Robot 6

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?

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Comments

38 Comments

All great choices but I’d pick Martha Washington.

ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN, but I can rest assured that it’ll never, ever, ever happen. Everyone would want Zack Snyder to direct it. I’d want David Fincher to.

“All great choices but I’d pick Martha Washington.”

Uh, did you read the article? First thing on the list was Give Me Liberty.

And Rosario Dawson is too old to play Martha Washington circa Give Me Liberty. Martha was 15 when she joined the PAX. No way on earth Rosario Dawson passes for 15. Martha should be played by someone close to that age, at the very least.

I did read it. I just said that I want to see that next.

“The Dark Knight Returns”, once the Chris Nolan trilogy is done.

Guillermo Del Toro sounds like a good fit for this one to me. He’d make it DARK.

besides some more sin city. always wanted to see Ronin get the movie treatment finaly. plus been waiting for warner’s to say yes to a long over due movie version of the dark knight returns.

Isn’t Ronin in movie development these days?

RONIN and DARK KNIGHT RETURNS for sure…

Robocop vs Terminator, of course!

But seriously, as long as Frank Miller doesn’t have a say in the adaptation, I’m fine with pretty much anything. I don’t think I’ve ever been as disappointed with a comic book movie as I was with The Spirit.

Miller doesn’t get movies made anymore. The complete and total FAIL that was ‘The Spirit’ has ensured that. The absolute awfulness of all his work for the last 15 years should have been enough to reject him anyway.

big guy and rusty for mei loved the animated show, it has an Iron giant -like appeal

I would love Pixar doing Big Guy and Rusty but what about the studio that did Samurai Jack.

In my opinion, “Ronin” remains as Frank Miller’s best work (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a very close second). Miller’s runs on Daredevil would make for great TV. Elektra, the Mob War stories with Kingpin, and the “Born Again” storyline are stand-outs from that run. Then it could culminate in a tv movie based on Elektra Lives Again.

I’d love to see Frank Miller write and direct a new Daredevil movie, aptly titled “Born Again”. Depending on if the rights reverted back to Marvel or stayed with 20th Century Fox, he could even have Captain America in it toward the end, with Thor and Iron Man cameos. If not Frank, then Quentin Tarantino. Not sure if Marvel/Disney would allow an R rated version of one of their characters, though.

Um
Frank Miller had NOTHING to do with Watchmen–That was Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, with John Higgins on colors
Please fix that, you lost me at the onset of the article

Cheers,

M

Matt: “co-creator of Watchmen” refers to Dave Gibbons, not Frank Miller.

Hey Matt. Wasn’t the ELEKTRA movie supposed to be based on ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN? Granted, if it was, it was a p!ss-poor adaptation.

At least BATMAN: YEAR ONE is being adapted as an animated film–it may be the most faithful adaptation yet of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies.

I sadly concur with the sentiment that as long as Miller isn’t allowed to re-touch any of his previous work. it will stand a better chance of being successful.
He’s not the same man he was 15, 20 years ago.
Just listen to the audio commentary on the Spirit movie, or watch the Miller on Miller short subject.
Not the same guy.

Who cares? He’s a hack, always was, always will be.

@Andreas
You got me, sir–Didn’t see that at all!

Ronin is till great. But man, most of the mans comics are garbage. Especially the latest ones.

@David Fullam, Now you know better than to use those tried cliche phrases.

No question about it… the thing that has been missing is A dame to kill for,… by far the best SIN CITY story ever… Angelina Jolie still could play Ava… that`s the story that made me love Miller’s stories, then.. obviously The Dark Knight Returns… and finally… I know it is a bit obscure but I think `Tales to offend is some of Miller’s best and funiest stuff

The Dark Knight Returns as a faithful adaptation by Tim Burton, with the original cast from his Batman films. Everyone is at the perfect age to pull it off, and only Burton should handle the surreal and satirical nature of DKR. Remember, beyond the muted color palette, melodrama and gnashing teeth, DKR included an ancient Ronald Reagan giving national pep talks in a space suit, flying and talking cabbage patch dolls that explode, and the same kind of ‘dark campiness’ that Burton did so perfectly in his version of Batman.

