With Matthew Vaughn having directed Kick-Ass, one of the riskiest comic-book movies ever made, and X-Men: First Class, which totally redeemed the mutant franchise, the director is a big name in comic book movies.
But that’s not it, as Vaughn has turned Kingsman, another comic book series, into a hugely successful movie franchise. And having directed the first two movies and now the upcoming prequel, Vaughn has built one of the best worlds outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though the original movie set such a high bar, The King’s Man may possibly top it. But until then, these are the best movies to watch to get excited.
Updated on May 3rd, 2021 by Mark Birrell: There’s so much talent involved with The King’s Man that it’s no wonder that movie fans are excited about the prequel, even if they’re not particularly interested in the rest of the franchise. It’ll also enter into a long line of period-set action movies that play around with late 19th/early 20th century designs and styles. We’ve added an extra 5 movies to this list to help show movie fans that there’s plenty of similar content out there and even more spy thriller action to get wrapped up in.
15 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) – Available on HBO Max
A sequel to the first outing of star Robert Downey Jr. as the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes, A Game of Shadows pits the super sleuth against their most famous nemesis, Professor Moriarty, in a blistering action story. Like The King’s Man, it looks at the industrialization of warfare at the turn of the 20th century, adding an extra layer of intrigue to its mystery plot.
14 Wonder Woman (2017) – Available on HBO Max
Another blockbuster that took a successfully stylized approach to early 20th-century warfare was the first solo outing of comic book icon Wonder Woman, whose massively successful debut movie took her to the frontlines of the First World War to track down and kill the God of War himself. Some much-appreciated humor is mixed with the signature action of producer Zack Snyder for a powerful adventure story.
13 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) – Available to buy on Apple TV
Though not enough of a hit at the box office to start its own franchise, which is a shame, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is one of the best spy movies of recent years and brimming with star power. An adaptation of the TV show of the same name, the movie has plenty of ’60s style and impeccably timed comedy coloring its story of a missing nuclear scientist and the three agents sent to find them and stop a shadowy group’s plot.
12 The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Available on IMDb TV
The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson, follows a hotel concierge, played by Ralph Fiennes, go on the run after he’s framed for murder. Though the movie is as cartoonish as a live-action movie can get, as it using miniatures for establishing shots, a vibrant color palette, and is typically symmetrical, which is what Anderson is known for, it’s oddly emotional and moving at the end.
11 Austin Powers In Goldmember (2002) – Available On Hulu
Not just limited to Goldmember, the whole Austin Powers series is incredible and every movie should be watched leading up to the release of The King’s Man, but of all of them, Goldmember is most aligned with the Kingsman series. The movie is thoroughly ridiculous and features a ton of great casting, such as Beyoncé in the role of Foxxy Cleopatra, and it’s full of self-aware jokes. Though how much of that will feature in The King’s Man, which looks a little more serious than the previous two movies, is still up in the air.
10 Spectre (2015) – Available On Fubo TV
Though Spectre is another movie that Ralph Fiennes features in, that isn’t why fans of the Kingsman series should watch it. The Kingsman series has always been a satire of spy movies at heart, with the first movie especially taking cues from the James Bond series, and as The King’s Man is a prequel that details how the agency began, what better series is there to watch than 007?
Though some people think it’s the worst Bond movie, it’s often judged too harshly. The opening sequence is one of the franchise’s finest with the one-shot through the day of the dead parade being filmmaking at its finest.
9 Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) – Available On Spectrum TV
Given how serious The King’s Man looks, it’ll likely balance the books of the usually-silly Kingsman series. The Golden Circle amps up the original’s ridiculousness and there are a lot of things to love about it, including all of the cameos, and the opening sequence is better than any action scene in the original.
8 Atomic Blonde (2017) – Available to buy on Amazon Prime Video
Adapted from a graphic novel, Atomic Blonde stars Charlize Theron as a tenacious superspy hunting a double agent in Cold War Berlin and, as slow and cerebral as that set up may seem on paper, original John Wick co-director David Leitch makes it a brutally bare-knuckle fight-fest. Fans of the Kingsman series’ extended action sequences are bound to fall head over heels for the movie’s choreography and execution.
7 Coriolanus (2011) – Available on YouTube, Tubi, and Amazon Prime Video
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name, updating the setting to a modern warzone and bringing stars like Gerard Butler and Jessica Chastain into the mix for some extra bang. Though a dense story of politics and honor, it’s still a dazzling spectacle that demonstrates just how well Fiennes can mix action and great acting.
6 In The Loop (2009) – Available On DirecTV
With Tom Hollander having a major role in The King’s Man, there are so many movies to point to that show just how much of a great actor he is. Though he isn’t immediately known by general audiences, Hollander is instantly recognizable, as he seemingly crops up in every blockbuster movie there is, whether it’s Pirates of the Caribbean or Mission: Impossible. But the movie that shows his acting skills better than any other is In The Loop, a political comedy in which a politician starts a war just to cover his own back. It’s a spin-off of the BBC show The Thick Of It, and it’s one of the most overlooked comedies of the 21st century.
5 X-Men: First Class (2011) – Available On HBO Max
The X-Men series looked to Vaughn after the success of Kick-Ass, and he turned the movie into an incredible period drama with elements of spy movies, comedy, and fine-tuned action. What Vaughan did with the X-Men series is essentially the same as what he’s doing with the Kingsman series, as both movies are prequels. And the result was one of the best X-Men movies ever.
4 Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) – Available On Spectrum TV
When The Secret Service was first released, it was a breath of fresh air, as the idea of a spy parody had been done to death on so many occasions. But given how it’s more of a satire of the genre, it delicately makes fun of the genre while paying homage to it in so many different ways.
On top of that, there are so many actors who are playing against type too, with Colin Firth playing a badass James Bond-type spy. The move set such a high bar that the sequel couldn’t come close to its critical success, but The King’s Man looks like it could be just as good.
3 Tenet (2020) – Available On Spectrum TV
From Kick-Ass to Avengers: Age of Ultron to Godzilla, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is constantly taking roles where he goes up against some kind of seemingly unstoppable force, and in Tenet, it’s time-traveling supervillains. Tenet is a mind-bending movie and it sees the star trying to stop a doomsday device from going off in the final act, which Kingsman fans should appreciate.
2 Kick-Ass (2010) – Available On Peacock
Kick-Ass might just be the crown jewel in Matthew Vaughn’s filmography. Before spearheading the Kingsman series, and before rebooting X-Men for the better, it was Kick-Ass that really put Vaughn on the map and it was what started his flagship over-the-top action and comedy. From little girls screaming profanities and murdering hitmen to Nicolas Cage basing his performance on Adam West’s Batman, Kick-Ass is one of the most unique comic-book movies ever made, and it’s the perfect movie to watch before The King’s Man.
1 Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Available On Disney+
Another actor with a major role in The King’s Man is Daniel Bruhl, who played Helmut Zero in the epic espionage movie Captain America: Civil War. Though Bruhl basically sits back while he watches Iron Man and Captain America go at it, the movie is generally action-packed, and it’s pretty grounded compared to the standard MCU fare.
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