For the studio, that helped set the stage for the R-rated “Deadpool” ($783 million worldwide) a year later, followed by “Logan” ($606 million) this past March.
Now, Fox has just dropped the trailer for its Vaughn sequel, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and the stylish teaser bodes well for follow-up success. (“Golden Circle” is due out Sept. 22 — a release that also speaks to Fox’s track record with scheduling these R-rated comics adaptations away from the heat of the superhero summer.)
The new trailer reflects the passing of the hero’s torch from Harry Hart (Colin Firth) in the first film to “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), who dons the black glasses and red umbrella to the strains of Frank Sinatra, as his British organization finds a spy ally in an American group.
The teaser also shows us the return of spy wiz Merlin (Mark Strong), and introduces Agents Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Champagne (Jeff Bridges), and boasts Oscar winners Halle Berry and Julianne Moore, to boot.
What the trailer teases most, perhaps, is how Vaughn might just be the most stylish 21st-century “James Bond” director who never has actually directed a Bond picture.
Vaughn, after all, made the movie (2004’s “Layer Cake”) that perhaps best positioned star Daniel Craig to assume the 007 mantle soon after.
The British filmmaker, continuing to work with screenwriter Jane Goldman, then showed an uncanny knack with superhero movies, guiding the first, R-rated “Kick-Ass” in 2010 and injecting new life into a franchise with 2011’s “X-Men: First Class.”
Vaughn’s true bespoke genre, though, might well be the spy-world homage. The filmmaker — who well into adulthood believed his father to be “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” star Robert Vaughn — winked toward the beats of a classic spy caper in “Kingsman,” yet he also has a penchant for balletic bloody violence. The way Tarantino adores the spaghetti Western homage with full-on marinara splatter, Vaughn clearly relishes doing the same for spooks in rich CGI crimson.
Vaughn may one day again direct a Marvel character for Fox — this time with R-rated freedom — but right now, he is a writer-director perfectly tailored to delivering spy games with R-rated license to thrill.