Kingsman: The Golden Circle Comic-Con Panel

When Kingsman: The Secret Service arrived in 2014, it was an underdog that became a surprise box office hit. Now, three years later, the sequel arrives with a different set of expectations. Can Kingsman: The Golden Circle live up to the nuttiness of the first movie? Does it have the flash and energy necessary to woo a Hall H crowd at Comic-Con?

From the moment the panel began, the answer was yes. Comic-Con crowds are infamously easy to please (everyone is there to have a good time!), but the footage from director Matthew Vaughn‘s upcoming sequel was violent and frantic and self-aware and darkly humorous. It looked very much like the first movie, albeit with a shinier, glossier coat.

The Panel

Moderator Jonathan Ross welcomed the bulk of the Kingsman: The Golden Circle cast to stage, including returning stars Taron Egerton and Colin Firth. The duo were joined by the new cast members playing members of the Statesman (the American equivalent of the Kingsman): Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, and Pedro Pascal. The panel was rounded out by screenwriter Jane Goldman and comic book artist Dave Gibbons, who co-created the source material comic book with writer Mark Millar. Vaughn, currently finishing the film in London, couldn’t be present, but sent a video message to say hello.

As far as convention Q&As go, it was a pretty good one – a classic case of charming people being charming in front of a crowd. Gibbons praised the cast while Goldman explained that the “southern gentleman” archetype became the basis of the Statesmen after she and Vaughn decided that they were the equivalent of the stereotypical British gentlemen. Egerton commended Tatum on his athleticism. Tatum jokingly refused to return the compliment. Pascal, best known for his work on Narcos and Game of Thrones, described his whip training and the addiction that comes after getting it to crack just right. Tatum waxed poetic about owning a bowler hat because he “likes to get a little weird.” Bridges, looking very much like The Dude with his beard and long, shaggy hair, occasionally chimed in to just be Jeff Bridges, and that’s good enough.

Meanwhile, Firth refused to explain how his character, the suave agent Harry Hart, is still alive after receiving a bullet to the face in the first movie.

“It’s all a mystery to me,” he joked, “I’m in the trailer. That’s really all I can say.”

However, the panel really came to life when Ross passed a bottle of whiskey down the line, with everyone getting a shot. Except for Berry. Somehow, she ended up with a pint glass and Tatum made sure to fill it. Encouraged by both her fellow panelists and the crowd of thousands before her, Berry proceeded to chug her entire glass of bourbon in one go. She spent the rest of the panel a little wobbly, with Tatum frequently looking her way to giggle.

kingsman the golden circle first look

The Footage

Of course, the questions and the banter were really just a way to kill time between the three clips that were shown to the crowd, each of which proved crowd-pleasing in its own way.

The first (and longest) clip was the opening sequence of the film, a very fast brawl that quickly escalates, finding new levels of ridiculousness with each beat. The short version: Taron Egerton’s “Eggsy” Unwin, now a full-fledged Kingsman agent after the events of the first movie, exits the high-end tailor shop that serves as his organization’s secret headquarters, bumps into one of the agency’s rejected trainees, and quickly realizes that he’s there on business for another organization. Oh, and he has a skeletal robot hand, because this is a Kingsman movie and things like that just happen.

The resulting fight scene, which takes mostly place in the backseat of a vehicle trying to outrun a small fleet of other vehicles, is deranged and cartoonish and full of the spy movie touches that filled the first film. The bad guy’s hand is a 2017 update on a classic trope (remember Dr. No’s metallic hands?) and Eggsy fights back with a blade hidden in the toe of his shoe. The brawl goes from the back seat to the roof of the car to the trunk, one-part Looney Tunes and one part Jason Bourne. The style of the action is very much in-line with the first movie – if you liked the first one, this is going to scratch the same itch.

The second clip was shorter and served as something of an introduction to the Statesmen, who operate out of a whiskey distillery in Kentucky. The scene finds Eggsy and Merlin (a returning Mark Strong) infiltrating a warehouse full of the company’s finest product, discovering that there’s a hidden complex under their feet, springing a leak in a whisky barrel, and being interrupted by Channing Tatum’s Tequila, a rifle-toting, cowboy hat-wearing tough guy who admonishes his two English visitors for wasting whiskey before proceeding to kick both of their asses in a fight.

The action on display here is more of the same, but Tatum has charisma in spades. Watching this good ‘ol boy take down this universe’s equivalent of James Bond proved to be unexpected delight, especially since the southern style of the Statesman couldn’t be more different than their posh allies across the pond.

And that brings us to the third and final clip…and the only one to get a warning from the panel that things were about to get a little gross. The scene introduces us to Poppy (Julianne Moore), the leader of a secretive drug cartel called The Golden Circle that seems to have a monopoly on the industry of illegal substances. With that kind of wealth comes all kinds of extravagances. Specifically, Poppy has built a retro 1950s town (where every building bears her name) on top of a mountain in the middle of an unspecified jungle. Oh, and she has two robot dogs named Bennie and Jet. And she deals with a henchman who has let her down by pulling a Peter Stormare in Fargo and having him lowered into a meat grinder. In her diner. And then she, uh, prepares the results for his replacement in hamburger form.

While the first two scenes were fun, they were ultimately familiar – just more Kingsman. This scene reveals a villain who couldn’t be more different than Samuel L. Jackson‘s Richmond Valentine, the genocidal bleeding heart who only wanted to save the world in the first movie. Moore is clearly having a ball as Poppy, whose pleasant demeanor and near constant smile conceal her brutal intentions and psychopathic punishments. It’s not clear what she wants (or why the Kingsman and Statesmen need to team up to take her down), but she’s stone cold evil and darkly hilarious. Think Martha Stewart meets Pablo Escobar.

Overall, the footage we saw from the film showcases a bigger, slicker, more confident evolution of the first movie, which was already a ton of fun (and sometimes too sloppy for its own good). The action is appropriately nutty, the use of spy movie language continues to be on point, and the Statesmen seem like they’ll be a welcome addition to a universe that already gleefully walks a fine line between reality and cartoon. If you enjoyed the first movie, it certainly looks like you’ll be pretty pleased in a few months.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry, Sophie Cookson, and Colin Firth. It’s set to open in theaters on September 22, 2017.

Kingsman: The Secret Service introduced the world to Kingsman – an independent, international intelligence agency operating at the highest level of discretion, whose ultimate goal is to keep the world safe. In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, our heroes face a new challenge. When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy.

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