9 Mark Millar Comics That Should Be Movies
Superman: Red Son
The Comic: A three-issue DC mini-series based around the question everyone has always puzzled over (maybe)…what if Superman grew up in the Soviet Union?
The Movie Version: An entirely different beast from Brandon Routh’s ho-hum do-gooder, this Supes is a gritty, working-class hero, “the champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.” High-minded stuff then, although Lex Luthor’s plot to thwart Superman with an evil clone might look a bit daft on the big screen…
Dream Director: Obvious it might be, but we can’t look past Christopher Nolan for this one. This Superman is far less clear-cut in his heroics than the original, eventually replacing Stalin as the all-seeing, and slightly scary, leader of the Soviet Union. Oh and Batman crops up in the second comic, so it’s got to be Nolan really hasn’t it?
Dream Cast: Pretty-boy, all-American wholesomeness is out the window in favour of grizzled, granite-tough, Soviet steel. Viggo Mortensen might be pushing the age-barrier a bit, but we know he can do the accent, and how cool would it be to cast a Superman who actually looks as though he could kick your arse?
The Comic: Millar teams up with Chris Weston for this 2000 AD series set in a future where Judgement Day has been and gone, with God failing to turn up at the allotted hour. As a result, the earth is crawling with the risen dead, with only priest-cum-copper Canon Fodder to keep them in check.
The Movie Version: The plot is pretty outlandish at the best of times, with characters like Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud pitching up unannounced, so we’re thinking a fairly light approach is the order of the day. Oh and the CGI-budget better be up to scratch…Fodder’s dust-up with The Devil himself won’t come cheap.
Dream Director: An ultra-violent yarn starring a scenery-chewing anti-hero, with reams of undead splatter thrown in for good measure? This has got Robert Rodriguez’s name written all over it.
Dream Cast: For a man of God, Canon isn’t half a sarky bastard so we’d like to see Mark Wahlberg reprise his Staff Sergeant Dignam sneer for this one. Would it be another Keanu Reeves/ Constantine disaster? It’s a risk we’re willing to take.
The Comic: Created in tandem with Grant Morrison for a run in 2000 AD, self-professed “hardest man in Manchester” Big Dave is one of Millar’s more controversial creations. Not convinced? One storyline has Dave lead a team of disabled British kiddies to the World Cup Final to face a Germany team managed by Hitler. Nice.
The Movie Version: Dave’s big screen debut should be an adaptation of his very first battle: a face-off with Saddam Hussein. Saddam plans to turn the whole world into “poofs” you see, and our Dave can’t have that. Watch out for Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson in supporting roles as a pair of lushes with the hots for our hero. Note, this is not a joke. It all happens in the comic!
Dream Director: Nick Love would be foaming at the mouth over this one, but we don’t want to see any more bone-headed musings on masculinity, ta. We want it played for laughs, so we’ll plump for Matthew Vaughn to send up the Geezer-shtick of his early output.
Dream Cast: We’ll have Tom Hardy hamming it up as Dave, Emily Blunt as Diana and Scarlett Johansson as Fergie. Bit generous that last one, but poor old Sarah could do with a break couldn’t she?
The Comic: Millar taps into every comic-book fan’s fantasy/nightmare with this six-issue yarn about a young boy who realises various villains from the Marvel universe have begun making their way into the real world. Think Last Action Hero …actually, don’t.
The Movie Version: As we’ve hinted at with the above reference to Arnie’s 1992 clunker, this sort of postmodern whimsy is notoriously tricky to pull off without it collapsing under the weight of its own ambition. That said, reign in the number of heroes and villains involved (in the comics, practically everyone on the roster turns up), keep the glib in-jokes to a minimum, and it just might work.
Dream Director: Nobody handles this sort of real-world/fantasy-world mind-fuck better than Charlie Kaufman, so if anyone could tie it all together, it’d be him. Or maybe Brett Ratner…we jest of course! Aaaaaah.
Dream Cast: Hmm, you’d need a wide-eyed newcomer to play the little boy, so we’d like an unknown in that role. As for the heroes and villains, whoever Marvel have got locked into a 100-movie deal can continue their sentence here.
The Comic: A rare example of a comic boasting a supervillain but no superhero, Millar wrote Nemesis with the jumping-off question of, “what if Batman was the Joker?” A foul-mouthed terrorist, hell-bent on revenge against the cop who caused his father’s suicide, Nemesis prides himself on being a total shit, as demonstrated when he pinches the donor organ earmarked for a dying child. Bastard.
