If anyone was wondering whether the recently wrapped American election was going to slow down Mark Millar’s infamously cheeky self promotion, let his Twitter account last night lay those fears to rest. “Congrats to America,” the writer wrote last night. “You have 4 more years of Obama in the White House AND Kick-Ass 2 opening in June.”
Of course, the film adaptation incoming from director Jeff Wadlow and producer Matthew Vaughn is only one piece of the puzzle for the property as Millar and John Romita, Jr. continue to finish the “Hit-Girl” mini series that starts the whole story off with its fifth and final issue hitting next month from Marvel’s Icon imprint. Millar spoke about both the comic’s end and the film’s ramp up with CBR News.
“I came up with all this a couple of years back and wrote it back then too,” he explained of the project that was born in 2010 and took two years to complete after Romita committed to doing all the art himself rather than inviting on assistants. “He said, ‘I’ll promise you I can ramp up the schedule.’ The thing was always planned as a 12-issue story broken into two parts, but they each have to stand in their own right. You can read one and not have to read the other, but when you go and see the movie, it’s basically Hit-Girl for 45 minutes and then an hour of ‘Kick-Ass 2.'”
Millar described the draw to the character as her bad ass nature serving almost like super powers. “It’s kind of like Batman in the Justice League. Everybody always says, ‘Batman is just going to stop all the bad guys because he’s the best.’ And then you think, ‘Hang on…all it takes is for Batman to get hit with a bottle and he’s knocked unconscious!'” he explained. “It’s just that he’s so cool, you think he’s best. It’s the same thing with Hit-Girl. Every so often you think ‘Hang on a minute…if she’s up against 12 guys with machine guns, they must have a chance of killing her.’ So every once in a while – in this mini series especially – I’ve got to give her a bit of vulnerability because she feels so capable. Her being at school and getting picked on is an aspect of the character I didn’t see. Likewise, there are things that can go slightly wrong for her like if her cape catches on a chimney or whatever, it reminds the readers she’s not Batman.”
At the end of #4, Hit-Girl was thrown into a precarious development as the gangsters she’s been taking the fight to have brought it back to her adoptive father Marcus – a rare moment of total seriousness in her wild world. “Marcus is like a regular person having a tiny Punisher living with him, and I kind of like that. If I can compare this to anything, I guess it’s ‘Ferris Bueller’ – the whole story where Ferris is off doing cool shit all day while the parents think he’s home sick. That was a big inspiration for the ‘Hit-Girl’ series – the idea that she’s trying to live an ordinary life while doing something spectacular. There’s even a scene where Marcus and Hit-Girl are both rushing home, and she’s trying to prove that she’s been there all day and that she’s not really Hit-Girl. This will all be shot for the movie, and I wonder if people will catch that nod.”
The series finale will also reveal the final fate of Red Mist – the villain who’s on a path to being reborn as “the Motherfucker” in the already published sequel. “In ‘Kick-Ass 2’ we just saw him immediately as the Motherfucker, and he had his gang around him. I wanted to show in the ‘Hit-Girl’ series how that happened -Â him going out there and committing the world’s first super crime or him going off around the world like a bad Bruce Wayne and learning all this stuff. There were so many things I wanted to do for both Hit-Girl and him.”
Meanwhile, “Kick-Ass 2” the film’s production continues at a pace – first in Toronto and now in the UK. Millar has been to the set many times, though at this point he said that his visits were mostly for his own entertainment. He also noted that he’s happy to finally be able to speak about the process as openly as possible. “Essentially we started talking about it in December 2010, but we just had to do it in secret. Well, everyone else was talking about it in secret. I was talking about it in public,” he laughed. “I wasn’t realizing it was supposed to be so secret, and then I kept getting e-mails from people saying ‘Shut the hell up. We’re supposed to be building some anticipation.’ But it took six months to write the screenplay before we were even announced.
“My sense of it all as a producer and writer takes place before we even start shooting. Casting is very important, as is finding a screenwriter who could impress Matthew [Vaughn] and all of us. And Jeff is pretty amazing. So all of that took about six months leading up to shooting, and now I can just relax. I go to the set and watch what they’re doing and then hang out in the edit suite to see how it’s shaping up for five months of post with a brilliant editor named Eddie Hamilton. So really for me, it’s just fun to see all that stuff that a few years ago was in your head. It feels kind of like ‘Being John Malkovitch’ -Â like this stuff should still be contained up there.”
The comics final influence on the film will be felt everywhere, he said. “The reason I took it to Matthew Vaughn was because I knew he loved it, and everybody that’s in the film has got copies on the set with them. To give an example, the set designer has built the Justice Forever headquarters for the super team that Kick-Ass joins. He’s made the whole thing with such detail that there’s a part based on one line I’ve got in the comic where Russell is making a schedule, and he worked out a whole schedule of which of the heroes would be available when. It’s hanging up on a piece of paper in the kitchen of the headquarters along with a list of whole likes cream and sugar in their coffee. It’s just all these tiny, tiny details you might not see in the film. They’re just in the background. John Romita was almost crying walking around the set! It looked just like his panels coming to life in front of him. It’s quite an emotional thing as crazy as that sounds.”
As for what he will take away from the filming, Millar is eyeing in on saving a piece of it for himself…literally. “I’m going to steal something. Every time I go to see one of the sets of one of my films, I’ve said, ‘I’d like to get something off the set’ but then I never do. You realize that people are just stealing stuff when they break down. Don’t ask, just take it! Some of the stuff is too big to get out, so I’m just stealing small stuff and shoving it in my pocket.”
While many more comics are on their way including “Nemesis 2” with Steve McNiven and the gestating “Jupiter’s Children” with Frank Quitely, the next phase of the writer’s Millarworld franchise on film is also already in the works. “What we’re doing is that ‘Kick-Ass 2’ is filming now, and next year we’ll start production on ‘Secret Service’ which I did with Dave Gibbons, and Matthew and I have been talking about that for years,” he said. “We thought Matthew was going to do X-Men first, but we found out there were actually a few imitators of ‘Secret Service’ in the works. People think you’re lying when you say you’re not trying to get your comics made into movies so quickly, but the two reasons it happens like that is first because it’s the best ad for the comic you’ll ever have. And for me, selling the book is the most important thing. The second reason is because people are always trying to rip you off. Somebody will start to work on a spec screenplay about your idea. There are three other projects I know of now about a James Bond kind of guy taking a street kid and turning him into a spy. Three screenplays were already going through Hollywood about this! So Matthew and I said, ‘Fuck this. We’re not letting anyone steal our ideas.'”
Stay tuned later this week for more with Mark Millar on his new Fox superhero movie consultancy gig.