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WWC: Mark Millar Q&A Panel

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The panel opened with Mark Millar commenting that he had come to Chicago straight from Scotland and he had been up for 39 hours. He quickly got off to a rollicking start, however, by stating that the audience would be treated to about 20 minutes of footage from the upcoming movie Kick-Ass. He asked how many people had read the series and most of the audience erupted into cheers.

Millar explained how the movie came about – that he was friends with Matthew Vaughn and so he had allowed Vaughn to read the comic book script for Kick-Ass before it was published. Vaughn had so fallen in love with the property that he asked to be allowed to adapt it for a movie right away.

He went on to say that Jane Goldman wrote a great screenplay for the movie then Vaughn began shopping it around various studios. To their disappointment the studios all wanted to take out all the "good stuff" so Vaughn raised the cash himself - $50 million – and made the film himself. Millar assured audiences that if they loved the comic books they would love the movie.

Millar also said that the film is pretty much finished except for adding a few special effects shots, music and final editing. They did a test screening in London and to their surprise it scored a 100% approval rating. He encouraged members of the audience to go out after leaving the panel and talk about what they had seen – whether they had liked it or not – because it is up to fans to build a grass roots interest in the movie.

The audience then saw two clips from the very beginning of the movie. When the clips had finished, Millar explained that they wanted to keep the movie as realistic as possible and so, just as the character buys his superhero equipment from e-bay, so the props department for the film did not include anything that could not be purchased from e-bay.

This was followed by more clips of the main character’s first day in action, of Head Girl and Big Daddy beginning training and what happens when the lead goes on a mission to help a girl named Katie. All the clips came from the first 30 minutes of the film.

Millar then spoke of the cast – how it was a very young cast but he found them an enjoyable group, how Nicolas Cage was a real pro on the set and always on time, and how they had a hard time casting the character of Dave Lizewski but finally found what they felt was the perfect actor. Millar also had special praise for 10-year-old actress Chloe Moretz as the character of Head Girl. Millar described her as "10 going on 35" and felt that she will be a real break-out actress. Millar went on to confess, however, that he felt a little bad about putting the young actress into a situation where she was swearing and killing.

The final clip was a compilation of quick scenes from the rest of the film. Once the clip had played the audience rose to a standing ovation. Once the applause had died down the floor was opened up to questions.

The first person asked what Millar’s favorite part of filming was. Millar responded that he flew a group of his daughter’s classmates to the set to watch filming but realized belatedly that he could not actually let them watch the scene being filmed as it would not have been appropriate so he took them to see the stuntmen rehearse instead. After that he played some footage for them but it turned out to be a sequence in which Head Girl fights and kills a large number of men in a very graphic manner and 3 minutes of the scene had played before he realized that it was inappropriate for the kids to see it.

The next person asked why some of the costumes changed between the film and the comic and Millar explained that the full face covering used for Big Daddy would not work well on film. Besides that, the switch to a more Batman and Robin like costume set for Big Daddy and Head Girl made more sense.

Another questioner wanted to know how someone breaks into writing comics. Millar told them to start at the bottom and move up. But then added or they could become a big star in Hollywood and then be asked to write comic books.

One fan asked if Millar liked the movie version of Wanted despite the changes from the source material. Millar explained that he was a producer on the film and so had sat in on all of the studio meetings regarding the changes. As such he understood where the studios were coming from and why they asked for the changes they did.

The next person wanted to know if readers would see more Wanted in comic books. Millar replied "no" and explained that he planned on doing three volumes of Kick-Ass but Wanted was meant to be self-contained.

Another person in the audience noted that Matthew Vaughn had, at one time, been attached to direct a Superman movie and there had been talk about Millar writing the screenplay and he wanted to know what had happened to that. Millar explained that the studio had become leery since the last Superman movie had not done so well at the box office. He went on to explain that he had had so much fun with Kick-Ass that he was wanting now to become more like George Lucas and make his own movies where he owned the rights to everything rather than work-for-hire for another studio.

Another fan asked about the rumors of a Chosen: American Jesus film. Millar explained that he was still very interested in bringing that one of his properties to the big screen but Kick-Ass had pushed it off to the side and another project he wasn’t ready to talk about yet was coming in second now. He did say that when Chosen is brought to the big screen he wants Matthew Vaughn to direct.

The next fan asked if Millar worried about how something as extreme as Kick-Ass may be taken by the general public and the press. Millar replied that he hadn’t really thought about it much but that he had assumed that it would upset some people. He added that he was surprised that it had garnered the 100% approval rating at the test screening.

Millar took an opportunity then to explain that, before Kick-Ass came out as a comic book he had put up at auction for charity the opportunity to have a main character in one of his books named after the high bidder. Dave Lizewski had won that auction and was, in fact, in the audience that afternoon so Millar had him stand and be acknowledged. Millar went on to explain that he was planning on offering this opportunity again in the near future to benefit another charity so fans should keep their eyes peeled on Newsarama or Comic Book Resources for more information.

The next person to approach the mike asked if Millar could return the original ending to his Chosen/American Jesus miniseries. Millar said that no, he had changed his mind and honestly thought that the re-written scene worked better. Although he jokingly told the fan he would re-write the scene in the copy of the comic he had with him if he really felt that strongly about it. To the amusement of the room the fan approached the stage and handed Millar the comic for the re-write.

The final questioner of the afternoon asked Millar what his inspiration for Kick-Ass was. Millar laughed and said that he had been doing more autobiographical things in his comic books and for Kick-Ass he had been taking some of the worst aspects of his own youth – the stupid, crazy things he had done – and putting them into the character of Dave.

At that the panel was out of time but there was one more round of applause for Mark Millar and the movie version of Kick-Ass.

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