With the precision of a military raid run by a secret government organization, the producers of Kingsman: The Secret Service have made a multi-front attack today as the opening salvo in their promotion of the movie.
The film, originally titled simply The Secret Service, tell the tale of a young British street thug who is welcomed into a James Bond-ish spy network. It is based on a comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons and is brought to the screen by the same man who brought Millar’s Kick-Ass to the big screen, Matthew Vaughn.
Part one of the promotional blitz is the official trailer for the film, which you can see here:
Part two is an interview between the film’s star, Colin Firth, and Entertainment Weekly where the star gushes over the experience of working on the film. The interview comes with exclusive images from the fiolm:
It’s here where we catch a glimpse of cast members Michael Caine and Samuel L. Jackson. I love the fact that comic book adaptations are able to get two Oscar winners and an Oscar nominee in their casts.
And finally, we get a glimpse at the rather elegant teaser poster for the film:
They came on strong and definitely have got my attention. I’m sure we’ll get even more promotion before the film opens on October 24, 2014.
In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. Today, the theme of good and bad as it pertains to the X-Men film franchise continues as we cover its spinoffs—X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a horrible movie. There is no two ways about it. You could see why it got made. Wolverine is the “Fonz” of the X-Men franchise both on the screen and in comics. He’s the breakout star, a man of mystery, and the character audiences are drawn to. Producers could have put any origins story up there for the character and fans would show up in droves. The producers did, and the fans did, although the character, and the actor playing him, definitely deserved better.
The films plot drew on two major comic book storylines, 2002’s Origin by Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins, and Andy Kubert (written, rumor has it, so that Wolverine’s origin would be first told in a comic book and not on the silver screen) and Barry Windsor Smith’s 1991 “Weapon X” serial from Marvel Comics Presents. Adjustments were made to wedge them into the film franchise’s continuity and to set up two characters—Deadpool and Gambit—for possible future films. It was a patchwork plot, with holes in the seams big enough to drive a tractor trailer through.
The film opens by distilling the Origin comic series into the first several minutes of the film. We open in the Northwest Territory of Canada. A young James Howlett witnesses the family’s groundskeeper kill his father. Or at least it was the man who Howlett thought was his father. The groundskeeper with his dying breath admits that he is Howlett’s true father. Distraught, Howlett escapes into the woods with the groundskeeper’s son, Victor Creed, who is Howlett’s half-brother. Confusing, yes? Yes, made even more so by cramming all the melodrama into one brief scene.
The half-brothers deal with the death of their father the best way they know how—they kill other people. They relocate approximately 3,000 miles to the United States (where all the good wars happen) to fight in the Civil War and every major conflict America found itself involved in for the next 100 years (apparently, both brothers are immortal as well as being good healers and having claws). Things turn sour during the Vietnam War, as Creed’s vicious nature as becomes too much for even that era’s U.S. Military (his actions eventually get the brothers in front of a firing squad, which is surprisingly ineffective). Creed (Liev Schrieber), however, is just right for a Black Ops group composed of mutants that Major William Stryker (Danny Huston) is starting up called Team X. Howlett joins his brother in his new job for a while, but eventually leaves when the black ops get too black for his taste.
James, now calling himself Logan, lives a simple life with his longtime girlfriend, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) in rural Canada when now Colonel Stryker comes to call. It appears that members of his old black ops team are being killed off by a mysterious assailant. That mysterious assailant turns out to be Creed, who attacks James and appears to kill Kayla.
Incensed, Logan takes Stryker up on his offer of help and agrees to a process that will give him the advantage over his brother—the bonding of the indestructible metal Adamantium to his bones. The process is a success, but after it is complete, while being submerged under two feet of water and Styker standing at least five yards away, mind you, Logan hears Stryker planning to betray him. Naturally, Logan escapes and plans his vengeance.
He tracks down the few Team X members that are still alive to find out where Stryker’s secret base is. No, not the secret base that Logan just escaped from, a different one (Stryker, apparently, was a big believer in having redundant systems). His buddies Wraith (will.i.am) and Dukes (Kevin Durand) say the secret base is named “The Island” and only one person has ever escaped from the facility—Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit (Taylor Kitsch).
Wraith and Logan track down Gambit in the hopes that LeBeau will reveal the location of the island. While Gambit and Logan fight, what people on the same side typically do in these movies, Victor arrives and kills Wraith. Logan and Victor once again fight, with Gambit coming into the battle on the side of Logan. Gambit realizes Logan is on the level and decides to take Logan to the same island he was willing to engage is thousands of dollars of property damage to keep from being taken back to.
