The Comic-Con festivities in Hall H kicked off in riotous style on Thursday morning as 20th Century Fox brought Kingsman: The Golden Circle into the cavernous venue.
The panel was heavy on cast members -- Taron Egerton (Eggsy), Colin Firth (Harry), Halle Berry (Ginger Ale), Channing Tatum (Tequila), Pedro Pascal (Jack Daniels), Jeff Bridges (Champagne), along with screenwriter Jane Goldman and comics artist Dave Gibbons -- but host Jonathan Ross kept it spoiler-free and banter-filled.
The panel kicked off with a hilarious animated short showing what might happen if Eggsy met Archer (yes, that Archer) at Kingsman headquarters (they point guns at each other before Archer drinks himself unconscious). Ross then introduced director Matthew Vaughn by video link from the editing bay in London, with Vaughn in turn introducing the first clip.
And it wasn't just a clip: it was the entire first reel of the movie, a bravura 10-minute sequence in which a nattily-dressed Eggsy battles a bitter Kingsman reject in the back of a specially equipped Kingsman cab, then on top of the car and underneath the car, with knives, guns, glassware and the enemy's mechanical arm all deployed with abandon.
Ridiculous, over-the-top but incredibly fun, the sequence segues into Eggsy taking control of the wheel and engaging in a furious car chase before he launches a rocket at the three vehicles in pursuit, blowing them up, then driving into a nearby pond and turning the car into a sub that he pilots through a secret entrance to Kingsman HQ.
The second clip featured Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) visiting a distillery owned by Statesman -- the U.S. equivalent of Kingsman -- and breaking into it, where they are confronted and knocked out by Tequila (Channing Tatum), but not before the fists fly between Eggsy and his American counterpart.
Finally, the third clip introduced villain Poppy (Julianne Moore) in her jungle '50s-themed lair, complete with robot-manned hair salon and diner. In the diner, Poppy welcomes a new recruit by having him dump a disloyal associate in a meatgrinder, with Poppy then cooking up the remains into a sizzing cheeseburger for her new Golden Circle member to consume. And there were robot dogs there too just to make it even more interesting.
Vaughn, Goldman and the entire crew has clearly upped the insanity for the sequel, and some of that insanity crept into the panel itself as a bottle of whiskey was introduced into the proceedings, with Halle Berry memorably downing a full glass (OK, we have to say it was probably iced tea since there's no way she would have walked offstage under her own power after that).
During the Q&A, Berry also described her character as the Statesman equivalent of Kingsman's Merlin, acting as their tech master. Firth -- who supposedly died in the first movie -- said he had a "different task" in this film but also confessed that anything he might say beyond that could be a spoiler. Bridges was flummoxed when asked by an audience member what his signature character The Dude (from The Big Lebowski) might do if a member of the Statesman.
Strangely, Fox dedicated the entire panel to Kingsman; despite expectations, there were no clips, appearances or announcements regarding either Deadpool 2 or any of the upcoming X-Men films like New Mutants or Dark Phoenix. If you were hoping to see a pic of Josh Brolin as Cable, today wasn't your day. But Fox poured out a generous helping of Kingsman: The Golden Circle and left the Hall H audience a little bit drunk on the nuttiness of the whole thing.