The popular comic book writer Mark Millar’s presence in the world of movies is expanding. This weekend, the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, which is based on the comics created by Millar and Dave Gibbons, will be reaching the American theatres. It has already released in the United Kingdom to quite a positive response. Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, and Michael Caine, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a spy action comedy film, and just like the comics, it seems to be inspired heavily from the spy films of the 60s. The initial trailers had gotten me excited about the prospects that the movie held, and add to that the style and finesse of Colin Firth, it seems like a winner. Another point in its favor is of course the source material which comes from the mind of Mark Millar who has a huge body of work, well acknowledged in the world of comics. Two of his past works have already had successful movie adaptations, and in case you have missed either of them, then you could try to grab your hands on them soon.
The comic book miniseries created by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones came to the big screen in the summer of 2008. An action thriller, Wanted is the story of a frustrated account manager who discovers that he is the son of an assassin and is now being recruited to follow in his father’s footsteps. But this ain’t a movie which wants to riddle you with bullets and saddle you with car chases for two hours. It did do all those for long periods, but everything was weaved together in a smart slick storyline which borders on the absurd and yet seems acceptable in this strange universe of the assassins. Take for example, the bending of bullets. Yep, the bullets do bend in this movie, but it is shown with a finesse of its own, a grace unparalleled in the history of bullets. In short, it just looks cool. James McAvoy goes through a memorable transformation over the course of the movie, Angelina Jolie exudes style and attitude, and Morgan Freeman is powerful and imposing as always. Director Timur Bekmambetov has made Wanted at an incredible pace, living up to the comics in terms of the dark themes that float throughout the film, not shying away from violence, and still managing to create something which is great fun to watch. Wanted was made on a budget of $75 million and earned $341 million worldwide at the box-office; quite a success indeed! A sequel has been in the plan for long but nothing has come out of it yet. Nonetheless, it was a great beginning for the Millar world in Hollywood.
Best Scene: James McAvoy curves the bullet for the first time so as to hit the meat piece just behind Angelina Jolie. Oh boy, that was close!
A world of superheroes is hardly a novelty in Hollywood, but the difference with Kick-Ass was in its depiction of an ordinary fellow, someone like you and me, trying to be a superhero. This comic series written by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. narrates the story of Dave Lizewski aka Kick-Ass who sets out to be a superhero, and somewhere along the way meets a former cop Big Daddy and his ruthless daughter Hit-Girl who are on a mission to take out a mob boss. The story is endearing and inspiring, and its protagonist is someone who you would root for because you can see a bit of yourself in him, the ordinary bloke who wants to bring about a change in his surroundings for the better. Kick-Ass hardly has any skills, but he has a big and courageous heart, and a bit of luck too which works in his favour. Aaron Johnson did a tremendous job in showing this character’s frailties as well as heroics. The other character everyone instantly fell in love with was Hit-Girl played by a young Chloë Grace Moretz, who got a lot of attention from this film. The stark contrast of a cute girl kicking some serious butt in an ice-cold manner was one of the highlights of the comics and the movie. Kick-Ass also gave Nicholas Cage one of his better roles of recent years as Big Daddy which he delivered perfectly well. Kick-Ass is another tough, violent, no-nonsense world of Mark Millar which was brought onto the big screen by Matthew Vaughn though toned down a bit for the audience, but still brutal in a lot of aspects. The movie was made on a modest production budget of $30 million and was decently successful in the theatres with worldwide earnings of $96 million.
Best Scene: During the climax, Hit-Girl comes out of an elevator and attacks a bunch of goons as some heart-thumping music plays in the background.
Kick-Ass 2 followed in 2013 though it paled in comparison to the original, lacking the wit and style of the first movie. It did not fare too well at the box-office, and this could likely be the end of Kick-Ass series on the big screen. But there is a lot more happening for Mark Millar as far as Hollywood is concerned. Apart from the upcoming Kingsman: The Secret Service, his work on Civil War comic in the Captain America universe for Marvel is going to be adapted for the next Captain America movie. Some of his other works have now been optioned by Hollywood studios, such as Starlight, Superior and MPH. He is also consulting Fox on the studio’s superhero world around Fantastic Four and X-Men series. Mark Millar must indeed a very busy man. Be prepared to see more of his comic world storm the big screens soon!