Equal parts beloved and reviled among comic book fans for his edgy, button-pushing comics, Mark Millar has established an interesting secondary reputation as a writer whose work is often translated into feature-film adaptations that have by and large been more well-received than the original works themselves. His Ultimates and Civil War storylines divided Marvel fans as comics but inspired the plots of well-reviewed hits like The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War, and a similar dichotomy unfolded for the Matthew Vaughn-directed Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Now, a new feature adaptation has been greenlit based on Millar's recent comic book series Empress; in which a custody battle plays out amid an epic, interstellar war.
Let it never be said that Millar doesn't know his way around a genre-bending hook: Empress tells the familiar story of a fed-up woman who packs up her kids and flees her abusive husband... except in this case the woman in question is outer-space royalty (the Empress of the title) and the creep she's fleeing is a galactic dictator in the mold of Flash Gordon's Ming The Merciless - and he has a an entire army at his disposal to make life hell for his on-the-run lady, who has taken up refuge on her homeworld.
The project has been set up at Waypoint Entertainment courtesy of producers Joe Roth (Maleficent) and Jeff Kirschenbaum, the later of whom got on the Millar train early with Wanted in 2008. Speaking to THR, Millar expounded:
"In terms of pure concept, this is the most ambitious story I’ve ever come up with, so it needed the most experienced producers I’ve ever been in business with. Joe Roth is a genuine Hollywood legend and Jeff Kirschenbaum was part of the team that broke every record in the book at Universal last year. Even being on the same poster as these two guys is exciting to me.”
The film, the lead role for which has already been claimed by some for-now mystery star, joins a growing list of projects based on Millar books that are currently in development. That list includes a sequel to the surprise hit Kingsman (titled Kingsman: The Golden Circle), along with Huck, Chrononauts and Starlight. Additionally, Waypoint itself has optioned two other Millar comic book properties: Supercrooks and American Jesus.
Described by Kirschenbaum as "part Star Wars, part Guardians of the Galaxy and part something wholly fresh," Empress' screenplay will be handled by F. Scott Frazier, who most recently wrote the Vin Diesel franchise-revival vehicle xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. It's easy to see how the project would appeal to studios in the wake of female-centric genre films like Maleficent doing huge box-office, though one would imagine the potential for comparisons to The Wachowskis' ambitious but poorly received Jupiter Ascending may have led more risk-averse studios to think twice about the pickup. Still, Millar adaptations have a proven track record, so with the right casting it's entirely plausible that Waypoint could have a hit on its hands.
We'll bring you more information on Empress as it becomes available.