The illustrious comic book writer brings his latest property home on August 3rd
On August 3rd, Lionsgate brings the action-packed, blood-soaked comic book epic Kick-Ass to DVD and Blu-ray for the first time ever. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, this high-flying look at a modern day average Joe posing as a superhero was created by writer Mark Millar and stars Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Nicolas Cage.
We recently caught up with Millar, who is a legend in the field of comic books, to discuss the process of bringing his story to the big screen and what it means to finally have it on DVD and Blu-ray for the folks at home. Here's our conversation:
The average man dressing up as a super-hero with no powers has become a genre within itself these last few years. But, aside from Bat-Man, I don't remember that being a big theme in comics when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s. What I do remember are two films called Hero at Large starring John Ritter and Condorman starring Michael Crawford, which both had an impact on me and are very reminiscent of Kick-Ass. Were you at all influenced by these two films when creating the characters for your comic series?
Mark Millar: I have never heard of the film Hero at Large. I have heard of Condorman. I only ever heard of that because it was Michael Crawford who played the part. I never saw the film. My influences for Kick-Ass came from instances in my own life. My friends and I, when we were fourteen, were going to become superheroes. So much of Kick-Ass is autobiographical. This is what we did in our own lives. We designed our own costumes. We headed out into Scotland to fight crime. As a laugh, we decided we couldn't do it. Kick-Ass follows what we would have done next had we gone through with it.
With the film being largely autobiographical, how did that play into the casting of Dave Lizewskif?
Mark Millar: Well, Matthew Vaughn was very generous. Whenever we would talk about the film, he'd say, "I absolutely believe in having you involved at every stage. This isn't just in my hands." He wanted to make it happen, but I just thought it was one of those things Hollywood guys said to you. I didn't quite believe him. But I was quite pleased. He took me through the process of casting. If I couldn't be there, he would hook me up with a video stream of the casting sessions. I would get to see the people auditioning. This happened at every stage. Whether it was set design, or working with the costumes. Casting, script approval. He let me go through it all.
What is it like for you to have both Wanted and Kick-Ass available on DVD? Are you ever further inspired by what those films have done for your own properties, and do you ever reference them in further pushing your own creative thought process along?
Mark Millar: No. It's quite a shock. I can only ever move forward. (Laughs) I just want to think about the next thing. I have so many other movies in development now that are based on properties I created. My excitement and time is valuable. I can't think about it once its done and dusted. Every day I have something new to think about. I just want to do what Stan Lee did. I never want to rest on my laurels. No one else is currently doing what Stan Lee did, which is keep picking through the mind and creating ten or fifteen big franchises. I just love doing the comic book side of this thing. I create it, and then I get to sit back and watch other people take it from there. Stan Lee comes from a generation where there wasn't a wealth of material. He had to keep pumping that stuff out. That's what I want to do, you know?
Glen Michael, who served as an inspiration to you, was edited out of the film. Are we going to see that footage restored on the DVD, and what was that conversation like between the two of you when he found out he was no longer in the film?
Mark Millar: We both got cut out of the film. Its funny. Glen Michael and I both did cameos for the film. We traveled together to the set. Glen was a huge influence on me as a kid because he had that cartoon television show that was on every Sunday. I contacted him, and I begged him to come down. Then Matthew Vaughn contacted me, and said he was cut out of the film. It was a pain, I did everything but pay for the cab. They had Glen in there as a hotdog vendor. The movie was about twenty-two minute too long. They ended up shaving about eighteen minutes off of it. Unfortunatly, we were the casualties. That's what happens. I don't know if that footage is back on the DVD. I haven't looked at it yet. At this point, I should check it out, actually. There is an extended version of the film coming soon. I think it might only be on Blu-ray, but hopefully the footage will be on that.
I've watched this film twice with my mom, and my girlfriend's mom, and in regards to Hit Girl and some of the more edgy scenes, they smiled and said, 'I thought it was very cute.' Doe that surprise you? That this is there is their response?
