Famed comic book writer Mark Millar could be described as a modern legend when it comes to creating original characters and writing well-known comic stories, then turning those creations into hit films. Under his creator-owned publishing house Millarworld, several of his comic miniseries have found their way onto the big screen. Wanted, Kick-Ass, and Kingsman: The Secret Service have all seen critical and box office success in the last few years - with sequels on the way. This doesn't account for his other Millarworld titles such as Superior and Starlight - both set up at 20th Century Fox - as well as Nemesis at Warner Bros. and Chrononauts at Universal.
The movie adaptation of his latest superhero endeavor Huck was picked up by Studio 8 just a few weeks before the first issue of the six-book miniseries hit store shelves. During a lengthy interview with Comic Book Resources back in October (read it HERE), Millar had this to say in regards to optioning the movie rights before his graphic novels have released:
"...I wrote the comic [Huck] after Christmas time last year . Then, by the time Easter came around, the movie deal was finished because I'd handed over all six [comic] scripts. The lesson I learned with The Secret Service was that you have to get these things rolling quickly, because after I'd done that comic, suddenly there were three other people going around Hollywood with the same kind of pitch, but passing it off as their own."
Millar goes on to say in the CBR interview that Huck was inspired by a brief encounter with a stranger he had while doing charity work at a local Scottish adult learning center. For this outing, Millar asked talented comic artist Rafael Albuquerque (Blue Beetle, American Vampire) to bring his vision to life - it turned out to be a great choice.
Huck is the story of a young man with superhero-like abilities living in a small town in Somewhere, America. Unlike other superheroes, Huck doesn't have to wear a cape or don some spangled outfit, nor does he need to hide his identity behind a mask. In exchange for the heroic deeds he performs around town - the gentle giant does one good deed per day - his friends and neighbors quietly keeps his secret to themselves. All that changes one day when an outsider reveals Huck's secret to the media, causing havoc on him and the entire town.
Those familiar with Millar's others works will know he often writes emotionally heavy stories that many times explore the dark depths of the human soul - often in violent, and occasionally, repulsive ways. One need to look no further than the controversial rape scene in Kick-Ass 2 or read his comments regarding the depiction of rape in comics during a 2013 interview with New Republic's Abraham Riesman:
“The ultimate [act] that would be the taboo, to show how bad some villain is, was to have somebody being raped...I don’t really think it matters. It’s the same as a decapitation. It’s just a horrible act to show that somebody’s a bad guy.”
Morality of the comments aside, those are some pretty blunt words regarding a despicable crime against another human being with what, some might say is, a flippant attitude. We don't point out his comment in an attempt to pass judgment, but rather to show what a complete departure Huck is for Millar creatively.
In an article he wrote for Game Radar back in November 2015 (read it HERE) Millar talks at length regarding his thoughts on the direction of superhero films in general. It may surprise fans to learn that Millar was inspired to write Huck after seeing Man of Steel "because it traumatized him so much." Throughout his article, Millar constantly notes that while he loves the level of talent now involved with modern comic books movies, he thinks the stories in general may have gone too dark and delved too deep into the psychology of said superhero. Using Superman murdering Zod as his prime example, Millar suggests the comic book cinematic universe in general has lost the one thing every superhero is supposed to stand for - hope. That's a void he intends to fill with Huck.
I was fortunate recently to have a short discussion on Twitter with Millar regarding the overall tone the Huck movie would take. I joked that Hollywood would make it a gritty R-rated film, because they like to re-imagine things. His response was intriguing and certainly piqued my interest in the film:
@mrmarkmillar Would you let Fox make a rated R Huck for $50-80M? Could that be done?
— Jags Movie Guy (@MoviePaul) January 14, 2016
@mrmarkmillar ;) You know Hollywood likes to "reimagine" lol.
— Jags Movie Guy (@MoviePaul) January 14, 2016
@MoviePaul Ha. No, Huck will be like a Capra movie.
— Mark Millar (@mrmarkmillar) January 14, 2016
For those not familiar with what a "Capra movie" may be, Millar's referring 3-time Oscar-winning director Frank Capra from the 1930s and '40s. Capra was known for giving the world such films as It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and of course, the timeless Christmas drama starring James Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life. Capra was known for inserting both subtle and overt messages about patriotism and general goodwill to the audience throughout his films, saying: "...that peace and salvation will become a reality only when they all learn to love each other."
Millar says he usually writes and creates characters with a specific director and actor in mind - in this case, his eyes are set on landing Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street) for the title role. Tatum would be an interesting choice to play the soft-spoken hero - but as he is currently signed by Fox to play Gambit in the immediate future, that's not likely to happen.
Let's be clear, we love to see badass superheroes clashing with maniacal super villains on a giant IMAX screen saving the world, nay, the universe from total annihilation as much as the next fan. However, at some point, it would be nice to just sit back and to watch a superhero save just one person's world. That's exactly what Millar aims to do with Huck.
There's currently no release date for Huck but we'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.