One of the things that has defined the modern era of comic book writing is the way writers these days take familiar tropes or character types and bend them in all sorts of interesting ways. Frank Miller and Alan Moore and Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman were in the first wave of guys doing this, and in some cases, they were able to work with the actual characters and the results were something like Miller's landmark "The Dark Knight Returns" or Moore's "Watchmen" or Gaiman's "Miracleman" or Morrison's "Animal Man." In other cases, they invented characters that were similar to things we knew, and then dirtied up the icons in very subversive ways.
Mark Millar has had great success working in that vein, and in particular, he and Matthew Vaughn found it to be very fertile ground when they collaborated on the film version of "Kick-Ass." Now it looks like the two of them will be working together again, although not on the sequel that many people expected.
Instead, they're going to be bringing Millar's new series "Superior" to the bigscreen, and based on the description of it, it sounds like "Shazam with MS." I don't mean to be reductive, but the key to what makes "Shazam!" so potent is the idea of a young boy finding himself in the body of a super-powerful being. It's like seeing a 10-year-old behind the wheel of a Ferrari. There's so much potent drama in that archetype that adding a crippling illness to the equation is a very interesting complication. Our own Greg Ellwood tells me he's hooked on this book, and I'm sure I'll be checking it out now, if only to see what it is that Millar and Vaughn are cooking up.
Here's the official press release they just put out about the new collaboration:
New York, October 4, 2011 -- Award-winning comic-book writer Mark Millar is empowering people with MS with his envelope pushing latest character Superior, the first superhero ever to be diagnosed with MS. And he is sharing him with the National MS Society to help raise awareness for MS and the work of the Society.
The hugely popular comic Superior, which is part of the Millarworld line, follows the tale of a young boy living with multiple sclerosis who's granted a magic wish. He asks to be transformed into his favourite big screen action hero and uses his new super-powers to right the real world's wrongs. Whereas most superheroes fight criminals and stop bank robberies, this little boy uses his abilities to end the war in the Middle-East, feed the starving, rescue people from natural disasters and anything else the public wants. But have these incredible powers and worldwide adulation come at a price? This dark, magical tale has been described by critics as Big meets Superman, a unique take on the superhero mythos with a magical element that appeals to Harry Potter fans as much as the traditional superhero audience. The movie rights to this book were snapped up by Kick-Ass and X-Men director Matthew Vaughn with a view to turning this into a Hollywood blockbuster.
Creator Mark Millar explains, “I wanted to write about a superhero with a disability and I chose MS because it's something that touched one of my school-friends growing up. I'm acutely aware of the unexpected way the disease can strike anyone and the enormous difficulties it can cause. Superhero stories are essentially wish-fulfilment fantasies and nothing seemed more powerful to me than a little boy with a magic wish not only wanting to WALK again, but to FLY. I'm delighted to work with such an incredible institution as the MS Society and feel privileged that they approached me to use this character in a positive way. We're used to seeing characters with MS as victims and I wanted to do something where the kid is not only a lead, but the most powerful person on the planet. I'm really delighted people have taken this to their hearts as much as they have".
Hollywood director Matthew Vaughn was also attracted by the humanity of the lead character and added, “I have always enjoyed working with Mark and his latest exciting project Superior is something that we are very much looking forward to making”. The two worked together most recently on Kick-Ass, which hit number one in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and they're both pleased to be working on another movie together.
There's no timetable yet, but I'm going to contact Vaughn and see if we can get some idea of what we can expect and when. After "Kick-Ass" and "X-Men: First Class," I have an innate trust for what Vaughn's going to do in this genre, and it should be exciting to watch this one come together.