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While it's now owned by Disney, 20th Century Fox still has a number of major genre releases in the new year. Two of its blockbuster movies, Matthew Vaughn's The King's Man and Shawn Levy's Free Guy, both showed off brand-new footage at this year's New York Comic Con.
Vaughn was the first to take the stage and talked about why it was time to try something new with the franchise, citing Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia and The Man Who Would Be King as influences. The King's Man even used the same lenses as Lawrence, despite the fact that they were always losing focus and falling apart during production.
“I did a movie called X-Men: First Class, which was an origin story, but what I learned from that film is that when you're using characters that are known, it's hard to do plot twists. If I kill Professor X off, [fans would be confused]. So, I wanted to do an original movie, which had had hardly anything to do with the original Kingsman apart from the tailor shop. This is really is a proper origin story," said the filmmaker, adding that you'll probably like this movie, even if you didn't see or like the first two movies.
Having released its second trailer earlier this week, The King's Man didn't bring a new teaser to the con, but an extended clip that shows the Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) introducing his son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson), to the famous Kingsman tailor shop and a general history of the agency.
Afterwards, Fiennes, Dickinson, and Djimon Hounsou (who plays the Kingsman known as "Shola") sat down in person to discuss the spy-fi project.
“I very much respected the clever balance between relationship and action that Matthew established [between Eggys and Harry]," Fiennes, a veteran of James Bond, said. "I thought it was an unusual and original spin on the British spy theme, and I was delighted when Matthew proposed this prequel to the story ... I think you’ll see there’s a richness to how the Kingsman intelligence agency started. I think Matthew balances different tones of humor, emotional relationship, and action. I think that's quite rare and I enjoyed attempting to rise to that challenge."
Following the director and actors' remarks, a heart-pounding sizzle reel was shown. In it, there was an awesome sequence where Shola gets into a ballet-like sword fight with none other than that great Russian villain, Rasputin (Rhys Ifans).
Along with the untold origins of Kingsman, Fiennes later said at the SYFY WIRE Live Stage, where they stopped by afterward, that he and Dickinson formed their own surrogate relationship while on set.
"He's pretty great," Fiennes said of his young co-star. "We had to bond [as] father and son." Dickinson echoed the sentiment, saying that working with established actors like Fiennes and Hounsou was "extremely gratifying."
"I felt very encouraged by both of them," Dickinson began. "It wasn't direct advice, but along the way, I felt encouraged to be bold and confident and try things."
Directed and co-written by Vaughn, The King's Man serves is set during World War I and features an all-star supporting cast of Gemma Arterton, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Daniel Brühl, Charles Dance, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Stanley Tucci.
The film hits theaters on Feb. 14, 2020.
Meanwhile, Free Guy follows a lowly bank teller (Ryan Reynolds) who — after his bank is robbed 17 times — finds out that he's just a background character in a violent open world video game called Free City—a reported combination of Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite. At the 20th Century Fox panel, Levy described the story as a "superhero origin story minus the cape, the tights, and the IP."
"I feel sort of a kinship to the character, sometimes feeling like a background character in the world. Like it's all sort of happening on some sort of automatic loop you have no control over," admitted Reynolds, comparing Guy to Peter Sellers' character in the 1979 film, Being There. "He's truly an innocent and the things that he's saying are innocent and kind, and it catches on like it's some trendy, cool thing. He's kind and gentle and doesn't hurt people and, of course, that starts to change when has to fight back and fight for his world."
A lot of the film finds the blue-shirted Guy (who thinks he's alive) exploring the limits of what he can do inside the game.
"If you mastered the rules of that game, then you would become limitless," Levy said, adding that the plot will flit back and forth between the game and the real world. "The world inside the game is very saturated and colored ... [It's] more aspirational, a little more heightened reality." On the other hand, the moments set in our reality utilizes more handheld cameras and "messier frames, because real life is messy."
A pair of clips were shown during the panel, but Levy and Reynolds prefaced them with the fact that the movie is only six weeks into the edit, meaning that the visual effects have barely begun to take shape. The first clip shows Guy entering the stash house of "Molotov Girl" (the in-game avatar of Jodie Comer's character, Millie) and planning to level up as a "great guy."
The second clip takes place in the real world at Millie's apartment, where she's informed by her old coding partner (played by Stranger Things' Joe Keery) that their code for a game called "Life Itself" is hidden somewhere in Free City, and is allowing NPCs to think for themselves. Said code was stolen by Antwan (played by Thor: Ragnarok's Taika Waititi), a narcissistic video game publisher at Soonami Studios, which makes Free City. Millie then undercuts the severity of the situation by admitting that she let Guy kiss her in the virtual world.
“The movie is very much the journey of the innocent in a deeply cynical world," Levy explained.
The panel ended with the movie's first teaser trailer, which pokes fun at Disney's remake craze, and looks like an incredibly inspired mix of Wreck-It Ralph, The Matrix, Ready Player One, Black Mirror, The Lego Movie, and They Live. Sadly, the hilarious teaser hadn't been posted online, but Fox did upload a different video from the panel—one in which Comer and Keery give Reynolds and Waititi flack for 2011's Green Lantern movie.
Free Guy co-stars Channing Tatum, Lil Rel Howery, Camille Koste, and Utkarsh Ambudkar.
The comedy game is afoot July 3, 2020.
Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of New York Comic Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.