Mark Millar’s ‘Nemesis’ Movie: What if Batman was The Joker?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 9:25 am,

mark millar nemesis Mark Millars Nemesis Movie: What if Batman was The Joker?

This week the rumor mill was cranking out word that a new comic book by Mark Millar (Wanted, Kick-Ass) could possibly be headed to the big-screen, with some big name directors helming it. The rumor wasn’t the strange part, though – the strange part was that I’d never really heard of the project in question (impossible, I know).

Anyhoo, the project is called Nemesis and the reason I haven’t really heard much about it yet is because the series isn’t out yet! However, see if this logline sparks your interest: “What if Bruce Wayne had become The Joker instead of Batman?”

In the vein of Wanted and Kick-Ass Millar’s Nemesis would be a funhouse mirror reflection of the Batman universe (which has sparked some legal debates for sure). Millar is working on the project with artist Steve McNiven; the two have previously collaborated on the most-excellent Marvel “Civil War” event and the Wolverine post-apocalyptic serial, “Old Man Logan.” Nemesis will be published by Marvel but the rights are owned by Millar and McNiven’s independent venture, Icon.

In talking with Comic Book Resources, Millar had this to say about Nemesis:

Marvel President Dan Buckley sort of paid me a compliment, saying, “This is such a stupidly simple and obvious idea. I can’t believe nobody’s ever come up with it before. You are the master of the stupidly simple idea.” Which I suppose is kind of flattering because everyone said that about “Kick-Ass” too. It’s almost too simple.

But, yeah. “Nemesis” is a reversal of the Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark archetype. What if this genius billionaire was just this total ****, and the only thing that stood between him and a city was the cops? It’s Batman versus Commissioner Gordon, in a weird way. Or maybe a super-villain version of “Se7en.” A billionaire anarchist up against ordinary people. The Joker’s the best thing in the Batman movies, so this guy is a bit of an amalgamation of all the stuff we like.

nemesis panel 2 Mark Millars Nemesis Movie: What if Batman was The Joker? Uh-oh Commissioner Gordon Police Detective Guy…

I certainly agree with the claim that Millar is a “master of the stupidly simple idea,” but also that this concept for Nemesis is downright genius. I’ll be checking that book out. As for the film adaptation of Nemesis: with Wanted‘s box office success and Kick-Ass climbing out of virtual obscurity to become one of the most anticipated films of 2010, Millar certainly seems to have the Midas touch insofar as creating comic book concepts that translate into hot movies. His golden track record was further extended this past week, when a rumor surfaced stating that Millar’s agent had been approached by an ‘A-list director’ about helming a Nemesis movie before the first issue even hit shelves!

At the same time, we learned that Sony was pulling the plug on Spider-Man 4 in favor of a series reboot that won’t involve director Sam Raimi or star Tobey Maguire. The “logical” assumption was that Raimi – horror, comedy, action director extraordinaire – was therefore the “A-list director” angling for the Nemesis flick. Millar quickly shot down the rumor, stating on his website message board:

Can I just stomp this rumour before it gets any further? This week CAA was approached by an A-list director to buy Nemesis before it goes to auction in March. Then Sam announces he’s not involved in the Spider-Man franchise any more, pursuing other projects. A lot of movie sites got in touch last night asking if the two stories are linked, but I just want to make it clear that Sam is not the guy who contacted my agent. I actually think he’s one of the three best living directors and would be honoured to have him on anything I do, but he’s not the guy who got in touch and the truth is that I’m not taking this out until March as originally planned. I want to have the whole thing finished before anybody reads it as Steve and I think we’re onto something pretty special here…We want to make sure this goes to the right guy, though Raimi would actually be an amazing choice and it would be a hilarious middle-finger to all the suits he just walked away from.

I’ll keep you posted.


However, a day or so later came this string of updates from Millar, which I’ve condensed into one quote:

Things move fast in Hollywoodland. I just woke up to some VERY unexpected emails…

Nobody has seen the scripts yet. The interest in based on Wanted doing 350 mill, insane buzz around town on Kick-Ass and that CBR interview where the Nemesis high concept was explained and visual released. It’s pretty crazy, but a lot of people are trying to get this before it goes elsewhere. Have another thing coming with Leinil after Summer and someone made an offer for this without even knowing what it is. Crazy times.

I was actually going to talk to Guy about it in the next couple of weeks, but wondered if a brilliant cop versus brilliant supervillain might be too much like Sherlock Holmes. I’m seeing Matthew this week and will see what he reckons. …


If you want to see a great breakdown of all this, check out the backtracking the guys over at Cinema Blend have done. It’s pretty fantastic.

nemesis panel 1 Mark Millars Nemesis Movie: What if Batman was The Joker?

Steve McNiven’s artwork on Nemesis.

With director Matthew Vaughn already earning high praise for how his translation of Millar’s Kick-Ass into what looks to be a fantastic movie, don’t be surprised to hear Vaughn’s name mentioned in sentence with a  Nemesis movie. I gotta say, the concept of  ‘a Bruce Wayne type’ slipping over the edge of sanity when his parents are murdered is not only awesome but thought-provoking as well. Makes you really wonder just how fine a line there is between a guy like Batman and a guy like The Joker – and that is an impressive feat in a post-Dark Knight world.

And a movie about a billionaire super villain dedicated to murder and chaos? It’s so wrong, yet somehow so right – I would definitely pay to see it.

