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Is The King's Man Based On A True Story?

In the world of cinema, words are a powerful tool. Whether spoken or written, words set the scene and the tone of the movie you're about to watch, and some of the most powerful words an audience can see as they settle in for the opening credits are "Based on a true story."

Many of the films that claim to be based on a true story stick to the actual events in as many ways as make sense, such as military epics like "Black Hawk Down" and "We Were Soldiers." On the other hand, others take massive leaps from historical accuracies, such as the portrayal of British officers in "The Patriot" (via CBS News).

Still, a third category under the genre is also extremely popular right now with filmmakers, creating a fictional story surrounding real-life events. These films include "Pearl Harbor" and the critical success "Titanic." With the Great War epic, "The King's Man," which hit theaters worldwide in late December 2021, the question on all viewer's minds is which one will it be?

What is The King's Man about?

Following up on the success of 2014's "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and the 2017 sequel "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," "The King's Man" serves as a prequel, chronicling the formation of the titular independent intelligence agency.

The original film presents audiences with a fictional enigmatic antagonist named Richmond Valentine, portrayed by the unforgettable Samuel L. Jackson, who looks to rewrite the world using a technology masquerading as free worldwide access to the internet. Contrarily, the villains of "The King's Man" are an evil cabal of men and women hellbent on sparking the Great War, led by Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) and including many other real-world figures. 

Set early in the 20th century, the world of "The King's Man" is a powder keg on the verge of explosion. The movie is centered around World War I, with the world changing forever after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (Ron Cook) and surrounding events. Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) end up right in the middle of the conflict, doing their best to save the world from total chaos.

Is it a true story?

Any time real-world historical figures are characters in a movie, it sparks curiosity about whether or not the events depicted are based on a true story. But under which of the categories above does "The King's Man" fall? With the movie featuring major historical events like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip (Joel Basman), the real-life assassin, the movie is made to feel like a true story set against the backdrop of World War I (via Brittanica). Unfortunately, the main story is completely fictional, but the cast of characters features many people who really existed.

Led by Grigori Rasputin, the Russian mystic believed to have a large hand in the downfall of the Russian empire in the early 1900s due to his close relationship with Tsar Nicholas II (Tom Hollander) and Tsarina Alexandra (Branka Katic) (via History Extra), the group of antagonists in the movie also includes Mata Hari (Valerie Pachner) and Erik Jan Hanussen (Daniel Brühl). Hari was an exotic dancer convicted of spying for Germany, albeit some believe she was simply a scapegoat (via History.com). Hanussen was a Jewish psychic who reputedly taught Hitler to control crowds (per Salon). "The King's Man" also includes Hollander as King George and Kaiser Wilhelm, who supposedly looked very similar (via USA Today).

Despite the many familiar faces of history in "The King's Man," the movies main plot with the Oxford family is total fiction. While the outlandish stunts and storylines of the "Kingsman" franchise create fantastic fiction centered around real-world events, audiences are still excited to see the origins of a more fun James Bond.