Mark Millar is a busy, busy man, what with projects like "Supercrooks," "The Secret Service" and more to his name. It's not just comics he's busying himself with, either: Millar is very involved in bringing his books to the big screen, having already put "Wanted" and "Kick-Ass" through the adaptation treatment.
One of his next adaptations is "American Jesus," based on the series he first started in 2004. The story follows a young boy living in modern day America who comes to discover that he is actually the second coming of Jesus. Madness ensues. CLiNT Magazine spoke with Millar about the project, and we're pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from that interview as seen in CLiNT #2.1, on sale this week.
Read the full interview in CLiNT, and keep reading for the excerpt!
Mark, how does it feel to get this project off the ground, under your own production company, no less?
It’s great! One of things that always perplexed me was the number of people who came forward trying to get this thing made, and then couldn’t get it going. The book was really popular, and everybody liked it in Hollywood – but then suddenly people would get cold feet and say, “Look, can we change it?”, and I’d say, “In what sense?”, and they’d say, “Well, can we take Jesus out of it?” It’s a story about the Second Coming of Jesus, that’s going to be really difficult! It was a project that I’d sort of given up on. Then when I started the production company last year, I thought, “You know what? I’m going to try and make this myself.”
You’re drawing from Christ’s return in the Book of Revelations, and the first comic book in the series traded in some pretty dark material – is this a horror story, or an epic fantasy?
Unusually for me, it’s a little more quiet and a little more considered. The sequels are like that, too. Volume one, obviously, is the story of the Anti-Christ dressed up as the story of Jesus, but volume two is the story of Jesus. It’s set ten years later, he’s a little older. By this point, he’s about seventeen – it’s 1993 – and he’s a young guy being raised on a religious reservation, a survivalist compound like WACO, out in the American Midwest. He’s been hidden from the forces of darkness because he’s got to be kept alive for the big confrontation with the Anti-Christ. So that’s the starting point of volume two – and volume three is these guys facing off against each other. It could quite easily be a 15 certificate. It would be easy to shoehorn something frightening into it, but it just doesn’t seem to lend itself to the story. The film is just a pretty straight story about Jesus and Satan.
What was it about America – aside from the huge population of practising Christians – that made it perfect for Christ’s return?
I always think that America’s a brilliant shorthand. If you set something in America, internationally, anyone can understand it. Whereas if you set something in London, even, it’s got a slightly smaller understanding for people. Everyone knows the Flatiron Building. But also, when Jesus first appeared two thousand years ago, it was in the powerbase of the world, in the heart of the emerging Roman Empire at the time. I liked the idea of shifting that into the contemporary Roman Empire, which is Washington, D.C.
Are we likely to see the comics sequel before the movie comes out – and will Peter Gross draw it?
Absolutely, Peter’s co-owner with me, as with all of the Millarworld books. We’re 50/50 on all of these books, so he has as much say as I do in these things. I wouldn’t do it without him anyway – it’s like changing actors halfway through a movie, isn’t it? But there’s no question the comics will be out before the movie. The second volume of the comic will start in December, and then volume three will run early summer, and we’ll have it collected for when the movie comes out.
How broad an appeal do you think the film has? You’re playing it completely and respectfully straight, but do you think you’ll be able to, say, get an endorsement from the Pope at the same time as satisfying the average Saturday night punter?
I think as long as you treat something straight, Christians will be fine with it. As a Christian, I liked the idea of just doing it as a straight story and treating it the way Christopher Nolan treated Batman, as ridiculous as that sounds! [Laughs] I loved the idea of doing a straight take on the Book of Revelations and giving it a wee bit of dignity. I’m not pulling any punches, though. I’m just making the kind of film I want to watch.
To read the full interview, check out CLiNT Magazine #2.1, on sale this week!