For years, we had Bond. The ultimate gentleman spy, Mr-Shaken-Not-Stirred (which, incidentally, is a horrible way to drink a gin martini, but works fairly well for vodka), James is known for his charm, his women, and his gadgets. There were imitations, there were pale shadows of this super-spy, but 007 was always number one.
Then, in 2009, a very different kind of spy came to our (small) screens. Sterling Archer, world famous secret agent (or just agent, because if you tell everyone, it really damages the "secret" part). Despite his general incompetence and serious drinking problem (or maybe because of those things), Archer became a huge fan favorite, and is coming into his 6th season.
Now this February, Kingsman: The Secret Service will introduce us to the new spy on the block. Gary Unwin, aka Eggsy, is a gentleman spy in the making, but with a long way to go. So how does this newcomer stack up against my two favorite operatives when it comes to all things spy?
Round One: Gadgets
Bond: Not only does Bond have the gadgets, he actually has an entire department complete with the gadget-master, Q. Since the 60s, Bond has gone out on his missions with everything from pens to belts to toothpaste all hiding weaponry. It's got to the point where his enemies can't leave him with a single cotton fibre, or it will turn out to be a bomb/homing beacon. 5/5
Archer: While he has a few fun things up his sleeves, Archer is much more the kind of guy to stick with guns, guns and more guns. (Occasionally pen guns, which count.) He does enjoy his cars to be stuffed to the brim with fancy electronic extras, though, and has a much wider range at his disposal should he choose to use it (and if Kreiger is feeling generous). 3/5
Eggsy: He may not have Q, but I'm sure that Q's brother R is hanging out behind the secret service scenes. Grenade lighters, poison shoes, the ultimate umbrella and more that I will reserve for the sake of spoilers. Now, can we see him and Bond in a gadget-off? 4/5
Round 2: Cars
Bond: Definitely the classiest of the three, with his Aston Martins and champagne in the glove box. Classic, powerful, and with gadgets to spare. Very, very nice. 4/5
Archer: American through and through, Sterling prefers his cars big, bad, and all muscle. Not that I blame him (there's nothing like a 69 Impala). Of course, he also likes his cars with a well-stocked bar in them, so they don't often last long. Ooops. 3/5
Eggsy: Despite his talents at stealing cars and driving very fast, our newest spy falls down in this round. Despite some very cool toys to drive, Gary doesn't have one of his own, or one that looks anywhere near as cool as an Aston Martin or a Dodge Challenger. 2/5
Round Three: Intelligence
Bond: There is no doubt that Mr Bond is incredibly smart, but he does have a serious blindspot when it comes to pretty girls. He's incredibly well-trained, but he's also incredibly obedient, and (despite some recent character development to suggest otherwise) very much the arm of the British Empire. 3/5
Archer: There's no doubt that his love of the hard stuff has something to do with his limited brain capacity, and he was never going to win this round. He's something of an Amelia Bedelia of the spy world, constantly screwing things up but somehow coming out alright in the end. Results aside, he's just not that bright. 1/5
Eggsy: Impressively, Eggsy may well be the smartest of the three, and that's with every disadvantage growing up. While Archer and Bond went to good schools, college, etc, Gary was on the estate looking forward to a bright future as....nothing, really. A drop out with ridiculous test scores and no job. A brain is the only weapon a cat-stroking-villain cannot take away from a spy, and Eggsy has it in spades. 5/5
Round Four: Charm
Bond: Hard to beat, in this round. His allure and tact has kept him alive through many a mission, and you get the impression that he could charm a rattlesnake - of the reptilian or human variety! 5/5
Archer: It's an odd kind of charm that protects this one. He's rude, brash, yells a lot, drinks too much and treats poor Woodhouse like a (literal) whipping boy, yet there is something about him...3/5
Eggsy: Charm is in short supply where Gary comes from, but somehow, he manages it. Not just the Bond-esque type that is as much smarm as charm and only works on those who cultivate it themselves, but real likability. He may not be as smooth as 007, but he is far more approachable, more genuine, and that has it's own appeal. 4/5
Round Five: The Opposite Sex
Bond: When Bond "girls" are almost as well know as the spy who shagged them, (so to speak), you know he's a ladies man. Not just the good girls, either, Bond has a predilection for sleeping with the enemy (all in a good cause, of course). Of course, none of them seem to last for more than a mission, but he is a spy, after all. 4/5
Archer: This is where that specific brand of Archer charm comes in more than handy. Sterling is known for his ridiculously...ahem...active sex life, including one or two he would rather forget. I'm honestly not sure how to score this one, because it's either absolutely appalling, or really hilariously impressive. Let's go with impressive, because it's more fun that way. 5/5
Eggsy: He's sweet and smart and charming, but in a movie about turning the bad-lad into the gentleman spy, there is surprisingly little room for romance. Plus, saving the world tends to really fill up the schedule. He's not completely destitute (that's all I'll say for the sake of spoilers) but he's far from carving up the bedposts like these other two. 2/5
The Final Score
There is no doubt that Bond is the true super spy....for now. Archer and his drunken adventures are far more fun, but he lacks the brains or finesse to really compete against Britain's finest secret agent.
However, Eggsy is coming up from behind (and probably doing it driving backwards). He's still young, still learning all the tricks of the trade, but he's got the gadgets, the smarts and the skills to blend in on all levels of society. Give him a few years (and a chance to spend more time with the kind of red-dress-in-the-casino-femme-fatale that Bond is fond of) and the trophy may well be changing hands.
Better start practicing a new way to order a martini!
Kingsman comes out February 13th, 2015
Note: Obviously these are all characters with a huge amount of source material to choose from. For the purposes of having a little fun and talking about a movie as awesome as Kingsman, I tried to distill the many books, movies and seasons into a general character portrait. Because of this, I'm sure that there are many times where Bond didn't get the girl or Archer wasn't drunk (ok, maybe not that last one). I hope that you take it in the spirit it is intended, as a fun battle between the spies. If there are any other agents you would like to see duke it out against Eggsy, or other categories you would like to see in a "round two", please comment and let me know. Thanks! R