Although Netflix will be losing its exclusive contract for Disney’s films in 2019, the company dug up its own bit of good news recently, announcing that it has purchased Millarworld, an independent comics publisher founded by noted writer Mark Millar. Several of Millar’s comics, including Kick-Ass, Kingsman, and Old Man Logan, have become successful films, so the move gives Netflix a lot of valuable properties to play with.
Whether you know his name or not, Millar has built up an eclectic body of work, which is what makes the Millarworld acquisition so exciting. In a genre verging toward over saturation, Millar’s unconventional properties could amount to a gold mine for Netflix, spawning a wide variety of series or movies. Here are five Millar comics we’d love to see on the small screen.
Many of Millar’s superhero stories subvert standard superhero conventions. Jupiter’s Legacy, for example, is set long after a team of heroes (reminiscent of the Justice League) has defeated the world’s villains, becoming celebrities in the process. Society moves on, and the descendants of those heroes find themselves struggling to live up to the expectations their forebears set. Jupiter’s Legacy reflects the anxieties of 21st-century America, contrasting the exceptionalism of the old generation with the cynical views of their children. It’s a great, post-Recession superhero story, and with its expansive mythology, it is ripe for a television adaptation. There have been attempts to make screen adaptations in the past, but Netflix could step in as a better steward for the project.
Thus far, Netflix’s superhero series — such as The Defenders — have tended toward the gritty side; Millar’s Superior could offer a refreshingly brighter tone. That’s not to say it is without Millar’s signature darkness. Superior follows a boy named Simon Pooni, a comic book fan with multiple sclerosis, who faces bullying from kids at school. A creature named Ormon offers Simon the chance to become a superhero, for a price. Simon sets about living the superhero life, but it may be more difficult than he imagined. Superior features vibrant art that evokes the Golden Age of comics, and that style could translate well to the screen, a warm contrast to the shadowy palette of shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
Plenty of stories have examined the afterlife, but Reborn manages a somewhat distinctive take, presenting life after death as a fantasy world where people are born as heroes or monsters, depending on what they did in life. The protagonist, Bonnie Black, is an elderly woman who dies early on, arriving in the afterlife as a young, magical warrior, destined to defeat the dark lord Golgotha. With Game of Thrones now in its seventh season and nearing its end, television is due for a new fantasy series, and Netflix could move into that niche with an adaptation of Reborn.
To paraphrase a famous artist, the best way to critique a story is to make one. That is just what Millar set out to do with Huck, which, according to the author, was a response to the overwhelming seriousness of recent superhero films like Man of Steel. Huck follows the titular character, a young man in a rural town, who happens to have superpowers. He doesn’t wear a cape, and he doesn’t seek glory; Huck just helps people in need while trying to avoid the spotlight. It is a remarkably sweet comic from a writer known for heavy violence, and it would make for a great, small-scale drama.
If old-fashioned pulp heroes like Flash Gordon or John Carter of Mars are your thing, a Starlight adaptation could be your next addiction. Starlight tells the story of Duke McQueen, a retired air force pilot who once traveled to an alien planet, Tantalus, and saved its people. Unfortunately, the people of Earth don’t believe his story, and Duke has retired, living out his twilight days in obscurity. He gets a second act when a citizen of Tantalus arrives at his doorstep, pleading for him to return and save the planet from a new villain, a dictator known as Kingfisher. A stylish, retro space opera, Starlight would be a bold move in television — something every good streaming service/network is after.
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