Kingsman: The Golden Circle was a massive disappointment for me and I couldn't help but feel after leaving the theater that there was a much better and more obvious trajectory that would have led the series in a much more solid direction that not only would have sit more comfortably with me, but could have also helped garner a higher rating from critics.
As such, I figured I would give it a crack to explain what I would do if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, and if I had the influence to change certain aspects of the story to craft what I feel would be a better film.
Keep in mind that my goal here is always to change as little as possible to make the movie as great as possible, so it isn't a complete rehaul of every idea, which is why you won't see a full-on fan fiction script below.
With that being said, how do you fix Kingsman: The Golden Circle?
Core Problem #1: Roxy
By no means should Roxy have died in this movie, under any circumstances. Not at the beginning, not in the middle, and not at the end, but CERTAINLY not at the beginning without doing a goddamn thing.
The first movie barely utilized her and this was their opportunity to fix that by having her actually be a valuable member of the team. In this modern culture where women empowerment is such a huge topic in films, they had an opportunity to give Eggsy a partner who doesn't have to be "his equal in every way" because she's not the protagonist, but she could be "as capable of an agent as Eggsy, bu tin different ways that compliment Eggsy and make them such a good pair."
My idea for Roxy in the film is that the events unfold where she is alive with Eggsy and Merlin after the attack on the agents. She continues to fight the good fight with them as a genuine member of their team who contributes just as much in certain ways. All the meanwhile, there's tension between Eggsy and Roxy because he's headstrong and cocky (in a good way, he gets results, but in a bad way, he's reckless) meanwhile she's the reliable cautious one (in a good way, she saves him from getting into too much of a mess, but in a bad way, she freezes up and that can be dangerous). Basically, this is a logical extension of their relationship from the first film to show how they still need some growing, but how they are growing as well.
There's also tension because they're partners, coworkers, friends, and there's clearly a chemistry beyond that. Yes, I'm shipping them. I know some people will criticize that idea by saying that she doesn't need to be his love interest, but why the hell does she need to not be? If you don't have an answer for that other than something political, it's not good storytelling and it isn't valid.
The story being told here is of Eggsy's increased ties to Kingsman and how it really is his life. By the end of the movie, he realizes his familial connections: Harry is like his father, Merlin is like his uncle, Roxy is his lover, and Tequila is like the older brother who picks on him or like his roughhouse hooligan buddies and best friends.
Roxy and Eggsy don't have to get married at the end, as that's rushing it. However, there could maybe be a kiss to just hint that that's where things are heading in the third film, which could at least in part deal with Eggsy having an uneasiness with his girlfriend being a spy and in danger while he doesn't want to give it up, etc etc etc.
Core Problem #2: Princess Tilde
There's absolutely no reason why she should be the love of his life who he gets married to in this movie.
The joke of the first film was a parody of the Bond girls where at the end of the movie, 007 ends up just having sex with some woman and it's good for a laugh. Tilde should have stayed entirely in that capacity.
The one and only appearance I would have had her make is some kind of a cameo for a quick laugh, like maybe she appears on his phone trying to call him for another shag or something and he just rejects the call (signifying a lack of commitment which could tie into his relationship with Roxy).
At most, if they felt they NEEDED to have her be a bigger character, she could be this ideal of a princess that Eggsy wants, but Tilde is actually a piece of shit that we slowly dislike more and more throughout the movie. By the end of it, Eggsy rejects her in favor of Roxy. The third film could have the quick cameo where she's brought up and we find out that she's become addicted to anal sex or something and by that point, we don't like her, so we're okay laughing at her expense.
Core Problem #3: Up the Ante on Familiar Jokes
When you are repeating something from before, the only way to have it have the same effect or better is to actually increase the value. With a joke, for instance, it tends to get less and less funny the more you hear it, so you have to make it funnier.
This film doesn't do that. When it repeats itself from before, it merely repeats itself. It's an echo, not a statement on the previous thing, outside of two instances that I can think of. One of which is when Eggsy and Harry are looking in the mirror at the end, but even that lacks the punch it should have because Princess Tilde is such a waste. The other is when Harry tries the "manners maketh the man" speech and isn't able to hit his target with the glass, which was executed much better.
Subverting the audience's expectations with previous jokes is the best way to get around it. Every joke that has a familiarity to it should be either a twist on the original one or it should be taking it to the next level, not just merely referencing it. If you're going to have an action set piece to a funny song, make it better than "Give It Up" was, not just something that reminds you of something better from the first movie.
Core Problem #4: The Replacement Arthur
At the end of the first film, Arthur has been killed because he was evil. Some time has passed, but I think this film would have benefited from Merlin being a temporary replacement for Arthur, while not actually being in that position.
Essentially, think of him as an interim boss. He's the most senior member of the team (outside of potentially some of the other random agents) and he's the most qualified to lead, but he is still Merlin. Being the tech guy is his bread and butter, not being the leader, so he's trying to do his best while dealing with two young recruits (Eggsy and Roxy) and seeking out a replacement Arthur.
You can even keep the struggle of him saying he wants to be in the field, and by the end of the film, he's realized his true passion is what he's been doing all along and he goes back to being the regular Merlin.
Meanwhile, Harry is rehabilitated and he becomes elected the new Arthur, which not only makes sense in the literal job capacity as Harry has shown that he has fantastic leadership capabilities, but it also solves the two Galahads problem which doesn't get resolved despite being specifically mentioned in the movie!!
Ideally, you can even hint at a romantic relationship between Ginger Ale and Merlin to illustrate how unified Kingsman and Statesman are at the end of the film, with them working side by side on missions rather than in the dark of each other.
Miscellaneous Extra Flaws & Nitpicking
Basically, those big problems above are the things that would have saved this movie and made it better as a whole, but there are smaller things that could have been changed as well. I'm obviously not going to nitpick every little detail, but a few things that stand out to me are as follows:
- The Ending Tease of Part 3 – My ideal ending would have included some kind of a tease that maybe other countries could branch out and create their own organizations that could pop up in the third installment, where we could see Canadian mounties or Italian mobster types and so forth.
- The Best Friends – Just use the best friends from the first movie. Why have three brand new ones? Dumb.
- Less Elton John – One or two jokes. That's it. This was overkill.
- Keep Charlie Alive – Charlie shouldn't have died! He should have continued to be a pest in Eggsy's side in the third film, now with two robotic arms or maybe a robotic leg to coincide with the arm.
- Robotic Eye – Poppy's cybernetics should have given Harry Hart (the new Arthur, mind you) a new eye that acted as the same functionality as the eyeglasses they wear with the screens on them. How did they miss this opportunity?
- Hacking – Their watches can hack into Charlie's arm, but not the briefcase with the access code?
Well, there you have it—some insight into how I would have changed things in hindsight if I was magically given me the ability to do so. I might go back and edit this when the film comes out on Blu-Ray and I get a chance to watch it again (if I even want to rewatch it, that is) and either find out that my opinions have changed for the better or for the worse. Maybe I'll add things, maybe I'll tweak the current things, or maybe I'll see that I missed some details that justify the nitpicks and I'll remove them, but we'll have to see about that.