The Movie Version: Dark Knight fans might cock an eyebrow at the startling similarities between Nemesis and Heath Ledger’s Joker, but that aside, it would make for a deliciously dark revenge drama. So much so that Fox have optioned it, with Tony Scott in the frame to direct. Looks like this one is actually happening!
Dream Director: Scott is definitely up to handling the action, although he’s a bit too crash-bang-wallop for our taste. Chris Nolan would just be covering old ground, so we’ll go for David Fincher. This one should be jet-black, not neon-pink and Fincher knows his way around the shadows.
Dream Cast: Millar has been quoted as saying he wrote Nemesis with Johnny Depp in mind, although in our opinion he’s a little too wacky to be truly menacing. Michael C. Hall would be a better (and cheaper) bet, with the Dexter star doing a nice line in unhinged killers. As for stoical supercop Blake Morrow, Josh Brolin and his ever-so-square jaw will do nicely.
The Comic: Oops! A rare bum-note from Millar, this five-part serial was designed to re-popularise the romance comic, but, well, didn’t. Based around the issue of teen pregnancy, the series’ characters are based upon the early lives of Spiderman regulars Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and Mary and Richard Parker. Cue all manner of fan rage when Millar plays fast and loose with the specifics of Spidey’s parentage…
The Movie Version: Even without the Spidey element, this could work as a more conventional coming-of-age drama. In fact, given that Trouble contains precisely zero superhero action, marketing it as a Spiderman prequel would probably leave Marvel with a riot on their hands.
Dream Director: In the wrong hands this could descend into teen slush territory, but not with Darren Aronofsky behind the camera. Putting the man behind Requiem For A Dream in charge should stop things getting too Sweet Valley High .
Dream Cast: It’s got to be a young cast, but preferably one that’s never been anywhere near the Twilight Saga . We’re thinking Emma Stone as the feisty May and Mia Wasikowska as her shy sister Mary.
The Comic: An alternative vision of America’s war on terror, Millar’s six-part series has an axis-of-evil nuke explode in Washington, prompting economic collapse, widespread disillusionment and martial law in Uncle Sam’s back yard. Unwilling to go down without a fight, the US military arms its troops with special pills, giving them some rather nifty superpowers. As you do.
The Movie Version: No big-name superheroes here, just pumped up military grunts, and a scathing satire of America’s role as self-appointed global policeman. Could be a tricky sell Stateside, although it would probably go down well everywhere else!
Dream Director: David O Russell proved himself adept at handling war-based satire with Three Kings , and the rumours surrounding his involvement in Pride, Prejudice and Zombies suggest he’s not above the fantastical…
Dream Cast: Crass, kill-hungry meatheads wanted? Hemsworth, Worthington, Lautner…your ship has come in! In all seriousness, they’d actually fit quite well…
The Comic: A crossover epic involving a stack of top Marvel characters, Civil War was a seven issue saga charting the fallout of the Superhuman Registration Act, a law requiring those with superpowers to give up their secret identities and offer their services to the US government. Two factions quickly form, one pro and one con, with Iron Man and Captain America on opposite sides of the divide. Naturally, it all kicks off.
The Movie Version: This could well be the outline for an Avengers sequel, with the first film outlining the existing tensions within the super-team, and the Registration Act taking them past breaking point in the second.
Dream Director: If Joss Whedon manages to make The Avengers work, then he should definitely have first dibs on Civil War . However, if that goes tits up, Kenneth Branagh can have it. Unless of course Thor sucks, in which case we’ll pass it to Joe Johnston, so long as Captain America isn’t a flop. Got that?
Dream Cast: It has to have the same cast as The Avengers really. If Bruce Banner gets a fourth reincarnation, our heads will explode.
The Comic: Millar’s darkest creation? Quite possibly. This is the four-part tale of child-murdering cartoonist Troy Hicks, who swaps lives with one of his creations, a penguin known as Frosty Pete, when he is sent to the gas chamber. Family-friendly stuff then.
The Movie Version: Just finding a studio willing to make this would be a triumph in itself. Take the character of Moe the Crow for example. He’s sent to prison for possessing child pornography, before being raped by a bulldog. It’s not quite Disney, is what we’re trying to say…
Dream Director: Peter Jackson did this sort of thing with Meet The Feebles , so if he can’t get The Hobbit made, we’d be more than happy to see him turn back to the dark side.
Dream Cast: Robin Williams as Troy Hicks. He’s dipped his toe in murky waters with One Hour Photo …time to go the whole hog!