The Old Guard leaves you wanting more. The action film, based on a comic about immortal warriors, ends with a double-whammy cliffhanger. The first of them directly sets up more adventures. And then there’s a kicker, in which a familiar face returns with what seems like some ill-intent. It’s juicy material that all but promises a sequel. “In terms of sequels, it truly is up to the audience, if the audience wants more,” said director Gina Prince-Bythewood.
Based on material by Greg Rucka, who also wrote the screenplay, The Old Guard stars Charlize Theron as Andy, aka Andromache, a fighter who has been around for more than six millennia. She and her crew are pursued by bratty pharmaceutical exec Merrick (Harry Melling), who wants to keep them as lab rats in the hopes studying their longevity will lead to a breakthrough drug that will make him billions.
It turns out that Andy, her protegé Nile (KiKi Layne) and pals are in this mess thanks to one of their own, Booker (played by Matthias Schoenarts), who, having watched his family die, sees Merrick’s potential drug as a way to help others gain more time with loved ones. “The fact that [Booker] lost his family and he articulates that to the Nile explains everything of why he does what he does,” said Prince-Bythewood. “My hope is that we understand it and so we empathize so that he doesn’t feel so much like a villain.”
After Merrick is killed, the remaining Old Guard members devise a punishment for Booker’s betrayal: banishment from the group for 100 years. Andy, Nile, Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) then go off and enlist former foe Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who’d been tracking them on behalf of Merrick, to make sure all digital traces of them vanish when they get involved in international conflicts. But that’s not the last we see of Booker.
At the end of the movie, we see him entering his Paris apartment, where he’s greeted by Quynh (Veronica Ngo), the immortal who’d been Andy’s partner long ago, until suffering a cruel fate after being captured during the medieval witch trials.
Imprisoned in a metal coffin and thrown off a ship, she repeatedly drowned and awakened because of her abilities. Andy tried to find her, but never did, and now Quynh’s pouring herself a glass of water in front of Booker. “It’s nice to finally meet you,” she says.
“It is interesting how you approach it because you never want to annoy an audience,” said Prince-Bythewood of the decision to end on this moment. “I want to build a movie having a beginning, middle, and end so that I’m not left hanging.
It was important that we told the full story, which I felt like we did. For Quynh, though, we established the character and I think it’s fascinating that we don’t think about it again after the story, but shit, she got out and what does that mean?”
Rucka has already continued the narrative beyond the movie in his comics series The Old Guard: Force Multiplied, which has already released four issues with a fifth due out next week. In that story, one of the main antagonists is Noriko, who functions as the same character as Quynh, though Rucka and Prince-Bythewood changed her name for the movie after casting Vietnamese actress Veronica Ngo. Andy’s abandonment left Noriko embittered, and as you can tell from Quynh’s tenor in that brief scene, she also seems not too pleased with her former compatriot.
So what’s next? Rucka envisions The Old Guard as a trilogy, Prince-Bythewood said and has told the director where the tale is going. “It’s pretty phenomenal,” she said. “So if the audience wants more, there’s absolutely more story to tell.”