Comic Strips to Comic Flicks: Frank Miller movies they haven’t made (yet)
In recent years, we’ve seen a boatload of comic books and graphic novels make their way to the silver screen, from Big Two stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman to independent titles like Scott Pilgrim and 30 Days Of Night. Amongst the various adaptations, though, some creators have emerged as magnets for Hollywood types — and one of those is Frank Miller.
You could see glimpses of Frank Miller on the screen going as far back as Tim Burton’s Batman and even in the more recent Daredevil, but he didn’t become a name to movie-going audiences until the smash hits 300 and Sin City, both based on his original work. But there’s more to Miller’s oeuvre than just those two seminal works, so we thought we’d point out some overlooked items in his catalog and posit what a film adaptation would look like.
Give Me Liberty – “From the creator of 300 & Sin City and the co-creator of Watchmen.” That’s how any promotion for this would start out, and the movie itself would show a burnt-out husk of a world with humanity pulling itself out from the wreckage. Fronted by the a freedom fighter named Martha Washington, it would cover her humble beginnings to her time in the second Civil War to her death as glimpsed in the recent coda story Miller & artist Dave Gibbons released. I’d love to see Children of Men‘s Alfonso Cuaron on this, and this could be a starring vehicle for Rosario Dawson.
Big Guy & Rusty The Boy Robot - An anachronistic take on kaiju and pop culture, Miller’s collaboration with Geoff Darrow produced a luscious two-issue miniseries partnering a Big Boy/Astro Boy mashup Japanese hero named Rusty the Boy Robot with the U.S. industrial complex’s Big Guy robot. Probably one of the least racy works in the latter part of Miller’s ouvre, it has a real charm to it. Maybe the lackluster performance of the short-lived animated series in 1999 punched a hole in any chances of a big screen reintroduction, but with the right studio and leader it could be done. Pixar? Great, but a couple other enterprising studios could do this well as a CGI flick.
Ronin - As Frank Miller’s first creator-owned work, it’s been relegated by some as just a precursor to The Dark Knight Returns, but it stands as one of the first major manga-influenced American comics work and a more fabled take on the future. For its feature film prospects, it’s been mired in development hell for years with numerous directors announced for it, including Darren Aronofsky back in 1998 and Sylvain White in 2007. Personally, I’d like to see someone go out on a ledge and get Takeshi Kitano involved — directing and casting.
Bad Boy - A real overlooked piece of Miller’s bookshelf, this one-off collaboration with Simon Bisley puts a young boy through the paces when he realizes his parents aren’t really his parents. It’s a bit sparse on story — like a novella or short film — but for the right filmmaker, you could lift the style and draw out a deeper story.
Hard Boiled – Come on — who wouldn’t greenlight a movie about an insurance investigator living in the future fighting for robot rights? You’d have to change the name, though — for years, I thought this was a spirited adaptation of the John Woo movie of the same name.
Lance Blastoff - Probably one of the most overlooked properties in Miller’s past, Lance Blastoff appeared as a pair of shorts in his Tales To Offend one-shot from Dark Horse a few years back. It’s a humor strip, taking some jabs at the Buck Rogers archetype and running it through a meat-grinder — and a T. Rex’s teeth as well. David Brothers hit the nail on the head when he described the character as “every role Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Clint Eastwood ever did being ground up into bits and reformed as one being, and then that one being being force fed a diet of trashy movies and old EC books.” As a film, it could be a real turn at comedy for some of the new class of action stars — or imagine someone like Mickey Rourke playing it straight for unintended comedy.
You tell us — what Frank Miller yarn would you like to see on the big — or small — screen next?