7. The King’s Man (2021)
The third entry into the Kingsman franchise also serves as a prequel and origin story for the titular spy agency. The King’s Man follows Orlando, the Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) as he uncovers a sinister organization plotting to throw the world into chaos. It’s set in the lead-up to World War I, and incorporates a number of historical elements into its story. However, in doing so, it creates historically problematic subtext.
First off, The King’s Man suggests that Great Britain were reluctant to go to war. It also reduces the cause of the conflict down to a cunning scheme by an undercover Scot to gain Scottish independence. It glosses over the centuries of British imperialism that led to World War I, and instead demonizes people who had nothing to do with starting the war.
The King’s Man takes a revisionist approach to history, which is itself quite problematic. However, it also glorifies a very specific type of toxic masculinity. Oxford is shown to struggle processing emotion, and only eventually learns to do so through violence. Even worse, The King’s Man presents this as a triumph. In other words, it’s a film with several terrible hidden messages.