“The Island” is Three Mile Island, which, in the X-Men film universe, was decommissioned and abandoned after the 1979 partial meltdown of reactor 2 (ours wasn’t—reactor 1 is still running today and has been since the accident) and is located in a remote area accessed only by plane, not smack dab in the Susquehanna River, about 15 miles from Pennsylvania’s state capital of Harrisburg, about 30 miles from one of the state’s biggest tourist towns, Gettysburg, 20 miles from one of the major colleges in the state, Dickinson College, and several miles from two airports, several major highway systems, and even a golf course. If the film TMI matched up with the real world TMI, it wouldn’t be all that hard to find.
Anyway, when Logan arrives on “The Island” he finds Kayla is there and still alive. She is a mutant with the powers of persuasion who agreed to work with Stryker in order to keep her sister Emma, who Stryker is keeping captive, alive. Stryker’s ultimate plan is revealed. He was taking DNA from the mutants he captured and/or killed and put the genetic material into Team X member Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), giving him all the powers the mutants had (a “Deadpool” of powers, nyuk nyuk) in order to become a weapon Stryker could use to kill all the mutants in the world.
Logan and Deadpool fight. Victor arrives just in time to save Logan and they both defeat Deadpool. Professor Xavier arrives at the secret base that no one except Gambit knew the location of just twenty minutes ago and saves the captive mutants, including a young Scott Summers (Cyclops from the X-films). Kayla dies again, for real this time, and Stryker induces amnesia in Logan by shooting him in the head with an Adamantium bullet.
It would be easy to say that the script for this film was so bad due to the fact that so many plot elements had to line up with the rest of the X-Men film franchise. After all, Stryker had to be alive in time for X2 and Logan had to be suffering from amnesia at the start of X-Men. Any roads taken in this film would have to lead to there. But these limits shouldn’t result in a film like this. You could write a much better script, keep the continuity intact, and have a much better movie.
I could write another 1,000 words on all the plot holes and inconsistencies in the film, like, for instance, how a mutant whose power is to make you do whatever she says could ever be blackmailed in the first place (“Listen, I want you to release my sister, let me and her leave this facility right now, and forget we ever existed. Then you will dance around the complex singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ until you collapse,” said Kayla, in a much better version of the script in an alternate universe). Or why Stryker needed Logan at all. He went through this convoluted plot to get his hands on Logan for two reasons: One, to get the healing factor from his DNA to give to Deadpool and to see if someone with said healing power could survive having adamantium bonded to their bones. Well, he was employing Logan’s brother, who had the same healing factor as Logan, so he had a test subject already in his employ. Stryker, a man who hates mutants so much he is bioengineering an assassin so he can kill them better, tells the mutant Creed that he’d never survive the process. Why would he be concerned? Why would he care? Logically, he’d try the process out on Creed and if it worked, yay, if not, it’s a dead mutant.
But logic has no place in this script. It is less a cohesive tale than a group of big moments lined up one after another. Kayla serves as the dutiful girlfriend until she doesn’t. She dies (BIG DRAMA!) only to re-appear later (BIGGER DRAMA!!) and be revealed to have betrayed Logan (OOH! MEGA DRAMA!), but eventually redeems herself again so Logan can mourn her again (MONDO MONDO DRAMA!). Who cares if these events are convoluted to the point of being nonsensical, and the character is so thinly drawn that the impact is lessened.
The Wolverine, being released next week, appears to be better.
It uses the legendary Chris Claremont and Frank Miller Wolverine miniseries as a framework. Logan is brought back to Tokyo by man named Shingen who owes Logan a great debt. Logan saved Shingen’s life during World War II and he intends to repay that debt by giving Logan his mortality back. Being that he is constant being tortured by the memories of killing Jean Grey, Logan is ready to take him up on that offer. Of course, the offer doesn’t go off all that smoothly and Logan quickly runs into situations that his healing power would be an asset.
However, even this installment wasn’t without a bit of difficulty. Bryan Singer was offered the chance to direct the film, yet refused. Darren Aronofsky was announced as director, but lasted only five months before stepping down. James Mangold eventually stepped in and took over the directorial reins.
