It was only a matter of time before The Secret Service, the latest harshly subversive graphic novel from comic writer (and Fox's own superhero godfather) Mark Millar made its way to the big screen. Now that the screenplay has been completed by Matthew Vaughn, who will also direct the film, Twentieth-Century Fox has secured distribution rights.
Fox was the expected to land the deal since Millar created the ongoing series with artist Dave Gibbons, and it was no secret that the adaptation was simply waiting for Vaughn's schedule to allow it. Now it's only a matter of time until production begins, but Millar's involvement certainly makes it more likely that the original comic's more... twisted elements could remain intact.
Since the success of Vaughn and Millar's work on the movie adaptation of Kick-Ass (2010) the match has seemed to be one for the ongoing future, with Vaughn eying several Millar comics for his next project. Deadline's report of the distribution deal may not be a shock, but is a clear sign that comic fans should start paying attention. This is the movie that Vaughn passed on directing X-Men: Days of Future Past for, after all.
At first glance, one might assume that Vaughn merely has an aversion to directing sequels - after passing on Kick-Ass 2 and the follow-up to X-Men: First Class - but whether or not that's the case, Fox is wise to keep Vaughn among their regular talents. With X-Men entrusted to Singer and Millar, and the commercial appeal of that mutant reunion a guaranteed money-maker, Vaughn is set to direct a film far more in keeping with the mind that spawned the likes of Kick-Ass and Wanted.
For those unfamiliar with "The Secret Service," the graphic novel essentially does for the secret agent/super spy/James Bond genre what Kick-Ass did for the masked vigilante one. If that seems like an odd but intriguing idea, you're not alone; Vaughn pushed The Secret Service to the top of his pile due to several other 'rip-offs' being passed around at major studios. In fact, as Millar explained to CBR, it was the duo's time spent on the set of Kick-Ass that led them to spawn the concept of the series altogether:
"This all started when Matthew Vaughn and I were talking about 'Casino Royale' a couple of years back in the pub between breaks on 'Kick-Ass...We loved the movie, but wondered why they didn't do all the stuff where he learned how to be James Bond. We've both got a couple of friends in special forces, both here and in the US, and even the real life training, without any artistic license, is really incredible set-piece stuff. If you ramp it up a little, it makes for some incredible scenes in a comic and in a movie."
Explaining that the comic series is basically "about a young, wayward hoodie kid from North London learning how to be James Bond," the commonalities between it and the 'training' scenes of Wanted are clear. And yes, it is twisted, dark, irreverent, and offensive. This is Millar, after all.
Exactly how excited you are by this news will have much to do with your feelings towards Millar's unique style and sensibilities. It's no secret that for many, his reach often exceeds his grasp, but Vaughn and writing partner Jane Goldman have enjoyed success turning Kick-Ass into a memorable cult hit. If the pair can work the same magic, and the property truly is worth Vaughn's time, it means good things for fans.
How do you feel about another Millar-Vaughn joint? Are you in regardless of what they're adapting, or will you be waiting to see if this film is up your alley? Leave your own reactions in the comments.
[Update: Fox has confirmed a release date of November 14, 2014 for The Secret Service.]
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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