Mark Millar Surprised SUPERIOR Director Has Not Been Announced Yet
EXCLUSIVE: The Action Room catches up with the acclaimed writer to discuss his directorial debut MIRACLE PARK, his upcoming comic adaptation SUPERIOR and the delay behind CHOSEN/AMERICAN JESUS.
Mark Millar is without a doubt one of the busiest comic authors in around. Two of his original series, Wanted and KICK-ASS, have already made it to cinemas, and he is currently hard at work bringing two more to the silver screen: Nemesis and Superior. The Action Room, our New York City correspondents, spoke to Millar recently about his projects. While in the midst of the conversation, the Scottish author/producer revealed that a formal announcement regarding who has been tapped to direct the Superior movie adaptation is due any day, and was a bit surprised such an announcement hadn't already been made.
PRODUCER MIKE: This is Mike for The Action Room, and I'm on the phone with the amazingly Scottish Mark Millar, who has written countless comic books, such as The Ultimates, Wanted, Kick-Ass, The Authority and Civil War. How are you doing, Mark?
MARK MILLAR: I'm doing great, thanks!
PRODUCER MIKE: So we were supposed to have an interview with you several weeks ago at the Big Apple ComicCon in New York, but you left your signing early and then we busted your balls about it on Twitter. To your credit, you got back to us and now you're giving us this phone interview. What exactly happened, Mark?
MARK MILLAR: Well, what happened is that the Big Apple / Wizard have a very informal set-up, which is great - so instead of doing 2 hours one day and 2 hours the next for your signing, you just basically come along when you like. So what I did was I did 4 hours in the morning and then just wandered off, because there's no set times. So we ended up missing each other; I was sitting for like half an hour with nothing to do on Sunday morning. So I just went and grabbed a sandwich; sorry about that!
PRODUCER MIKE: That's cool! So right now, you write Nemesis, which is about a horrible, sadistic super-villain. Do you have to be Catholic to write such sick and twisted stuff, because the third issue is just f***ing nuts!
MARK MILLAR: It's funny, somebody said that as we were chatting about Mel Gibson's movie "Passion" and the work of Martin Scorcese - "why do the Catholics always do the most violent stuff?" I think there's probably an element of truth in that. I think because in real life we're praying all the time, we have to get that darker stuff out there somehow, you know? The other thing is: if you think about it, as Catholics, we meditate on something that's quite scary - images of the Crucifixion and all that kind of thing. So extreme violence seems very normal to us, since we're shown that kind of imagery from a very young age. See, Protestants have got a much more sanitized version of the Crucifixion - it's just the cross. Whereas we see a guy essentially being tortured. [laughs]
PRODUCER MIKE: Is there any movement on the movie version of your comic Chosen, aka American Jesus?
MARK MILLAR: No, nothing on that at all actually... I remember I got a call about three years ago, because when Wanted came out, the movie cost $75 million and it banked $340 million and people were saying "Okay, what else has this guy got?" And at the time the only other thing I had was a book with a little 11-yr. old girl dropping the "C" bomb. [laughs] Which everybody said would NEVER be a film. And if it hadn't been for Matthew Vaughn [Vaughn funded the "Kick-Ass" movie almost entirely on his own], it really never would have been. So the only other thing I had then was Chosen. And Chosen is equally unfilmable, if not moreso, for American audiences because you know, it's called American Jesus - the lead character is the Second Coming of Jesus. And American studios will absolutely not touch it. So it was just dead in the water. One person said to me - a very powerful producer - they were really interested in it, they said it was the best thing
they'd ever read. I was very flattered, I thought they might really put it through, and then they wanted to change everything! They said "Can we just take Jesus out of it? If there's some way we could take Jesus out of it, it could work." And I said "It's called American Jesus, it's about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ." So they came back with "Well, maybe that's the problem." [laughs] So I figure it's not going to happen. But hopefully somebody will come along and do it; if not, I'm happy with the comic.
PRODUCER MIKE: In addition to writing comics, you wrote and directed a movie called "Miracle Park," which you've described as "Trainspotting" meets working class superheroes. This will be your directorial debut and it takes place in Scotland. Tell us about the film - how's it been coming? You're used to working on Hollywood films with stars and such, and this is basically an indie film. Is it coming out the way you want?
