A fresh take on the spy genre that mixes classic Bond-like tropes of style and sophistication with a streetwise edge and uncouth humor, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kingsman: The Golden Circle became hit films that launched a franchise. Secret Service followed street kid Eggsy, as dapper Harry Hart (codename: Agent Galahad) sees potential in him and recruits him for the secret spy organization Kingsman.
Through the trials of both training and stopping a real-life threat against the population by a villain, Eggsy becomes a certified Kingsman agent. In The Golden Circle, another enemy emerges to threaten the world, only he has to stop her without the help of his fellow British agents. Desperate for help, he travels to Kingsman’s allies in America, who will be as helpful as they are a hindrance. Here are five things that changed between the two films in this popular franchise, and five things that stayed the same.
10 Changed: Charlie Becomes A Cyborg
When Eggsy first encountered Charlie Hesketh, he was a stuff-shirted swell who thought he was all but guaranteed a place in Kingsman. While he made it to the final round of three contenders, he lost his placement when he was willing to give up vital Kingsman intelligence in order to save his own life during a training exercise.
At the conclusion of Secret Service, it was thought Charlie blew up along with his silver spoon parents who were at Valentine’s stronghold. However, Charlie survived for The Golden Circle and vowed revenge against Eggsy and Kingsman. To that end, he became an agent of the nefarious Poppy, who had portions of him rebuilt with advanced cybernetics.
9 The Same: Merlin Remains The "Q"
As talented and skilled as the agents of Kingsman are, they’re only as good as their chief technical officers and handlers. Merlin, played by Mark Strong, is once again the “Q” to Kingsman in the sequel, with an even more impressive arsenal of the latest in technological advancements.
This time around, Merlin gets to be much more involved in the Kingsman missions, even going into the field with agents Galahad and Galahad when they prepare to storm Poppy’s compound. He proves he’s the epitome of Kingsman material in action, putting the lessons he mentored Eggsy with to the ultimate test.
8 Changed: Kingsman Is Wiped Out
After Charlie attacks Eggsy, his cybernetic arm is dislodged and left in the back of Eggsy’s Kingsman car when it reaches its final destination. We then learn that the arm can be remote controlled, and soon it’s using its fingers to hack into the files of all the current agents of Kingsman.
It transmits the intelligence it gathers directly back to Poppy Adams who, from her remote compound, targets every agent on the list with an explosive device. In one swift stroke, Kingsman is brought to its knees, with Eggsy and Merlin the only survivors of the attack.
7 The Same: The Fashion Is Still Stellar
As was the case with the first Kingsman film, fashion reigns supreme in The Golden Circle (the Kingsman name is derived from the tailors of the most influential men in England, after all). Agent Galahad spent a great deal of time making over streetwise Eggsy into a proper gentleman, describing a Kingsman’s suit as his modern day “suit of armor.”
When Eggsy and Merlin encounter their American counterparts, fashion still comes first, even if that fashion involves cowboy boots and hats. Each agent in the U.S. has their own distinctive fashion statement to make, from Jeff Bridges’ Champ with his Colonel Sanders vibe to Tequila with his rodeo gimmick.
6 Changed: They Have American Counterparts
After Kingsman is officially destroyed when Poppy Adams launches her missile attack on every agent in the field, Eggsy and Merlin are the only remaining members. They activate the “Doomsday” protocol, which uncovers only a bottle of whiskey in a safe. Mourning the loss of their friends, they finish the bottle in commiseration.
They discover on the bottom of the bottle an address for an American counterpart for Kingsman in Kentucky. Upon arrival, they learn this faction is called Statesman, and that their agents --though a little more hot-tempered than their British brethren-- are useful allies to have considering the state of their organization.
5 The Same: Agents Still Have Themed Code Names
One of the best parts about the spy movie genre is the code names. Every good spy has an equally good codename and Secret Service was no different. It introduced the Kingsman agents being referred to as the Knights of the Round Table, with their leader being named Arthur and his agents being named Lancelot, Galahad, Gawain, etc.
The code names for Statesman in The Golden Circle, Kingsman’s American counterparts, are equally appropriate and clever. Since Statesman’s headquarters are located in a distillery, their names are all different types of alcohol, Champagne (Champ), Whiskey, and Tequila (their “Q” is named Ginger Ale, who presumably would get a spirit-based name upon promotion to field agent).
4 Changed: Galahad Becomes Kingsman's Default Leader
At the beginning of The Golden Circle, Eggsy looks every bit the part of a Kingsman, and is a full-fledged field agent complete with dapper suit and spectacles. However, after he has a run in with a disgraced Kingsman hopeful, Charlie, he discovers Charlie has hacked the Kingsman database for his new boss, Poppy Adams.
She launches a missile strike to the address of every known Kingsman agent, resulting in every single one of them getting blown up. This leaves Eggsy as a de facto leader of sorts, the last surviving Kingsman agent, accompanied by his handler Merlin, who helps him pick up the pieces and move on.
3 The Same: They Both Feature Absurd Fight Sequences
As in Secret Service, The Golden Circle is characterized by some of the most impressively choreographed fight sequences in cinema today. Not only are they incredibly complex in nature, but they’re also edited using a lot of long shots instead of quick cuts, which adds realism to them despite how over the top their action is.
The Golden Circle may even expand on this more than in the first film, with more enemies added to the large dance-like action sequences. Like the John Wick franchise, these films have become known for the outlandish but elegant style of their combat. In both films, a memorable bar fight begins with Galahad calmly explaining, “Manners maketh man” before teaching some thugs a lesson.
2 Changed: Harry Has Lost His Memories
When last we saw Harry Hart, aka Kingsman agent Galahad, he’d been shot in the head by evil mastermind Valentine in Secret Service and left for dead. Eggsy mourned the loss of his mentor and tried to move on, unaware that Galahad had been taken in by the American version of Kingsman and nursed back to health.
The only problem is that Harry couldn’t remember anything about being a Kingsman agent, and it took Eggsy and Merlin a long time to figure out how to jog his memory. He spent half the film confused, and the rest slightly more competent, but still not back to his full capacity.
1 The Same: They Both Feature Outrageous Villains
In Secret Service, Samuel L Jackson gave us the deceptively dangerous Valentine, a cunning entrepreneur with a devious world-threatening masterplan and a pronounced lisp. In the same outlandish vein, Julianne Moore is no budding buttercup as Poppy Adams in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
A ruthless kingpin obsessed with retro decor, her only desire it to legalize the drug trade so that her business can make the most money. Half June Cleaver, half Bond villain, Moore is a babbling brook of positivity with a penchant for throwing those that disrupt that positivity into the meat grinder. She also has robot attack dogs, and keeps Elton John imprisoned to personally perform shows for her.