Mark Millar has been one of the mightiest names in comic books for 20 years now. Most famous to movie fans as the writer behind Kick-Ass, he's also the co-creator of the Kingsman movie series, the second film of which, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, opens at Cineworld on 29 September.
Both Kingsman movies have, he's admitted, been a kind of love letter to the spy flicks of the past. So, Mark Millar, what are YOUR favourite spy movies...?
The 39 Steps (1935)
A really magical spy movie and something I watch regularly. You'd be surprised how influential it's been in the genre with Madeleine Carroll as a prototype Bond Girl and even an iconic, attention-grabbing opening much like a Bond pre-credit sequence. North By Northwest is likewise very much like a classic Bond movie years before such a thing existed, but Steps takes the prize as Hitch was so ahead of his time.
From Russia With Love was a real contender here, especially since Robert Shaw is one of my favourite actors, but Goldfinger has to be honoured because it's such a perfect movie they used the story template for the next 30 years. The villain and henchman both had great gimmicks, Honor Blackman was amazing, Connery never looked cooler or better-tailored. Even the title sounded cool. Most of all, I love the crazy plot.
The Ipcress File (1965)
Another huge inspiration and you'll recognise it as an influence if you read the comic-book, this idea of a working-class spy operating in a traditionally glamorous setting. The scene where Michael Caine asks his boss for a pay-rise blew my mind because it immediately grounded Harry Palmer and made him someone I could relate to.
That humdrum, non-swinging 1960s London was the complete opposite of Bond with his five star hotels and private jets. Bond was always my favourite, of course, but I really love Harry too. Matthew [Vaughn, director] and Jane [Goldman, screenwriter] made many nods to Palmer in the movie, from the Michael Caine glasses as worn by all the agents to, of course, Sir Michael himself.
Our Man Flint (1966)
This one was huge for me as a kid because I didn't realise it was a comedy. Like the Batman TV show, it was as tense and dramatic for me as Das Boot and it's only as an adult I can love it on another level. Like old school Bond, nothing epitomises spy movies for me more than Coburn's Flint. What's the point of making a spy movie if it isn't filled with gadgets, girls and brilliant one-liners?
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
My all-time favourite Bond flick. As a Scotsman I know it should be a Connery one, but this was the first I ever saw in a cinema and even as a seven year old I knew I wanted to grow up to have sex with exotic women, kill on behalf of the Foreign Office and kick a large, razor-toothed man from a moving train.
I kept the Lotus Esprit in my school-bag to play with at my convenience and still have it sitting on my desk. This movie, above all others, was the inspiration for the Secret Service graphic novels, right down to the opening scene with the Union Jack parachute.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle lands at Cineworld on 29th September.