Kingsman: The Secret Service panel at MCM London Comic Con

Kingsman panel (Ibrahim) (3)

If you’re not excited for Kingsman: The Secret Service yet, you must have simply missed the memo, because this film promises to be amazing. Based on the comics by Mark Miller and Dave Gibbons, who also wrote Kick-Ass, and directed by Matthew Vaughn, best known for directing films such Kick-Ass (2010), and X-Men: First Class (2011), it’s a combination of talent that should hit cinemas with a bang.

Colin Firth depicts a veteran secret agent who recruits an unrefined street kid with serious potential into the Kingsman training programme. Taron Egerton, staring as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, is thrown into this ultra-competitive and perilous new world ‘just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius,’ the official synopsis reads. The film will also star Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong and Michael Caine.

Kingsman Panel (Ibrahim) (2)At MCM London Comic Con, Mark Miller and Dave Gibbons took to the stage to tell us about their writing process and how the story began. Miller explained that during filming Kick-Ass “there was loads of times were people were hurt and we had to go away to the pub, where we ended up talking about how disappointing Bond is now and how sad it was that spies now cry in showers. [Kingsman] came from just a chat in the pub! We were saying ‘wouldn’t it be funny if James Bond goes over the edge of the cliff, his parachute doesn’t open until his body’s smashed on the ground,’ just wee little silly spy ideas like that.”

There’s a lot of Bond inspiration channelling through this story, from gadgets to style to sipping Scotch, but Kingsman presents a spin on the Bondian action through its two main characters. Eggsy is set to rebel against his mentor’s silver spoon upbringing, introducing a clash of classes. It’s an interesting facet to see someone contradict the ‘gentlemanly’ codes that are ingrained in spy characters like Bond.

It’s also exciting to see Gazelle (played by Sofia Boutella), a character amputated-to-the-knees, playing a brutal and imaginative role. Blades are attached to her prosthetic flex-feet and wielded with deadly results, making her pretty darn awesome already.

The trailers set up the struggles to come for Eggsy and his upper class mentor, Harry Hart, in just a few sentences as Harry says to Eggsy in his well-spoken accent, “Huge IQ, great performance at school, but you gave up. Drugs, petty crimes, never had a job, set you on a certain path. But you needn’t stay on it. The Kingsman agents are the new knights.” Despite their differences, Harry believes in Eggsy and convinces the ruffian to “embark on the most dangerous job interview in the world,” which involves being tied to train tracks, sky-diving without a parachute, and being half-drowned in bed.

media_kingsmen_20140521During the panel, Miller and Gibbons discussed how different Colin’s Firth character looks to the comics, describing him as ‘like the brother’ to his comic book counterpart—the character even has different names; Jack London in the comics and Harry Hart in the film. Gibbons said, “When you’re drawing a comic it’s often quite a good idea to cast it in your head, and Jason Isaac’s kind of had the look that I thought suited the spy in the story. In other words, he looked like he’d been in the army, he looked like he’d been in a few fist fights, and his nose was a bit of joint, brow was a bit heavy. Having said that, in the movie, to see Colin Firth as immaculately, well dressed, good looking man that he is, I think he’s just fantastic. It would have made my job a lot easier if I’d known Colin Firth was going to be Jack London when I started drawing it, because there’s a wealth of Colin Firth references about and I could have got it spot on!”

Miller emphasised that a big for thing for the two of them as writers was that spy movies had to be funny with cool gadgets and great one-liners when they killed a guy. “Now a spy is a guy who cries in the shower after he’s killed someone,” Miller said, “and I think it’s been a generation since we’ve seen this kind of [comedic] spy movie. We play it so uncool that I think it’s now kind of cool! We’ve seen the serious spy so much.”

When asked if they had a list of cool, kill-one-liners taped to the fridge just in case, Gibbons replied with a hearty laugh, “I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I think mine would be ‘oops.’” Miller added, “James Bond must write his down. Before he goes on a mission, he’ll think up really funny stuff and note it down, then luckily, if he kills a guy in an electric chair, say, he can say, ‘shocking,’ or something.”

Unable to stop chuckling by this point, host Chris Hewitt asked about their work ethic and working relationship. “Well, we share a bed,” said Miller. “My wife’s in the audience!” Gibbons replied.

Vaughn turned down the directing job on X-Men: Days of Future Past to make Kingsman: The Secret Service, working once again with screenwriter Jane Goldman who co-wrote Kick-Ass. The training school, dramatic action, and teenagers with great potential does look to be reminiscent of Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, but its added flare of espionage sets the table for something that feels unique.

Kingsman Panel (Ibrahim)During the MCM London Comic Con panel, Miller described the film as, “like Pretty Women for boys. Pretty Woman meets James Bond.” He went on to admit that the main character’s name was based on a boy in his school who was quite terrifying and “just seemed to exist for violence.” This boy was called “Eggsy” because he’d never tasted an egg—claiming “it came from a chicken’s arse!” Miller said, “This guy was fascinating, so he ended up as the lead in this story. A chavy guy who was trained to be James Bond, and we thought that was quite an interesting twist.”

The origins of Kingsman: The Secret Service poured fourth after that as Miller explained that the real concept for it came from “back in 2005, The Guardian had a thing in the supplement talking about the origins of James Bond, which was that Sean Connery was quite a rough and ready Scottish guy who was trained up by the director, Terrence Young, to be a gentleman. He took him to the Ritz and gave all these books to read and did a transformation of him, and I thought that’s quite an interesting journey for a character.”

For more from Mark Miller and Dave Gibbons, check out our interview with them backstage, as we ask them about the story’s theme of class divide, their working relationship with Jane Goldman, what they liked particularly about the film and the spy gadgets they’d like to own for themselves.

Kingsman: The Secret Service has everything going for it; great themes, a surprising and talented cast, and a production team that has proven it can put out brilliant films!

Kingsman: The Secret Service is scheduled for release in the UK in January 2015.


Photos by Kay Ibrahim

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