Matthew Vaughn: Shaping new generation of heroes

Youth Impact Report 2011: Bigscreen Chaperones

Impact: Rewrote the superhero movie rules with “X-Men: First Class” and “Kick-Ass,” giving several young actors careermaking roles in the process.
Next: In development on a “Kick- Ass” sequel, on which he’ll serve as producer.

In his last two films, blockbuster “X-Men: First Class” and irreverent indie “Kick-Ass,” helmer Matthew Vaughn has tackled iconic superhero sagas that are, at their core, about young people — albeit exceptional kids struggling to understand their unique powers.

His most recent pic effectively reboots Fox’s hit “X-Men” franchise, turning back the clock to find the Marvel mutant crew coming together amid the Cuban Missile Crisis. Whereas adults played the roles in the series’ earlier screen iterations, Vaughn’s take serves as a revisionist origin story of sorts, presenting teen versions of the iconic characters, played by such rising young stars as Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Lucas Till and Caleb Landry Jones.

“Traditionally in the X-Men lore, their powers come out during puberty. It’s always been an analogy for that,” says franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner, who adds they tapped Vaughn because he could deliver the film’s Cold War context and Bond-like undertones, while still capturing the emotional immediacy of each scene.

A massive international hit, “First Class” earned an A- CinemaScore rating from audiences under 25 and cumed more than $350 million worldwide during its theatrical run. Doubly impressive is the fact that he was able to earn $96 million for his previous film, “Kick-Ass,” a far darker and more obscure comicbook adaptation that Vaughn produced through his own shingle, Marv Films.

In addition to showcasing young stars Aaron Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in key roles, the black comedy also featured then-13-year-old Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl, an underage assassin with a sailor’s vocabulary and a real appetite for violence.

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