Matthew Vaughn’s latest directorial effort, Kingsman: The Secret Service, hits theaters about a month from now and so far is earning a largely positive critical reception thanks to its blend of humor and action. It’s easy to see why many are anticipating the movie’s impending arrival, between Vaughn’s high-octane style, the overall concept, and the powerhouse cast (including Oscar worthy talents like Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson).
In a way, Kingsman will provide a refreshing change of pace from the usual genre fare of the 21st century. A number of recent tentpole projects (Skyfall, The Dark Knight, the Bourne series, etc.) have leaned more towards the serious side of the spectrum; a contrast from the big productions of the last quarter of the 20th century. That’s part of the reason why Vaughn believes his new film will prove to be popular amongst audiences.
While speaking with SFX magazine (hat tip THR), Vaughn argued that the age of the bleak, dark superhero is coming to a close, making a reference to Christopher Nolan’s widely-popular Dark Knight trilogy:
“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.”
Nolan’s Batman series is seen by many as ground zero for the “dark, gritty” movement that seems to have taken over Hollywood (with some exceptions, of course). The so-called “Nolan effect” has hit several established properties, with filmmakers looking to incorporate elements of the auteur’s films in their own works – regardless of the fit – and it is seen by some as an overused gimmick these days.
Vaughn’s quote that people have “had enough” of the serious tone may be a bit overstated, however. Man of Steel, while divisive in the critical and audience communities, still grossed $668 million worldwide and served as the launching point for a shared Justice League movie universe; one where many of the projects are expected to have a similar tone and box office appeal. Time will tell of course, but it seems like there’s room for both the fun and bleak in the industry.
One look at the trailers for Kingsman can show that Vaughn had some old school Sean Connery 007 in mind when he was making the film, but the classic Bond adventures of yesteryear were hardly the only things he looked towards for inspiration. In the interview, he explained how multiple British spy films and TV programs from that era played a hand in informing his taste in film as a youth:
“I was inspired by all of it. ‘The Avengers’, ‘Harry Palmer’, ‘The Prisoner’, ‘The Man from UNCLE’, ‘In Like Flint’. Of course, there’s a huge shadow of Bond — Bond is the monolith of spy movies — but it’s not just about Bond; there were a lot of other things that influenced me.”
Vaughn’s certainly drawing from the best influences in his newest flick, given that many of the productions he listed received much critical acclaim in their heyday. Whether Kingsman can join their ranks as the créme de la créme of the genre remains to be seen, but (as mentioned before) early word is that the final result is a fun, rollicking ride, regardless.
Kingsman: The Secret Service will be in theaters February 13, 2015.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.