‘Mined to death’? ‘X-Men’ director says Hollywood is killing the superhero movie

Aug. 06, 2010 | 4:18 p.m.
X-Men First Class team

The clock is ticking on the superhero craze in Hollywood, according to Matthew Vaughn, the director now filming “X-Men: First Class” for Fox in London.

“It’s been mined to death and in some cases the quality control is not what it’s supposed to be,” Vaughn said. “People are just going to get bored of it.”

Vaughn, who produced, directed and co-wrote “Kick-Ass,” says he pounced on the chance to make a film about the uncanny mutants from Marvel Comics because he expects the current boom in superhero cinema to fizzle out in the near future.

“I’ve always wanted to do a big-budget superhero film and I think we’ve kind of crossed the Rubicon with superhero films,” Vaughn said. “I think [the opportunity to do one], it’s only going to be there two or three more times.”

“Then,” he added, “the genre is going to be dead for a while because the audience has just been pummeled too much.”

Next summer, “X-Men: First Class” will join “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor” and “Green Lantern” in a parade of costumed heroes in big-budget films at the cineplex.

Vaughn said audience fatigue is already starting to set in. The subject material can’t sustain the Hollywood trample, he said, and the inevitable box-office duds and derivative projects will mark the end of the gold rush by studios.

“It is a crowded room,” Vaughn said “It’s too crowded.”

Claudia Schiffer and Matthew Vaughn

The 39-year-old filmmaker (who is married to German model Claudia Schiffer) is known for a candor that is rare in Hollywood circles.

He had been in talks to direct the third “X-Men” film but that didn’t work out (he instead went off to make the underrated “Stardust“) and the superhero project went to Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour“), who delivered “X-Men: The Last Stand,” the 2006 film that became the biggest money-maker in the franchise despite far more sour reviews than the two previous films.

Vaughn didn’t shy away from slagging on Ratner’s film: “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.”

Vaughn made his mark in movies as the producer of three Guy Ritchie films — “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch” and “Swept Away.” He made his directorial debut with “Layer Cake” in 2004. “X-Men: First Class,” starring James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (aka Professor X) and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr (aka, Magneto) is due in theaters in June 2011.

— Geoff Boucher


X-Men First Class

Shared dream? After “Inception,” Vaughn axes “First Class” scene

Bryan Singer on “First Class”: It’s got to be about Xavier and Magneto

James McAvoy will think big as Professor X

Was it real? Ryan Reynolds and the cute kid at Comic-Con

Ian McKellen surrounded by evil mutants on “The View”

Robert Rodriguez may dip into “Deadpool”

IMAGES: Top and bottom, “X-Men: First Class” by John Cassaday (Marvel Comics). Middle, Claudia Schiffer and Matthew Vaughn at the March premiere of “Kick-Ass” in London (Fergus McDonald/Getty Images)



80 Responses to ‘Mined to death’? ‘X-Men’ director says Hollywood is killing the superhero movie

  1. Brett says:

    Frankly, Vaughn's yet to put his money where his mouth is as a director, and producing three indie films directed by Guy Ritchie (including the truly horrendous "Swept Away") is not the resume on which I'd want to rely as the credentials for having an opinion about what audiences will want to watch.

    • Miles says:

      Get out of here, Rattner.

    • Jason says:

      I agree about "money where your mouth is" but X-men 3 sucked. It couldn't have been more about the "stars" in the movie. It was the Haley / Hugh movie. I like both but how can you kill off Cyclops and Prof X in the same movie just because you are paying these two the most. I look at it this way. He can't do a worse job. Its only UP from x-men 3.

  2. Jason.T says:

    Amen to that, X-Men: The last stand was horrible. Brett Ratner should never be allowed to direct another movie..ever…ever. Kick-ass, well kicked ass and I can't wait to see Vaughn's take on First class.

  3. Raleigh says:

    He is completely right. Brett Ratner absolutely deep-sixed what could have been one of the best superhero triolgies of all time. 1 & 2 were fantastic then he made Godfather 3.

