With Kingsman: The Golden Circle opening this weekend to much fanfare, director Matthew Vaughn is already looking ahead. There’s a third Kingsman, of course, as well as possible spinoffs, but the filmmaker has also expressed a desire to take a shot at the Fantastic Four as an apology of sorts for his role in Josh Trank’s 2015 flop. More intriguing still is his recent confirmation of a months-old report that he’s spoken with Warner Bros. about helming the sequel to Man of Steel.
Interesting, certainly, but is Vaughan the right director for the job? Absolutely.
A longtime fan of the DC Comics icon, the director collaborated on a movie pitch in 2008 with writer Mark Millar (Superman: Red Son, Kick-Ass) in the wake of Superman Returns. Warner Bros. ultimately went with what became Man of Steel, based on a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, but the Last Son of Krypton clearly is never far from Vaughn’s mind. “I love Superman,” he said.
With a list of credits that includes Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and two installments of Kingsman, Vaughn is well-versed in the art of the comics adaptation; he recognizes what to keep from the source material, and what to jettison in the transition to the big screen. That can be seen in Kick-Ass and Kingsman, where placed his own spin to the characters. He’s seemingly cracked the code for the popcorn movie, a feat made all the more impressive given he began his career as a producer of such low-budget films as Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.
But Vaughn also knows how to reinvigorate a flagging property, which is precisely what Superman needs — particularly in the wake of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Director Zack Snyder’s depiction of the Man of Steel had heroic moments, but fans desire a more inspirational hero. Let’s be real, if Vaughn could help to reinvigorate Fox’s X-Men franchise after Brett Ratner’s disastrous 2006 film The Last Stand, then he can certainly do the same for DC’s premier hero.
He knows how to throw protagonists at mainstream audiences, again which we’ve seen with Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, Eggsy as a Kingsman and secret service agent, and of course with Xavier and Magneto. What’s also crucial is that he has the acumen as to how to franchise. He’s now looking to expand the Kingsman universe and after First Class, he also produced on 2014’s Days of Future Past so it’s not as if he’s a director who comes in for a one-shot and then leaves the project totally. With him, you get the impression of longevity.
Vaughn intuitively recognizes what notes to hit, recently noting he’d like for his Superman to be more uplifting, which would seem to signal he actually understands the character. “Go back to the source material,” he said. “For me Superman is color, feel-good, heroic. He’s a beacon of light in darkness. And that’s what I think Superman should be.”
Fans shouldn’t worry about Vaughn’s approach to story and character, or the spectacle these kinds of movies thrive on. Snyder focused on the latter too much, but Vaughn is the ideal person to strike a balance. The action sequences are phenomenal in his films, yet he still finds heart and soul in the script. They’re not about gratuitous explosions merely for the sake of destruction; theyr’e about meaningful and emotive drama.
Given how experienced the director is, he’s a good bet, and not merely a safe one. Vaughn wants to bring the color and vibrancy back to Superman, and after seeing Patty Jenkins’ success with Wonder Woman, now is a perfect a time for a similar approach to the Last Son of Krypton.
At the end of the day, Superman is a flagship property, and deserves a director who isn’t afraid to flip the script, but who is also loyal to the core of the character — an immigrant striving to make the Earth a better place. With Vaughn’s filmography, we have faith he can reshape Superman as a cinematic icon. If anything, the age of heroes would roll on even smoother under his watch, without a need to erase what what’s been built within the fledgling DC Extended Universe.
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