In a recent SFX Magazine interview, Producer/Director Matthew Vaughn shared his thoughts on the current trends of Hollywood comic book superhero films, comparing recent successes against the industry standard, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
In what is surely not an attempt to inception us, Vaughn tells SFX that:
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.
Nerds might also recognize this core debate as the classic difference between Batman and just about every other superhero.
Batman is dark. Quite literally he’s the Dark Knight. His parents were murdered in front of him, and he was raised by an emotionally stunted Englishman in a giant creepy house and never got any therapy.
Pairing a gritty realistic film tone with such a tragic character seemed to be more in-line with the story. Opting for real stunts over excessive CGI, building a character driven plot, and casting world class actors didn’t hurt either. Vaughn is no stranger to being true to the source material either. In 2006 after bowing out of directing X-Men: The Last Stand (and subsequently replaced with Brett Ratner), he was openly critical of the film saying he could have produced something “a hundred times better” and “something with far more emotion and heart.” Indeed, telling the story of the X-Men requires a whole lot of heart – so much of their world is built around feelings of isolation and fear. That’s just how you tell a good X-Men story though, which he went on to do in 2011’s soft-reboot X-Men: First Class (Director) and 2014’s sequel X-Men: Days Of Future Past (Story).
Does Matthew Vaughn have his finger on the pulse of what’s trending? Perhaps, but perhaps not. From a producers standpoint following in the wake of Guardians of the Galaxy seems the best course of action for a return on investment. However, what made GoTG such a hit, similar to what made the Nolan trilogy amazing, was that they went left as everyone else was going right. Some might say the true hallmark of these films was that they were zeitgeists of change away from the current climate of a singular comic book superhero film formula. So what’s the next game-changer? Our money is on the Sorcerer Supreme unless Nolan feels like writing a Nighwing spin-off with Jospeh Gordon-Levitt (totally not inceptioning you, we promise).