    • Otto says:

      Layer Cake is so unlike any of these other films and is very well worth viewing more than once. Now than Ritchie's no longer married to ego-queen Madonna, he is making good films again. "Swept Away" is somewhat excusable.

  4. Shinra says:

    The problem with most American Comics is that there is no end…a good story needs a beginning, middle, and end. Lord of Rings, Harry Potter, and Twilight all had a story line that ended…
    Batman, Spiderman, Superman, and Xmen can all conceivably go on and on forever and that is what I think is their biggest downfall. Being a comic book fan in my school days, I saw this problem early on…Instead of giving these Super Heroes a graceful exit, they just continue to milk them until there is nothing left…I saw this with the print version, the saturday morning cartoons, and now the movie releases…It just goes on and on and on an eventually people will get bored and move on as well…

    • mheister19 says:

      (spoiler alert) Yeah, um, Rowling's considering writing more Potter books, since she never did kill off Harry, Hermione or Ron (and all three characters are left married and have children at Hogwarts – natch! – at the end of the seventh book), and James Bond and Sherlock Holmes seem to be immortal too. It's not just the Yanks who are guilty of the never-dying franchises and franchise characters. And while I agree about many of these great characters being done to death, I can't really advocate a ban on sequels and remakes and reimaginings because Ron Moore's Galactica reboot, JJ Abrams' take on the original Star Trek, and the last couple of Bond flicks all rocked.

    • Knossis says:

      I don't think it matters how long a character has been around, you just have to give the character an arc in the screen play. James Bond has been around for decades and he still packs them in the seats. The studio's just have to treat the character and audience with a little respect. When they do you get gems like the Dark knight. When they don't, you get X-men 3.

  5. JBPravda says:

    Bravissimo……..candor can do.
    Look, disinterring every demi-god (real or imagined) from every possible culture is anti-cultural at best. Ex. A: 'Thor'………….c'mon; ok, he's got a day named for him but, is this what we've come to: next up, 'Private Deities of Prison Inmates Suing the Warden on First Amendment Grounds'…………here's a script from inmate #228848883, who worships 'Quando', a name he really likes, and heard in the shower at the max security Penitentiary for the Hollywood Wannabes.

  6. xicanoboy1331 says:

    I've been an X-Men fan since I was 10 and I have enjoyed NONE of the X-Men films.

    • Jae West says:

      THANK YOU!!! Someone finally spoke the truth. I liked NONE of them but they get all this praise. For what Brian Singer is over rated making those X-Men movies. The casting was terrible, except for Professor X. The story was weak. Wolverine was too tall. Halle Berry looked weak. Singer didn't develop none of the characters that was that good. Why does this movie get all this praise??? Who knows? I would redo the WHOLE thing. Better!

    • Felmmando says:

      That's prolly *because* you've been an X-Men fan since you were 10. People unfamiliar with the great comics haven't set high standards.

  7. gern says:

    "Stardust" was pure dreck. It's impossible to underrate that film.

  8. trajan says:

    These superhero films are being overexposed but this Vaughn guy is typical of most young directors in Hollywood in that we get a lot of bravado and talk but where is the beef? Kick-Ass the movie? Gimme a break! That was a very unattractive film coming from the mind of Vaughn.
    I think the problem is with the directors that are just not that talented to keep up with the demand for superhero films. Most of these superhero films are bad. Just look at the comedic direction being taken with the new Green Hornet film. Most times the direction and stories are bad and so the films are bad. Don't blame the genre.

    • Michael says:

      Green Hornet is being directed by Michel Gondry. You can't seriously be saying that he isn't a good director.

    • knossis says:

      I agree totally! Green Hornet was garbage pure and simple. It had no soul or depth, it was just stupid. While I enjoyed some aspects of Kick Ass. It's not a great movie nor do I think Vaughn is a great director. His thoughts on the genre has everything to do with Hollywood's take on it. I agree that Hollywood will probably mess it up but I also think his version of Kick Ass was part of that too. We'll see what he does with First Class though. We very rarely get a Chris Nolan who puts his heart and soul into every project, even a comic book movie. We mostly get people who don't take the material seriously and produce crap.

