Mark Millar has long been the wunderkind of the comics community. His work might not be to everyone’s tastes and he’s proven a deft hand at deliberately courting controversy and infamy with well-managed stunts and Olympic-level self-promotion, but his comics have, without question, taken tried-and-tested comic-book formulas and given them newly-minted pop-culture twists: essentially asking questions about the status quo we know. In Red Sun he gave us an alternative version of Superman, asking the question of what would have happened if the last survivor of Krypton had landed in Cold War Russia rather than America; he looked at what might happen if an average kid put on a superhero costume and battled the bad guys (spoiler: broken bones etc) in Kick-Ass, mixed up the real world and comics in 1985 and re-imagined the Avengers for a post-modern world in The Ultimates. He also envisioned an ‘Unforgiven‘ type concept with Old Man Logan charting a post-apocalyptic world in which Logan / Wolverine has withdrawn from a decaying world but is forced back in to the fray. Tonally, at least, the recent Logan feature film took some of its cues from the basic idea. The likes of Kick-Ass, Wanted and Kingsman: The Secret Service (what would happen if a council-estate inner city boy was drafted into a crime-fighting fraternity that usually trained more upper-class James Bondian types?) were made into movies and The Ultimates comic was so well received it,*ahem* ultimately, became the template for the tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself.
Millar has never been backwards at coming forwards and so it was with some glee that he announced the sale of his mini publishing empire Millarworld to Netflix last year with the promise of more developments. Now the other super-boot has dropped with Millar and Netflix announcing some of their ongoing plans.
Netflix will produce a series based around American Jesus, the provocative comic where Millar asks what would happen if the Messiah was born in the modern US and faced the contemporary challenges of a young teenager dealing with a disbelieving populace and the political upheaval it would cause. Sure, he can turn water into wine and help the crippled walk again, but is he a threat to the people who see religion as much as an income as a calling? Everardo Gout and Leopoldo Gout (Molly’s Game, Instinct) have been announced as co-showrunners and executive producers (with Everardo also down to direct after proving himself on projects such as the recent Luke Cage series).
Jupiter’s Legacy looks at the problems of a generational superhero dynasty. The elder statesmen have helped reshape the world since the 1930s and know the etiquette of being the world’s guardians – but their offspring are more concerned with the fame and power and celebrity their position can bring and so the scene is set for an epic clash against an array of bad-guys and potentially each other… Steven S. DeKnight (Angel, Daredevil etc) will show-run and executive-produce the television adaptation and will likely direct the pilot episode.
Also included are feature film productions. Huck, first published in 2016, is the story of a man with special gifts who quietly helps the people of his community who protect his secrets… until his story goes public and the unwanted attention exposes some past problems and complicates his life and those around him. Empress tells the tale of a woman on the run from her abusive husband… though the issue is complicated even more because he’s the despotic ruler of the galaxy and she was his queen. Now on the run, she’s surviving by never staying in one place / planet too long. Sharkey the Bounty Hunter will first be published as a comic in 2019 but the concept of a cosmic bounty hunter riding around the universe in what looks like a nuclear-powered ice-cream van and on the search for his big pay-off sounds like an interesting romp.
The collaboration between Millar and Netflix has already produced a new comics title, The Magic Order, which has something of a Watchmen concept with an unknown killer stalking a group of mystics in an alternative magic-fuelled present. That too may yet see a screen adaptation.
“My wife Lucy and I are eleven months into our jobs at Netflix and it’s everything we hoped for to the power of ten,” Millar said in a statement. “To see a movie based on your work every couple of years is incredibly exciting, but to see them all happening at once like this and with talent this high-end is just off the scale. These are writers and directors I’ve privately been sending fan-mail to over the last eighteen months so to be working with them all is just enormously exciting. This really is the greatest creative environment I’ve ever worked in. I can’t wait to switch on my computer every morning.”