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Who Is The Villain In The King's Man?

It's been a few years since audiences last jumped into the world of the "Kingsman" franchise, with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Harry Hart (Colin Firth) going up against Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) in "The Golden Circle" back in 2017. The success of both films adapted from Mark Millar's fan-favorite "Kingsman" comic books meant that 20th Century Studios wanted to expand the franchise a little further and create its own cinematic universe — of course.

Director and producer Matthew Vaughn has already planned new entries into the franchise, including a third film in the main series titled "The Blue Blood," a spin-off focusing on the agency's U.S. counterparts, "Statesmen," as well as a TV series. But before all that, a prequel detailing the origins of the covert intelligence group is set to arrive at the end of 2021. After numerous delays thanks to the ongoing pandemic, "The King's Man" will finally debut on December 22.

It stars Ralph Fiennes and Harris Dickinson as some of the very first Kingsman agents in the early 1900s ... but who are they up against? Well, the short answer is Rhys Ifans. The long answer is a little more complicated. Let's take a look at who he's playing, and what the stakes are.

A world war plot

Ralph Fiennes will star as one of the early Kingsman operatives, the Duke of Oxford, alongside Harris Dickinson's Conrad as the newest recruit to the agency: the Duke's son. The film is set across Europe during the early days of World War I, and the two heroes uncover evidence that the coming conflict is being engineered by a sinister cabal of criminals. It'll be interesting to see how the film tackles the war itself, because unless the franchise is pulling a Quentin Tarantino (a la "Inglourious Basterds") and changing the course of history, the father-and-son team will presumably fail to stop the war.

That's not to say they can't stop the puppet masters behind it all, some of whom are even based on real-life historical figures. Rhys Ifans is playing the infamous mystic and so-called "prophet" Grigori Rasputin. He's briefly seen in the trailer fighting Conrad in the halls of a far-flung palace. Clearly, Ifans is having the time of his life leaning into the intimidating legacy of Rasputin with his performance.

"The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" star Daniel Brühl will also appear as another member of this shadowy organization, Erik Jan Hanussen — a wealthy occultist who, in real life, supposedly taught Adolf Hitler how to command an audience. The trailer's narration comes from an unknown Scottish man leading the charge of this new "revolution" who's briefly seen wearing a ring with a shepherd's crook insignia. Is it a coincidence that Matthew Goode's character, Captain Morton, is sometimes listed as "Captain Morton/The Shepherd?" We think not. Obviously, we could have the wrong end of the (shepherd's) stick, but it seems possible that Matthew Goode could be the main villain in "The King's Man."