How about you? Do you think Nemesis is a good comic book concept? How would it work as a movie?

The Nemesis comic book hits shelves in March 2010. We’ll see how fast the movie develops.

Sources: Cinema Blend, Millar World, Comic Book Resources

TAGS: Nemesis
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  1. I read half of Wanted and the first issue of Kick-Ass and I wasn't impressed. I didn't see Wanted, but Kick-Ass the movie looks good. (Btw, Kick-Ass was picked up by Vaughn before the series really launched.)

    I think Millar has great ideas, but I don't really like his execution. I didn't like Civil War, and Ultimates was uneven. Just my opinion.

  2. This was a cool read. Very interesting stuff here.

  3. “the two have previously collaborated on the most-excellent Marvel “Civil War” event”

    I found it to be the most over-hyped and style over substance event in comic book history..did not impress me at all..

  4. hmmmm… could be awesome. Guess we will see how the graphic novel does.

  5. So, the comic doesn't literally have Batman or the Joker does it? He was just using them to explain the concept? Because it's marvel…

  6. His ideas are not original either…this Reverse Batman angle has played out before with Batman…see The Wrath DC SPecial from 1984 he was the the anti-Batman.. Great story with great finish…This HAS been done before..countless times in comics..

  7. aren't almost half of all the villians super rich billionaire types anyways? isn't that the MO to begin with? and then they have some type of daddy issue that made them that way? besides inserting the “reverse batman” tag, it doesn't seem original at all…even the GI Joe movie was spearheaded by a filthy rich Destro…just sayin…

  8. I thought the civil war series was awesome.

  9. Well said. Lex Luthor anyone? Fisk (aka The Kingpin)?

    I guess the difference in this angle is that there is no direct foil to the supervillain. So, the real twist is not what they are hyping (what if Batman was the Joker?), but what if there was no Superman to fight Lex Luthor, just the regular cops…

    That is slightly more original when you are in the comic book realm, but not really that unique for film. Average joe hero(es) against the crazy-impossible-to-beat villain is a very common story arc in all types of films from every genre.

    Like I said earlier, could be cool. I will wait to see how the book is.

  10. If it is awesome then why are Marvel retconning a lot of the storyline like Peter revealing he is SPiderman and bringing Cap back from the dead?

  11. Doesn't the costume look like Space Ghost which is a take on Blue Falcon?

  12. Umm, because it's a comic book and not real life. They bring back every character they kill. This isn't the first time.

  13. Have to agree with what others have said. The idea itself isn't that original; what makes it sound so good is that we're really imagining Wayne going nuts. But without the actual Batman characters, and just some poorly-designed ersatz, I feel like this is going to fall flat.

  14. No matter where you stand on the whole thing I think it's a good example of the idea that you have to “make it new.” A number of people here have alleged that their are no untold stories. I can understand and even give that philosophy its due but you have to admit here is someone who is trying to find a twist on an avenue that hasn't been treaded to death. That's what has people excited for it.

    The other side of the coin of course is does the idea spark my interest and I must confess it doesn't do much for me. Why that is I don't know. Burned out by the intellectual meanderings of pot boiler stories and noir, maybe…

  15. Isn't Millar known for generating his own hypw about films? Ie. the Superman business?

  16. *hype

  17. So it's all repetitve anyway and the same old song and dance so in the end it wasn't that new or creative to begin with..let's write something “new” and with a “twist” sell millions and then change it all back..that's “original”…there are no new ideas in comics.

  18. Nemesis could be awesome, especially with Zach Snyder directing or Raimi.

  19. Yes but lets not forget that being a rich Billionaire Super villain may be the MO of a lot of super villains, Batman is able to outsmart every single one of them. Why? because he's 'Batman.' So an incredibly rich super villain with wits like Batman is very dangerous and could be quite impossible to take down.

  20. What is your point? There are no new ideas in hollywood either so what's the problem?

  21. Who cares about the originality of the idea? Everyones a critic these days.

  22. The idea is simply about DC's usual WHAT IF storylines, but this one comes from MARK, so it's INTERESTING.

    But how is that possible a child who lost parents changed into a BIG Villain!

  23. Think about it…he gets angry from the death of his parents, goes crazy and wants revenge. That would probably make me pretty pissed off and evil.

  24. I was responding to you telling mchops that Civil War can't be awesome because they are bringing Captain America back and making other changes. By that reasoning, that means that the first three Spider-Man movies were crap since Sony is rebooting them. And pretty much every comic book ever written must be as well.

  25. This looks like garbage. A horrible idea for a movie. This is the kind of storytelling you do when you cant think of something better, an idea you have on a brainstorming board from when you asked your high school kid to think of something. Uninspired drivel.

  26. My point is it that it was overrated and over hyped and wasn't good at all..if you had read my first comment you would have gotten that and saved all this redundancy..

  27. ummm… A story that possibly has no foreseeable “happy ending” or hero. This is definitely gonna burst a lot of “good guys' always win” bubbles. Sounds like a slice of real life with a dash of fantasy thrown in for freshly baked goodness

  28. ummm… A story that possibly has no foreseeable “happy ending” or hero. This is definitely gonna burst a lot of “good guys' always win” bubbles. Sounds like a slice of real life with a dash of fantasy thrown in for freshly baked goodness

  29. Nemesis sounds awesome. It's like they made Lex Luthor into a comic-book character. Oh wait…