Whenever discussion amongst Joss Whedon fans turns, as it inevitably will, to the possibility of a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" film, at least one person in the group will point out that Whedon's beloved television show was preceded by a more or less unrelated movie starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry. Thus "Angel," which spun out of the "Buffy" TV series, might be said to be a show based on a show based on a movie - which is now published as a comic book series by IDW Publishing. But in December, "Angel: After the Fall" writer Brian Lynch and artist Stephen Mooney will re-imagine Angel's adventures for the silver screen in "Last Angel in Hell," a comic also known as "Angel Annual" #1. CBR News caught up with Lynch to discuss the first Angel annual and the thought that went into his Hollywood parody.
Lynch has been associated with IDW's "Angel" comics from the start, with his Whedon co-plotted "Angel: After the Fall" picking up where season five of the television show left off, and also has enough Hollywood cred to re-imagine Angel's story for a fake film. "I'm a screenwriter (I wrote 'The Sims' movie for Fox and 'Puss in Boots' for Dreamworks), so it was not at all hard to imagine how a studio executive would want to change Angel's story," Lynch said. "Angel can't just be a loner, he has to talk about being a loner to all the people he hangs out with all the time. Plus, above all else, Angel needs a love interest. As Angel didn't have one in 'Angel: After the Fall,' Hollywood has turned Spike into a lady and made them a couple. They weren't that far off from couple-status on the TV show anyway. A couple that's been together far too long, and likes to bicker, but a couple."
Lady Spike is still called Spike, Lynch said, "but it's because of what Angel calls 'the tiny little spikes in her teeth' once she's a vamp." He also said her British accent comes and goes. "In my head I pictured the actress not able to pull off a British accent that well.
Other characters needed some more-than-cosmetic changes for the screen as well, Lynch said. "I figured Betta George, the telepathic fish from 'Angel: After the Fall,' would be considered too weird for Hollywood's tastes, so George has been turned into a dog," Lynch told CBR. "And there's no way Hollywood would make the one black guy in the story a villain, so Gunn is (a) white and (b) not the bad guy. I don't want to spoil who the villain is, but he's red and has horns and a tail and a pitchfork. And if you called him 'Satan' he'd go 'what?' Sorry to be so cryptic in my hints.
"Finally, a big movie like 'Last Angel in Hell' would have lots of toys, so the characters are forced to wear different outfits for variant action figure costumes, and carry around all sorts of big chunky weapons for action figure accessories. Gunn's hideout, for instance, is based on an awesome playset from a popular toyline years ago."
Speaking of toys, "Angel Annual: The Last Angel in Hell" will reveal the level of merchandising possible with an "Angel" film. "Advertisements for the toys, cereal, fast food happy meals, they're all in the comic, too," Lynch said. "I wish they were real. Maybe if people buy enough copies, we can get a Nic Cage as Angel figure with Karate Kick Action."
"Last Angel in Hell" begins a few weeks before the fall of Los Angeles and ends a few weeks after the city has been saved, Lynch revealed, albeit with "Far more explosions" than what had been seen in "Angel: After the Fall." "Hollywood would demand it," the writer explained.
"Angel is no longer a vampire with a soul, he's hard-ass cop Angel Cartwright," Lynch said of the hypothetical film version of Angel. "Angel just lost his partner Wesley and is afraid of connecting with other people. Through the course of the movie he learns to trust again. And blows stuff up. And has sex. And has sex while stuff blows up."
With the current Hollywood and television vogue for vampires, spurred on by the "Twilight" series and HBO's "True Blood," it may be surprising that Angel is not a vampire in Lynch's adaptation. Lynch said, though, that if it will help sell comics, he's willing to concede that Angel might retain one of a vampire's most characteristic attributes. "HEY TWILIGHT FANS, ANGEL'S SKIN KINDA GLOWS, BUY THIS COMIC!" he joked. "Maybe we could have a glow-in-the-dark variant edition."
As to who might play Angel and company on the silver screen, Lynch has a few ideas. "Angel and Gunn are the only two that are actually based on actors. Angel is, how do I put this... inspired by Nic Cage. He has been in/almost been in enough super hero movies, so I figured he'd jump at the chance to play Angel," Lynch said. "Plus, the whole movie is very Jerry Bruckheimeresque, and Cage and Bruckheimer work together an awful lot. It really couldn't have been anyone else. I just wish we could have worked in a side story wherein Angel had to steal 50 cars in one night.
"Gunn is inspired by Jorge Garcia, Hurley from 'Lost.' Gunn is more of the sidekick, smart-ass of the movie, and Jorge has that down to a science. And Gunn is also a bit of a gun-nut. Again, I figured Hollywood would hear the name and would lack the imagination to go in any other direction."
Lynch's female version of Spike, though, is not based on any real actress, which the writer said is for practical reasons. "I didn't want her to be famous, because there's a very good chance Spike will meet up with the actress in his solo series, starting next year," the writer said. "Spike would want to meet the lady that played him, for sure. So if I made it, say, Angelina Jolie, I couldn't use her as a supporting character in 'Spike.' Angelina would probably get uppity, even though Maddox Pitt Jolie would dig the fact that his mom in a comic.
"Illyria also isn't based on anyone famous. She's a tough black lady, but I didn't give Stephen any suggestions. And the source of her power isn't the same as it is with the actual Illyria. Movie Illyria's origin is pretty great. Maybe we can do a prequel comic."
Artist Stephen Mooney is providing two covers for the Angel annual, one featuring the real Angel & company, and one with their on-screen counterparts, with both looking like movie posters. Lynch said the version with the authentic Angel crew would be more likely to make him shell out at the box office, because he'd love to see a real Angel movie. "There are so many vampire movies right now, can't we sneak an Angel one out? I'll fund it myself," he joked. "How much do movies cost, like 300, 400 bucks? I have to ask my parents, but I can get that dough, if need be."
While not giving away the ending to "Last Angel in Hell," Lynch did reveal that the finale "absolutely sets up a sequel." "No idea if we'll ever get to do it, future 'Last Angel' adventures depend on the sales of this one, of course," he said. "But the set-up is there, and you can kinda see the plotline we'd be following from the set-up on the last couple pages of the adaptation. The title would be 'The Next Last Angel in Hell.'"