Update: Snarky or sincere? Brett Ratner tweeted today, “I was the first one on line to see X Men First Class and I loved it.. I thought Matthew. Vaughn did a briliant job!! Congrats.” Please note, the avant garde punctuation is all Ratner.
Brett Ratner isn’t going to be Matthew Vaughn‘s punching bag anymore. But first, quick history lesson of sorts. Vaughn was initially lined up to direct “X-Men: The Last Stand,” developing the story and working closely on the film, until he bailed on the job fearing that the production schedule Fox had given him was too tight (ironically, “X-Men: First Class” would be shot and delivered in an even shorter time frame). So in steps Brett Ratner, and the rest, as they say, is history. Vaughn hasn’t been shy about his distaste for ‘The Last Stand.” As early as 2007, he told the Telegraph his reasons for abandoning his shot at that X-Men film and pretty much threw Ratner under the bus in the process:
“What happened with ‘X-Men’ was I didn’t have the time to make the movie that I wanted to make. I had a vision for how it should be, and I wanted to make sure I was making a film as good as ‘X-Men 2,’ and I knew there was no way it could be. I just suddenly knew it wasn’t the right thing for me to do. It was a tough decision because it was a hell of an opportunity. But I was trying to make a career as a director, and I didn’t want to be the guy accused of making a bad ‘X-Men’ movie,” Vaughn said. “As it happens, I could have made something a hundred times better than the film that was eventually made. It sounds arrogant, but I could have done something with far more emotion and heart. I’m probably going to be told off for saying that, but I genuinely believe it.”
But Vaughn’s low regard for Ratner’s effort reared its head again more recently on press rounds for ‘First Class,’ when he continued to kick ‘The Last Stand’ saying, “I storyboarded the whole bloody film, did the script. My ‘X3’ would have been 40 minutes longer. They didn’t let the emotions and the drama play in that film. It became wall-to-wall noise and drama. I would have let it breathe and added far more dramatic elements to it.”
But Ratner has finally fought back in his own way. While he didn’t mention Vaughn by name, the timing and context say it all. Over the weekend he tweeted a link to BoxOfficeMojo‘s breakdown of the opening weekend numbers for all “X-Men” films. Why? Well, believe it or not, ‘The Last Stand’ has brought in more cash than any of the other three films (and we know this because he also tweeted a link to the Marvel movies box office breakdown). Perhaps feeling proud (or insecure?) Ratner also tweeted another link to the most successful martial arts movies of all time with his “Rush Hour” films in three of the top five slots. Although, calling “Rush Hour” a martial arts film is like calling “Spaceballs” a sci-fi movie.
So, has Ratner made a compelling counterargument? Not really. What he fails to realize is that ‘The Last Stand’ hit theaters on a wave of goodwill thanks to the two solid entries that came before it, and what he doesn’t acknowledge is that his film, along with the awful “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” are part of the reason ‘First Class’ had a less than explosive opening. Audiences were wary after being hoodwinked twice. And the whole idea of using box office numbers as proof of a film’s quality is fairly ridiculous, but from a studio perspective, execs love Ratner because shitty or not, his movies make money. So when “Tower Heist” hits later this year, it will be another big hit for the director who will continue to confuse box office dollars with filmmaking acumen. As for Vaughn, ‘First Class’ will hopefully have some decent legs and at the very least, he will remembered for breathing fresh life into a franchise that Ratner and Gavin Hood had left for dead.