Who is the true main villain of The King’s Man? Released in 2014, the original Kingsman starred a young Taron Egerton as Eggsy, a British chav destined for a grim future of fake Burberry and loitering in the car park of his local McDonald’s. Throughout Kingsman and its 2017 sequel The Golden Circle, Eggsy trains in the art of espionage and joins the Kingsman secret service, learning the most important lesson of all – that manners maketh man. A million miles away from the suburban housing estates of the U.K., The King’s Man will explore the origins of the titular spy organization with World War I as the backdrop, starring Ralph Fiennes and Harris Dickinson in the Colin Firth and Taron Egerton roles, respectively.
Thanks to the pair of trailers released so far, fans already know plenty about the general plot of The King’s Man. Fiennes’ Duke of Oxford has put together a rudimentary secret organization to deal with a growing threat to world peace. As the Great War begins, an unknown puppet master lingers in the background manipulating events to his whim. Trailer footage shows the likes of Rasputin and Mata Hari as conspirators in this great plot, but both are merely serving a more insidious villain. This character appears to be bald and speaks with a strong Scottish accent, but his face has been entirely obscured thus far. Who is he, and why is The King’s Man keeping his identity a mystery?
From the villain’s dialogue, it can be inferred that this SPECTRE tribute band intend to play the world’s powers off against each other while exploiting the global conflict for their own nefarious ends – most likely seizing power over whatever’s left standing at the end. The Scottish character at the head of this evil table refers to his followers as his “flock” and this is important, since the subtitles reveal the enigmatic figure is named “The Shepherd.” Video subtitles aren’t always accurate sources of information, but the farming metaphor can also be seen in the group’s rings. The symbol emblazoned upon each finger is of a shepherd’s crook, further establishing the mystery man as the undisputed villain, rather than the likes of Rasputin, who features prominently in marketing material.
The big question is why The King’s Man would deliberately obscure the face of its real villain? The 1910s setting means the character can’t be someone the audience are already familiar with from a previous movie, although it is possible that a recognizable Kingsman actor could be playing a grandparent of their usual character. For example, Mark Strong could portray an evil ancestor of Merlin.
Far more likely, however, is that The Shepherd will be revealed as the secret identity of someone introduced early in The King’s Man; a seemingly innocent supporting character ultimately proven to be the criminal mastermind. The main contender for this wicked role is Matthew Goode. Despite being confirmed for The King’s Man, Goode has not been a presence in the film’s trailers so far, but reportedly portrays a man by the name of “Tristan.” Fans are widely speculating that Goode is indeed the shadowy figure with the Scottish accent and the real villain of The King’s Man, but the plot thickens thanks to the movie’s latest poster.
Despite being absent from the trailers, Matthew Goode does appear to be (just about) visible on the new The King’s Man poster. He’s sporting a dashing mustache and a military uniform, looking highly inconspicuous among the more prominent figures in the image. Pausing the new The King’s Man trailer at the right spot will reveal The Shepherd sporting a very similar piece of facial hair. Combining everything currently known about The Shepherd, it appears that Matthew Goode will be playing an unassuming officer of the British army who secretly moonlights as the head of a powerful criminal organization stoking the coals of World War I. This would explain the secrecy surrounding the character, and it might also be fun if “Tristan” spoke with Goode’s natural English accent, but Shepherd was actually Scottish.