Mark Millar - (ex) Grant Morrison pupil, comic book creator (Kick-Ass 2), and newly-appointed creative consultant to Fox's corner of the Marvel movie universe - recently had some very kind words to say about Warner Bros.' Man of Steel adaptation and the casting of Henry Cavill as Superman. Perhaps he was just softening up DC fans for his latest comments.
In a recent interview, Millar spoke at some length regarding the forthcoming Justice League film - specifically, he talked about how "out of date" the characters are, how "disastrous" the team will be, and how the project is an "excellent way of losing $200 million."
According to Mark Millar (courtesy of Sci-fi Now):
“I actually think the big problem for them is the characters are just too out of date. The characters were created 75 years ago, even the newest major character was created 68 years ago, so they’re in a really weird time."
Of course, Batman was created some 74 years ago and he's not only the single most popular superhero in existence, he also just came off one of the more successful film franchises - not just superhero film franchises, mind you! - in the history of time. It's also worth noting that Mark Millar himself practically begged DC and Warner Bros. to let him make a trilogy of Superman movies in the vein of Lord of the Rings. If that 75-year-old character is "too out of date" to succeed at the cinema, why was Millar so interested in attempting just that?
And Sherlock Holmes! That guy was created in the 1800s. There's just no way you could make successful movies or TV shows based around that character in this day in age. Dracula? More like Lame-ula. Snow White? More like Lame White. The Hobbit? More like the Lamelet!
The point being - who cares if a character was created 75 years ago, a hundred years ago, 200 years ago, or more? Isn't the significant (and ongoing) lifespan of these characters - the ones that comprise the Justice League of America - just proof that they have the ability to stand the test of time, not unlike Sherlock, Dracula, and so on?
Millar went on to talk specifically about Green Lantern:
"Now the stuff I grew up with… I adored the DC stuff growing up but really, how do you do a movie about Green Lantern? His power is that he manifests green plasma from his imagination and uses them as weapons against someone? Even that in itself if you just imagine then watching a fight scene with a guy who’s like a hundred feet away making plasma manifestations fight someone – it’s not exactly raucous, getting up close and personal."
And The Flash (a comic book character that Millar had some success writing, incidentally):
"The Flash has door handles on the side of his mask and if he doesn’t wear that mask, I’ll be pissed off, you know what I mean? They’re in a weird, weird situation – if you’ve got a guy who moves at the speed of light up against the Weather Wizard and Captain Cold or whatever, then your movie’s over in two seconds.
And Aquaman (who, according to recent reports, won't even be a member of the movie version of the Justice League):
"You can get away with stuff in comics that in live action’s just a bit sucky – the best one is definitely Aquaman. Aquaman can’t even talk under water. If you think about it in comics it’s fine, you just have a speech balloon, but how do you have Atlantis and people talking under water? Are they gonna talking telepathically? Is it going to be body forms? The actual logistics of each member of the Justice League is disastrous, and you put them all together and I think you get an excellent way of losing $200 million."
Aside from the fact that most of these complaints seem incredibly nitpicky (Aquaman's inability to realistically talk under water is not a serious roadblock to his cinematic future), couldn't we play this game with every major superhero? Like, every single one?
Captain America: "A guy who throws a shield - with an American flag on it, no less! - at bad guys? And wears wings on his head? And says stuff like 'Golly gee whillickers!' Why, that sounds like a recipe for disaster!"
Or Wolverine: "A five-foot-tall wolf-like Mary Sue who sports mutton chops and has knives coming out of his hands? What an excellent way to lose money!"
Or Thor: "The Norse god of thunder - but, in the movie version, an alien who rides alien horses and just acts like the god of thunder - who sometimes talks like someone out of Shakespeare. 'Verily this' and 'verily that.' Pfft. Like that'll ever make money!"
The comments are particularly strange considering Mark Millar previously talked about the Justice League script and was fairly gracious, saying it could be "a thing of beauty" and "it's in really good hands." Did something happen between then and now to give Millar the impression that the movie is headed down the wrong path? Because the Justice League characters certainly didn't age 75 years in the eight months since his prior comments.
Ultimately, I think Justice League - as with any movie - will live or die (critically, financially) depending on who's writing, directing, producing, and starring in the movie, and not because of any specific character foibles. If those writers/directors/producers/actors aren't the right people, the movie will probably be less successful than it could've been - maybe even terrible. And if they're precisely the right people, the movie probably has a pretty good shot at being a massive blockbuster. After all, who doesn't want to see Superman and Batman on the big screen together?
But what do I know? Maybe Mark Millar's right and all these characters are just too old and out of touch with the world of today, unlike all those hip X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Avengers characters.
What do you think, Screen Ranters? Do you agree with Millar that Warner Bros.' Justice League movie plan (what little we know of it, anyway) is an excellent way to lose money?
The Justice League movie is tentatively scheduled to hit theaters in 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.