The sequel to 2015’s surprise spy hit, Kingsman: The Secret Service, is on the way, and its bringing back an unexpected character. Charlie Hesketh (portrayed by Edward Holcroft) was a secondary antagonist of the first film, a Kingsman-in-training alongside Eggsy (Taron Egerton) who failed to make the cut and subsequently joined up with Richard Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) to exact his revenge on the Kingsman; and on Eggsy specifically. After all of Valentine’s followers’ heads exploded at the end of the first film thanks to cranial implants that were meant to save them from a worldwide culling, Charlie was presumed dead, but now he’s back for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. So, exactly, how did Charlie survive after Kingsman?
While Charlie did have an implant behind his ear like Valentine’s other disciples, his malfunctioned when the heads started to explode. This was due to his final fight with Eggsy, who shocked him and apparently short-circuited his implant. So rather than blowing his head off, Charlie’s implant fired sideways. The explosion blew off his arm and damaged his vocal cords, but he managed to survive.
After suffering through his disfigurement, an even angrier and more vengeful Charlie then joined up with Poppy (Julianne Moore) — the main antagonist of the new film — and she fitted him with a new voice box and robotic arm to make him into some kind of super soldier. “His implant exploded sideways in the first film, and he lost an arm as a result,” director Michael Vaughn told Empire‘s Chris Hewitt. “But he has an amazing new arm for doing horrible things to people.” You can see Charlie and his new arm briefly in action in a fight against Eggsy in The Golden Circle‘s trailer.
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And while Charlie is sporting a new look (he’s got a shaved head to go along with his robotic arm) and a new employer, his is actually the least surprising return from the dead following the first film. That’s because Colin Firth’s Harry Hart is also back after being shot in the head in the first Kingsman movie. However, the mysteries surrounding his apparent return from the grave are a much more closely guarded secret than Charlie’s resurrection. “Harry is back,” Vaughn told Empire, while declining to give too many details. “But he’s not the Harry we knew. He’s Harry Hart, but he ain’t Galahad.”
The plot synopsis of the new film sees the Kingsman essentially wiped out, after an attack on their headquarters by a mysterious crime syndicate called The Golden Circle leaves their organization in ruins. The surviving members, basically just Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong), then venture to America to recruit help from their stateside counterparts, the Statesman. The Americans count Agents Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), and Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) among their ranks, and they’re led by Agent Champagne (Jeff Bridges). Poppy, the possible leader of The Golden Circle, is also American. Vaughn told Empire she’s “America’s sweetheart gone wrong.”
The many high-profile additions to the cast — which also features other returning faces besides Charlie and the others previously mentioned — have not gone without notice, as everything about the new film is much bigger than the first. “If the first Kingsman was Captain America, then this is very much The Avengers now,” Egerton told EW‘s Joe McGovern. “For the first one, I felt like if I wasn’t really good then it wouldn’t work. This time, the story still unfolds through my eyes, but this is still a true ensemble piece.” Strong added, “You can’t underestimate the draw of the new actors in this cast. I’ve had people say to me, ‘Wait, you’re kidding me with those names, right?'”
Edward Holcroft is back as Charlie in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, but he’s hardly alone. The new film is packed with unexpected returning characters and lots of new famous faces, all of which should add up to a pretty thrilling sequel.