Mark Millar: It does surprise me. When it came out, I was expecting an avalanche of shit. We didn't get it. Roger Ebert and one other newspaper over here called The Daily Mail were the only ones that gave the film any kind of flack. Everyone else seemed to love it. I don't know what that says about modern society. We have a little girl dressed as Robin dropping the C-bomb. But people come out of the theater saying, "Oh, that was a lovely film!" They felt good after it, you know? I suppose the movie was so well made. You bought into the fact that this little girl had lost her Mom, and then she loses her dad. She gets a new life at the end. You forget. You say, "Hey, wait a minute!" There were so many questionable things. I think that's a testament to the actors and the director. You know?
There has been a lot of talk about Kick-Ass 2. What is happening with that? And where would you like to see it go?
Mark Millar: I am writing the comic book right now. Matthew Vaughn is directing X-Men: First Class, which he will be doing until about April. I will have finished writing the new comic by Christmas. Then, in April, we will begin working on Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall.
What direction are you taking the characters in the comic book, and how will that affect the film sequel? Especially with a character like Hit Girl. Chloe Moretz is growing pretty fast, and she has already outgrown her costume...
Mark Millar: The film and the comic book are very closely tied together. There are only a few minor changes towards the end. It does led directly into a sequel, and I am writing the sequel as I always planned it to be. The actors may be a little bit older, or bigger. They can address that in the movie. But I am not changing anything for the comic book. We left things off with her being adopted by this extremely nice man. He is a cop. And she has to stop killing people, you know? That seems like an interesting starting point in the next one in regards to her character. She is going to be like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, where she hasn't picked up a gun in years. It's that type of thing. I like the idea of doing that with an eleven year old girl. She was part of this massive cacophony of violence. But she's not allowed to kill people anymore. She is consumed with anger, and forced to watch TV shows instead. Halfway through the movie, or the comic, we will follow her as she picks up a gun again. It is going to be awesome.
And what about Red Mist? The character has a good heart, he's very empathetic, yet he's the villain in the sequel. How is that going to play out, especially in regards to the way he is written in the comic as opposed to the way Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays him on screen?
Mark Millar: This is a guy who has had his entire family killed by Hit Girl. He heads off and develops his martial arts skills. He learns how to become a better villain. That type of thing. He is going to come back and wreck unholy vengeance on our team. But in reality, he just comes back and gets stoned, and he spends a lot of money. He can't do anything, so he hires this bad ass girl from Russia, she comes into the story, and her plan is to kill Hit Girl. Red Mist becomes like Charles Manson. He goes on-line and influences a bunch of young villains to go against Kick-Ass and Hit Girl. The whole thing ends up as a big gang fight like you'd see in The Warriors. There is going to be a big gang fight in the middle of Times Square between all of these costumed heroes. And at the head will be the Red Mist and Hit Girl.
That sounds amazing. I see that you and Matthew Vaughn are working on American Jesus. Is that going to be your next project together after he finishes X-Men: First Class?
Mark Millar: We'd originally talked about doing either American Jesus or Kick-Ass, and Matthew decided on Kick-Ass instead. That was a couple of years back. Now he is doing X-Men: First Class. When he finishes that in April, we are definitely jumping straight into Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall.
Where does that leave American Jesus? Will you eventually do that one? Or is it in eternal limbo?
Mark Millar: I think that film is going to remain in development Hell. Several people came forth to talk to me about American Jesus, and they wanted to make so many changes. Jesus movies are really hard for Hollywood. For some reason, Hollywood is very abashed to doing them. Even though they do quite well. Just look at The Passion of the Christ. But people would ask us, "Can you change the movie to where you don't actually have Jesus in it...But someone kind of 'like' Jesus?" That defeats the whole purpose. This film is supposed to be about the return of Jesus Christ, you know. So I have put it on the back burner. Because Matthew and I are going to do Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall this next time around.
Now that Matthew Vaughn is directing X-Men: First Class, and you've worked on X-men titles in the past, did you have any insight or helpful suggestions that you could pass along to him?
Mark Millar: Yes. Matthew and I talk about it every couple of days or so. He knows his way around X-Men really well. He'll sometimes call me up and ask a couple of things. Generally, he knows what he is doing. About three years ago he was going to do X-Men: The Last Stand. He did about six months work on the film. He really got to know those characters. He is pretty well versed on it. Occasionally, he will call me and ask me to check on something. But he really knows that material well, man.
Kick-Ass arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this coming August 3rd.