Director Matthew Vaughn Says the Superhero Genre is Almost Dead and That’s Why He’s Doing X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

     August 8, 2010

Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) doesn’t think there’s much life left in the superhero genre.  Set to direct X-Men: First Class, Vaughn told LA Times’ Hero Complex, “It’s been mined to death and in some cases the quality control is not what it’s supposed to be.  People are just going to get bored of it.”  So why is he doing X-Men?

“I’ve always wanted to do a big-budget superhero film and I think we’ve kind of crossed the Rubicon with superhero films. I think [the opportunity to do one], it’s only going to be there two or three more times.  Then the genre is going to be dead for a while because the audience has just been pummeled too much.”

Hit the jump for why I think Vaughn has miscalculated in more ways than one.

kick-ass_set_photo_matthew_vaughn_aaron_johnson_chloe_moretzI don’t think audiences are being pummeled by superhero movies.  If you look at the calendar, superhero movies are, for the most part, summer movies.  And even then, they’re holding maybe a total of four weeks out of May, June, July, and August.  What audiences are being pummeled by is the marketing for a handful of superhero movies.  Marvel and DC aren’t even close to mining their vast roster superheroes and their stories.  Sure, there are plenty of superhero movies in development, but so are plenty of non-superhero movies.

I also think Vaughn’s assumption that audiences will tire of superhero movies is unfounded.  I just don’t see that happening anywhere.  Even if Green Lantern, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers all flop, I think audiences would still be willing to see a superhero movie.  They may be slightly more wary, but they’re not going to dismiss the genre because of a handful of bad movies.

As long as there’s a property with a built-in audience that has some semblance of cinematic potential, Hollywood will make that movie.  Whether it’s a comic-book, a regular book, a toyline, a theme park ride–it doesn’t matter. Hollywood wants movies that are as pre-sold as possible.  And even if audiences did turn their back (and they won’t), Disney isn’t going to throw up their hands and say “Gosh, I guess we just blew $4 billion to buy Marvel.  Darn.”

Vaughn’s statement makes me sad not because he believes that superhero movies might be done, but because that’s why he decided to do one.  It’s a cynical decision.  He’s basically saying that it wasn’t the world or the characters or the story that attracted him.  It was a now-or-never calculation that’s unfounded.

However, he did rag on Brett Ratner and X-Men: The Last Stand and that was awesome:

“As it happens, I could have made something a hundred times better than the film that was eventually made,” Vaughn told the Daily Telegraph. “It sounds arrogant, but I could have done something with far more emotion and heart.”

It does sound arrogant, but I don’t care.  It’s most likely true.  Now let’s see if he can bring that emotion and heart to X-Men: First Class.

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