Working with Netflix is rubbing off on Mark Millar, as his next limited series will be binge-able - with all four issues coming out on the same day.
Chrononauts: Futureshock by Millar and artist Eric Canete picks up on the original 2014 series with co-creator Sean Murphy, but they're reuniting the temporal dude-bros. Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly to finally answer the time travel question no one's dared to try before: if time travel is possible, then why haven't we ever been visited by time travelers?
Millar spoke with Newarama ahead of Chrononauts: Futureshock's October 30 release of all four issues. The Scottish writer spoke about the story of the series, recruiting Eric Canete, and the franchise's cinematic origins that go from the very beginning to the upcoming Netflix adaptation.
Newsarama: So Mark, Chrononauts came out about four years ago, and is finally making its way to Netflix. When originally scripting this, did you have names in mind for the leads Corbin and Danny should it ever leap to the screen?
Mark Millar: There’s a great [story] behind Chrononauts. It actually started a few years before that when Ridley Scott asked me to direct a short film and I pitched him Chrononauts as the idea.
It was going to be one of a number of movies released online for free and, believe it or not, this started life as a 15-minute sci-fi short on a budget of $100,000. But the funding for the whole range fell through and I was telling a friend about it in 2014 who was President of Production at Universal. He told me he was looking for something for Chris Pratt and Chris Hemsworth to appear in together and I suggested this, which he loved. So that’s where it all came from.
I told him I wanted to do it as a comic first, which he was cool with, and I partnered up with the brilliant Sean Murphy, who did a terrific job and just brought it all to life.
Now it’s at Netflix after my company sale a couple of years back and it’s back from Universal. It’s too soon to talk about the live-action side of things, but oh what a sweet comic we have in store on October 30!
Nrama: Obviously this isn't the only thing you've got coming to the screen with Jupiter's Legacy and Starlight and obviously The King’s Man as well, do you feel like it's difficult to write comics with a multimedia deal in place or is that something that can make a project more daunting?
Millar: It’s funny, I would say no, but I definitely remember freezing up for a few weeks after Kick-Ass came out. It was the first time I’d written a sequel to something that had such expectations. Wanted never had a sequel and I hadn’t written Kingsman yet, but there was this one moment where I suddenly realised that a tweet about a new project meant it was all over movie news pages within the hour. That really was quite daunting for a moment, the attention to what you’re doing, but you soon forget.
The Netflix material is all enormous budgets and there’s seven being put together at one time right now, but you’d go nuts if you thought about the money involved or the potential audience. You just have to focus on the comics and make them as good as they can be, which is daunting enough when these buggers are $3.99 for people!
Nrama: Time travel is a common sci-fi trope going back to H. G. Wells and even Mark Twain with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, how did you want to portray the notion and concept of time travel differently for Chrononauts?
Millar: It’s only when I look back at my work I realise how much I love that real world spin. The Ultimates and Kick-Ass were superheroes in the real world. Kingsman was a wee guy from the real world given the chance to live in the crazy Lewis Gilbert era super-spy movies. The Magic Order is wizards in the real world.
It’s definitely my thing and Chrononauts, I guess, is time-travel in the real world. Doc Brown isn’t building a time machine in his garage. Rod Taylor isn’t building one in his basement. This is a big NASA style operation with billions of dollars and the whole world watching. Having a satellite test things out sets the tone perfectly in the first one, pictures sent back through the time-stream to TV sets all over the world. So I’ve applied my usual logic to a 150 year old idea since Mark Twain wrote the first ever. The satellite in volume one was called The Mark Twain for that very reason!
Nrama: Now you're bringing the boys back with this October's Chrononauts: Futureshock, with artist Eric Canete. Eric and the previous collaborator Sean Murphy have some different styles. did you feel like there was a change in how you had to write for Eric this time around?
Millar: We really thought long and hard about the artist for this volume. Sean’s terrific and it had to be someone on that level and we were in discussions with some people who were really excellent, but an eccentricity had been established and we wanted something that was very specific. Photo-realism would have been wrong in the same way Batman and Spider-Man don’t look as good when drawn photo-realistically. They’re characters that work better with a more eccentric edge and it’s the same with Chrononauts. It needed to be someone outrageous.
Eric was a great catch and a difficult one because he works full-time in video games and has never really done a long run on a comic. He just appears like an assassin and blows everybody away before stepping back into the shadows. I like to think he just fell in love with this story, but it might also be that we threw a shitload of money at him. [Laughs]
Nrama: In this sequel, where do we find Corbin and Danny at the start of the series?
Millar: The first book was a time-travel trip into the past. The second is the complete opposite. It’s a story set in the future. It’s a massive sci-fi tale that’s bigger and better than the first and Danny and Corbin both find out the greatest question ever posed by real-world physicists: If time travel is possible why have we never been visited by temporal travellers from the future? It’s a good question and a better answer.
The scale of this book is just gigantic and I’m just in love with it. It’s my own personal favorite work and there’s not a single panel I’d change. If anyone asks me to give them one of my books, this is the one I hand out in future.
Nrama: Was there a place in time you wanted to travel you didn't get a chance to explore that you get to for Futureshock?
Millar: Yeah, but that’ll be Chrononauts 3 one day!
Nrama: How do you think Corbin and Danny have grown since their last adventures?
Millar: I’m not sure they’ve grown because I’m not sure people do. I don’t really know anyone in real life who’s grown in the last few years, except children where it’s a physical necessity. Sometimes we grew wiser, but it’s very rare. Sometimes we get more stupid, which is common and more fun.
Generally though stuff just happens to us and we hang around with the people we like. That’s what works with these guys. They have such a great friendship that you enjoy hanging out with them for 120 pages. It’s contagious and you have fun by osmosis.
Nrama: Lastly, if given the chance would you volunteer for time travel studies?
Millar: Yes, I would absolutely go back in time and buy shares in Marvel circa 1999 when they cost about 2 cents! We could have bought the whole company for about 80 bucks!