When I first read Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns," it felt revolutionary to see someone imagine Batman and Superman at the other end of their lives, after decades on the job had worn down their bodies and their souls, and ever since then, we've seen any number of superhero tropes bent and broken for fun by all sorts of creators.  At this point, it's silly to call anything in the genre "post-modern," because the entire superhero world has been turned inside out so many times that it's hard to tell where the deconstruction begins anymore.

Which is not to say there's no room for a good idea, and it sounds to me like Jonathan Ross, the TV host and comic book addict who is married to Jane Goldman, has come up with a pretty cracking good ideaMatthew Vaughn, Goldman's frequent creative partner, evidently feels the same way because he's starting to discuss his plans to bring "The Golden Age" to the bigscreen.

There's no guarantee at this point that Vaughn will direct the film, but he's definitely involved in developing it for the bigscreen.  The comic isn't even in stores yet, but that didn't stop Vaughn when he signed on to bring "Kick-Ass" to life before it was on comic shelves, and that worked out pretty well for him.  In this case, the book deals with a retirement home for superheroes, and a group of them who decide to help out their grandchildren when the world is threatened. 

Vaughn mentioned Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, and Warren Beatty as his ideal casting for the leads, and if there was ever a superhero film starring all three of those guys, I would have to haunt the set like the Phantom of the goddamn Opera.  Even if that doesn't come together, that sort of fantasy casting sets a specific tone, and I like what it sounds like Vaughn is trying to make.

Right now, there's little word on how the film will come together, but Vaughn's very good at playing his cards close to his vest until he has financing and distribution deals in place.  If he says he's already got a major studio interested, then he does.  And I hope he gets this one set up quickly.  I'm curious to see if Jane Goldman ends up adapting her husband's work, or if they collaborate, or if Vaughn decides to reach out to new writers on it.

In the meantime, Vaughn's got a race to reach his release date on "X-Men: First Class," so I'm betting we won't hear much more about this one until May, when that film is supposed to be finished and ready to go.  Until then, "The Golden Age" exists as an intriguing hypothetical, and I'm eager to see what comes of it.

"X-Men: First Class" is in theaters everywhere June 3, 2011.