As he readily admits, Mark Millar is no stranger to violent, grim and gritty superheroes. The mind behind R-rated comic-to-films like “Wanted,” “Kick-Ass” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service” also darkened characters like Captain America and Superman with his work on “The Ultimates” and “Superman: Red Son.” But after a career filled with what he calls “cartoonish ultra-violence,” the writer has revealed in an essay at GamesRadar that the 2013 film “Man of Steel” proved to be his grim breaking point.
In the piece, titled “How Man Of Steel traumatised me so much I created Huck,” Millar runs through the similar histories and trajectory towards darkness that comics and comic book films have traveled. He writes that he was in the “front row from ‘X-Men’s’ bleak Auschwitz opening, to Willem Dafoe being crucified against a wall in ‘Spider-Man'” and that he was thrilled that finally, directors and filmmakers with vision were bringing a new “level of talent” to superhero movies.
“But Summer 2013 as I sat there on Father’s Day and saw Superman beating the bad guy by twisting his neck so hard he broke it and murdered him I really wondered if we’d come to the end of that particular road,” writes Millar, recalling his experience watching “Man of Steel.” “Now I got the logic of that scene and it absolutely made sense within the context of the movie as the villain had taken down half of Metropolis and killed hundreds of thousands of people. But even so. This was Superman. This was like seeing Sylvester the Cat finally getting his hands on Speedy Gonzales. Elmer Fudd blowing away Bugs Bunny. I loved Superman as a kid not because of his edginess or his potential for a fatal solution, but because he could do anything he wanted and still chose to be nice. This was always the moral of a superhero comic to me.”
This moment, as Millar describes, caused him to reflect on the nature of superheroes and their origin in the Great Depression when they were created “to lift our spirits in the darkest times.” With artist Rafael Albuquerque, Millar created a new superhero in the vein of “Jimmy Stewart/ Tom Hanks/ Steven Spielberg.”
“Imagine a town with a unique secret, a gas station attendant with special abilities who does one good deed every day,” said Millar of “Huck.” “This can be as small as finding a lost necklace or as enormous as rescuing a hostage in Afghanistan, but the world doesn’t know he exists and the locals in the town aim to keep it that way.”
Millar concludes that he hopes “Huck” will remind audiences that they didn’t “dress up as these characters as kids, because they were so miserable and bad-ass and violent and cruel.” He adds that he thinks audiences are hungry for uplifting heroes, and says “Huck” is “the antidote to the antihero and it’s going to be an interesting experiment this week.”
Written by Mark Millar with art from Rafael Albuquerque, “Huck” hits stores this Wednesday.
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