The King's Man's Credits Scene Explained: Is It A Joke?

Warning: Contains spoilers for The King's Man

The King's Man has a mid-credits scene that plays fast and loose with history but hints at where a potential follow-up movie could go. Director Matthew Vaughn's third movie in the Kingsman franchise had a rough ride at the box office when it was released at in December 2021. Reviews for the period action-adventure were also mixed, with some critics taking exception to the movie's cavalier attitude to key historical events and figures in service of the film's narrative. For better or worse The King's Man mid-credits scene is a prime example of this.

The King's Man is a prequel to the Kingsman movie franchise that started in 2015 with Kingsman: The Secret Service and continued with Kingsman: The Golden Circle in 2017. The King's Man tells the story of pacifist Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) as he matches wits against an evil shadow organization (led by "The Shepherd"). The group is made up of real historical figures (including Vladimir Lenin, Grigori Rasputin, and Erik Jan Hanussen) that conspire to destroy the monarchies of Europe and Russia (King George of England, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas Romanov of Russia) by instigating and influencing World War I. At the end of The King's Man, with the war won (but at great personal expense) Oxford founds the Kingsman intelligence agency, dedicated to "preserving peace and protecting life." Gathered around the table in the Kingsman tailor shop, they each assume a codename based on the legend of King Arthur.

Related: The King's Man Is The Best In The Series (No Matter What The Critics Say)

The King's Man's ending also shows Daniel Brühl's Erik Jan Hanussen and an unnamed gunman forcing the Kaiser to abdicate. The Tsar and his family are then killed by the same gunman while having their portrait photographed. After the principal end-credits, The King's Man's mid-credits scene then reveals that "The Shepherd" identity has been assumed by Hanussen. Standing with Lenin before a vault of gold bullion, he says that thanks to Lenin the organization's left hand is strong, but that the right-hand needs strengthening too. The gunman enters, who Hanussen declares will one-day rival Lenin's position in the world. The gunman then reveals himself to be Adolf Hitler. The implication of The King's Man's credits scene sets up Hitler’s rise to power as the basis for a sequel to The King's Man, potentially culminating in World War II. It's obviously a daring joke from Vaughn, but could well be revisited later on.

While the setup in The King's Man end-credits scene is intriguing from a story perspective, in reality, Hitler of course didn't force Kaiser Wilhelm to abdicate, kill the Romanovs, or meet Lenin. At the time The King's Man is set, Hitler was a soldier in the Bavarian army. He was on the Western front when the Romanovs were assassinated by Bolshevik revolutionaries in Yekaterinburg, Russia on the night of 16-17 July 1918. Furthermore, when the Kaiser abdicated, Hitler was recovering in hospital after being temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack. Lenin also wouldn't have had cause or occasion to meet a low-level soldier such as Hitler, and died before Hitler’s political rise to power.

Notwithstanding the artistic license and out-there humor The King's Man employs with its characters and the history books, one aspect of the end-credits scene is somewhat accurate. Erik Jan Hanussen, a charlatan and clairvoyant performer, was an associate of Hitler and is said to be responsible for schooling him in the theatrics of public speaking. Matthew Vaughn has said that The King’s Man 2 would be set around 10 years after the first movie. This would be around the time of the stock market crash, the great depression, and the rise of fascism, all leading up to the advent of World War II 10 years after that. With The King's Man credits scene setting up this story for a sequel, Matthew Vaughn can use these historical events as a jumping-off point for inspiration for The King’s Man 2 should it come to fruition.

Next: The Kings Man: Every Kingsman Easter Egg & Reference

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