Kingsman upgrade

It feels like nearly every week a new Mark Millar property is being turned into a movie. From Wanted to Kick-Ass, through Civil War, Chrononauts, Jupiter’s Legacy and more, there’s always some new development to discuss with the comic writer.

The latest film based on his work, Kingsman: The Secret Service, was just released on Digital HD and Blu-ray/DVD. We spoke to Millar, not so much to look ahead, but to take a deep dive into that project’s transition from page to screen. How is Millar’s vision get reimagined for the big screen? Why are major changes made in the translation?

Then, of course, he told us about some general ideas he’s had about a potential Kingsman 2 and the madness that sees his Marvel story Civil War being made into a movie. Below, read our Kingsman Mark Millar interview. 

Mark Millar

Director Matthew Vaughn is credited as a co-creator on the Secret Service comic with you and Dave Gibbons. How did he get that credit?

Well the comic was actually some years before the movie. Like the comic came out in 2011 and I think the screenplay was probably started in Christmas 2012. But the origins of it actually go back even farther. The origins go back to, I can actually tell you the date. It was in September 2008 when we were first talking about this. Matthew and I were on the Kick Ass set and usually something goes wrong and it takes a while to setup a new shot and everything. Matthew was like “Aw God, here we go again.”

So there’s a pub really close to the Elstree Studios where Kick Ass was shot and we said, “Let’s just go in the pub.” So we sneaked out for like an hour and an hour became three hours or something. We just sat and had a drink. You know what it’s like whenever two geeks get together, all you do is either talk about how awesome something is or really bitch about something you love that’s not as good as it should be.

Of course. 

And like we were saying “What happened to spy films?” I mean, genuinely this is where it all came from. When I was a kid, I went to school with a pretend gun under my school blazer and I used to pretend that I was James Bond. Like nobody knew I had it. Now you’d be shot by armed police for doing this. But when I was a kid I wanted to be James Bond so badly. I wanted to be a superhero and I wanted to be James Bond. Those were my two things.

But superheroes, they don’t kind of really seem that aspirational. No kid goes to see Christian Bale and thinks “I wanna be that guy.” And it was same thing with James Bond. People are like “What happened to you? Why does it all look so sad?” Something that just seemed fun. So that was the kind of origin of it. We kicked around a few ideas. Wouldn’t it be fun to do something that was kind of an ode to the old Bond movies or Our Man Flint or any of that kind of spy movie we loved growing up? Then I shot off to do the comic.

With the writing of the actual story, was that all you? Did you send Vaughn scripts?

What I did was slide them down to Matthew as I was writing the comic. And Matthew and I talked about stuff as well. Like, we have the wedding scene. The big fight where everybody’s all killed off and things like that. We talked about that, so it was very organic. We were just chatting on the phone. Some days we’d use stuff, we’d not use stuff and everything. So it seems crazy not to give Matthew that co-credit, you know, ’cause he’d been there literally from that first chat.

Kingsman The Secret Service behind the scenes

The book and the movie have the same DNA, but there are some big changes from one media to the next. I’d like to ask you about a couple. First, the movie plays up Eggsy’s training, but in the comic, we only see one or two scenes. Why did Matthew decide to make that the bulk of the movie instead of going with the meteoric story of the comics?

Well actually in the comic it’s about the same length, it’s just that the budget for the movie didn’t allow for what some of the training was in the comic. Like there’s a whole sequence in the comic where part of his training, which is real, this is real Special Forces training, you get stripped naked and dumped in another country and told that you have 24 hours to get back home with no passport. So all that stuff that was part of the training in the comic just for budget reasons couldn’t be shot. But it’s a relatively modestly budgeted film that couldn’t afford to go on location and everything. So it ended up being that we usually shot in London.

Actually I’ve got a friend who trains military Black Ops guys. And he gave me loads of real life things that I used. Like the train sequence is a real thing that’s done in Black Ops training. Being tied to train tracks and everything. That was in the comic originally but for space reasons, Dave only had a certain amount of time he was available to draw. So I had to scrap some stuff. But I passed that on to Matthew and Matthew incorporated that in the movie.

So roundabout, I don’t know, maybe 25 percent of the original comic is the training. Whether it’s being dumped somewhere, being sent into Covent Gardens to try and sell copies of a homeless magazine and things like that. Or beg money off people. All that stuff is real military stuff that I just lifted from training exercises done in real life. I mean, it made me kind of want to join the Army. And I probably would be really crap at it. I’d be rubbish at fighting or killing people and things. But I love the idea of that kind of training in general.

I love when he says “I wanna pick up this girl,” and then they’re in bed. It’s so spy movie.

That’s the real thing too. That’s actually the real thing you send in male and female agents are sent in to try and seduce people and they’re being monitored with earpieces and everything. That’s like a real thing in real life.

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