take some extra steps to keep things fresh.
- The King's Man (2020) release date: Feb 14, 2020