Very few directors have started off their careers with the successful streak that Vaughn has had. Each of his four films is rocking at least a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, and at least a 7.3 on IMDB (that’s pretty good in case you didn’t know). He began his rise by producing the awesome crime/thriller/comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels for best friend and director Guy Richie. The success of the film prompted the two to collaborate again on the similar yet more successful Snatch. Four years later he decided to helm his own crime/thriller…
Layer Cake (2004)
Shortly before Daniel Craig embodied the James Bond of every girl’s dreams he played a retiring drug dealer who had the misfortune of retiring one job too late. It certainly feels very similar to his Richie collaborations but substitutes the comedic elements for a more raw approach. As far as directorial debuts go, Layer Cake is a home run. It’s a good thing Vaughn went straight for dessert. After an intense crime film, the next logical step would be to adapt an epic fantasy/romance/action/adventure/comedy/family book, right? Well that’s exactly what he did…
Featuring a stud cast with the likes of Robert De Niro, Ian McKellan, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Claire Danes, Vaughn continued to evolve his directorial skills. His adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel (who also wrote Coraline and MirrorMask) follows Tristan, a young man who is so in love that he ventures out to fetch a fallen star to win his love’s heart. Various unexpected adventures ensue involving no less than homicidal princes, De Niro in a pink tutu, and unicorns head-butting goats to death. Having checked off the ‘make a perfect family/date/hungover Sunday movie’ off his list Vaughn went darker and bloodier…
With another adaptation (this time Mark Millar’s comic Kick-Ass), Matthew Vaughn finally became a name people were aware of. He took the story of an average teenage boy who became a superhero and gave it heart, comedy, and a bad ass foul mouthed little girl who could take down Batman. After this successful trek into the comic book world he was tapped for one of the biggest comic book adaptations of all time…
X-Men: First Class (2011)
After bailing from the director’s chair on both X-Men: The Last Stand and Thor over the past few years, Vaughn finally scratched his blockbuster comic itch with this reboot of the X-Men franchise. It almost seems like it was a perfect storm combining the thrilling crime storytelling he used in Layer Cake, the fantastical epicness from Stardust and the offbeat comic and comical world from Kick-Ass to create one of the best comic adaptations to date.
Though, sadly, he will not be behind the camera for the X-Men or Kick-Ass sequels, he will be producing so we will get more of that great comic book Matthew Vaughn-ness we all love. Kick-Ass 2 comes out later this year on August 16th and X-Men: Days of Future Past releases next year. Vaughn returns to the chair in 2014 for The Secret Service, which is shockingly based on a comic by Mark Millar and written by Jane Goldman (who just so happened to write Stardust, Kick-Ass and X-Men). Who says cliques are bad?
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