  9. Heisenberg says:

    The dude about to make yet another lame ass comic film is saying this?

    • sarroth says:

      @Heisenbery: Exactly what I was thinking. He is making a movie for FOX, whereas Captain America and Thor that are coming out are actually collaborated on with Marvel. He is making a movie in a series with a terrible 3rd act, and expecting gold because they replace perfect actors for Xavier and Magneto with young guys, and replace well-known characters of Storm, Cyclops, and Wolverine with characters like Emma Frost who, while incredibly popular with hard-core comics fans, are hardly known by the mainstream individuals who drastically contribute to box office sales as well. I for one have heard of her but don't have a connection to her like with the aforementioned characters, and her appearance isn't going to replace the lack of those characters for me. Yes, there have been plenty of terrible comic book movies: X-Men 3, Daredevil, Catwoman, Fantastic Four, Ang Lee's Hulk, on and on and on…but with the huge success of the Batman and Iron Man franchises, I don't see how superhero movies have been "mined to death." Clearly they can be done well, just not the way that writers and directors generally have done it in the past. Superhero movies are hard to do right and for the most part the care hasn't been given to the movies to make them the gold they could be.

  10. A "comic book movie" is just another type of movie, like a spy movie, an action movie, or a mystery. If done well (think "The Dark Knight" or "Iron Man") Hollywood can keep making them forever.

    • J Red says:

      Sure but some genres still fall out of popularity (sometimes temporarily) even if they don't go away completely. For example they don't make nearly as many western films as they used to but they still make them. They have been making superhero films for a long time even though everyone like Johnston acts like this is a new idea and simply a fad. I think they will continue making them but at some point it will die down a little and they won't have a summer packed with them anymore.

  11. J. Galt says:

    Vaughn would do well to have something more than lackluster and mediocre backing up his BIG MOUTH.

  12. MARK11 says:

    Right on Matty!!!
    But isn't that Hollywood in a nutshell.
    They have a success…they see only the short term dollar signs.
    They ignored us so called geeks and nerds for soooo long.
    We just weren't cool enough.
    Until we became the new market.
    And then…Hollywood does their thing.
    And screw it all up…all for the almighty dollar.
    As opposed to telling great stories.
    Write on, right on.

  13. Cheesewhiz says:

    …he walks on water, his poop doesn't stink and he doesn't need to wipe his behind either because it magically does it all by itself… who gives a rats ass what this clown says. … the only thing that he has going for him is that he is married to claudia schiffer… and she is so fine, that I can overlook the rest

  14. longbowhunter says:

    Yep…this is something I've been saying for awhile now. I give it 5 years before the comic book genre becomes completely toxic in Hollywood….which will work out great for Marvel,but DC and Warner Bros probably wont even have made another decengt Superman film by then. I'd say we're going to see damn near the entire Marvel Universe make it to film,and maybe half the Justice League before it all goes belly up. Reboots of Spiderman,Reboots of X-Men,Reboots of Fantastic Four and Daredevil….THESE are the flicks that are going to kill the golden goose.

  15. Yargle123 says:

    The main problem is they make them wrong. Origin stories are boring. These movies would be far better, (and more in keeping with the spirit of comics) if they would just carry on like some random issue. Act like we "know" and "get" the characters already and just focus on compelling adventure.

  16. Mathew says:

    X-men 3 was weak, and Stardust was fun (my wife loved it).
    Good super hero movies will ALWAYS have an audience if they are good (when did the first Superman come out?)
    People look for a fun action movie that can take their mind off of life for a bit. Super hero movies do just that.

  17. Smokey says:

    Well, I hope all this runs out because we are due another Wolverine movie with Jackman in 2012, and I am very much looking forward to it.

