When he's not making movies with Brangelina, he's busy plotting and planning his hotly rumored reboot of the Warner Bros. Superman film franchise. Quite simply, Mark Millar is endeavoring to turn Hollywood into Millarworld.
CBR News chatted with the Scottish super-scribe earlier this week about his return to Marvel's Ultimate Universe with "Ultimate Avengers," and Millar was still buzzing from a whirlwind weekend of shooting on "Kick-Ass," with star Nicolas Cage available to bang off a few scenes on the film adaptation of Millar and John Romita, Jr.'s ICON comic book.
"It sounds like such a weak thing, but it's hard standing all day," laughed Millar. "It was exhausting. And when you think some people have to do real jobs and go down mines and things like that, I can't believe I'm complaining about standing. I came home from the first day of shooting and slept for two hours, I was so exhausted. And when I got back yesterday, I just crashed. I absolutely crashed."
For more on Millar's film work, including the rumors of his involvement with the Superman franchise and an update on "Wanted 2," CBR News reconnected with the writer for this in-depth chat.
CBR: What's the status of "Kick-Ass?" Are you still working on re-writes?
Mark Millar: [Director] Matthew [Vaughn] is so incredibly meticulous that all of the prep work was really done between Christmas and February, so all the script stuff was all worked out then. But there are so many little details on this that I just wasn't expecting. On "Wanted," although we were producers, all the work for me came after they were finished shooting. And I wrote some extra dialogue and voiceover stuff that they did on re-shoots.
But [with "Kick-Ass," I've been involved in everything -- the shades of Hit Girl's hair to the length on the mask of Big Daddy. Every detail we're involved in, so there are meetings continuously, which is great. I'm loving it. It's really exciting.
But I thought it was just going to be free money, because they offered us quite a bit of money to be a producer and I thought, "That's great." Because I thought I was just going to appear and smile. And I was actually shocked. It's a real job. And it's taken up a lot of time.
Well, not that long. The fifth issue of "Kick-Ass" isn't even out yet.
What you have to remember is I only really came up with this last year. It's a pretty new thing. And I wrote it last year. Matthew Vaughn and I were going to do another project together when he came off "Thor." Because of the writers strike, he couldn't really get involved with anything. And we were looking at "Chosen" because Matthew really loved it. And Claudia Schiffer, his wife, had read it and she said, "You should absolutely do this next." And then, just in conversation, I mentioned "Kick-Ass." And he said, "'Chosen' sounds like a lot of work because it's a big, epic kind of thing and there's the end of the world and all of that kind of stuff. It would be quite nice to do something that we could shoot relatively quickly. And we could have lots of fun."
So I showed him all the scripts for "Kick-Ass." We hadn't even drawn it yet. I just gave him some of the ideas and designs. And we started work on the screenplay in December. So that happened very, very quickly. And by February, we had this final, polished screenplay done by Jane Goldman, who works with Matthew quite a lot and we started shooting few days ago.
That must be record time. I think the movie is going to be out probably around the same time of the collection of the first eight issues, which is unheard of. It's just nuts.
What are your other responsibilities as a producer?
I can't begin to tell you how deeply involved I've been. Every night, after I had finished my regular work and put my daughter to bed, I'd come upstairs, put the computer on and spend an hour looking at auditions. There's a special website -- and I didn't even know this technology exists in the real world -- but there's a special website and you type in a name and a password and you can watch that day's audition, one hour after the auditions are finished. And that was amazing. So every night, me and Matthew and Brad Pitt [one of the producers] and a couple of other people would put our comments up to the other producers what we thought of this guy for Dave or this person for Hit Girl or whatever. And it was amazing because you could just write in a little note to the casting woman saying we'd like to try this actor because I had an idea for a few people as well. And the next day they would be in because it's a good director and it's going to be a good movie. And has a big producer attached. You could practically get anyone you wanted to come in and audition.
The very last one we got was Kick-Ass and we were getting pretty nervous because we only got [actor Aaron Johnson] at the very last week of casting. And we really didn't like most of the ones we'd seen. We felt they were decent but not good enough to hold the movie together. They were good supporting guys but for being the lead, they had to be great. And Aaron was like Christopher Reeve. He just appeared out of nowhere. And it worked out great.
Tell us about casting Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy.
We didn't think we could afford Nicolas Cage. And then we found out we could. We managed to work something out. And that was a dream because that was literally our very first call. So that worked out beautiful getting him. Because, we had read so many other people and we were getting increasingly disappointed with the people we were talking to and we had all of the stages booked so we really needed to get someone fast. And then Nicolas' schedule worked out great for us in the end. And we ended up being able to work everything out.
So no Brad Pitt cameo?
I don't think so. He's not good looking enough.
When will we see "Kick-Ass" in theaters?
All's going well, it's gone very smoothly and we have just a small amount of CGI. So I think they are looking towards the end of next summer. It certainly won't be later than September next year.
You mentioned finding Aaron Johnson was like finding Christopher Reeve. Speaking of whom, can you update us on your proposed Superman film project?
The Superman thing is quite interesting because I wanted to do it my whole life and then maybe a few months back, maybe more, I sort of resigned myself to the fact that it's just not going to happen. I was like, you know what, I have a trilogy of Angelina Jolie movies, "Kick-Ass" is going to be at least two, possibly three movies, and I've got "War Heroes" getting set up plus "Chosen" and everything. And just all of these other things were happening for me anyway, so I was like "Get over it. Get on with your life and just do your own stuff."
