As with my Hobbit article, you can watch the video below for all the information, or read the article below if videos aren't your thing. Either way, the information is 100% the same, though the video has a lot more visual aid, and might even be better to watch specifically for Kingsman!
Spoilers Maketh Man
When Kingsman was released earlier this year, it’s fair to say that it surpassed a lot of expectations and turned out to be one of the best spy movies in recent memory. While some of you already know that the movie is based on Mark Millar's and Dave Gibbon’s graphic novel ‘The Secret Service’, not many people are aware just how much the source material was altered for the big screen. Today, we’re going to take a look at exactly what and how much was changed for Matthew Vaughn’s gentleman spy film.
Kingsman: The Secret Service revolves around a secret spy agency where all of its members are given codenames in honor of King Arthur’s knights, such as Lancelot and Galahad. Harry Hart (Galahad) is portrayed by the ever suave Colin Firth and here we see him take an interest in Gary (Eggsy), portrayed by Taron Eagerton, since he is the talented son of an agent that sacrificed himself to save Galahad.
Another agent, Lancelot, is killed while attempting to rescue Prof. James Arnold (Mark Hamill) who has been kidnapped by internet billionaire Richmond Valentine (Laurence Fishburne). Upon finding out of Lancelot’s death, each member of the Kingsman is tasked to bring in a personal recruit to become to the new Lancelot. Eggsy is personally recruited by Galahad but is doubted by his peers for his rough and unconventional upbringing.
Meanwhile, Valentine devises a plan to use the SIM cards in people’s phones to emit a unique frequency that brainwashes those exposed to it to lose control of their thoughts and kill any and everything around them. He sees mankind as a plague to the planet and that politicians will never get the change the world needs to survive mass pollution.
Valentine kills Galahad, Eggsy finds out that Arthur (My Cocaine) is a traitor and tricks him into drinking the poison he intended for Eggsy to consume. After he dies, and with time against him, he teams up with Roxy (the new Lancelot) and Merlin (Mark Strong) to foil Valetine’s plan and save the world from literally destroying itself. Eggsy and the others manage to save the day, killing Valentine and rescuing various world leaders and hostages who had refused to cooperate with Valentine. Eggsy becomes the new Galahad and inherits Harry’s home and possessions. The movie ends with him going back to rescue his mom from the abusive boyfriend that she’s been with for several years, this time after having leveled up quite a bit.
The Graphic Novel
The storyline for Millar’s and Gibbons’ story is actually less intricate than the movie would have you believe, and in some people’s opinions, even a little weaker than the movie, which is something people will rarely ever say.
The Secret Service starts off when an unknown terrorist group kidnap a famous Hollywood actor who is held against his will in a cabin in a Swiss mountain. Which actor is it? Why it’s Mark Hamill of course, making his appearance in the movie all the sweeter. However, in this story, the Kingsman actually doesn’t exist. Instead, Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons opt for their characters being part of regular MI6. The agent and Hamill try to escape when pursued and jump off the edge of a cliff with a parachute. However, there is a problem and the shoot opens up too late, leading them both to fall to their deaths.
Similar to the movie, celebrities and various icons have been going missing across the world and this causes a concern for Sir Giles (Arthur as you know him in the movie) the head of MI6. He shares his concerns with Jack London (Galahad) who suddenly gets a phone call from his sister-in-law telling him that her son Gary has been arrested for wrecking a stolen car. That’s right, in the comic, Jack is actually Gary’s uncle.
Meanwhile, internet billionaire Dr. James Arnold has just tested his mind control frequencies at a wedding in Hawaii, causing the bridesmaids, groomsmen and everyone present to brutally murder each other.
Wait a sec, James Arnold? Doesn’t that sound familiar? Yup that’s right, James Arnold was the name given to Mark Hamill’s character in Kingsman with Vaughn instead opting to instead rename the character Valentine.
Jack meanwhile, sees the potential in Gary and takes him under his wing to reveal the true nature of his job to his nephew. He gives Gary the opportunity to leave behind his life of pretty crime and to do something meaningful with it. Gary is taken back to the training facility where he is introduced to the training coordinator Rupert Greaves (Merlin). Gary then trains for 3 years to become a secret agent.
This part of the story is similar to the movie in terms of the training exercises. Gary is talked down to, despite performing excellently in almost all of his tests and missions, because of his upbringing and low social status and this causes him to feel angry. The story starts to differentiate again a bit when Gary goes back to his old mates and gets arrested for causing trouble again. Uncle Jack gives him another chance to come back and, when Gary agrees, Jack tranquilizes him.
Gary wakes up in Columbia where his Uncle Jack has informed him that he has 12 hours to return to British soil or hell be kicked out of MI6. Gary finds out that his passport and other belongings are apparently hidden in the mansion of a Columbian drug lord. Gary storms the drug lord’s compound, killing all the guards, apprehends the drug lord and even uses his private jet to fly back to England, delivering the drug lord to MI6 to be arrested. This causes Gary to win his Uncle’s approval. Uncle Jack finally tasks his nephew to his tailor to get his custom made suit and to become the ideal gentleman spy.
Gary and Jack team up on a mission together where they head to Cannes where they believe Dr. Arnold is going to try to abduct Ridley Scott. Jack seduces Arnold’s girlfriend to get information of Arnold’s plans out from her and his plan is pretty much identical to his scheme in the movie. However, Gary who is watching and listening to his Uncle’s conversation with Arnold’s girlfriend is then horrified when Arnold’s henchman Gazelle (Who is a black guy instead) shoots Jack in the eye killing him.
In a panic, Gary returns to MI6 to tell Greaves about what Arnold is planning. Greaves reveals that he is working with Arnold and gives Gary the chance to join them. Gary refuses and it is Greaves not Sir Giles who is tricked into drinking their own poison and dies.
Gary recruits his peers and fellow trainees to storm assault Arnold’s lair and stop the satellite from starting the mind control frequency. In this process, they end up freeing a lot of celebrities that were held hostage including Pierce Brosnan, Patrick Stewart and David Beckham. Gary avenges his uncle and defeats Gazelle and then shoots Dr. Arnold in the head. The story ends with Gary inheriting a portion of his Uncle’s estate and belongings and Sir Giles briefs him on a mission concerning trouble in Moscow.
The Better One:
It’s not very often where I would chose the film adaptation over the source material, but in this instance, I would have to say that ultimately, Kingsman is a better story than The Secret Service. The idea of an order of gentlemanly knights that work on a more discreet level than MI6 or the CIA was a really intriguing concept in the movie. I also felt like Firth and Egerton not being related made this relationship more meaningful since what connected them was Gary’s father’s selfless sacrifice.
Another reason why the film may also be have turned out better is due to the fact that both the graphic novel and screenplay were being worked on at the same time and independently. Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar coordinated a bit, but Vaughn was free to make changes to the story where he saw fit. He even aged up Samuel L Jackson’s character for the movie so that he would be on even ground with Firth’s character and used his idea of what an evil Steve Jobs would be like as inspiration for Valentine’s character.
Not to mention, that Church scene is probably one of the most bad ass action sequences I’ve seen in recent memory!