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What's the deal with mysterious Kingsman villain Poppy?

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In 2015 spy spoof actioner Kingsman: The Secret Service, there's a great exchange between suave secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and baddie Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) about the James Bond movies being measured by the quality of their villains.

It's a lesson director Matthew Vaughn has clearly taken to heart in this week's sequel The Golden Circle, one that sees fledgling agent Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a resurgent Harry and Merlin (Mark Strong) going up against the diabolical Poppy (Julianne Moore).

Thankfully they've got help in the form of American Statesman agents Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Ginger (Halle Berry) and Champagne (Jeff Bridges). But what do we actually know about the new film's antagonist? Let's start at the beginning...


She's played by an Oscar winner

Few performers can raise the quality of a movie quite like Julianne Moore. Famed for raw, edgy performances in the likes of Magnolia, The Kids are All Right and Far From Heaven, she finally got her long-overdue Academy Award with her role as a linguistics professor suffering from Alzheimer's in the powerful Still Alice.

If a villain is measured by the quality of their respective actor then the new Kingsman movie has scored a slam-dunk. Julianne also made for a great, hissable nemesis in the last two Hunger Games movies as scheming Alma Coin. But what about Poppy herself?


Poppy's plan

Moore's villain has been mysteriously absent from much of the film's trailer material, which has only built up the mystique around her character. Even so, reviews are now pouring in and we can cobble together some info about her nefarious scheme for world domination.

According to Todd McCarthy's write-up in The Hollywood Reporter: "She's the boss of the Golden Circle, the world's No. 1 drug cartel who, in the course of things, essentially blackmails the (equally conniving) U.S. president (Bruce Greenwood, who 17 years ago played JFK in Thirteen Days) into legalising drugs."

So far, so devious. And it gets a whole lot more bizarre with Amy Nicholson's Uproxx review: "Here, our main villain is billionaire drug lord Poppy (Julianne Moore), a demented Donna Reed who’s transformed her jungle hideout into a kitschy ’50s town with robot dogs and mercenaries in letterman jackets... Poppy loves red vinyl, shiny chrome, cannibalism, and pressuring the American president (Bruce Greenwood) to legalize narcotics."



Hang on, robot dogs?

Yes, it seems like Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman have doubled-down on Sofia Boutella's bladed legs in the first Kingsman movie. The evil canine cohorts (replete with "drill bit teeth" according to Empire) featured in one of the recent trailers hunting Elton John.


Back up one sec... THE Elton John?

Yes, the Rocket Man plays himself in the movie – and it's said to be far more than just a cameo appearance.

According to RadioTimes.com, he's "Poppy's hostage", stealing the show whilst "hurling choice Anglo-Saxon invective at anyone in earshot and sending himself up with brio."

And if you thought it couldn't get any weirder, apparently Vaughn indulges his penchant for elaborate style choices. GQ observes that the music legend spends the movie, "appearing in almost every other scene (you can hardly call it a cameo), wearing a multi-coloured feathered costume, diamond helmet and goggles, Elton John has no purpose. He just is. He simply wanders around, baffled and huffing, swearing and hitting people."


Blimey – anything else we need to know?

Well the Kingsman movies are famous for their 15-rated sense of gory, gleeful fun (just think of the church massacre in the original) and Empire reports that in this movie, there's a scene of Poppy "turning Keith Allen into a hamburger."

That matches with the British Board of Film Classification's note that the movie contains a "comic scene featuring cannibalism."

Most demented villain of the year? Poppy has got to be up there. See Julianne Moore in action in Kingsman: The Golden Circle and send us your responses @Cineworld.


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