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Why Matthew Vaughn Made Kingsman: The Secret Service Instead of X-Men: Days of Future Past

Adapted from Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar’s 7-part comic book series The Secret Service, the film Kingsman: The Secret Service was at one point best known as being the thing Matthew Vaughn chose to make instead of sticking with the X-Men franchise. He’s the guy who directed First Class, and he could have directed Days of Future Past if he wanted. Instead, Bryan Singer and writer/producer Simon Kinberg went up to Canada to make Future Past, running up one of the biggest budgets in 20th Century Fox’s history in the process, and Vaughn stayed in England to put together Kingsman. His goal was to do for the spy genre what his previous film Kickass did for the superhero genre in 2000: give it a right solid kick in the arse. In fact, Vaughn told EW the entire idea for Secret Service emerged from drunken pub conversations with Mark Millar over their shared love of spy movies, “We missed all the spy movies we loved as kids, whether it was Bond or ‘In Like Flint.’ They had a sense of humor as well as being a thriller.  With [Kingsman], we’re subversing the spy movie genre as we know it.”

Everything seems to have turned out for the best. Days of Future Past did reasonably well for an X-Men movie, although Singer and the actors ended up making more from it than the studio did, and Kingsman appears to be the franchise-starter Vaughn was hoping for. It definitely gave all of us an entirely new way of looking at Colin Firth, that secret bad-ass. But Vaughn’s First Class more or less saved the X-Men film franchise after it had self-destructed with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Even with the fine work Singer did with Days of Future Past, there are those who would have liked to see a version of the story directed by Vaughn, perhaps if only to see if he would have also killed off almost the entire cast of First Class via a file folder with the word “DECEASED” stamped over each person’s picture. Well, Vaughn didn’t get that specific about it, but in a podcast interview with Empire Magazine he did explain how he went from Days of Future Past to Kingsman:

“What happened on Days of Futures Past was I finished the treatment, and I was really excited. I remember pitching it, ‘Guys, let’s do the Godfather 2 of the X-Men world, bring all of them together using the Days of Future Past comic.’ I wrote a 12-page treatment. Simon Kinberg went off to turn that into a screenplay, and then Kingsman just fell out of me. I’d finished the script for it before Days of Future Past. Then they came in, and there was a bit of a wobble over whether I still wanted to do Days of Future Past. Then I found out that Bryan Singer had first option to direct it. Being a gentleman, he said, ‘Okay, Matthew you can do it.’ No one explained that to me when I did First Class. No one said I had to sit there and see if Bryan yayed or nayed it. But at the same time it is Bryan’s franchise. He was meant to do First Class, but he couldn’t because Warner Bros. wouldn’t let him out of doing Jack the Giant Slayer. Then I had Kingsman. I even asked Fox, ‘Can I do Kingsman, and then Days of Future Past?’ I was worried with Kingsman that the fun spy movie seemed such an obvious thing in some way, and no one else was doing it. Now, we’ve got that spy movie with Melissa McCarthy as well as Man from UNCLE, but I didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t want to do Kingsman after the wave had already come because everything that was going to make it look fresh and original would look boring and predictable. Fox was not going to hold back their X-Men franchise for two years so that I could go off and do a new franchise.”

xmen-days-of-future-pastVaughn’s not at all bitter about it, though. To him, it kind of feels like the universe finding balance. Days of Future Past was his idea, and Bryan Singer ended up getting to make it. Well, First Class was actually Bryan Singer’s idea, but Vaughn obviously ended up being the guy to make that. When asked if he would have done anything differently if he’d had the chance to direct Days of Future Past, Vaughn is quick to admit he couldn’t have made it any better, quite the opposite really:

“The best scene in the movie, Quicksilver breaking Magneto out of prison, was Singer’s idea. I wouldn’t have done that. So, I would have made the movie worse. I had Juggernaut being thrown out of a plane from 20,000 feet, and using his head to go down a hole and get to the bottom of it. I used a younger Juggernaut and had Beast telling him, ‘Alright, we’ve got a plan.’ When he asked, ‘What’s the plan?’ Beast was just going to grab him and throw him out the window of an airplane. Juggernaut then used his head to smash through Magneto’s prison, and Magneto would look at him and just say, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ The Quicksilver scene was better.”

26554-why-joss-whedon-shouldn-t-watch-x-men-days-of-future-pastHe’s not wrong, but I have to admit – his Juggernaut scene would have been pretty hilarious.

Source: Empire

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  1. I am not sure if he is wrong…as cool as the “time in a bottle” scene is, it is also the greatest weakness of the movie. Quicksilver is way too powerful.

    1. I would disagree at least about the specific scene. That scene with Quicksilver is the standout moment of the movie, and Vaughn never would have thought to do that. The problem with Quicksilver is that he is dropped from the film for no good reason (story wise) when in fact the real reason they dropped him is because he’s so powerful that much of the second half of the film would have been undone by having him around, as argued by How It Should Have Ended:

      Honestly, that’s not something which particularly bothered me because I cared enough about Mystique, Magneto, Xavier, Wolverine, and Beast that I was simply invested in the story and going along with everything. However, so, so, so many people pointed out that particular plot hole afterward.

      1. I think you could have done a very similar scene without making Quicksilver quite as fast. But they went overboard for the visual effect (which, yes, was striking, but I think a visual effect is only than really well done when it serves the movie).

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