Film fans don’t pay enough attention to who devised the initial story or wrote the screenplay. When it comes to films we care more about the director and actors but never really pay attention to who wrote the words and story they are using. Some writers have managed to buck this trend, Aaron Sorkin, Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith being some exceptions but we never really pay as much attention to the screenwriter in the way we do for television or comics.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. I can tell you who wrote specific episodes of Doctor Who and who the show runner on The Office is but couldn’t tell you who wrote John Q or District 9. The exception with me is that I also didn’t pay attention to who wrote the comics either. I’m a huge fan of comics, especially mainstream, superhero comics like Batman, Superman and Spiderman and while I knew who some of the writers were, it never occurred to me to pay that much attention. That was until I started reading much more independent stuff.
This is where the comic writer really gets to show off his talent and it seems the front-runner in independent comics at the moment is Mark Millar. I became aware of Millar when I first saw Kick-Ass and loved it! It was a brilliant, modern and unique take on a superhero film, so when I read the comic and realised the film didn’t come close to touching some of the more dark, quirky and amazing moments of the story, it occurred to me how brilliant Millar was as a writer.
It also helped that Millar launched a comic anthology magazine called Clint. I found this by chance, the big “Kick-Ass 2 starts here” on the front of the first issue when I was in Tesco managed to catch my eye. Ever since then I have stuck with the magazine, getting to read Kick-Ass 2, Superior, Nemesis and American Jesus (alongside other independent writers and their comics). All four of these stories are incredible and a great, engaging and clever read but it made me more excited when I realised that more than one of these is being turned into a film in the next couple of years;
Kick Ass 2
I loved Kick-Ass, both film and comic but I never imagined that Kick-Ass 2 would manage to go even darker. How much of that will actually be transferred to film is another story (it really goes dark) but the story is great, the action is brilliant and the first part of the film is also solely a Hit Girl story which most would argue was the best part of the first film/comic.
As dark as Kick-Ass 2 gets, its nothing on how dark Nemesis is. A book about a supervillain who causes havoc and terror, ultra-violence and twisted acts as he goes up against an old-school police detective. This would look amazing on the big screen and already has Tony Scott attached to direct.
Mark Millar is great at taking something familiar and mainstream and twisting it. He already did this once with the superhero genre when making Kick-Ass but with Superior he goes in a different direction. A boy with Multiple Sclerosis gets the chance to become his favourite (superman-like) superhero, Superior. What he doesn’t realise is that he will be going up against some dark, twisted forces and have to make some difficult decisions. It’s a clever, unique and very cool story that again, will be amazing on-screen.
Different story completely. This book centers around the second coming of Jesus and how a small boy copes with the fact that he may in fact be the son of God. It’s a lot subtler, more withdrawn compared to other Millar books but is, again, a great story which would make a great film.
We are now in unfamiliar territory because I’ve only just begun to read these comics (I’m not sure they are even finished yet) but off the story alone, Millar has got film deals. Secret Service is linked with Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn. It’s about a London-rioting teenager who gets drafted into the Secret Service by his spy Uncle. Seems a bit “ordinary” but when Millar features Mark Hamill in an amazing opening sequence, you realise that he doesn’t really do “ordinary.”
This is another comic I’m still quite new too as I only started reading this yesterday. This is another book that Millar is developing as a film alongside writing the comic but has a much cooler premise than Secret Service. When a gang of supercrooks get tired of being caught by superheroes in America all the time, they decide to take their superpowers to Spain and pull of a heist in a country where there are no superheroes. Could be an amazing idea, realised really well in a movie.
That is just a glimpse to what is up and coming but they are all really exciting film prospects and so far I haven’t been disappointed with what I’ve seen from Millar. He is credited with being one of the writers to bring life back into the Avengers comics with his Ultimates series and he has such a unique, witty and often twisted way of creating a story that his comics (and subsequently his films) should be brilliant.
Overall, I’m a huge fan of Millar and with every film announcement and every brilliant comic I read, I get more and more excited about the prospect of seeing his stories on the big screen. I really recommend picking up a copy of Clint magazine, especially if you’re a comics fan, and checking out the comics before these films emerge. Mark Millar is a key example of why film fans need to start paying attention to who is writing the films they are seeing, as well as who is behind the camera and acting in front of it.