Screenwriter Max Landis has been a regular guest at the Middle East Film and Comic Con since its debut in 2012, and he was back in Dubai again for what promises to be a busy year. Four films he wrote are set for release in the coming months: “Victor Frankenstein,” “American Ultra,” “Mr. Right” and his directorial debut “Me Him Her.” And then there’s his next big comic project.
Best known for his screenwriting debut on the 2012 sci-fi thriller “Chronicle” and for his YouTube videos, Landis also has a deep love of comics. He’s already written two Superman stories, including one drawn by Jock in which the Man of Steel faces down the Joker, graphically demonstrating why the Clown Prince of Crime has no place in Metropolis.
So what’s his next big comic project?
“I’m back there in the green room working on it because I’ve been slacking on it terribly,” he told SPINOFF at MEFCC. “I think I’m going to finish two issues on the flight home from Dubai.”
“There’s going to be seven issues, it is a miniseries, but I’m not allowed to say what it is,” he continued. “It’s a character I’ve wanted to work on my entire life.”
When asked directly whether it’s a character he hasn’t worked on before, Landis replied, “I didn’t say that. It’s a character I’ve wanted control over and to do my own version of my entire life, so it’s a real put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is situation for me. I’m really putting the gun to my own head in a lot of ways.”
“I’m picking my artists,” he continued, “and there are going to be more than seven different artists. It’s a very unique miniseries. [The artists are] reflective of the different tones of the various stories and there are smaller stories that are woven into the bigger stories that I address.
“They are really letting me push a lot of bounds, which is cool because this is not a character you usually see bounds being pushed with. They usually play this character pretty safe. But I’ve always said publicly I don’t like dark and gritty, I don’t like dark and gritty, I think dark and gritty is cheap. […] I think sincerity is much more interesting. Clarity of character and sincerity. And oftentimes by doing that you get into a dark and gritty place, but you can also get into a place that is heart-warming and touching and that’s what I want to do, I want to do stories that make you think about this character and feel this character in a way that you haven’t before.”
That led to a discussion of Grant Morrison’s run on “All-Star Superman,” which Landis described as, “probably, in all honesty, the best Superman story ever written.”
“What’s cool about the way [Morrison] did Superman is that there was a real ‘I don’t care’ to it,” he said. “It’s OK to be silly, it’s OK to be weird, it’s OK to be simple. It’s atavistic, it’s archetypal, it’s rich, it’s mythic. For me, I’ve always wanted to see Superman specifically portrayed as more of a human, because I think that’s the best thing about him. That he’s kind of an American alien. He’s a human who happens to be an alien rather than an alien who’s pretending to be a human… an immigrant who comes and finds success as a journalist and as a guy who punches robots. He has two different venues of success: journalism and robot-punching, and you know what? He’s equally good at both.”
And after his success with “Chronicle,” a superhero movie in all but name, are there any comic book films Landis would want to work on?
“Every comic book superhero thing is owned by a conglomerate, and working on any of them would be an incredibly stressful experience, because there would be a corporate directive on how they want the thing to be,” he said. “In a world with no companies [and with money no object] I would love to do a Superman movie, a Spider-Man movie, “Y: The Last Man” […] I’d love to do a “Transmetropolitan” movie. I want to make a $250 million “Transmetropolitan” movie, rated R.”
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