  18. whiskey says:

    Like most Hollywood idiots, Vaughn does not understand the audience or the material. Overexposed? Superman is over 70 years old and is the best known (and loved) fictional character around the Globe. Everyone knows and loves Superman.
    Comic books (the originals and Silver Age ones in the 1960's) worked because they were written in a pop-pulp manner for boys and young men by guys wanting to make stuff that sold, as opposed to getting their back patted by peers for "edgy" stuff that three critics saw and loved on the Upper East Side. Guys like Siegel, Schuster, Kirby, Fox, Kane, and Lee may not have been Shakespeare or Arthur Miller, but they entertained generations of boys. With heroes colorful, weird, and above all powerful by way of character expressed by powers. That's good stuff.
    Hollywood can't and won't make Westerns (because an increasingly Hispanic America doesn't care or is hostile to Western Myths for obvious reconquista reasons). Hollywood cannot make decent action movies. What else is left to appeal to boys and young men? Rom-Coms with aging Jennifer Aniston?Depressing "edgy" stuff with no heroes?
    Kick-Ass was a terrible movie (and stupid comic book) because the comic itself was aimed at 40 year old hipsters instead of 11 year old boys. The comic sold almost nothing, and was nothing but a development vehicle for film.
    Classic characters like Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, the Flash, the X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four will be made into movies forever. Because there will always be 11 year old boys who love them (and will beg parents to buy toys, bedsheets, lunch boxes of them, far more profitable than the movie itself).
    Kick-Ass, Speedball, Ant-Man, and Northstar, not so much.

  19. jamesman says:

    Making an x-men movie 100 times better than x3 would not be hard for ANYONE. So thats not saying much. I think the superhero genre won't die, hopefully the boom will be over and it can find an appropriate level. Maybe iron man, wolverine and spiderman might not be on every kids backpack. Just those that truly appreciate them.

  20. comic relief says:

    As much as Vaughn’s statements are provocative he is not qualified to be the guru of the superhero genre. I might believe these predictions coming from the super successful Kenneth Nolan. He’s a proven game changer in at least 3 different genres and has produced two ground breaking and excellent superhero films.
    I’m not dismissing Vaughn; it’s just that genres don’t stop because they or the audience get exhausted. Artistic vision produces great movies and audiences. Just ask Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, John Ford, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, etc. Obviously we can't ignore the multiple superhero movie successes of Sam Raimi or Jon Favreau either.
    Given that all of these directors are authors in one genre or another and many are still making wonderful films; there is little evidence to prove Vaughn correct.

  21. comic relief says:

    I meant Christopher Nolan. Sorry Kenneth is my brother in law.

  22. Danny says:

    Brett Ratner will soon reveal that he is also Joe Carnahan in disguise.

  23. Scott says:

    I actually find comic book movies improving and getting better. Your always going to a have stinker, not all of them are going to be good. But what you see Marvel doing with Iron Man, Hulk (reboot), Captain America, Thor, is genius. They are taking these serious and attaching a good cast, good writers, and a good director and not someone like Brett Ratner or some other hack director.

  24. Pookiefreak says:

    Vaughn is all ego when it comes to…well, Vaughn. He couldn't handle the satire that was 'Kick-Ass.' Millar's comic-book gave us the brilliant revelation that Big Daddy was a fraud, a simple accountant 'fan-boy' who financed his super-hero efforts by selling off his rare comic book connection. Vaughn's film gave us…Kick-Ass with a Jet Pack. That and a final act that was overly sentimental, cliche' and redundant – nothing like Millar's book. What was shocking and fun on the page became the same old thing on the screen under Vaughn's direction. The reality is that the 'Superhero' film has finally become a mature, complex and vital genre. 'The Dark Knight" was the most critically acclaimed film of 2008. Its nominations for the PGA, DGA and WGA awards, along with Heath Ledger's Oscar win, finally had Hollywood itself admitting films based on 'costumed heroes' could be intelligent and insightful social commentary. The commercial and artistic success of 'Iron Man' and 'Watchman' reinforced the unlimited potential of the genre and the fact that comic book movies don't have to follow conventional formulas – like Vaughn did with 'Kick-Ass.' Watch the film's 'Ass-Kicking BonusView Mode' on Blu-Ray and listen to Vaughn pat himself on the back for intelligently making endless conventional decisions in the writing and directing of the film. You come away realizing Vaughn's 'X-Men: First Class' is probably going to have the same formula and feel as the previous 4 'X-Men' films. Any director going into a project feeling the subject matter is "going to be dead for a while because the audience has just been pummeled too much” needs pass on the project and put it in the hands of a director whose attitude is, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!" Thank God for Joss Whedon and Christopher Nolan.

