Looking to bolster the success of the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises under their control, 20th Century Fox has announced the hiring of lauded comic creator Mark Millar to serve as a creative consultant.
As a writer for Marvel, Millar was behind such comics as The Ultimates, Wolverine: Old Man Logan and Civil War, one of the most acclaimed storylines of the past decade. After founding his own creator-owned line, Millarworld, he also wrote Wanted and Kick-Ass, both of which spawned profitable feature-film adaptations (and in the case of Kick-Ass, an upcoming sequel in 2013).
In the wake of the staggering success of The Avengers and the rest of the Marvel Studios canon, which prompted the comparable hiring of Joss Whedon at Marvel to consult on its Phase 2 films, competing Hollywood studios are obviously looking to get a piece of those super-grosses. Millar is certainly an appealing hire on that count, considering his past work has had proven success with both die-hard comic fans and mainstream moviegoers. Unsurprisingly, Fox production president Emma Watts had some effusive words regarding Millar's hire:
"In addition to his groundbreaking Marvel work, Mark is simply one of the most original voices in comics today and will be an invaluable resource to us and to our filmmakers as we look for fresh opportunities to innovate within our shared Marvel universe."
That phrase "shared Marvel universe" immediately conjures up ideas of an Avengers-style franchise cross-over, but that's probably getting way ahead of things. For now, Millar will be focused on Fox's three confirmed Marvel properties already in development: The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman's latest turn as the popular X-Man, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Matthew Vaughn's sequel to X-Men: First Class, and a reboot of Fantastic Four with Josh Trank (Chronicle) set behind the camera.
Considering Millar was already on great terms with Vaughan after Kick-Ass, this is certainly a savvy move from an internal perspective. Millar's a comic industry insider who definitely has creative respect from the directors and writers; he should be able to help steer these films toward a broad audience without coming off too much like a meddling studio executive. On Millar's part, there's some palatable excitement for the opportunity:
"I really like the Fox team, love this bold new direction they have for their franchises and am proud to be working alongside some of modern cinema's biggest talents. James Mangold is incredible, Matthew Vaughn's one of my closest pals, and Josh Trank gave us, in my opinion, one of the greatest superhero movies of the last decade with Chronicle. The invitation to join this crew was maybe the coolest phone call I've ever had.”
If some of that energy and enthusiasm can translate on to the big screen (and that talk of "bold new" directions isn't just hot air), Fox could make some dents in Marvel Studios' vibranium-coated armor.