COMIC book genius Mark Millar penned the plot for this weekend’s record-breaking superheroes hit Avengers Assemble — but it won’t make HIM super rich.
The Coatbridge-born legend wrote the story for the Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson film sensation over a decade ago while working as an employee for comic giants Marvel in New York.
Avengers Assemble is predicted to rake in a BILLION dollars at the box office.
It’s already a record-breaker — making £2.5million in its FIRST day of opening when it hit UK big screens on Thursday. But incredibly, it hasn’t turned the Scot green with anger like The Hulk.
Last night he said: “I’m honestly just chuffed they gave me a ‘special thanks to Mark Millar’ credit at the end of the film.”
Mark revealed he had to convince his comic book bosses to relaunch The Avengers, which has now become the mega film hit.
He explained: “I worked for Marvel for 10 years and the reason they head-hunted me was to revamp their comics for a modern audience. When I did the X-Men comics they became their No1 best-seller straight away.
“So they then trusted me with the Avengers revamp, although to be honest they tried to talk me into doing a Wolverine book instead.
“In the company’s eyes they thought Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and Hulk were a little less cool.
“But I always loved them as a kid so I used my influence to push this through.
“I called that book The Ultimates and wrote it for six years.
“It was undoubtedly the best experience of my career.”
But movie bosses still didn’t believe that The Avengers could make the leap from a comic book to cinema screens.
Mark said: “Cinematically, it’d never been tried before.
“This is the first time we’ve ever seen a superhero ensemble on screen.
“Marvel told me years back this is one movie they didn’t think they could do.
“They were worried it would be a sensory overload having six, seven or eight different, very distinct, characters with their own unique back-story all coming together.
“The fear was that would be too complicated.
“But Marvel Studios boss Kevin Fiege was a big fan of my Avengers books and told me it made him realise an Avengers movie could actually be a lot simpler than he’d thought.
“So they used book one and the ending to book two as the template for the movie, which is enormously flattering.”
But isn’t he even a little miffed to miss out on a cash windfall?
He laughed: “Do I feel I’ve been ripped off? Absolutely not. I got paid really well in the time I was at Marvel.
“I got my story fee then a consultancy fee for the movies I worked on. It was all great.
“So what if I won’t make anything else from the Avengers movie? I never created these characters, I just updated them.
“I also worked with the brilliant artist Bryan Hitch and was very flattered they used a lot of our story and Bryan’s designs.
“It was Bryan’s idea to use Samuel L Jackson as the model for Nick Fury in the comic, back in 2001.
“So you can imagine how cool it was when Samuel turned out to be a fan of the books and ended up starring as the very role Bryan created for him.”
It was during a pep talk from comic book legend Stan Lee — who created world-famous characters including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man — that gave the Scot the confidence to go it alone.
The 42-year-old took his advice and went off to create the 2008 smash Wanted, with Angelina Jolie, and 2010 sensation Kick-Ass, starring Nicolas Cage.
Mark said: “Stan said to me, ‘Why are you writing stories for my characters and not your own?’
“He didn’t mean it in a bad way, but he was right.
“After that I went off and did Wanted and Kick-Ass.
“I was sad at the time because working for Marvel was my childhood dream come true.
“The main difference is I now own all my characters in the same way JK Rowling owns Harry Potter but Warner Bros make her movies.”
Mark, who grew up the youngest of six in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, has now launched his own production company Millarworld. He plans to churn out a major film every year, with Scotland starring as the main attraction.
He’ll also break onto our TV screens for the first time later this year with the first of his documentaries.
The dad-of-two’s latest comic book creation Super Crooks hit the shelves earlier this week and will be turned into a Hollywood film next year.
Mark revealed: “It’s about a bunch of villains with superpowers in America who wonder why the hell they keep robbing banks in Gotham City and so on when Spider-Man, Batman and Superman just throw them in prison all the time.
“So they head for a big heist in Spain where there are no superheroes to stop them.
“We’re doing this as a movie with Marc Platt Productions, who produced Wanted and Ryan Gosling’s recent film Drive.
“The Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo will begin filming by the end of the year and it will be released in summer 2014.
“But this is like X-Men meets Oceans 11 — a heist movie with superpowers.” That’s just one of SIX major Hollywood films Mark — who is also a film producer — has in the pipeline.
But right now he’s just delighted to be part of Avengers Assemble because it’s taken him back to his childhood.
He beamed: “As a kid I loved Avengers and Justice League because it was all these heroes for the price of one.
“But it was the success at Marvel which has helped me create my own little empire with Millarworld.
“Sadly, I didn’t make it to the set visit last year because my partner Lucy was seven months’ pregnant and not allowed to fly.
“Then I couldn’t make it down to the London premiere as we’re working on Kick-Ass 2. But I finally caught it at Cineworld and it was everything I wanted it to be.
“This is the movie I’ve been waiting for since I was five years old.
“So it was an honour to be credited at the end. That’s good enough for me.”
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