It’s safe to say that Kingsman: The Golden Circle has been raising plenty of eyebrows since its release. The sequel is already considered to be inferior to the wildly successful and beloved original, and the film has also courted controversy thanks to its particularly unusual sex scene. However, the second Kingsman has also earned the ire of film fans due to the way in which it treats one of its more prominent characters. Beware of spoilers for Kingsman: The Golden Circle from here on out.
"I See A Young [Woman] With Potential."
The character in question is Roxane “Roxy” Morton. Assuredly played by Sophie Cookson, Roxy is Eggsy’s (#TaronEgerton) friend and fellow Kingsman graduate, who is just as capable and cunning as he is.
Indeed, Roxy is introduced fairly early on in The Secret Service, and it’s clear that she is a tough and disciplined young lady. In fact, she becomes a fully-fledged agent well before Eggsy does! But that doesn’t mean that the pair are rivals by any means. Moreover, Roxy’s one of the few characters not to sneer at Eggsy and his background, which helps them to develop a warm and supportive friendship as the film progresses. Sure, since this was Eggsy’s origin story, Roxy was side-lined a tad towards the final act, although she did still provide some crucial assistance against Richmond Valentine(#SamuelLJackson). But what of The Golden Circle?
Well, The Secret Service had laid the groundwork for a really interesting character to develop even further, which meant that anticipation was high for Roxy in the new Kingsman. Would we finally see her fighting skills unleashed for the first time? And how would Roxy's partnership with Eggsy be tested? Unfortunately, any hopes for compelling character interplay between the two were dashed within the first half hour of The Golden Circle.
Roxy Is Massively Let Down By 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle'
As we dive back into the world of dapper secret agents, we (very) briefly see Roxy at one Kingsman briefing before she is seen covertly helping Eggsy in his first meal with Tilde’s (Hanna Alström) parents. And that’s the sum of it, since in her five minutes of screen-time, Roxy is swiftly and unceremoniously killed off by one of Poppy’s (Julianne Moore) missiles. Speaking to Bustle, Eggsy himself had this to say about Roxy's demise:
“I’ve never really discussed with [director Matthew Vaughn] why he made that decision [to kill off Roxy]… but, for my experience, I really missed her being around,”
You're not alone there Taron. Look, we get it. Life’s tough for a spy, and since Poppy’s got to be portrayed as a brutal character it does make sense for all of the Kingsman to be eliminated, save for a select few. But honestly, was Roxy’s death really all that necessary? You might assert that her death was meant to drive Eggsy to seek revenge against Poppy, but this argument doesn’t hold water since she was barely mentioned after her death. It seems most likely that Roxy was eliminated to make room for the new Statesman characters. Unfortunately, Jeff Bridges's role was a cameo at best, and the fact that #ChanningTatum was on ice for the majority of the movie’s run-time means that this was a poor exchange indeed.
This isn’t to suggest that Kingsman should suddenly become "The Roxy Morton Show", but a little more care and attention to her character wouldn’t have gone amiss. Moreover, as awesome as #ColinFirth is, how much focus does Harry Hart receive through the series? The answer is a surprising amount, especially considering that Eggsy is the series’ protagonist.
In fact, there’s no reason why Roxy shouldn’t have survived and joined Eggsy and co. on their escapades. The Kingsman series gained our attention because of its bawdy and playful attitude towards the tropes of the spy movie genre; Harry Hart and Richmond Valentine even discuss them over their dinner! And with that controversial anal sex joke at the end of The Secret Service, it’s clear that the film makers were at least somewhat aware of how women are treated in this very male-centric type of film.
In The Golden Circle, Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) desires a field position, but she's repeatedly denied one until the closing of the film. So, having Roxy take center stage alongside Eggsy would have been a great way to bolster Ginger’s character arc and also comment on the traditions of the spy movie. It would also have been even more amazing to see Roxy storm Poppy’s fortress alongside Eggsy and Harry at the film’s climax. Again, this would have also made perfect narrative sense too.
Indeed, through The Golden Circle it’s clear that Harry has been altered by his brush with death, and he even says that he regrets not forming any emotional attachments. Adding Roxy and a few lines of dialogue here and there would mean that Harry had something to live for. The chance to be a more proactive mentor and friend to the next generation of Kingsman agents — both Roxy and Eggsy — could have given him the kind of solace that Harry had realized he was lacking.
Is There A Future For First-Class Female Characters In Kingsman?
It’s such a shame that Roxy avoids becoming a disposable love interest for the male lead only for her to be booted so quickly from the sequel. In theory, she was ideally placed to deconstruct the idea of the gentleman spy, and readily able to become a cool and competent character to cheer on. Maybe we were expecting too much, considering that Hollywood’s sexism is ever pervasive both behind and in front of the camera, but it’s nevertheless disappointing that Kingsman — a series that famously wrangles with convention — has become all-too conventional with its treatment of female characters. Again, this isn't shoehorning the issue of representation into Kingsman since, as Taron Egerton points out, it's already part of the franchise's makeup:
“...the theme of the first film is in fact that Roxy and Eggsy are two people from the new breed to make it… less dominated by old white guys...[they are there to show how] the world of Kingsman is changing."
In light of this and the current climate, taking Roxy out of the equation just as the tide is turning for women in popular cinema really feels like a regressive move. Therefore, we can only hope that Princess Tilde is given a little bit more to do in the upcoming Kingsman 3 so that the ladies of the series might play a more prominent role once again.
Heck, in light of Harry Hart’s return, the fact that “no one dies in the Kingsman universe” could mean Roxy is even due a resurrection of sorts... although it’s highly doubtful that this will occur for a third time in the series. To this writer, Kingsman has squandered even more of its questionable gender politics and it seems that Roxy will end up as yet another female character that’s relegated to the footnotes of a fan-favorite franchise.
How did you feel about Roxy's death? Head to the comments and let us know!