X-Men Taught Matthew Vaughn What Not To Do With Stardust

Over the years, Matthew Vaughn has built a reputation as a decisive (if not a bit picky) filmmaker. He's known to choose his projects carefully, and he's never been afraid to step away from the director's chair if he doesn't like the direction things are taking. Creative control is important to Vaughn. It's why, despite a clear eye for glossy, stylized action franchises, he's walked away from several notable comic book movies. In another reality, Vaughn would have been the one ushering Thor into Marvel's Cinematic Universe. He was also initially attached to direct the third film in Bryan Singer's "X-Men" trilogy, fresh off his directorial debut with "Layer Cake."

Ultimately, neither came to fruition, which left Vaughn open to pursue other projects, like the high fantasy farce "Stardust" and, of course, the "Kick-Ass" movies. But before "Stardust," Vaughn might not have been ready to helm the "big" films he's now most known for. Ironically, it was his time on the "X-Men 3" set, however brief, that primed him for that experience.

The film Vaughn wanted to make

"Stardust" came to Vaughn at an interesting moment in his career. He first read the source material, a novel by Neil Gaiman, as he was developing his first feature, and optioned it with the intention to produce. But after walking away from "X-Men," Vaughn found himself reevaluating his priorities. "I was pretty disillusioned with the American film industry and how it works," he told Irish Cinema Site in 2007. Vaughn had faced pressure from the studio throughout his time on the "X-Men" set. "They were trying to force me into making a film I didn't want to make," he added.

"Stardust," by contrast, represented an opportunity to make his own movie, his way. "I decided to go off and write ["Stardust"] and do it in my own way and raise the money in a manner that I could make a film that, whether it's good or bad, is the film that I want to make."

Of course, it helped that Vaughn held the rights to adapt the work, but there was still a matter of directing his first big movie for the first time. The director had "never done anything on this scale" before "Stardust." Fortunately, his experience with "X-Men 3" prepared him for that jump in a major way:

"'X-Men' was like a training ground for me because it demystified the idea that making big movies is any different from making small movies; you still have to design it, talk about it and I learnt so much about the foundations of making a big film and it equipped me to handle this."

Films of future past

Notably, Vaughn did end up making an "X-Men" film eventually. He directed "X-Men: First Class" in 2011, which effectively served as a soft reboot for the superhero team. "First Class" gave the X-Men a lucrative second lease on life, and set the stage for a second trilogy. But Vaughn ran into the same studio constraints that forced him to walk away from the franchise in 2006. After creative disputes with Fox over the "First Class" sequels, Vaughn stepped away once again to focus on "Kick-Ass 2" and, later, the "Kingsman" films.

Now, Vaughn seems right at home in the spy movie genre: he's planned "something like seven" more films for the "Kingsman" series, and is also set to direct Henry Cavill in "Argylle" (for which the director is also planning ahead already). His experience with Fox wasn't all bad either, as the studio distributed "Kingsman: The Secret Service," as well as its sequel, "The Golden Circle" and it's World War I-set prequel "The King's Man." It seems like the experience varies from project to project, but at least Vaughn always seems to know what he wants, and he's able to learn from each experience one way or another.