The comic book world had some major news this year when Mark Millar sold his publishing house to Netflix. Since 2004, Millarworld has produced plenty of comic book titles beloved by fans for their creativity and quirkiness, which in turn have been turned into some major movie franchises. The Kick-Ass and Kingsman series have earned some serious bucks at the box office and, now that Netflix has acquired the publishing house, we can expect to see even more Millarworld titles turned into original TV series and films. In an exclusive interview, Millar tells Screen Rant that he “doesn’t see how anyone can compete.”
The Scottish comic book writer is now full-time at the streaming service, with the added title of “President of Millarworld Division” to his name, and though plans are being kept under wraps at the moment he did reveal a little about what it’s like to work there:
“I’ve never been anywhere so impressive and I’m totally serious. The atmosphere in the place is amazing. It feels like how Hollywood must have felt in the ‘20s. What’s amazing to me is that everything we’ve seen so far, this incredible model that’s been built, just feels like the tip of the iceberg.”
Millar’s certainly had experience being part of big global companies, having worked for DC Comics from 1994 until 2001, before achieving his childhood dream of writing for Marvel Comics. His impact was felt straight away when he launched Ultimate X-Men under the Marvel Ultimate Imprint, which was lauded by critics and fans alike, and later when he reinvented the Avengers team as The Ultimates. He also wrote the Marvel Knights Spider-Man series in 2004, and in the same year co-wrote Ultimate Fantastic Four with Brian Michael Bendis, establishing himself as one of the best writers at the publishing house. At the time, however, Marvel was not doing well financially.
Despite the increased sales from Millar’s contribution, Marvel was nearing bankruptcy and the money they were making after selling the film rights of The Hulk, X-Men and Spider-Man to Universal, 20th Century Fox and Sony, respectively, was only a small fraction of the major takings each studio was making. That’s when Marvel decided to take a chance on making their own movies and used his work as a blueprint.
“They borrowed $500 million and decided to start their own studio... Iron Man came out, based on my drunk, lecherous Tony Stark/Iron Man, and they started to build towards the Avengers movie. That $500 million paid for Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and if both those movies had tanked, that would have been it, all over. But Iron Man caught fire and went crazy.”
It was a crazy time for the newly established studio, and for Millar even more so as he was not only writing for Marvel but establishing his own creator-owned line of comics. Wanted, Chosen, War Heroes and Kick-Ass were the first few series launched in that time. By 2012, he had published a further four Millarworld titles - Nemesis, Superior, Supercrooks and Kingsman: The Secret Service - and was working as a creative consultant for 20th Century Fox on their X-Men and Fantastic Four film franchises, while movies for his own titles were being made by other major studios.
But, he admits that now that he’s at Netflix, his past experience of filmmaking is not something he’d want to revisit.
“When you walk into a big studio, the whole place runs on fear. Everybody’s always in a state of trauma and worried about getting fired and opening weekends and all these things that get in the way of the actual film-making. Netflix just feels like a different animal and now I’ve seen it there’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
Netflix has already proven that they’re a good fit for comic book adaptations, thanks to the continuing success and acclaim of their Marvel series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders, so it’s no wonder that Miller spent over a year fine-tuning a deal to sell his company to them. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Netflix shelled out between $30-50 million for ownership, and they definitely got a lot of bang for their buck.
Netflix has acquired around 13 comic book titles, already in circulation, that are just aching to be given the live-action treatment. There’s Empress, which tells the story of “the Earth’s first rulers” and follows Emporia, the queen to an evil intergalactic dictator, who decides to leave her husband with her three children with the help of her trusted bodyguard. Or Jupiter’s Legacy, which centers on the children of the world’s greatest superheroes who are caught up in the infighting of their family and are drawn into opposite sides of a deadly battle. MPH, Starlight and Reborn are a few more of the original Millarworld titles that could seen be seeing life on Netflix, as well as a slew of never-before seen or read series Mark tells us he has brewing.
“I know what’s coming, I know who’s been hired, and I don’t see how anyone can compete. There’s a pop-culture earthquake going on. The next few years are going to be amazing. I’ve never been so excited to switch on my computer in the morning.”
This is a bold statement from Mark, but with the amount of money Netflix is investing in their original content it’s hard to not get as excited as the Millarworld president. And he’s not the only powerhouse to make a lucrative deal with the streaming service; Shonda Rhimes was tempted away from ABC after 15 years to sign a multi-year contract to produce new TV shows under her ShondaLand banner. And let’s not forget the A-list directors and stars who in recent years have turned to Netflix to distribute, and in some cases co-produce, their movies and shows instead of major broadcasters and big studios.
With so much rich material to work with, and a fresh approach to filmmaking, Netflix could create some seriously great quality TV and film with their Millarworld properties. We're certainly excited to see Millar's comics brought to life on the small screen.