Matthew Vaughn Explains Why He Stepped Away From ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ Directing Job
X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn was expected to direct X-Men: The Last Stand, but he eventually stepped away from the project to direct an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel Stardust. In a recent panel appearance at New York Comic Con 2023, Vaughn explained why he decided to leave X-Men: The Last Stand.
When asked about X-Men: The Last Stand, Vaughn said, “I basically directed it, but the good stuff didn’t make the cut.”
He explained, “It was bizarre because I went from Layer Cake, a tiny £3 million movie, and suddenly I’ve got Hollywood calling out saying, ‘Would you like to make an X-Men movie?’ And I was like, ‘Yes.”
“And I thought X2 was a masterpiece so I was worried trying to step into Bryan Singer’s shoes. And it was a dream come true,” he elaborated. “I storyboarded the movie. The end movie was not the movie I was going to make. Because the Golden Gate sequence was the beginning of act 2. And we had this crazy action sequence in Washington.”
Vaughn then criticized the way Hollywood operates, “But I was naïve. The way I produced films was: here’s a budget, here’s the schedule, stick to it. And Hollywood doesn’t work that way. They go here’s the budget, here’s the schedule, pretend we’re going to do it for that and then make it all up and [inaudible]. And I didn’t know that back then.”
“So I was naïve to walk away,” he continued. “I was given the speech you’ll never work in this town again. And I sort of believed it. And I thought, ‘Well, f**k Hollywood. This is not how I want to be.’ And Stardust, I read the book, met Neil Gaiman, and you know what I would rather do this.”
Later in the interview, Vaughn would be asked about X-Men: First Class, but he returned to X-Men: The Last Stand and shared one of his main reasons for leaving the film.
He said, “One of the main reasons I actually quit X-Men 3 — this is a true story I don’t really care if I’m not meant to say it. Hollywood is really political and an odd.”
“And I went into one of the executives’ offices and I saw an X3 script, and I immediately knew it was a lot fatter I was like, ‘What the hell is this draft?’ He went, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ and I’m like, ‘No, no. I’m the director. I’m worrying about this draft. Tell me what it is, please.'”
“He wouldn’t tell me, so I grabbed it literally — it was like a crazy moment — but I grabbed it, opened the first page, and it said, ‘Africa. Storm. Kids dying of no water. She creates a thunderstorm and saves all these children,'” he recalled. “I went, ‘Oh! Okay. That’s a pretty cool idea.'”
After asking about what the script was a second time, Vaughn recollected, “They went, ‘Oh, it’s the Halle Berry script.’ I went, ‘OK, because she hasn’t signed up yet.’ ‘But this is what she wants it to be, and once she signs up, we’ll throw it in the bin.'”
He then shared his reaction, “I was like, ‘Wow, you’re going to do that to an Oscar-winning actress who plays Storm? I’m out of here.’ So I quit at that point because I’m mince meat.”
Vaughn added, “So that stayed with me. And that made me think Hollywood… Look, they do some stuff well, but not in my style.”
Still later he revealed that he lost out on directing a follow-up to X-Men: First Class because former X-Men director Bryan Singer was legally obligated to direct the next one.
Vaughn said, “Well, I was, but Hollywood forgot to tell me after I wrote the damn thing that legally Bryan [Singer] got to direct it first. So I went, ‘I’m not mucking around with Hollywood anymore. I’m going to go do Kingsman.'”
What do you make of Vaughn’s explanation for why he quit X-Men: The Last Stand and his apparent disdain for Hollywood?