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Q&A – Mark Millar Explains How Stan Lee Inspired Kick-Ass

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Mark Millar has been one of the biggest names in comics for years, but it wasn’t until the movie adaptation of his book Wanted became an international hit that he crossed over to the mainstream. His second movie adaptation, Kick-Ass, hits next month, and it’s already riding a wave of positive buzz, helped, in part, by the recent release of Millar’s on-set diary, Kick-Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie, which documents the comic’s path from page to screen. We talked with Millar by phone to find out what to expect.

Q: So, is it true that the Kick-Ass comic came about because you wanted to make more original movies but had no material to work with?

A: There’s an element of truth to that, actually. The producers said to me, “Okay, this film’s just made $341 million. We want to do another film with you.” And I said, “I don’t have anything else, really, you know?” And it was quite stupid of me, from a monetary point of view, not to do that. Also from the creative point of view, because I really like the idea of bringing something to the table. I love working with Marvel and DC, but you’re playing with other people’s toys, really. So the idea of doing what Stan Lee did back in the sixties — creating a new wave of characters — no one seemed to be doing that. So that inspired me, in a sense, to go off and create whole new franchises, and Kick-Ass was the next one out.

Q: How well do you think the transition from comic book to movie was handled?

A: I’ve got another way of looking at it, where I sort of see comics are starting to use movies as 100-million-dollar ads for our books. [Laughs]

Q: Was it tough at all having a big star like Nicolas Cage on set on Kick-Ass, with so many up-and-coming stars and virtual unknowns?

A: No, no, not at all. Nic could not be nicer. I mean, he’s probably getting the same salary as every other person there paid together, but he just pitched in with everyone. He was the first guy on set, the last guy to leave. I was kind of hoping for some gossip, that somebody would be a pain in the ass, but everybody was really, really nice.

Q: Who’s the bigger Superman buff, you or Nic Cage?

A: I was about to say me, because I have Christopher Reeves’s cape hanging up on my wall in my office, but Nicolas Cage called his son Kal-El, so I think he’s probably got me beaten.

Q: I heard that your next comic, Nemesis, had only released a teaser poster online when you got a call from a producer saying he was “big fan of the series.” Is that true?

A: It’s 100 percent true and was the most shameful thing I had ever heard. I mean, I absolutely love the fact that it happened. Obviously, it’s very flattering. Hopefully, they associate the name with cash, you know? You know Robert Duvall’s character in The Godfather? The consigliere? Matthew Vaughn has being doing that with me: talk to this guy, don’t do that project, don’t work with that director, he’s not very good. So far, I’ve already gotten three offers and turned them all down, so hopefully he’s right.

Q: What’s the status of your other books, like War Heroes and American Jesus?

A: Sony’s been pitching War Heroes as The Hurt Locker meets X-Men, ever since The Hurt Locker won the Oscar. [Laughs] I had some meetings with people about American Jesus last year, and producers, they said, “We absolutely love it — but can you take Jesus out?” And I said, “Jesus is in every single scene. What are you talking about?” We may make it outside the system. We’re going to start the screenplay for a new property as soon as we get home from Texas.

Q: Any hints?

A: All I can say about it is that it jumps genres. I like the superhero genre, and there’s another genre Matt’s crazy about. We’re co-writing this.

Q: To wrap up, any cool little Easter eggs people should look for in Kick-Ass?

A: This is probably only exciting to me and my friends, but Johnny [Romita Jr., the book’s artist] plays a bartender, and they had me playing a Glasgow drunk, a homeless guy. What was hilarious was that I showed up on set in my normal clothes, and I said to the costume woman, “Where’s my homeless outfit? What should I wear?” And she said, “Oh, you’re fine as you are.”

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