And then this call came out of the blue which was totally unexpected about maybe 10 weeks ago and it was a friend who was a director, who said, "Are you still interested in doing Superman?" And I said, "Well, yeah, of course. But it's not going to happen." Because Bryan Singer was going off to do "Man of Steel" and I had no interest in anything like that. I just wanted to do a reboot -- a completely new invention; a whole new way of doing it. And he said, "Bryan has talked to Warner Bros. and he's got a lot of other projects and he may not be doing 'Man of Steel' now and Warner Bros. had said to me, are you interested in directing it? And he said to them, "I have a friend who is a huge Superman fan and I'll direct it if he writes it because he's got a lot of great ideas about Superman." And that just restarted everything again. Oh my god.
So this is sounding more and more like it may actually happen?
We haven't got any contract or agreement yet. There are probably a couple of other directors because they were still asking around, but this guy is a huge, huge deal. And if he wants to do it, that's a pretty good sign. Warner Bros. doesn't give a rat's ass about me. I'm just a Scottish guy that nobody can understand what he's saying. But he likes my ideas and they love him. If he wasn't involved, it wouldn't even be an issue. But this is such a huge deal. This is Superman. But this guy is very respected so if he is the director, I am eventually going to be writing it.
And we should know pretty soon because they made almost one billion off of Batman, so they want to make sure they can make a lot of money off Superman. They want to get another big franchise up and running. And they want to do a "Batman Begins" for Superman.
I have been told the soonest anything will happen, in terms of getting a script together, will be early next summer with a view to filming the following year and getting something out for 2011. But that makes it sound more official than it is. This is entirely down to Warner Bros., but if they go with this guy that will be the plan.
You've said this will be Superman's "Lord of the Rings."
I wanted to do Superman's entire life. That's my plan, to tell an epic Superman story. I love the structure of the three "The Godfather" films. Just something that starts with a young man building up to him being an old man. I just think with Superman, you can't go small on it. So I wanted to do something like a Superman magnum opus -- a giant Superman three-picture spectacular with a story that runs between seven and eight hours.
The story I've got is colossal. It's got everything I like about Superman all in one movie. It's a lifetime's worth of notes all put together. It starts 1,000 years ago on Krypton and with the technology we have now, I see people saying, "No. We don't need to see Krypton again." And all that. But really, you haven't seen Krypton before. You've seen lame TV show special effects. And you've seen pre-CGI technology of Krypton before. And the idea of scarlet jungles and jewel mountains and just Superman's genealogy; his ancestors. There's lot to play with -- Brainiac and so on. So starting there and then going 10 million years in the future by the end of the third movie. It's just a giant movie.
So we'd spend a lot of time on Krypton in your first movie?
Obviously, there is still tons of Superman in the first movie but I think the first half-an-hour would be great on Krypton. For the plot I have, Krypton is very important. So I really established the world there and the religion on Krypton. All the stuff you have seen teased in comics but you've never really seen in movies. Just make it grand. I wanted "The Dark Knight" to look like Superman 4. I want it to be just a big, grand Superman story.
Knowing its way off and may not even happen, do you have an idea of who you'd love to see playing Superman?
We have actually talked about this at length. And there are two big things we are going to do. The first one is whoever plays Superman will be an unknown so he can become Superman. It won't be Ben Affleck in a suit as much as I love Ben Affleck. It just pulls you out of the movie whenever you see a recognizable face in a costume. But the second thing is we want him to look as unlike Christopher Reeve as possible. Because, my idea was I was saying to the director, "Oh, this guy looks a bit like Christopher Reeve. This guy looks like Christopher Reeve." And he said, "What you've go to appreciate is that Christopher Reeve is your generation's Superman. And kids now will get nothing from that." It's like Dick Donner grew up loving the George Reeves Superman show, but he didn't go out there and look for a guy who looks like George Reeves. He picked someone appropriate to his vision of Superman. And George Reeve looked nothing like Kirk Alyn either, so he said, "What we've got to do is find someone who is this generation's Superman." And maybe he's got a more muscular figure? Or a more masculine kind of look to him as opposed to the gentler look that Christopher Reeve had. I think George Reeves was a tougher looking kind of guy. While it's the early stages, we have had an entire afternoon talking about that recently. And it was very interesting because I hadn't considered that.
You teased us about a trilogy of movies with Angelina Jolie. Is "Wanted 2" coming sooner rather than later?
We are working on that right now. As we were walking out of the premiere of "Wanted," the producer, Mark Platt, put his arm around myself and J.G. Jones and said, "So 'Wanted 2,' what are we going to do?" So since then, there has been lots of chatter back and forth. It's a real priority at Universal. We've been working on that since the premiere, really. On the Monday after it came out, they knew it was going to make about $300 million. And it's at $280 million right now and it hasn't opened in Japan yet. So that's exciting and they're pretty confident enough to do a trilogy, so if they plan this out like Star Wars, you have a second and a third one to tie them together.
And any news on "War Heroes," your creator-owned title with Tony Harris from Image Comics?
"War Heroes" went out to option this week. The thing is, I have been away so much the last month. I did that tour for "War Heroes," the comic. So I was away for two weeks and then it was the Labor Day holiday and then we ended up shooting "Kick-Ass," so we all agreed we would hold off taking "War Heroes" out to option until [Monday.] And a bunch of guys came forward to make submissions so all of the studios are going in for it, which is brilliant. So it's definitely got a home because a bunch of guys want it.