‘Kick-Ass’ Director Matthew Vaughn Says Audiences “Have Had Enough” of Dark Superhero Movies

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As ‘Batman’ goes, so goes comic-book movies. When Tim Burton turned the Dark Knight into a retro-gothic hero, Hollywood followed suit with a slew of heavily stylized pulp throwbacks. (See: ‘Dick Tracy,’ ‘The Phantom,’ ‘The Shadow,’ etc.) And when Christopher Nolan turned the Dark Knight into, well, ‘The Dark Knight,’ it sparked a wave of “grim and gritty” movies, with serious superheroes doing and saying serious things in outrageous spandex costumes that had been reimagined as biker gear or body armor. (See: ‘Man of Steel’ [Or maybe don’t.]) There’s been some pushback, but we’re really only now coming out of the trend toward ultra-serious, uber-dark comic-book movies.

So it is interesting to read the comments by Matthew Vaughn in the latest issue of SFX Magazine (via THR). Vaughn, who previously directed the movie adaptation of Mark Millar’s ‘Kick-Ass’ and will soon release his version Millar’s ‘The Secret Service’ (now called ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’), thinks that audiences have had enough of the Nolan model of superhero movie. He says they’re ready for something different. Something lighter:

People want fun and escapism at the moment. Look at the success of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ I think Nolan kick-started a very dark, bleak style of superhero escapism, and I think people have had enough of it.

This is basically what I was arguing for in my ‘Spider-Man 3’ essay last week. The Nolan model is great (particularly when it’s Christopher Nolan doing it), but that’s not the only way to make a good comic-book movie. Big and bright and silly and weird is great too, and that’s the end of the spectrum that’s been mostly missing from the last couple years. As I wrote in that Spidey piece, comic-book movies should be allowed to feel like comic books. I haven’t seen ‘Kingsman’ yet, but by all accounts it’s definitely not in that low-key realistic mode. If it feels like a comic book brought to life onscreen, I am all for it. And it will be interesting to see when we get our new Batman in 2016—the one played by Ben Affleck in ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’—what he looks like, how he acts, and whether he sparks a new superhero trend in Hollywood.

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