The Old Guard, Netflix’s new action drama about Charlize Theron leading a squad of immortal mercenaries, isn’t exactly a superhero movie. But it is a comic book movie, and so we can say that it’s following a time honored tradition when it teases a sequel in a scene that pops up after the true ending of the movie.
“In case of sequel, break glass,” writer Greg Rucka told me when I asked about the quick coda at the beginning of The Old Guard’s credits. “It’s very straightforward. You want another one? Here’s a way to get into it.”
But, Rucka cautioned, there was another reason for the quick aside. So let’s explore that reason, and what might be next for Theron’s Andromache the Scythian and her band of warriors.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for The Old Guard on Netflix, the graphic novel The Old Guard, and its sequel, The Old Guard: Force Multiplied.]
The final scene of The Old Guard reveals that Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo), Andromache’s old immortal flame, is still alive and free of her horrifying, underwater imprisonment. During the 17th century, Andy and Quynh were captured and tried as witches in England. Andy was eventually able to escape, but not before Quynh was locked inside an iron maiden and thrown into the sea — sentenced to perpetual drowning.
Andy and her allies were never able to find where Quynh had been left, and they had assumed, or hoped, that she had eventually died her final death. But in the last scene of The Old Guard movie, Booker, exiled from the group, stumbles home drunk to his apartment, only to find Quynh inside, drinking a glass of water as if she hadn’t had enough of the stuff three hundred years ago.
“Booker,” she says to the man who only discovered his immortality in the 1800s, “It’s nice to finally meet you,” though it seems pretty clear she has no kindly intentions towards him.
Rucka, co-creator of The Old Guard comic and screenwriter of the film, says that his intentions weren’t just about hinting at a sequel, but hinting that there are still more things that our immortal heroes don’t know about their own history.
“We wanted to say ‘Look, the mythology is bigger than you think it is. There is more going on,” he told Polygon. “That was something that I had no interest in exploring in the comic, but I think when you’re making a movie you’re a little more obligated to at least promise answers to questions. [...] In the first [The Old Guard] story, I didn’t want to waste time or real estate, because comic book pages — that’s your premium, that’s what you’re spending to tell the story.”
But Rucka and artist Leandro Fernández have explored what happens after the end of The Old Guard on Netflix, in their comic book sequel to The Old Guard, The Old Guard: Force Multiplied. So if you’d like to know more about what Quynh does next — and how she’s a little different than in the comic — read on!
What’s the story of Quynh in the Old Guard comics?
The movie The Old Guard is largely the same as the comic book, but Quynh’s story has some significant differences. For one thing, her name is Noriko, and she’s Japanese, rather than Vietnamese — those details were changed on request from her actor, Veronica Ngo.
“When Veronica was cast, she said I’m not Japanese, I’m Vietnamese,” Rucka told Polygon. “[Director Gina Prince-Bythewood] reached out to me and said ‘Can we accommodate that?’ and I was like, ‘Absolutely.’ [...] Noriko becomes Quynh, Quynh is now Vietnamese. It really was as simple as wanting to honor that, and be respectful of that. There was no other clever or nefarious, Oh, maybe there will be a Noriko in the next one.”
The other big difference is in her death. In the comic, Quynh/Noriko is washed overboard during a storm rather than deliberately drowned. According to Rucka, that was partially a logistical change to save money.
“This isn’t the first feature film I’ve had something to do with,” he told Polygon, “but it’s certainly the first time that I’ve written a screenplay and they’ve actually made it. And, yes, it was pointed out to me, at one point, that should we want to do the sea sequence properly, we were talking in the neighborhood of millions of dollars just for that alone. And Netflix could go and make one or two really good movies with that money, and this would be a minute and a half on screen, so perhaps we could come up with something else?”
But Quynh’s new “death,” solidified by Prince-Bythewood’s suggestion of the iron maiden imagery, served an important narrative and tonal role as well.
“[It’s a sequence that] highlighted just how awful people can be,” Rucka said. “In fact, it is one of the most horrible sadistic things I can imagine doing to anybody.”
What happens in the Old Guard sequel comic?
The Old Guard on Netflix doesn’t give us any hint of why Quynh has shown up in Booker’s apartment. But in The Old Guard: Force Multiplied, we get to know why. Quynh has been deeply twisted by her underwater ordeal, and now bears an intense hatred for humanity.
“I think what Veronica does with the one line she has sends chills down the spine,” Rucka told Polygon. “And the fact that she’s pouring herself a glass of water. You kind of go, OK, the lights are on, but nobody’s in that house anymore.”
The interesting side effect of the same writer writing the original comic, the screenplay, and the comic’s sequel, is that the dialogue between comic and movie has gone both ways. Rucka picked up ideas that were developed during the screenwriting process, and poured them back into the comic book sequel, which — if The Old Guard does get a sequel — will likely get poured right back into the movie.
For example, there are revelations at the end of the movie that don’t happen in the comic — the immortals don’t find out that every life they save eventually leads to huge positive dividends for all of humanity until Force Multiplied. But there’s also stuff in the comic’s sequel that don’t make it into the movie, like Quynh/Noriko’s motivations.
Quynh/Noriko believe that she and Andy and all the others been made immortal to make humanity suffer, not to save it. And she wants Andy to join her again, both as her lover, and in her quest to make humanity suffer.
As for what happens when Andy and Quynh/Noriko truly go head to head? We can’t say for certain, because, thanks to coronavirus delays, the final issue of The Old Guard: Force Multiplied has yet to be released. But if you really want to find out what happens next, pick up the four current issues of Force Multiplied, and get #5 when it hits shelves on July 15.