    • Chris says:

      I agree with your points on Kick-Ass although I did enjoy the film. At least it wasn't as completely unrecognizable as Millar's other comic book to film, Wanted.

    • knossis says:

      I'm with youon this! I felt the same way about Kick Ass. Vaungh didn't taken any chance and the shock and twists of the comic were totally missed. He totally jumped the shark with the jet pack, a somewhat ok movie became stupid and over the top. He totally missed the concept of the comic. The fact that the character got his ass kicked and didn't get the girl just flew right over his head. If there is a demise of the superhero movie, his films will be leading the charge.

  25. Adolph Hitler says:

    I loved Kick Ass! Cant believe it didnt do better

  26. Luke says:

    As a regular reader of X-Men comics, i have been very disappointed by the film versions of the franchise. I know that everyone has a favorite X-Man that they'd like to see in a film but it would be better to keep their history the same and just tell new stories with the favorite characters instead of totally giving them new origins like wolverine or meeting angel for the first time in X-Men: Last Stand during the Phoenix story. We have great technology these days, if the human torch can flame on or the girl in Hellboy can catch on fire, why couldn't Phoenix display the firebird?

  27. Keeper says:

    Seems a lot of people like to jump on the bandwagon.
    Out of the three, I liked the third X-Men movie the best. But hey, I'm just a fan of the comics.
    This guy insults another movie maker, when he has such a crappy resume. Not only that, but he rips on a "superhero" movie, and then wants to go make one. What? He says he can make a better one. That's really up to the fans to decide.
    Also, Ratner made a great movie. Singer went on to do Superman Returns. Do I need say more?

  28. johnrj08 says:

    The next Superman film, "Man of Steel" should revivify the genre. Nolan is involved and Zach Snyder is directing.

  29. Jonathan says:

    Only 100 times better? An untrained monkey could pull something out of its posterior orifice that would be 100 times better than Last Stand.

    As long as audiences continue to go to comic movies, Hollywood will keep making them. And as long as Hollywood makes GOOD comic book movies, audiences will go see them. The problem is making a good one. For every win, there are just as many if not more losses. Fortunately, most of the losers are still ok enough that they don't drag down the whole genre. Even X-Men 3 (which in my opinion as a big fan of the X-Men, was just slightly less entertaining than watching a blank screen while having rusty nails shoved into my brain and listening to Freddy Kruger playing "The Chosen Priest and Apostle of Infinite Space" on the chalkboard) managed to make a decent return on its investment. Hopefully what will happen is that Hollywood will stop trying to make "Blockbuster" superhero movies, and will allow those that are passionate and knowledgeable about comics to make good superhero movies. That's probably why (so far) the Marvel movies that have been produced by their movie studio have all done well and have been good movies – they know the material best.

  30. SydField2.0 says:

    You know what's gonna kill the superhero genre? The upcoming Green Lantern movie. I hope I'm wrong, but judging by what little we do have (i.e., a couple of really boring trailers), it's little more than a visual stravaganza out of a story that can be summarized as "Dude! Superpowers! WTF!"

