Mark Millar's Nemesis Movie: What if Batman Was The Joker?

Mark Millar Nemesis First Look

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.

Mark Millar - Nemesis Panel

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. ...MM

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.

Mark Millar - Nemesis Panel

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: Millar World, Comic Book Resources

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