Fox is sued by a screenwriter who says that a script he wrote in 2003 bears a striking similarity to the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Though the movie was based on Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ comic of the same name, published in 2012, writer R. Spencer Balentine claims that it’s all rather similar to a project that he wrote and entered into a contest in 2004.
Icon Comics, a division of Marvel Comics, first published Kingsman, and it’s here that Balentine claims the plagiarism took place.
In a complaint published in The Hollywood Reporter, he alleges that contest he entered, in which he made the top 10, had a deal with comic publisher Dabel Brothers, which would see successful entrants considered for comic book adaptations.
Dabel formed a deal with Marvel in 2006, after which he says that Marvel would have gained access to his screenplay, called The Keepers.
He points out a number of similarities from his work appearing in the film, but not in Millar’s comic book.
“The Film is purported to be based on a comic book series originally entitled The Secret Service, first published in 2012 by Icon Comics (a division of Marvel) and written by Mark Millar,” writes Balentine’s lawyer Steven Lowe.
“However, several key aspects of the Film do not appear in The Secret Service comic that do appear in [Balentine’s] Screenplay; for example, in the comic, there is no reference to Knights of the Round Table, no small dog companion to the protagonist, no use of holograms, and the general theme of the comic is about public service rather than an individual overcoming humble origins to achieve greatness.”
The suit goes on to list various similarities in set up – two errant young men recruited to a secret society – and between Taro Edgerton’s Eggsy from Kingsman, and his own creation, Doyen Gray, from attitude and build, to favourite drinks (Eggsy favouring scotch over Doyen Grey’s bourbon).
He also lists similarities between mentors Harry in Kingsman, played by Colin Firth, and his own character Nigel, also British and a ‘quasi-paternal figure’, and the antagonist from the first movie, Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, with his own creations.
“In both the Screenplay and the Film, the underlying theme is that one can be a great person no matter how humble his origins,” the complaint goes on. “Actions speak louder than words.
“Both themes are anti-snobbery; elitist ‘snobs’ are proven wrong. Both protagonists initially appear ‘lower class’ and unlikely to fit into the secret organization, but ultimately rise to the occasion
Balentine is seeking damages in excess of $5 million.
Fox is yet to comment on the suit, but a Kingsman 3 is said to be in the pipeline.