The Hot 100 2010 - No. 1: Mark Millar
Comic-book king turned movie maverick on his amazing journey from Argos to Tinseltown
Mark Millar is one of Scotland’s most prolific creatives, constantly inventing new characters, concepts and imaginary worlds. He’s been a superstar to comic fans for years, bringing a sharp wit and a love of widescreen action to The Authority, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Wanted (which got a big screen adaptation in 2008 starring James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie), Superman, Wolverine … the list goes on and on. But in 2010, Millar stepped into the mainstream, beyond the world of comic-books. A quick run through his year includes the release of the movie adaptation of Kick-Ass, a maverick superhero story packed with biting comedy and gritty violence (not to mention controversial pre-teen assassin Hit Girl) that topped the US and UK box office; the launch of Millar’s magazine CLiNT, featuring contributions from Frankie Boyle, David Mitchell and Quentin Tarantino; and starting principle photography on Miracle Park, his directing debut, working exclusively with Scottish cast, crew and locations. Meanwhile in comics, he continues to revel in his creator-owned titles: Kick-Ass 2, Nemesis (already picked up for the cinema by Tony Top Gun Scott) and Superior have been flying off the shelves, regularly outselling more established titles such as X-Men and Spider-Man.
How would you sum up your 2010?
So busy that I haven’t really had a chance to appreciate it, almost. I think I’ve got some kind of OCD, I get very bored quickly, so this year has been mental: launching a magazine, directing a movie [Miracle Park] and having a movie out there with Matthew Vaughn [Kick-Ass] as well as launching three new comics – just absolutely nuts.
Has 2010 been your busiest year yet?
Oh without question. This is ten times busier than I’ve ever been. I did 150 interviews in March. I’ve never experienced anything like it and the thing is, I’m not even famous.
Has there been a specific highlight?
Probably my first phone call with Tony Scott, the guy who’s directing my next film [Nemesis] and Tony sort of saying, ‘Well, what do you think – Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp, they sound like good names?’ To me these are names I read in magazines, but to him they are guys on his speed dial. That was my most surreal moment this year. To have the number one movie in America was obviously a massive buzz, but it was made by me and my friends, whereas this was like an actual big-name guy mulling over something that I’d written on a WH Smith pad like I always do.
Where you pleased with the response to Kick-Ass?
It was lovely to have an adaptation of your work not messed up, that’s the primary thing. Because that’s every writer’s greatest fear. Nobody sets out to make a bad movie but, my god, it happens. I was so relieved I loved it. And it opened almost any door in Hollywood. I know I wouldn’t have been having a conversation with Tony Scott if it hadn’t have been for Kick-Ass. I was talking to Robert Rodriguez recently, saying ‘We should work together.’ It’s just been bizarre because I genuinely am just walking down to Argos from the house in Glasgow, living my life as I always have done.
What stage are you at with your first film as director, Miracle Park?
About halfway through. We’re shooting everything in Scotland and the very, very basic idea is a superhero movie done in the style of Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity. I’ve come up with ways of doing superpowers with no budget, no special effects, that I think are quite interesting.
Another sidestep for you was the launch of CLiNT – how did that come about?
I just thought when everybody else is retreating from the news stands, wouldn’t it be exciting to put something out there? What we found is that 70% of magazines now are sold through supermarkets and these guys buy in bulk. So that’s why I loaded it up with names that people would recognise, like Jonathan Ross, Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr, it’s a bunch of names that got Tesco and all those guys really excited.
What’s ahead for 2011?
There’s a whole batch of things that are ready to roll, Jane Goldman’s just waiting for me to finish Kick-Ass 2 so she can start on the screenplay; Nemesis is out with a screenwriter just now; I’m doing this thing, Superior, they won’t be announcing the director until January, that’s a big family film about a little boy with multiple sclerosis who gets a chance to be Superman. Then, of course, Miracle Park, The Death of Spider-Man for Marvel and I’m going to launch two new comic projects.