Posted on Friday, October 4th, 2013 by Germain Lussier
Mark Millar‘s relationship with fans is… complicated. On one hand, the talented and prolific comic book writer has done some of the most biggest comics in the past decade and maintains a fantastic open dialogue with his readers. On the other hand, he sometimes speaks out of turn about potential film deals and hypes his work to insurmountable heights. At times, it’s difficult to take him seriously because while he’s sometimes right (Kick-Ass), many others he’s not (Kick-Ass 2.)
Both sides of Millar are out in full effect this week. Joe and Matthew Carnahan just completed their screenplay adaptation of Millar’s comic book Nemesis, which follows a billionaire who turns himself into a super villain rather than a hero. It’s set up at 20th Century Fox and Carnahan is attached to direct. Millar recently read the screenplay and published his thoughts on his website. He claims he’s not being hyperbolic when he says the film is “going to be one of the best movies of the decade,” but it’s hard to believe him. But, then again, maybe he’s right. Read his write-up below.
How can I put this?
Nemesis is one of the most relentless and powerful screenplays I’ve ever read. I was actually SHELL-SHOCKED after reading it, thinking about it for hours afterwards and discussing it with the family. As a movie, the Carnahans have crafted something we’ve never actually seen before and I feel like someone in Julia Phillips’ office must have felt when Schrader’s TAXI DRIVER script first landed on their desk. This is going to be one of the best movies of the decade. The fact that it’s a SUPERHERO movie is incredibly exciting to me. This is the next step for where a comic-book adaptation can go and, simply as a viewer, I’m now counting down the days until I can sit in a screening room and see the first cut.
This is going to be MASSIVE.
And I’m not being hyperbolic here. Joe and Matthew Carnahan are two of the most respected people in the business and Joe’s most recent movie, The Grey, ranks as my favourite in a year that had a lot of my favourite movies. He upped his game again with the Death Wish screenplay, which was one of the most compelling scripts I’ve ever read, but he’s blown his other work out of the water with Nemesis. I had no idea where he was going with this (I wrote the book back in 2010, co-created with the brilliant artist Steve McNiven), but Joe had been tight-lipped on what he had planned and wanted me to experience the entire package for maximum impact when I sat myself down with a nice bottle of whisky and soaked this up over a two hour period.
There’s nothing else I can really say. I’ve been blessed with the people adapting these Millarworld books so far, some of the best writers and directors currently working in film, but NOTHING prepared me for this. This is huge, operatic, tragic, monumental. This is about America right now and the world the audience is walking back into the second they leave the cinema. Nemesis is about America’s worst nightmare in the form of a costumed billionaire attacking a city and doing everything he can to tear it down. The high concept, it’s been said, is if Batman was The Joker and that’s quite a fun way of looking at it. The cop who goes up against him, the Blake Morrow character in the book, is going to be a movie icon after this picture. I don’t know who’s going to be playing him at this stage, but I know that after reading the script everyone is going to WANT to.
It seemed odd to me in the economic downturn that we’d all be rooting for a costumed billionaire out there fighting poor people in Gotham City every night. That’s what was in the back of my mind when I first sat down to write the book, this notion that richest guys on the planet could actually be the most terrifying. But what Joe and Matthew have done with this is practically alchemical. I joked to Joe on the phone last night that he’s basically a brilliant plastic surgeon who has taken a decent-looking individual and turned them into a sex-bomb.
This is my new favourite movie and it’s still a year or two away from anyone even seeing it. It’s going to be the biggest and smartest action movie we’ve all seen in a very, very long time.
I tend to love Millar’s work. Even Kick-Ass 2, the movie, which pales in comparison to the original, had its moments. Civil War was a great read, Old Man Logan was too, and I’m very much looking forward to The Secret Service. I don’t doubt a Joe Carnahan-directed commentary on American culture under the guise of the superhero genre has unlimited potential. But it’s just so far away at this point and so much could change. Carnahan himself tweeted he’d like to make this next after Stretch, but his wording wasn’t particularly encouraging (“If I have my way,” he said. When has that ever happened for Carnahan on the studio level?)
Nemesis is certainly a movie we’ll get to see down the road, and maybe it’ll be amazing, but this level of hype this early raises some eyebrows. I’d love to believe it though. Or maybe you disagree. Discuss your thoughts on Nemesis, Millar and Carnahan below.