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Every Matthew Vaughn movie ranked

The upcoming release of Argylle is being marketed as from the “twisted mind of Matthew Vaughn”. The London-born film-maker made his directorial debut in 2004 with “Layer Cake” and has been releasing cynical movies since. This includes stand-alone movies such as “Layer Cake” and “Stardust”, his takes on existing franchises such as “X-Men: First Class” and his own “Kingsman” franchise. So, how twisted is his mind? Let’s find out by ranking all of his directed features.

7. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the second entry in the Kingsman franchise, and shockingly – managed to avoid becoming the last. The movie stars Taron Egerton, alongside Mark Strong; this time joined by a cast of Americans, including Pedro Pascal and Julianne Moore. It does the worst thing possible for a sequel, which is undoing everything that was built in the first movie, killing off beloved characters in the opening act and reviving several characters who were believed to be dead. For a movie clearly intended to kick-off a franchise, it is a complete disaster in world-building, with the lack of acknowledgement towards the world-changing impact of the last movie being glaring. It’s also just an incredibly mean movie, in a way that we’ll quickly find is a tendency from Vaughn.

6. The King’s Man (2021)

Very narrowly missing out on the worst spot is the follow-up to The Golden Circle; The King’s Man, a prequel to the Kingsman movies. Ralph Fiennes takes the lead as the father of a World War I soldier, who finds himself ensnared in a global conspiracy. He fights Rasputin and tries to prevent the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, as a shadowy organization manipulates global politics seeking one goal… Scottish independence. I wish I was joking. It beats out The Golden Circle for its absurdity alone, an absurdity that it embraces completely in its post-credits scene that teases the next villain, in true Marvel style. That villain? Adolf Hitler. The absurdity and fun action sequences are almost enough to ignore just how much of a slog this movie is. Almost.

5. Layer Cake

Other than those first two, I quite like Vaughn’s filmography and I would say out of the remaining movies – his debut is the weakest link, but it’s still solid. It’s a very well stylized British gangster movie, starring Daniel Craig and featuring way too little Tom Hardy. You can definitely see the brewing of some of Vaughn’s worst habits here, but this is just a fun ride and there isn’t much else to say about it.

4. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Did I want to include all of the Kingsman movies in the bottom half of this list? Not particularly, because I do like this first movie; but it’s tainted slightly by the rest of the franchise, and up against some tough competition. When Kingsman was first dropped, it felt new. It was a spy parody, that also seemed to respect the genre. It had fun action scenes and compelling characters. Does it hurt knowing that those characters go nowhere? Yes, but you can’t penalize the first movie for what happens next. What you can penalize it for are the misogynistic tropes and Vaughn’s laughable understanding of the British working class.

3. Kick-Ass (2010)

Is Kick-Ass a movie that relies on being edgy and vulgar in order to get a reaction? Yes. It is fun, regardless? Yeah!! Somehow both ahead of its time and incredibly dated, Kick-Ass is the parody of superhero films that would slot in well with the likes of The Boys, nowadays. It’s far from a loving homage, and it’s definitely going to be enjoyed more by a 13-year-old boy than myself – but hey, somebody’s got to make movies for edgy 13-year-old boys. Nicolas Cage and Chloë Grace Moretz are in this too, and they both deserve the world.

2. X-Men: First Class (2011)

I am not a big superhero fan, and it does pain me to have 2 out of my top 3 be superhero movies; but it’s difficult to deny that First Class is one of the best X-Men movies. Not the best, and honestly not even close if we’re including the likes of Logan (2017), but this franchise has some very low lows, so you have to give credit to somebody who’s able to produce a high. Especially on a prequel, which is always a dangerous game to play. Compelling character-work, good humour and just having a fantastic cast of actors at hand leads to this being Vaughn’s second finest outing.

1. Stardust (2007)

I am not exaggerating when I say that Matthew Vaughn could release twenty more Golden Circles and I would sit through them all, if it meant he released one more movie as good as Stardust. I love this movie to bits. It’s epic, it’s beautiful, it’s funny… It contains one of the funniest Robert De Niro performances ever. It somehow gets a good performance out of Ricky Gervais. It’s optimistic and lovely, in a way that makes you think “wow, this guy doesn’t have a twisted mind at all”. It is frankly absurd that a movie like this has come from the same guy that made Kick-Ass and the Kingsman franchise, and I want to know who hurt him after the year 2007 to make him like this. Please, Matthew, channel this energy again. Give us the Matthew Vaughn that gave us drag queen pirate De Niro, spectating ghosts and an earnest love story; not the one that does dramatic Hitler reveals.

Do you agree with this ranking? Let us know in the comments below how you would layer your Matthew Vaughn cake.

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