X-Men: First Class was Fox’s other foray into X-Men history, but originally it was supposed to be another film. The plan was to make an X-Men Origins: Magneto, detailing not only the early part of Magneto’s life in the concentration camps, but also the beginning of his friendship with Charles Xavier, who would have been a soldier who liberated the camp Magneto was in. The concept was later updated to 1962, and Xavier and Magneto would unite to face a common foe.
Bryan Singer states that his treatment for X-Men: First Class was not inspired by the script for X-Men Origins: Magneto, even though the pair team up to take down a common foe in 1962 (The Writer’s Guild disagreed, and Sheldon Turner, who wrote X-Men Origins: Magneto, receives a writing credit on the film). Singer’s treatment, fleshed out by Jamie Moss, Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, embroiled the pair in a plot that involved the Hellfire Club, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and would have been directed by Singer and have a tone similar to Singer’s X-Men films.
Then Singer backed out as director and Matthew Vaughn stepped in. Vaughn rewrote the script with Jane Goldman and changed the tone of the film to that of a Pop Art artifact, the type of X-Men film that would have been made if they made a film when the X-Men comic first came out (and modern day special effects were available then too).
A first look at the Sentinels from X-MEN:DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, as seen ast SDCC ’13
That tone, and the spectacular acting by Michael Fassbender as Magneto and James McAvoy as Xavier, makes for an entertaining film. Yes, there are flaws, like the notable ways the film separates itself from the previously establish X-film continuity and the incredibly bad acting job January Jones does, but all in all, it was a fun ride.
Vaughn was set to return for a sequel, but his involvement in bringing Mark Millar’s Secret Service to the screen had him back out to the role of a producer. Bryan Singer signed on to direct and the film want from being the second installment of the First Class franchise to a film that ties that franchise and Singer’s together. The film is named X-Men: Days of Future Past and will be partly based on that legendary storyline from the comics.
Next time, we begin our look at the films made from the works of one of comics’ best and most controversial writers, Alan Moore.
In addition to Vaughn directing the adaptation of Millar’s comic series Kick Ass, the two are working together on an adaptation of another of Millar’s series, The Secret Service. But things get a bit more incestuous than this. Millar is currently serving as a consultant to Twentieth Century Fox for the Marvel Comics properties that the studio happens to own, specifically the Fantastic Four and X-Men characters. Vaughn has served as director of X-Men: First Class and was set to direct the upcoming follow up X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Though he stepped aside supposedly to work on Secret Service, he is still keeping a producer credit on the film.
Previously, Millar has hinted that as part of his duties as a consultant to Fox was just “figuring out how everything can work together and not contradict each other. But I also don’t want to make it too much of a mess either, with everyone showing up in everyone else’s films.”
Certainly having one producer, who has a definite affinity for comic book material, installed on both franchises would go a long way towards coordinating the two series so they could seemingly co-exist. And is this the first step in a plan that will ultimately see the two superhero teams joining up to defeat some world-threatening menace?
JJ Abrams’s all-but-confirmed appointment to the director’s chair of Star Wars: Episode VII brings a close to one facet of speculation around the upcoming film. But it does open up another avenue of speculation that could be limitless – what kind of film would the other directors rumored to have been considered for the position made?
One director that was rumored to be on Disney’s shortlist of choices was X-Men: First Class’s Matthew Vaughn. At the time he stated that he was in the process of prepping The Secret Service, based on the comic book series created by Mark Millar, and that he wouldn’t be available.
But Bleeding Cool is reporting that Millar did meet with Lucasfilm head honcho Kathy Kennedy to discuss the possibility of directing Episode VII and that those discussions had progressed far enough that he supposedly pitched Kennedy on the idea of Kick Ass actress Chloe Moretz for a lead role in the film.
Now there are lots to extrapolate from that little nugget and much of it is contradictory. Is there a strong female lead in the screenplay that writer Michael Arndt is crafting? Or perhaps he had an idea for a female lead character that he wanted to add into the already planned out story. Vaughn has been known to take a strong hand in the scripting of his films, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility here.
I am sure that there are some out there that will, with no actual reason to, use this as support for their hope that the new films will recognize the continuity built up in the Expanded Universe of Star Wars comics and novels and that Moretz would have been playing Jaina Solo, one of Han Solo and Princess Leia’s three children. Of course, if Moretz was being pitched for a role that would have been the child of one of the original Star Wars trilogy characters, this could conceivably have thrown the entire Expanded Universe into the trash.
