Now that Netflix has bought comic book publisher Millarworld, the streaming service has a slew of characters and stories to turn into original series. Mark Millar's publishing house has created some of the most popular comic series and heroes in recent years, the most famous of which, in Hollywood terms, is Kick-Ass, which has so far been adapted into two feature films. Now that Netflix owns Millarworld, could we be seeing a Netflix Originals Kick-Ass series? Well, it's all down to an issue of rights.
Matthew Vaughn owns the film rights to the comic book series, which he acquired before directing, co-writing and producing Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2. Vaughn had even bought the rights before the first issue was released in 2008 and since then, Millar and illustrator John Romita Jr. have published three books centering on Dave Lizewski's superhero alter ego (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the films). There was much talk about Kick-Ass 3, the final volume released in 2013, being turned into a film and in 2015 Vaughn said he was planning on making it, but only after making a prequel which focused on how Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) became superheroes.
Both Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Red Mist/The Motherfucker) blamed poor box office performance as the reason a third and final instalment hadn't been made, but now that Netflix owns the comic series they may want to work with the director to finally bring both films to life. However, if they want to make a Kick-Ass TV series, they have another production company to deal with.
ScreenRant has learned that although the film rights to the franchise remain with Vaughn, Lionsgate TV has the exclusive rights to any TV adaptations of the Kick-Ass comic book series, while all other rights remain with Millar and Romita Jr. So Netflix would have to ask permission from Vaughn to make any Kick-Ass movies and/or strike a deal with Lionsgate TV to make any series, but that may not be that easy.
There was a well-publicized struggle between 20th Century Fox and Marvel over the former's plans to make their X-Men spin-off TV series. While Fox own the film rights to the X-Men franchise, as well as the term "mutant," The Hollywood Reporter said that the studio needed Marvel to sign off on any deals regarding an X-Men related TV show. Obviously they worked out a deal in the end or we wouldn't have Legion or the upcoming The Gifted series, so if Lionsgate TV and Netflix can work out a deal then Kick-Ass may soon be getting a new lease of life as an original series. Luckily, the streaming service already has a good relationship with the production company as they worked together on making Orange Is The New Black as well as the TV adaptation of Dear White People, so they just might work together to make Kick-Ass too, and a superhero series may be the way to go if their previous offerings are anything to go by.
Netflix has already earned critical success from their Marvel original series - centered on Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (sorry, not you, Iron Fist) - with the first seasons of the highly-anticipated The Defenders and Punisher on the way. Marvel's Daredevil was the first to premiere on Netflix and it fared far better than Fox's 2003 film starring Ben Affleck, but many people were surprised that Marvel (who had got back the film and TV rights from Fox in October 2012) chose to make a series rather than reboot the film. Former showrunner (now executive producer) Drew Goddard explained to IGN that they chose a TV platform because they didn't need a massive budget to do the character justice:
“I went into Marvel and talked to them about making it as a movie a couple of years ago, long after the [Ben] Affleck movie but what we all sort of realized is that, this movie doesn’t want to cost $200 million. The thing about Matt Murdock is, he’s not saving the world. He’s just keeping his corner clean. So it would feel wrong to have spaceships crashing in the middle of the city. But because of that, Marvel on the movie side is not in the business of making $25 million movies. They’re going big, as they should."
The same logic could be applied to Kick-Ass as the titular hero is not taking on aliens or gods, he's dealing with the same sort of thugs and crime lords as Daredevil, but in a far more humorous (and explicit) way, so a massive production budget wouldn't be needed. Not that the first two Kick-Ass films cost as much as the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as their budgets were reportedly $30 million and $28 million, respectively.
Budget wasn't the only reason Goddard and Marvel chose to make Marvel's Daredevil rather than a rebooted film. The studio didn't want to make an R-rated movie and the TV format allowed them to use more adult subject matter and visuals. Of course, Kick-Ass 1 and 2 didn't have that issue and the latter even received a lot of backlash over the explicit and violent storylines, that arguably weren't as graphic as the comic book depiction. Kick-Ass fans would certainly enjoy the third and final instalment of the comic book series brought to life, which follows Dave's vigilante antics after high school and Mindy fighting to survive in prison, and if Netflix chose the TV route then they would be able to offer far more character development, fight scenes and side narratives than a two-hour film ever could.
It's because of this established Kick-Ass fanbase that makes it a perfect choice for Netflix to adapt. Those who haven't read the comic book series will have likely heard of the film franchise and so the streaming service already has a global audience to appeal to with a rebooted Kick-Ass film or series. It's the same reason why Marvel released Daredevil before Iron Fist, Luke Cage or Jessica Jones, because the hero was a recognizable figure in mainstream pop culture. So with plans to develop numerous TV series, films and kids' shows based on Millarworld products, Kick-Ass could just be the right show to welcome in Netflix's new era of comic book film and TV heroes.