Every once in a while, a film like Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes along and brings about a renewed interest in space operas. It takes a particular formula to make a space adventure like Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy succeed. With a reported Flash Gordon project in the works and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 already on the way, perhaps space operas are on their way to making a big comeback. And the next major cosmic adventure may come from comic book writer Mark Millar (Kingsman: The Secret Service), based on his Empress comic book series.
Millar's latest comic saga, drawn by renowned Marvel artist Stuart Immonen, is a cross between “a space opera” and “a British domestic drama” according to Millar. And even though it hasn’t reached print yet, a film adaption is already underway, with previous rumors having pointed to the lead being played by Angelina Jolie, who starred in the Hollywood adaptation of Millar's Wanted comic book. However, it no longer looks like Jolie will be starring in the movie.
Via his Twitter account, Millar posted a picture of an actress wrapped up to conceal her face. Fans have thus far speculated about the possible lead, suggesting it could be anyone from Anne Hathaway to Alicia Vikander to Charlize Theron. Take a look below. Who do you think it is?
— Mark Millar (@mrmarkmillar) March 7, 2016
Whoever winds up unwrapping themselves on Millar’s reveal date of April 6, they look to be on the younger end of the 35-50 year-old range Millar intended for the title role in the Empress movie adaptation.
The first issue of Empress, which consists of a trilogy of six-issue runs, drops in April from Marvel's creator-owned imprint Icon. Millar recently discussed the origins and influences of Empress with Comic Book. The series begins on a prehistoric version of Earth – hence the marvelous dinosaur artwork in the series first looks – with a dynastic culture that left the planet roughly 65 million years ago. The Empress, according to Millar, is the wife of a “galactic dictator, who leaves him, taking her three children…. to her home world for refuge.” Apparently, not all of her children wish to be liberated from their father, and a number of snags arise to complicate her escape. Millar also explores the series’ origins from his love of Flash Gordon:
“There was always the big picture of Ming, there's a picture of Flash Gordon, you have Ming's daughter in the background. Then at the same time you'd also see mysterious women in headdresses that were kind of Ming's concubines, I thought, that's quite interesting. In a hundred years of storytelling, I don't think I've ever seen I've ever seen the story of Ming's concubines.”
Here's a sample page from the Empress comic:
It’s also interesting that Millar chose to focus on an older character and a mother archetype. Millar, who lives in a household with four women, feels that the role is ideal for his and our current environment: “You look at the comic-shelves and there’s plenty of male leads. You look at the world outside and it’s 52% female. There’s clearly a disparity here.” Millarworld (including Kick-Ass and The Secret Service) has always consisted of strong characters of both genders. His genre-bending work in The Authority, Civil War, and Old Man Logan has likewise proven successful due to Millar's willingness to venture into new territories and create realistic characters, even if they're based on straight-forward archetypes.
Empress does show promise, with its colorful characters and worlds. If handled properly, a film adaption could become a galactic adventure on the scale of Guardians of the Galaxy or Star Wars. If not, we could wind up with another Flash Gordon (as cheesy-wonderful as it is) on our hands. It will also be interesting to find out who is revealed as the lead in the movie version, for related reasons.
Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen’s Empress #1 launches this April. Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more news about Mark Millar’s Empress series and its film adaptation alike.