But with the choice of Abrams for director, I suspect that we should be hearing some solid casting news sooner rather than later and from that we may be better able to extrapolate what Moretz’s role might have been if Vaugh had taken the job.
When word first broke of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm and the plan to start producing a new trilogy of Star Wars films, one of the first people rumored to be in consideration for the daunting assignment of directing one of the films was Matthew Vaughn. His name was quickly drawn out of consideration though, by his frequent collaborator, writer Mark Millar, stating that the two were trying to move fast and get another project into motion before any imitators beat them to it.
But might Millar be back in the mix? Actor Jason Flemyng seems to think so. Flemyng has worked on, by his count, nine films that Vaughn has either directed or produced and so probably has a good report with the director. While doing the red carpet thing, Flemyng was asked about the upcoming trilogy and answered in a way that definitely implied that Vaughn would be the one behind the camera calling the shots.
Honestly, I think the veracity of this one is open to interpretation. Flemyng could be telling the truth or he could just be goofing around a bit, it is hard to tell from his demeanor. For right now, I am going to place it in the “Possible” column. But if he did let slip with the truth, where does that leave The Secret Service, the project he and Millar were so keen to get moving on?
I imagine that Disney won’t wait to make an announcement once they have finally inked a deal with whomever they decide to go with, so hopefully we’ll have an answer to all of this speculation soon.
Mark Millar is a one man industry these days. Not only is working on a number of independent comic book titles, he is consulting with Twentieth Century Fox on their Marvel Comic adaptations as well as overseeing the film adaptations of his own work. On that front he currently has Kick Ass 2 in production in England and an adaptation of his mini-series Superior being developed by the director of the first Kick Ass, Matthew Vaughn. Another comic mini-series, Supercrooks, is being developed by director Nacho Vigalondo. Meanwhile, Universal has reportedly fast-tracked a follow-up to their 2008 adaptation of Millar’s Wanted mini-series.
Another film he is working on is his adaptation of his comic series The Secret Service. In the book Millar, and artist Dave Gibbons, focus on a mix of spies, adventure and a dash of social commentary. Vaughn is developing this film as well, having left the director’s chair for X-Men: Days Of Future Past last month in order to fully concentrate on this.
Over the weekend, Millar was talking with fans on twitter about his many projects and mentioned that the Secret Service film adaptation won’t a one-off project but the start of a planned franchise.
A comic usually takes me 2 weeks but about 70% through the extra-sized finale of Secret Service in 5 days. V pleased with it.
We don’t know much concrete about Disney’s announced Star Wars: Episode 7* but we do know that if they expect to make their announced 2015 release, they will have to start nailing down key creator positions relatively quickly.
To that end, Collider thinks that they have an idea as to who might occupy the most important jobs of all on the film – the director. The website is reporting from unnamed sources within Lucasfilm/Disney that Kick Ass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn may be in talks to helm the first of the new trilogy. The site stated that they have not yet been able to verify the story with a second source and as such should be considered a rumor at this stage.
But taking a look at what may be circumstantial evidence and a convincing case starts to emerge.
Two weeks ago, Vaughn abruptly dropped out of directing X-Men: Days Of Future Past, the follow up to his X-Men: First Class. It seemed like a bit of a head scratcher of a move at the time. The studio was happy enough with his work on First Class and presumably was giving him more of a free hand to proceed with the sequel than they might have done on First Class. That freedom was potentially further expanded with the news that notorious micromanager studio chief Tom Rothman was leaving.
The stated reason for Vaughn’s departure was so that he could move over to reteam with the co-creator of the Kick Ass comic book series, Mark Millar, on another Millar comics-based project Secret Service. But is it possible that Vaughn was actually just freeing up his scheduled? Would you drop what ever you are working on for the chance to direct a Star Wars movie?
For right now, let’s consider this all conjuncture, though. There’s lots of rumors flying around and we’ll have the truth eventually.
It’s not hard to get a reputation in Hollywood. All you have to do is become known for doing the same thing over and over again. Like, say, agreeing to direct X-Men: The Last Stand then walking away and leaving the producers to scramble to find a replacement. Or, be in talks to do Thor, then back out and leave the producers scrambling for a replacement. Or, agreeing to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past then back out and leave producers scrambling for a replacement.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Matthew Vaughn, the director who changes his mind about directing superhero movies.
Deadline is reporting that Vaughn has decided to back away from directing the sequel to 2011 X-Men: First Class. He will be staying on board as a producer and he did write the treatment for the film.
