Spoiler alert! The following post discusses the ending of “The King’s Man,” so beware if you haven’t seen it yet.
“The King’s Man” rounds up some of history’s biggest villains and sets the stage to tackle the rise of the worst of them all. And given the time period, you cannot say you did Nazi it coming.
Director Matthew Vaughn’s period film (in theaters now) is the third entry in his “Kingsman” spy franchise and a prequel that digs into real history of the origins of the fictional British secret-agent organization. A cabal of evil tyrants and masterminds including Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) and Mata Hari (Valerie Pachner), led by a mysterious figure known as the Shepherd (Matthew Goode), helps ignite World War I and schemes to destroy England, and Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) rounds up a crew to take them down and make sure America enters the war, ultimately winning the day for the good guys.
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Afterward, Orlando founds the Kingsman organization as modern knights of the roundtable (he even takes the code name “Arthur”). But villainy is still afoot, as Austrian astrologer Jan Erik Hanussen (Daniel Brühl) picks up the pieces of the Shepherd’s Flock and a shadowy “Moustached Man” (David Kross) is seen at the abdication of German’s Kaiser Wilhelm II (Tom Hollander) and also at a photo shoot where he assassinates Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II (also Hollander) and family.
The man’s infamous identity is confirmed in a mid-credits scene where Hanussen meets up with Vladimir Lenin (August Diehl). “Now it’s time to address the balance of my new flock,” Hanussen says. “Thanks to you, comrade, our left hand is strong but as you once said, our right hand needs strengthening.”
There’s a knock at the door as the Moustached Man arrives. “This young man will come to rival your position in this world, my friend,” Hanussen says to Lenin.
“It is an honor, Comrade Lenin,” the mystery man says. “And your name?” Lenin asks, leading to the goosebump-inducing response: “Adolf Hitler.”
It’s a setup for a possible next “Kingsman” prequel tackling World War II. “What I’m intrigued about is we thought these villains (in ‘The King’s Man’) are bad. I’m like, you’ve got Hitler, you’ve got Stalin. Stalin is a pretty (expletive) bad dude, what he did. I mean, he was terrible,” Vaughn tells USA TODAY.
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The next movie would feature “the rise of Hitler. It’s like, how did this man come to power?” says the filmmaker, who reminds that the Nazi leader was Time’s Man of the Year in 1938. “There was a moment where everyone was saying about how good Hitler was and how clever he was and how he rebuilt Germany and all this (stuff). Now for me, that’s a story of Kingsman being anti-Hitler, knowing that this isn’t making sense and seeing it and getting shot down.”
(Editor’s note: Time’s selection of Hitler was not an honor, and the magazine described him at the time as “the greatest threatening force that the democratic, freedom-loving world faces today.”)
Vaughn adds that it’s “pertinent” story to put on screen “because there are certain dictators we have in the world right now who are seeming to assail but no one’s stopping them at the moment.”
Next up, however, is a return to present-day Kingsman, with a third film starring Taron Egerton that Vaughn hopes to start filming “mid-summer to September.” And when it comes to more prequels, “time will tell. I need people to watch (‘King’s Man’). Go watch this and more will come.”