17 years later, superhero movies still can’t overcome Hollywood’s biggest sin

Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn has never been shy about his distaste for Hollywood’s shadier practices. Over the years, he’s been quite open about his experiences with the X-Men franchise at Fox and the times he had to leave the property altogether. But a recent anecdote Kingsman directorial reveal from New York Comic-Con might be the most shocking yet — not only because it reveals even more behind-the-scenes drama, but because it confirms the untold truth about Hollywood’s most overlooked stories.

“Hollywood is really political and weird,” Vaughn noted. Industry politics forced him to resign X-Men: The Last Stand, after discovering the fake script that Fox executives intended to send to Halle Berry. “I asked, ‘What’s this draft?’ They were like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ So I grabbed it and opened the first page, and it said “Africa.” Children die from lack of water, and the Tempest creates a thunderstorm to save all these children.

This false opening was intended to appease Berry, who portrayed The Tempest X-man and X2, but had yet to sign up for the third film. It’s possible that Berry lobbied for a more substantial role: after all, Storm is something of a goddess, and given how often she’s sidelined in the movies, Berry has every right to want more. According to Vaughn, however, Fox and Marvel had no intention of playing along.

“Once she signs off, we’ll throw it in the trash,” Vaughn recalled telling an executive. “I said, ‘Wow, you’re going to do this with an Oscar-winning actress?’ I’m getting out of here.'”

Hollywood never knew what to do with Halle Berry

Despite playing one of the property’s best characters, Halle Berry never got her due as Tempest.

20th Century Studies

Berry’s Oscar win in 2002 was meant to open doors for others like her, but it barely moved the needle. “I think it’s largely because there wasn’t a place for someone like me,” the actor admitted Diversity. This did not prevent her from still fighting for a place. Between appearances in the X-Men films, Berry lobbied for action roles whenever possible. She appeared as Bond girl Jinx Die another day, and almost secured a spinoff for the character. When that failed, she took over Catwoman. Of course, we all know how that turned out – but it was born out of good intentions and a desire to pave the way for black women in genre films.

“Because I didn’t do Jinx, I thought, ‘This is a great chance for a woman of color to be a superhero. Why not try this?”’ she recalls. Catwoman wasn’t the catalyst anyone had hoped it would be: even though she already has fans, it didn’t do Berry’s career much favors. After a string of less-than-exciting thrillers, she kicked off her career renaissance by auditioning for a role in John Wick: Parabellum. She and Vaughn even got the chance to work together again more than a decade later, in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

To Matthew Vaughan X-man The anecdote is a painful reminder of Hollywood’s greatest sin

S Kingsman movies, Vaughn cast Halle Berry to play the character she always wanted to be.

20th Century Studies

Slowly but surely, the industry is catching up with Berry. Things have even improved for actresses who want to follow in her footsteps. Lashana Lynch stole the show in the latest Bond film, No time to dieas in The woman king. The latter felt like a watershed moment decades in the making, and for good reason – but even that film fought an uphill battle when it came to getting the recognition it deserved.

Marvel is another studio that has struggled to recognize black female characters as viable assets. Only in 2023, with the release of The miracles, that a black woman finds herself center stage and with a black woman director behind the camera. Others are from years ago. This is especially disappointing in the face of seemingly immortal franchises like Mission: Impossible or The Expendables; even Indiana Jones. White male action stars get the chance to work until they physically can’t anymore, while women of color still struggle to see themselves represented with dignity and autonomy.

The Hollywood that Vaughn left in 2005 still informs the culture in so many ways. Progress is definitely happening, albeit slight, but the X-Men drama feels indicative of a much larger problem in genre films that can still prevail more often than not.

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