He will be keeping number of comic book adaptations he has done even with the ones he had passed on, as he is trading Days of Future Past in for an adaptation of his friend Mark Millar’s Secret Service comic book. Millar, if you recall correctly, was hired by Fox, the studio home to both Days of Future Past and Secret Service, to act as a consultant on Fox’s Marvel films to make the whole process run smoother. Glad to see that is working out so well.
This change of heart puts Fox into a bit of a bind, as it has given a firm July 18, 2014 release date for Days of Future Past. Deadline believes any problems caused by this will be mitigated by having the film’s producer, Bryan Singer, return to directing the X-Men franchise by taking over the reigns of the sequel.
Marvel Comics, in its haste to get its properties on the big screen, made a lot of “use them or lose them” deals regarding the rights, meaning that the film studios would keep the rights as long as they kept making films featuring the Marvel characters. This was good at first because it resulted in a lot of great films by top name directors. But now that Marvel is owned by Disney, a company that knows a thing or two about films, you get the sense that the powers that be wish that some of these properties will come back into the fold.
Fox owns the rights to the X-Men and just about all of Marvel’s mutants, the Fantastic Four and Daredevil. The studio is keeping a stranglehold on the lucrative X-Men rights, always having at least one X-film in development at all times. However, Deadline reports that there has been some action on the Daredevil and Fantastic Four fronts, news that might result in one of the properties reverting back to Marvel.
Deadline states that Chronicle director Josh Trank has been officially named by Fox as helming the Fantastic Four reboot. The FF reboot is on the fast track, meaning that it is expected to be the next Marvel film to come from the studio after The Wolverine and Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class sequel and it will be the much in demand Trank’s next film. It has been five years since 2007′s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and while the FF were a financial success for Fox, it was far from a success with the critics. Hopefully, this reboot will address that.
2003′s Daredevil was a similar box-office success yet a critical disappointment, and Fox has been looking to reboot that franchise as well. Since we are approaching ten years since that film came out (time flies, doesn’t it?), if Fox doesn’t act soon, the rights to Ol’ Hornhead will revert back to Marvel. And a recent development might mean that we could see Daredevil’s lawyer alter ego Matt Murdock representing Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner or Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in the near future.
David Slade has dropped out of the reboot over time constraints. Fox needs the new Daredevil film to start production in the fall to avoid the rights going back to Marvel and Slade, who is directing the pilot for NBC’s Hannibal series, cannot find time in his schedule to work within Fox’s. There is a script that the studio likes and is ready to go, but Fox needs to find a new director that is ready to get started quickly and get a project up and running by the times the leaves turn. It could happen, but considering that Fox chose Brett Ratner as a last-minute replacement for Bryan Singer and Matthew Vaughn on X-Men: The Last Stand, I don’t trust Fox’s judgement on finding replacement directors who can get a project up and running quickly. It might be better to just let Marvel take over.
New line Cinema is taking another run at bringing the Vertigo comic book Y: The Last Man to the big screen. The studio is in final negotiations with writing duo Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia to script a brand new screenplay for the project.
Created by writer Brian Vaughn and artist Pai Guerra, the 60-issue series centered on Yorick, a young escape artist who wakens one day to find that he and his pet Capuchin monkey Ampersand are the only survivors of a mysterious plague that has killed ever other male mammal on the planet. As he sets off on a cross-country trip to find his girlfriend, he finds himself pursued by a number of groups with various agendas. The series was noted by critics for using its fantastic storyline as a means of exploring gender-related issues.
Ferdeman and Scaia’s background is in genre television having served as writer producers on Human Target, Warehouse 13, Jericho and the recent quickly cancelled Charlie’s Angels reboot. They have also scripted a Zorro origin film that is currently sitting at Sony waiting for a greenlight.
New Line has been trying for several years to turn the five-time Eisner Award winning series with director DJ Caruso. Carl Ellsworth worked on polishing a screenplay originally written by Vaughn and Jeff Vintar did some further work. Shia LaBeouf was Caruso’s first choice for Yorick, though the actor wasn’t interested as he thought the character was too similar to his Sam Whitwicky character in the Transformer films. Caruso continually butted heads with New Line executives who wanted a single film where the director saw the project as a trilogy. He would walk away in the fall of 2010.
It is unknown if New Line is holding firm on making this a single film or if they have now have come around to thinking that the material is better suited to a series of films.