Comics creator Mark Millar, writer on Wanted and Kick-Ass, is Hollywood's newly-minted golden child of all stories violent. In his latest mini-series for Image Comics, War Heroes, Millar-a Scot and self-professed liberal-has created quite the stir by anointing John McCain as the fictional president-elect of the U.S. who ups the wartime ante by giving soldiers superpower pills. (Fake political posters promoting the title called Barack Obama "anti-superpowers.") With War Heroes almost halfway through its run, we decided to do a little midterm check-in with Millar and asked him to spell out, once and for all, his true political preferences. We also probed him for a few more details on his sundry movie projects.
io9: The posters promoting War Heroes slam Obama, while the tone of the comic is, in kind, fervently patriotic. Is all of this satire or sincerity? Millar: It's amazing how many people seem to think this is a neo-con comic. Same thing happened on [Marvel's] Ultimates, when it was clearly anti-war through and through. I feel like [director Paul] Verhoeven must have felt after Starship Troopers, in the sense that many people are missing the political satire. In my story, America is clearly engineering terror attacks as a means to garner control back home, enslave the population, and send kids with nothing to lose into the Gulf. It's fake terror to justify an aggressive foreign policy.… There's nothing duller than some worthy anti-war [commentary]. We know it's wrong, illegal, and ill-considered. You don't need me to tell you that. So I'm jumping one step ahead and planning a heist story of sorts in the middle of this bad situation. io9: Islamic people in the book are generally seen as terrorists. Does political correctness-or at least parity-have no place here? Millar: Political correctness doesn't interest me. It shouldn't influence any writer, or we'd have bland books. Frank Miller is my favorite writer and he just writes what he wants to write. But this is by no means anti-Islamic. It's anti-fundamentalist, of course, but essentially this can also be read as a book about a bunch of people in a Third World country fighting back against superpowered aggressors who are here on a crusade. I just set the camera up and let the story tell itself. The book doesn't take sides. io9: If you were an American citizen, would you vote McCain or Obama? Millar: I quite like McCain, but he's the shiny berry on a plant that's going to poison you. He's dangerous because he's the acceptable face of something just completely unacceptable to almost everyone now, but is likable enough to possibly pull this off. I'd obviously vote for Obama, just as I'd have picked Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dukakis, Mondale, or Carter over any of their Republican opponents. But I worry about the messianic hope America has invested in [Obama]. He's a good orator and I agree with him on most things, but he's still just a guy from Chicago. Let's not go overboard. io9: What do you think of McCain's much-embattled running mate, Sarah Palin? Millar: Terrifying. America has a habit of selecting the candidate we Europeans most likely balk at. So I can't even laugh. She represents that side of your country we can't even begin to understand. io9: Speaking of, what is the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Millar: One will shit on your carpet and the other is heading for the oval office, unfortunately. io9: Where does studio bidding on the War Heroes movie rights stand? Millar: We're in the middle of the bidding right now, and hopefully will have it all wrapped up today or tomorrow. We have two formal offers at the moment, but three other people are having [conference] calls this evening, so this isn't over yet. Tony [Harris, the artist] and I will be exec producers and Tony might do some designs-but that will be our only involvement beyond that point. io9: Could your movie deal affect the outcome of the comic, given how controversial it is? Millar: I'm nearly finished and it's a self-contained six issue [run]-so, no, the movie deal won't have any effect on it at all.
io9: You've been visiting the set of the Kick-Ass set, which you also created. To what extent will that adaptation differ from the book? Millar: Not at all, really. Wanted was maybe about 70 percent the book, in the sense that the first 58 minutes was very close and the final 20 minutes pretty close with Wesley raiding The Fraternity and killing everyone. But we still had a vast chunk in the middle that belonged entirely to Timur [Bekmambetov, the director], and felt very different. Kick-Ass is about 95 percent true to the graphic novel. A literal adaptation would be a bit pedantic, so they've played around with a few of the scenes and changed chunks of the dialogue. The only real difference is a cop subplot they have, which makes a lot of sense and helped stretch the eight-issue story into 120 minutes of film. io9: Can you comment on the pictures that leaked? Millar: I saw all the Nic Cage stuff over here. I'm a producer on the movie and that means I'm on-set a lot. But I haven't been out to Canada yet, as my real job [comics] takes precedence and I need to finish a couple of things first. I'll either nip out there next week or the final week. io9: Has Nicholas Cage, a big comics fan, bro-manced you yet? Millar: We all kind of bonded very quickly. As I said to Nic on the first day, this is a movie about comic guys and made by comic guys. So we all instantly hit it off …. He's quite different from what I expected. Much more considered and calm. Almost zen-like. I was hoping to have stories about him pimp-slapping assistants.
io9: Where does the adaptation of your Dark Horse comic book Chosen stand with Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughan, whose expressed interest in it? Millar: [Sony] Screen Gems made us an offer years back when it first came out, but I wanted to finish the project and didn't want to sell it before I knew how the story ended. Chosen, you have to understand, is just part one of a three-part story called American Jesus. The second book, The Second Coming, should be out sometime in 2009 and Chosen itself will be reprinted in a new format by Image in January, I think. I've frozen all movie contact on Chosen until the whole thing is finished in the spring, but Matthew said he wants to do Chosen as soon as we're with finished Kick-Ass. We're talking about another thing too, but Matthew's very passionate about [Chosen]. io9: You've been entrenched in Hollywood matters lately, but have you begun thinking about the most important time of the year for a comic-book creator? I speak, of course, of Halloween… Millar: Halloween is a heathen, Satanic celebration of the night, and I refuse to take part in such devilry. Oh, but I do go around the doors with my daughter to get free treats from the neighbors. I dressed up last year as a skeleton. Not very inspired, I know, but the outfit was 10 bucks at Woolworth's and I like a bargain. This year my daughter wants to go as Batgirl, and her best friend is going as The Joker dressed as a nurse from The Dark Knight. So she requested that my wife and I go as Batman and Catwoman. I feel it's a bit obvious for the neighborhood comic writer, but I've learned to essentially do as my daughter commands.