Matthew Vaughn is a visionary filmmaker who has left a mark in cinema for his ability to combine action, humor, and stylish storytelling. With works that span across various genres, Vaughn’s movies cater to viewers of all ages and preferences. His cinematic journey began with Layer Cake, a crime thriller that established the foundation for his unique directorial style. This paved the way for his notable success with Kick-Ass, a film that challenged conventions and introduced a fresh sense of entertainment to the superhero landscape.
Navigating through Vaughn’s extensive filmography, the Kingsman franchise becomes a focal point, providing Vaughn with the opportunity to delve into the spy genre. His upcoming project, Argylle, revisits the filmmaker’s roots, with a global theatrical release scheduled for February 2. With that in mind, let’s explore and celebrate the five best Matthew Vaughn movies.
5. ‘Stardust’ (2007)
One of Vaughn’s earliest directorial works is Stardust, a fantastical adventure film that separates the mundane and the mystical worlds as Tristan (Charlie Cox), ventures into the kingdom to retrieve a fallen star. To his surprise, he uncovers that the star is a woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes), and they embark on a journey that causes more challenges than expected as they encounter witches, royals, and pirates along the way. Stardust is a captivating mix of romance and adventure.
Although only his second film as director, Vaughn brings the novel by Neil Gaiman to life with scenic beauty and great storytelling, making Stardust one of the best Matthew Vaughn movies. His talent goes beyond sheer visuals, as he seamlessly combines the real and fantastical worlds, creating an emotionally resonant narrative everyone can enjoy.
Stardust is available to stream on Paramount+.
4. ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ (2017)
The second film in the beloved Kingsman franchise is the Kingsman: The Golden Circle. As the organization faces a new threat when its headquarters is destroyed, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) must join forces with their American associates, the Statesman, to go against the mysterious mastermind Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). As the stakes rise, together they discover the deadly plan to contaminate the world’s drug supply, which they must stop to prevent a global catastrophe.
Matthew Vaughn infuses this sequel with his signature mix of humor and adventure, continuing the story of the British secret agents. His ability to showcase elaborate and innovative action sequences shines through the film, as his expertise in maintaining the franchise’s unique tone creates an exhilarating addition to the spy genre.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is available to rent or purchase on Prime Video.
3. ‘X-Men: First Class’ (2011)
Following the origin of the X-Men during the Cold War, the impending threat of a nuclear war forces Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) to join and recruit mutants with distinctive abilities including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult). As the mutants train together at Xavier’s school, differences and challenges arise between Xavier and Lehnsherr, delving into the complex dynamics of friendship and betrayal.
X-Men: First Class allows Vaughn to showcase his visual flair as he injects style and energy into the superhero genre whilst correspondingly intertwining different aspects of action and humor. His input as the director allows for the film to capture the ’60s setting with vibrant aesthetics and an iconic soundtrack, simultaneously setting up for character development, particularly the intricate layers between Xavier and Lehnsherr.
X-Men: First Class is available to stream on Hulu.
2. ‘Kick-Ass’ (2010)
Vaughn brings this comic book adaptation to life with clever storytelling, beautiful visuals, and forceful energy. Kick-Ass follows Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a high school student who decides to become a real-life superhero ‘Kick-Ass’ despite having no powers. Embracing his alter ego, he comes across Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and together they take on the city’s crime lord, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).
Exploring the blurred lines between fantasy and reality, Kick-Ass skillfully delivers a film that both celebrates and deconstructs the superhero genre. Vaughn’s direction injects a refreshing and irreverent spirit into the narrative, making Kick-Ass a unique and memorable experience.
Kick-Ass is available to rent or purchase on Prime Video.
1. ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ (2014)
Claiming the top position is Kingsman: The Secret Service. The film follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a street-smart young man who is recruited for a pretentious secret spy organization known as Kingsman. As the world around him faces a technological threat from Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his violent sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), Eggsy and the other agents, including Harry Hart (Colin Firth), must stop their plan to save the world.
Vaughn’s directorial skill stands out as a masterclass in balancing style, substance, and entertainment as his keen eye for detail is complemented by a clever narrative. His willingness to take risks by embracing unconventional narratives and characters, works to his advantage in his films, as his inventive approach to re-master the genre, solidifies Kingsman: The Secret Service as the best Matthew Vaughn movie.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is available to stream on Max in the U.S.
What’s Next for Matthew Vaughn?
Matthew Vaughn is renowned for his dynamic storytelling, genre-defying creativity, and impeccable style. He consistently infuses his films with vibrant energy, characterized by his fondness for subverting genre conventions whilst employing dynamic camera work and vibrant aesthetics. He captivates audiences with his eccentric flair, and his impact on filmmaking is undeniable.
Vaughn’s upcoming film, Argylle, releases worldwide in theaters on February 2, starring Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dua Lipa, Samuel L. Jackson, and more.
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