MARK MILLAR: Yeah, actually, I'm working on it now. Between now and Christmas I want to get as much done as I possibly can. Because it's an indie movie, I can't have three months' shooting time and a cast of thousands. It's all being done very low-budget. I'm just doing it in blocks of time whenever we can. I'm about a half the way through at the moment. It's looking great - we've had some private screenings of what we've shot so far in the local cinemas. We're all really happy with how it's shaping up.
My plan here was to start really small. Directing is something I never really thought about growing up, although I love cinema. I've spent so much time on film sets the last few years that I felt like as if I kind of know what I'm doing. So it's a massive learning experience, and in case it turns out to be rubbish, I wanted to start small. I didn't want somebody giving me $50 million, I wanted it to be low-budget, so that if it's a mess, I can hide it. [laughs] That was always my plan. If you're learning, don't do it in front of everyone, go and do it small. Then if you're any good, you can work your way up from there. In comic book terms, if somebody had given me X-Men as my first writing job when it was the #1 book, I'm sure it would have been terrifying for me and a total disaster. So similarly, in movie terms, I want to start on the fringes.
PRODUCER MIKE: A friend of ours named Patrick Meaney recently directed a documentary about Grant Morrison, and in the film, Grant says that he had a falling out with his best friend. Are you the best friend he's talking about, and is there anything we can do to help patch things up between you two, or is the friendship beyond repair?
MARK MILLAR: I haven't seen the documentary, so I don't really know, but I hung around for a long time with Grant in the 90s. I haven't really seen him in about a decade or something - he lives between LA and somewhere north of Scotland. There's no enmity or anything like that. I always enjoy his comics, Grant's always been good fun. I really like his stuff - there are no hard feelings whatsoever.
PRODUCER MIKE: Cool. So, what do you think of Zack Snyder directing the new Superman movie? Do you think it might be too dark in tone?
MARK MILLAR: I really think Zack doing Superman is about as good as you could get. I absolutely adore Zack Snyder - I think his Dawn of the Dead is a masterpiece. It's weird, because you see Zack getting a hard time from the fans sometimes, and that's just so weird to me. I think 300 is a perfect adaptation and just a brilliant film; I mean, it made $600 million. And I think his Watchmen film is probably as good as a Watchmen movie could be! As massive comic fans and massive Watchmen fans, we were going in there skeptical. I feel like Watchmen could be done as an HBO 12-part series and such -- even a 3-hour theatrical extended movie might never do it justice. As for Superman, he's my favorite character; I'm such a Superman freak. The fact that it's one of my pals [David Goyer] doing the Superman screenplay and Nolan producing it... I just think that's excellent. I couldn't be happier with it, really.
PRODUCER MIKE: So we asked our fans on Twitter what they'd like to ask you, and Ed_EisSenorNerd wants to know: "Who is Mark Millar's favorite current writer?"
MARK MILLAR: Favorite current writer? Hmmm.... I would say probably Jason Aaron. I absolutely love Garth Ennis - I've known him since I was 19. Garth and I were born within 4 weeks of each other. We both got into 2000 A.D. around the same time, we both broke into American comics around the same time. So I've known Garth half my life, you know? He's probably my most consistently top writer of the last decade or so. But Jason Aaron is the guy giving him a run for his money right now. I actually think the stuff Jason's been doing on Punisher MAX in particular is absolutely brilliant, which is a book I think is quite overlooked - because Garth had such a great run on that book that people were ready not to like the guy who was coming next. And I was kind of like that; I didn't actually read Jason's Punisher MAX myself until around issue 5. Then I went back and read all the previous ones, and I love it. I think Jason Aaron is the real deal; he's
the only guy right now who's consistently blowing me away. I'm loving Kirkman's The Walking Dead. But everything I'm reading now by Jason Aaron, I'm absolutely loving, so I think he's ahead of the pack.
PRODUCER MIKE: We hear you do a mean American accent - can you do one for us? What's your favorite thing to say in American?
MARK MILLAR: Ok, so you want me to try and pass for an American right now? Okay, so let's imagine that I'm walking into a store, and you're behind the counter, and I come up and ask you for a Coke and some fries or something. [puts on startlingly good American accent] "Uhh, hey buddy, can I have a Coke and uh, some fries please?" [laughs]
PRODUCER MIKE: That was awesome, thank you. [laughs] This is Mike from The Action Room, and I've been talking to Mark Millar. Thanks for joining us in The Action Room, Mark.
MARK MILLAR: Thank you, Mike - speak to you again!