Cast­ing a spell

Re­becca Fer­gu­son prom­ises to be­witch in new Brit fan­tasy The Kid Who Would Be King


EVER SINCE MIS­SION: Im­pos­si­ble — Rogue Na­tion cat­a­pulted her into Hol­ly­wood’s field of vision, Re­becca Fer­gu­son has shown up with such reg­u­lar­ity (Florence Foster Jenk­ins, Life, The Great­est Show­man, The Girl On The Train) that we be­gan to sus­pect that she was ac­tu­ally try­ing to take over the world.

Now, though, with her new movie, The Kid Who Would Be King, she is try­ing to take over the world. Joe Cor­nish’s movie, the long-awaited fol­low-up to his crack­ing 2011 de­but At­tack The Block, is an up­dated, fam­ily-friendly take on the leg­end of King Arthur. There’s a young boy (Louis Ash­bourne Serkis as Alex) who dis­cov­ers the fa­bled Ex­cal­ibur, and just might be the fa­bled king of an­cient prophecy. There’s a Mer­lin, played as a teenager by An­gus Im­rie, and as an older, more tra­di­tional ver­sion by Pa­trick Ste­wart. There are vari­a­tions on Lancelot and Be­di­vere and the knights of the round ta­ble.

And there’s a vil­lain. A Mor­gana, the pow­er­ful sor­cer­ess of lore. Which is where Fer­gu­son comes in. “She’s been dor­mant, sleep­ing un­der the soil of Bri­tain for cen­turies,” says Cor­nish. “She’s been wait­ing for Bri­tain to be­come lost and lead­er­less and di­vided. She’s de­cided that the time is right for her to re­claim what she thinks is hers.”

So, she’s tak­ing the coun­try back, in other words. Tak­ing back con­trol. It’s hard not to espy a Brexit anal­ogy here, al­though Cor­nish is keen to down­play that. Mor­gana won’t be writ­ing slo­gans on the side of a bus. “I think it’s serendip­i­tous,” he says. “It’s not that the film will have no rel­e­vance. I think we’re al­right there. But that’s just one strand. It’s ba­si­cally just a big old bunch of spec­tac­u­lar fun. It’s got bat­tles, de­mons, un­der­ground cav­erns, the Bri­tish land­scape, kids, Pa­trick Ste­wart, Re­becca Fer­gu­son, spe­cial ef­fects, and all the good shit.”

Cor­nish doesn’t have to do the hard sell — we’re glad to see him back be­hind the cam­era af­ter far too long an absence. But as hard sells go, that one will take some beat­ing. Bring on the good shit.


__Be­fore she be­came em­broiled in ga­lac­tic war­fare or de­vel­oped the abil­ity to shoot en­ergy blasts from her hands, Carol Dan­vers (Brie Lar­son) trained as a US Air Force pi­lot. In this frame, we see her work­ing with Maria Ram­beau (Lashana Lynch), mother of Mon­ica, who in the comics took the man­tle of Cap­tain Mar­vel dur­ing the ’80s.

__ It’s been con­firmed that Cap­tain Mar­vel will have her pow­ers when the film be­gins. Born Carol Dan­vers on Earth, it’s only when she be­comes NASA’S head of se­cu­rity that she em­barks on mis­sions among the stars. In the comic book, Dan­vers be­comes su­per­hu­man af­ter her DNA fuses with that of a Kree sol­dier named Mar-vell (the orig­i­nal ’60s Cap­tain Mar­vel), when an alien de­vice called the Psy­che-mag­netron ex­plodes. How­ever, here she ap­pears to be rigged up to the su­per­power-im­bu­ing ma­chine di­rectly. Ei­ther way, a side ef­fect of her em­pow­er­ment is the wip­ing of mem­o­ries of her home planet.

__ We know Cap­tain Mar­vel will team up with Iron Man and co in Avengers 4, but she was part of a dif­fer­ent group back in the 1990s: Star­force. This shot sees Dan­vers flanked by Star­force mem­bers, in­clud­ing Gemma Chan as Min­nerva, all sport­ing the team’s green-and-black uni­form. In the comics, they’re not the friendli­est (they fought the Avengers), and are led by Guardians Of The Gal­axy bad­die Ro­nan — who will ap­pear in Cap­tain Mar­vel.

__ Brie Lar­son just punched an OAP in the face! But things may not be as they seem. We al­ready know Cap­tain Mar­vel is go­ing to fo­cus on the in­ter­stel­lar Kree-skrull war, and see­ing as Dan­vers is in her Star­force uni­form here, it’s quite pos­si­ble that the woman is a nasty, shapeshift­ing Skrull in dis­guise. Ei­ther that or, er, Cap­tain Mar­vel has a dark side none of us saw coming.

__ In the early comics, Cap­tain Mar­vel has a col­lapsi­ble hel­met that pushes her hair into a faux­hawk — a hel­met we see twice in the trailer. The first time we see Cap­tain Mar­vel wear­ing it, she’s us­ing it to breathe un­der­wa­ter.

__ Fi­nally, in the clos­ing frames, we get our only look at Cap­tain Mar­vel in her iconic red, blue and gold get-up, as she fully har­nesses her cos­mic pow­ers. With strength that could ri­val Hulk’s and the abil­ity to fly and ma­nip­u­late en­ergy, it’s clear why Mar­vel boss Kevin Feige reck­ons she will be “by far the strong­est char­ac­ter we’ve ever had”. Is it March yet?

CAP­TAIN MAR­VEL IS In cinemas From 8 march 2019

Top: Re­becca Fer­gu­son springs to life as sor­cer­ess Mor­gana. Above: Alex (Louis Ash­bour­ne­serkis) stum­bles upon the mag­i­cal sword Ex­cal­ibur.

Em­pire spoke with Joe Cor­nish on his Leaves­den set on 24 Novem­ber 2017.

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