It’s been a year since The Old Guard gave us gay immortal warriers and an endlessly rewatchable action film on Netflix. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood took Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández‘s graphic novel series (Rucka also serves as screenwriter for the film) and turned it into a genre adventure that has more heart than Netflix’s typical selection of action movies. It’s become a go-to comfort film of mine.
Fans held onto the promise of a sequel announcement with a real fervor. The film’s “six months later” tag made it seem inevitable; not to mention, Rucka’s graphic novels are built to be a trilogy. Even with a strong fan base, it wasn’t until just last week that Andromache of Scythia herself confirmed the sequel.
In an interview with Variety, Charlize Theron confirmed that the script for the next film is already finished and will begin filming early next year. In the same statement, she confirmed Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli (Joe and Nicky from The Old Guard) will also be back.
As of now, Netflix has not given any further details regarding plot or returning characters. So let’s dive into some speculation ourselves.
The Old Guard: Force Multiplied
At the end of The Old Guard, our immortal warriors had just escaped an eternal life of medical torture, but not without leaving one of their own behind on a beach, with the intention of only reuniting with him in 100 years. This is Booker’s (Matthias Schoenaerts) punishment for setting up his family for said medical torture. The only one in danger of not seeing him again is Andy, who lost her immortality over the course of the film. The “six months later” tag changes things—Booker, drunk and depressed, stumbles into his apartment only to be met with a familiar face, although it’s one he’s only seen in his nightmares: Quynh (Veronica Ngo). Fresh from her 500-year imprisonment at the bottom of the ocean, Quynh’s return spells trouble ahead.
This is likely the set-up for the sequel. The Old Guard: Force Multiplied, the second installment of the graphic novels, largely focuses on this storyline. Quynh takes Booker hostage in order to lure the rest of her immortal family out, and in particular, her lover Andy, so she can exact revenge for being left to her watery grave. But changes in the film could lead to different roads for the sequel.
Andy’s Mortality and Nile’s Youth
One of the biggest changes in The Old Guard is the loss of Andy’s immortality. It’s an established part of the lore that the immortals randomly lose their ability to come back from death, but Andy in the comics never does. The change for the film made for higher emotional stakes. Andy’s disillusionment with the world and her place in it is easy to relate to, and her mortality puts her on the same level as the audience—well, relatively, anyway. She is roughly 6,000 years old.
While there are plenty of cool action scenes in The Old Guard, the characters are the heart of it, and Prince-Bythewood made space for their growth and connection. Nile (Kiki Layne) is the newest member of the Guard and still fresh in her immortality, so she’s also a great foil to the oldest living woman on the planet. Nile and Andy’s differing viewpoints and ways of doing things add a layer of depth to the “we fight for what we think is right” philosophy of the Guard. In the graphic novels, Nile is strictly the audience stand-in; the film allows her more introspection into what being immortal really means. Force Multiplied mostly has her learning Andy’s bag of tricks, but the movie sequel will hopefully carry on with heart and allow the teachings between Andy and Nile to go both ways as each one of them learns to rely on the other.
Nile, a former Marine, lists herself as KIA in order to stay with the Guard. Her family is an important part of who she is—a lot of her conversations with Andy revolve around how her family shaped her. With more emphasis on Nile’s inner life, The Old Guard 2 (or whatever it will be called) could also take a stronger look into family dynamics outside of the Guard, especially when faced with immortality. One of The Old Guard‘s weakest points was sticking to its cynical view of how little regard Andy and Booker have for other humans. Andy may come to the realization that she’s failed Booker and herself, but they’re both still adamant that Nile’s family will reject her immortality just as Booker’s did. It’s a hard and fast rule the film sticks with—breaking away from that philosophy through Nile’s family could bring the series to new heights.
The Old Guard’s Oldest Romance
Joe and Nicky, or Yusuf Al-Kaysani and Nicolo di Genova respectively, proved to be the highlight of last year’s film. In a genre made up of men who work out their issues by throwing punches, the two lovers showed it’s possible to make romantic speeches to each other while also kicking ass. The van speech is worth a million views. Their chemistry and casual intimacy throughout the film made them one of the biggest onscreen couples from last year, and a huge win for LGBTQ representation in pop culture.
However, their story in the movie sequel is a mystery, considering it actually gets covered in the first film. After denouncing the torture he originally set them up for, the second graphic novel follows Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as he goes to Nicky and Joe to show them his research into the immortals and how much they’ve helped the world. Instead, the end of the first film has Copley show his findings to Andy, Nile, Joe, and Nicky, and his wall of photographs and timelines is what convinces Nile she’s right in staying with the Guard. So for the 900-year-old warriors, there could be room for some backstory in the sequel.
Joe and Nicky met in 1099 during the First Crusade. Enemies locked in a religious battle, they killed each other many times before finally laying down their weapons, a very heavy example of the enemies-to-friends-to-lovers trope.
While The Old Guard went back in time to show us some of Andy, Quyhn, and Lykon’s (Michael Ward) story, Nicky and Joe’s were only told through quick anecdotes. But this year’s The Old Guard: Tales Through Time, an anthology of Old Guard tales in different time periods, covers some of their more recent history. During a romantic evening in 1930s Berlin, things turns violent while an argument over “what is right” separates them in 1969 on the evening of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. With bigger plot priorities, these probably won’t get screen time, but they could provide interesting foils to present-day explorations of right and wrong, especially as Nile continues to figure out her new immortality.
Graphic novels don’t always have time for nuance, and Force Multiplied goes all in on making Quynh (named Noriko in the graphic novels) evil. She’s the clear villain, graphically torturing Booker by delivering his head to the Guard, and forcing Andy to experience continuous drowning.
In light of Andy’s mortality, that last part can’t exactly happen, but it could ground Quynh’s story more. Force Multiplied has some touching Andy/Noriko moments, but they’re steeped in Noriko’s manipulations and exploitation of Andy’s disillusionment of the world. The Old Guard 2 could and should allow us into Quynh’s head more, and explore the trauma of drowning while the world moves on without you.
On the beach where they leave Booker, Andy’s last comment to her friend is to “have a little faith.” Booker may be at Quynh’s mercy for now, but The Old Guard’s dedication to the heart of what it means to be human is all the more important when death isn’t a factor.