Yeah, I know it will never happen.

Tales to Offend is perfect for Adult Swim. Robin a great movie.

Otaku-sempai – There’s “hey we’re gonna say it was based on the graphic novel to get the graphic novel readers in the door” and then there’s actually basing it on the graphic novel. Or insane pulp comicbook frenzy that the original series was. No Elektra-riding-Garret-with-a-riding-crop scene, no sale in my book.

I just want to see an animated series version of ASBAR. That would be amazing.

Might want to get someone who’s black to play Martha Washington. Rosario is an amazing actor, but she’s Puerto Rican. It might not matter to anyone, but a latina Martha would offer a slightly different take on the overall story.

@Jeff Frost

Yeah like when that Australian guy played a Spartan in 300? Ruined it for me.

Seriously, ridiculous claim.

Big Guy & Rusty would be cool as an animated Pixar movie, and Ronin in live action, those are my choices.

Peace

Daredevil: Man Without Fear

followed by an adaptation of Miller’s original Elektra and Bullseye story.

Capped off by Daredevil: Born Again.

—————-

And I agree with others that Rosario Dawson would be a huge miscasting of Martha Washington.
Despite any intention, that becomes a sexy, light-skinned, audience-friendly alternative to the character, that fails to break from the racial stigma of film casting.

There is a big social implication in the casting of a young black woman, known more for her acting than her looks, as the star of a major hollywood comic book adaptation.

I agree with your choices, just someone make sure Miller is never allowed to direct again! After The Spirit, Hollywood owes it to everyone who had to sit through it to make sure Miller remains an honored guest on the set of any property adapted from his work, just keep him far, far, FAR away from the director’s chair.

Sin City 2 before anything, and also Give Me liberty.

I’d also one day like to see the Dark Knight Returns done on the epic scale it deserves.

I’ve yet to read Ronin and Hard Boiled but they look like good choices for movies too.

To the genius who posted as @ Jeff Frost.

If you can’t see the difference in an Aussie playing another white guy and a Puerto Rican playing a black character, your two cents isn’t worth half that. Apparently, you have no concept of the difference in growing up latina and growing up black. Trust me, the experience is rather different, especially in the ghetto… which is where MARTHA WASHINGTON grew up. You’re the one who is ridiculous.

I’ve never been a big Miller fan, but I think the DAREDEVIL: MAN WITHOUT FEAR mini-series that he did with John Romita Jr. might make a decent film. Hell, it couldn’t be much worse than the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie–as long as Miller himself doesn’t direct it, that is. I mean, after THE SPIRIT, I’m surprised the corpse of Will Eisner didn’t rise from the grave to wreak terrible VENGEANCE on him!!!

I would not use rosario dawson on Martha washing ton she looks nothing like the charcter she too sexy if they wanted to go closer how about Fantasia barrino

elektra assasin with ridley scott at the helm ithought this was going to happen at some point but we got that crappy elektra film god i wish i controled hollywood

Ronin one of Miller’s best work is so cinematic the book could be used as a storyboard for a movie and even after 30 years the story seems more timely than dated (especially in this economy). An R rated DKR would make an epic trilogy. The guy who suggested Del Toro to helm it was right on the money. As for the guy who called Miller a hack he obviously doesn’t know a thing about comics. DKR has to be one of the top 5 comic books of all time and miller’s DD work one of the top ten runs by a comic book storyteller of all time. As for the guys claiming Miller hasnt done anything worthwhile since the last century I just read Holy Terror and I loved it, it was brilliant. Its better than 90% of the stuff out now and that’s saying a lot because there is a lot of really good work being done and that in part is due to the influence of masters. Like Frank on the medium.

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