Stan Lee was one of the most brilliant minds in comics history. Along with his longtime creative partner Jack Kirby, Lee created the lion’s share of the most iconic Marvel characters and acted as not only an editor for the company but an ambassador. And yet one writer says Lee told him to move on and find other avenues for his work.
Mark Millar is a Scottish comics writer and the creator behind original titles such as “Kick-Ass,” “Kingsman,” and “Jupiter’s Legacy,” which has just been adapted as a Netflix series. Millar also has a history helming Marvel properties. He wrote such titles as the original two volumes of “The Ultimates” and the cross-over event “Civil War,” both of which had a significant influence on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He wrote “Wolverine: Old Man Logan” which served as some of the principal source material for Fox’s “Logan.”
CNET is reporting that Millar claims Lee told him to step away from the famous Marvel Company in order to pursue new, creator-owned comics.
This history of comics has its share of disgruntled creators. While Lee stayed fairly stalwart in his faithfulness to Marvel until his death, other writers have been far more critical. Kirby himself had famous fall-outs with the company, leaving for a time to create for chief rival DC Comics. More recently writer Ed Brubaker expressed reservations at seeing some of his work adapted in the MCU’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” That writer claimed he was paid more for a cameo in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in residuals than he was for creating the Winter Soldier in the first place.
Even the most important and influential of creators writing for the comics titan remain writers for hire and the company retains ultimate control of each of its properties – both narratively and legally. When content that has entered the Marvel comics pantheon finds its way into an adaption like the MCU, the original authors usually don’t see any of the proceeds, and sometimes, they can feel, little of the thanks.
Millar tells CNET: “I was aware that I was never going to own Marvel and DC stuff.” Since branching off from his Work-For-Hire contract with Marvel, Millar has had luck with several popular titles which have gone on to be adapted to film and television. His 2003 comic “Wanted” inspired the 2008 film of the same name and his “Kick-Ass” comics have spawned a two-part film series. More recently his “Kingsman” titles have been made into two films starring Colin Firth and an upcoming spin-off feature starring Ralph Fiennes.
The Eisner-award-winning writer has four creator-owned properties currently in development with Netflix, as part of the streaming platform’s adaptation of the continuity of comics the author refers to as the Millarverse. The first of the Millarverse to be released is “Jupiter’s Legacy.” The series, which is currently streaming, tells the story of a world with superheroes over generations in a story spanning nearly a hundred years and branches out significantly from its comic’s source material, which was co-created by artist Frank Quitely.