I loved both the comic and the movie of Mark Miller and Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. What was surprising is how different the two actually were. There were changes that had to be made to make the movie work compared to the comic and while some of those changes made sense, others I wouldn’t have made at all. It did leave me wondering which is better though.
So without further ado…
Which is better: Kingsman: The Secret Service (The Movie) or The Secret Service: Kingsman (The Comic).
Warning: Spoilers from here…
Why the comic is better:
The comic will always offer more freedom than a movie. This means you can cast well-known actors as themselves, create almost impossible stunts and even write dialogue that you wouldn’t get away with on the big screen. Miller uses this freedom to great effect – which means rather than get a cameo from Mark Hamill as a professor of ecology, we actually get Mark Hamill playing a version of himself. The same with a great moment involving Pierce Brosnan at the climax of the comic, it’s a silly, small thing but made a cool, comedic difference.
Something much bigger and an aspect I really did miss was that in the comic, Eggsy and Colin Firth’s character, Harry Hart (London in the comic) are related. They are nephew and Uncle and reasons that the spy takes Eggsy on as a protegé are much better developed in the comic as we see the life that Hart managed to escape but is still intrinsically linked to through his sister.
That is also something that we have a bigger development of in the comic. The background to Eggsy is much harsher, more gritty and so much more tragic. He is desperate for a way out so when he does finally get back to his home, the effects are much larger. Rather than cut-away from his “revenge” we get to see a much cooler version where Eggsy uses gadgets to take down the gang that has terrorised him since he was a boy.
The training that makes him a super-spy is very different here than it is in the movie. Not necessarily better but taking a very different approach. One aspect I did prefer in the comic was Eggsy’s final test where he is dumped in the middle of another country, in his underwear, and told to make it home within 24 hours or he fails. It culminates in a silly resolution but would have been an interesting moment to see realised on the big screen.
Why the Movie is better
For starters, being able to see some of the moments from the comic on the screen, being acted out and properly realised will always trump the comic. There were always aspects that you wouldn’t be able to deliver in a movie but for the most part, Kingsman manages to bring the comic pretty faithfully. At least the bare elements anyway…
For starters, Colin Firth’s Harry Hart is a cooler spy than his comic book counterpart. This is mainly because it is Colin Firth and you don’t expect him to deliver the cool, calm but action-packed performance he does. The same can be said for Taron Eggerton as Eggsy, and to some extent, Michael Caine and Mark Strong, who all bring their characters to life much better than their comic book versions.
The biggest transformation is the villains though. Samuel L Jackson is much more fleshed-out and has some scenes to get his teeth into. The comic villain is nothing more than a device to fight against, so that there is some sort of climax to the comic series. Here Jackson’s is a fully fledged character and brings an element of peril to the movie.
His sidekick, Gazelle, played by Sofia Boutella, is hardly acknowledged in the comics but is as deadly and menacing as any other character here. Her fight sequence at the climax of the movie is one of the best parts but her counterpart is dispatched quickly with a gun.
The action sequences are much better here too. It isn’t just because we can actually see them, on-screen and realised fully, but because they are different and more creative. The “test” of the villains signal which causes people to kill each other is a mass-wedding in the comic but here we get the best part of the whole movie and Colin Firth delivering the coolest fight sequence I’ve seen in a long time. Even the finale is much better, with a more action orientated and perilous finale than the quickly wrapped up version we get in the comics. The signal works in the movie, turning everyone into raging, violent people – in the comics it fails and has the opposite effect.
Overall, it actually surprised me how different the two would end up being. I expected the film to follow the roots of the story and much of the set-pieces more faithfully but what Vaughn delivers is actually much more violent, edgier and cooler than Miller’s comic. The characters are more developed, the set-pieces are realised in more detail and the finale satisfies much more. Surprised but pleasantly so.
Verdict: Movie is better!