  31. Chris says:

    I've seen what he plans on doing with X-men: First Class and he's one of those "killing the super-hero movies". When you write and direct a movie that is so far away from its source material that it is unrecognizable (ala X-Men:First Class) then you should really keep your mouth shut about what "Hollywood" is doing to the genre.

  32. Potvin says:

    X3 wasn't terrible. Stardust was good. As far as mining the comic book genre, if you can tell a good story it doesn't matter what the basis of that story is. You would think a storyteller would know that.

  33. D says:

    “It’s been mined to death and in some cases the quality control is not what it’s supposed to be,”

    Yeah, like with his X-Men film, that looks damn awful, it’s being rushed to meet a stupid deadline, and has basically nothing to do with the comic it’s about.

  34. Allen says:

    The next wave of hero movies are aimed at launching further franchises rather than telling a story that will compel an audience to return for a sequel (Dark Knight And Iron Man being the exceptions). They won't give us what we want, a great cinematic recreation of the comic book. To them are consumer sheep that will buy anything comic related (Iron Man 2 and all the X-Men movies are an example of this).The expotential influx of this genre will tire people out, like gung ho military films, and westerns died out because of over satuation. The ideas weren't new anymore so people went elsewhere.
    And for all those who are hating on Matthew Vaughan, this man has delivered on all fronts. I won't say genuis, but IMHO he hasn't wrecked a movie and has freshly delivered interesting movies. Anyone who didn't enjoy his films, its because of personal taste, not because of lack of talent.
    But I think it is bad taste to speak out publicly as he has. Don't bite the hand thats been feeding you.

  35. Jeff says:

    I agree that quality control is whats needed, but that applies to the products these people are churning out far more than it does to the quantity of heroes who are being made into movies. I for one will quite happily go to see 100 "Dark Knights" over one "Hulk". If hollywood cant get the forumla right, they have no business making movies liek this in the first place. Take note hollywood – Iron man was good, Hellboy was great, Dark Knight was amazing, but Hulk, Fantastic four, Daredevil and Wolverine were all utter rubbish. Xmen got progressively worse as it went on because of fundimental changes to the original source materials. Do the job properly or dont touch it with a barge pole!

  36. dirk2112 says:

    The thing is. He's right and unless First Class the film is better than First Class the trailer

  37. Matt says:

    I believe what he says as long as fox keeps making super hero movies-they have killed so many of the things i love

  38. Matt says:

    I think hollywood needs to respect the content–how stupid would it be if they made a movie about 1980’s San Francisco 49ers but had Joe Montana fighting an addiction to crack cocaine, and Jerry Rice being a rich white guy? In other, dont make the movies by what the director thinks would be cool- follow the story and show some respect to the hundreds of great comic writers and artists that came before you

  39. Jim says:

    I think all he’s saying is what every kid learns at film school. Genres come and go.

    You can’t expect hollywood to keep spending millions on a Genre if it stops bringing a return. although, considering the recent innovations in computer animation there is really no genre better suited to take the fullest advantage.

  40. too says:

    Married to Claudia Schiffer? Nice life you rich bastard . Life is brutal and not fair

  41. jack says:

    It's a genre. All genres get milked. But the thing that pisses me is so many directors don't try to create an unique world or make the superhero costumes work. So what we get is an another 1st season episode of "Heroes".

    Vaughn's Havok is just another kid with a crewcut. Imagine a gifted production designer trying to make the Neal Adams Havok suit work.

  42. […] Vaughn can be a loose cannon in interviews, but according to veteran actor Kevin Bacon, the director of ”X-Men: First […]

  43. […] Vaughn can be a loose cannon in interviews, yet according to maestro actor Kevin Bacon, a executive of ”X-Men: First […]

  44. […] Vaughn can be a loose cannon in interviews, but according to veteran actor Kevin Bacon, the director of ”X-Men: First […]

  45. […] they’ve succeeded in the past, so why shouldn’t they succeed now and in the future? To echo Matthew Vaughn, director of X-Men: First Class (2011), yay, way to latch on and run things into the ground, […]

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