You’re a fan of Kick-Ass . You’re a fan of X-Men (First Class, not X3 or the Wolverine dreck). You might not know it, but that means you’re a fan of Jane Goldman. She’s the screenwriter behind every comic book turned Matthew Vaughn-directed movie. The pair first teamed up in 2007 on an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book Stardust, and in February the partnership continues with Kingsman: The Secret Service, about a London street kid thrown into a world of jet-setting superspies. Think Harry Potter by way of James Bond. Like with those other flicks, don’t expect a movie that’s overly faithful to the source material. “There are always going to be changes between the page and the screen,” says Mark Millar, who wrote the Kick-Ass and Secret Service comics. “But with Jane and Matthew, they’re only in the service of the story.”
So what kinds of changes make a solid comic adaptation? “It’s about keeping the source material alive whilst making something movie-shaped,” Goldman says. “I like it when characters respond to things that are outrageous and movielike in an authentic way.” Her scripts revel in those juxtapositions, like superheroes discussing breakfast cereal (Kick-Ass) or a shape-shifting character struggling with body image issues (Mystique in X-Men). Kingsman‘s clueless protagonist loves his spy gadgets but is gobsmacked by the world of British gentlemen. “It’s reversing expectations,” Goldman says.
One of her next movies won’t be quite so pulpy—it’s an adaptation of Rebecca. Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic novel helped Goldman realize that women could write, she says—and not just Austen-like love stories but genres like horror and mystery. Add kick-ass comic adaptations to the list.