Exclusive: The Writers of Wanted!

Anyone who has read Mark Millar and J.G. Jones’ comic book Wanted will immediately realize that it’s not your father’s beloved collection of Silver Age Superman comics or something particularly kid-friendly. It’s an edgy, aggressive and violent look at the world of super-villains through the eyes of Wesley Gibson, a loser who learns that his late father was one of the world’s greatest assassins when he’s recruited to follow in his footsteps.

Considering how much violence, sex and naughty language is let loose in every issue of the comic book, we’ve been somewhat worried here at Superhero Hype! that the Universal movie being made by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch) might tone things down too much. A quick glance at the script dissuaded our worries, and when we had a chance to talk to screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, who also wrote the upcoming James Mangold remake of 3:10 to Yuma, we got to ask them a few questions about their adaptation.

Haas told us that the plan was always to maintain the in-your-face mood of Millar’s writing. “Universal when they bought it–Jeff Kirschenbaum, the exec there and a huge comic fan, he’s the one who found the book—they and we from the get-go said, ‘Let’s make a hard-R action movie’ which is what the comic book was. Again, you don’t get to write those very often, and you certainly don’t get a studio saying that very often. That freed us up to say, ‘Let’s throw the kitchen sink at it.’ We went tonally and character-wise and plot-wise, we kind of just went, ‘Good. Ultimate freedom, let’s go.’”

“We honestly kept waiting for the other shoe to drop where the studio’s going to say, ‘Alright, guys. This budget is so big and we’ve got these big expensive stars. We have to pull this back to a PG-13.’ And nobody ever considered it,” Michael Brandt added. “From Donna Langley on down, everybody said, ‘This was an R-rated movie. We have to remain faithful…”

“To what the comic fans are going to expect,” Haas continued. “You’re writing for the fans tonally and all of that, but for the movie, you have to hit such a bigger audience.”

Surprisingly, they were writing the movie at the same time that Millar was writing the original comic series, which ended up taking nearly a year to be released by Top Cow. “When we were hired for the job, there had only been one issue of the comic book that had come out,” Brandt told us, “so we were flying blind a little bit as far as what the tone of the movie might be as compared to the comic book. What we were kind of forced to do because of that was to come up with our own version of it. We knew there were more comics coming but we didn’t have time to wait for them, so we just took it and ran with it. As the comics got bigger and more over-the-top—and I mean that in a good comic book way—we grounded our movie more and more. Ultimately, the end movie ended up being something that takes place in the real world today with some bending of physics and things like that, but for the most part, it’s a movie that we wanted to set in the world today, where the comic book ends up in some wacky places.”

“It was funny, because we were writing it and new issues kept coming out, so it kind of became a game to see what Mark Millar and those guys were going to do and what we were going to do,” Haas agreed, admitting that they didn’t really have any contact with Millar during the process. “He’s been nothing but supportive, and I think he wanted to keep (the movie) at arm’s length to not influence what he was doing.”

We also asked them how it was working with Bekmambetov, an amazing action director who’s wowed anyone who saw the Russian blockbusters Day Watch and Night Watch. “He is a mad scientist,” Michael told us, “but he is a very gentle, big, huggable Russian bear in the nicest sense of the word. He is just full of ideas. It really became a matter of Timur coming up with wacky ideas, and Derek and I trying to manage and fit those ideas into the story.”

Wanted is scheduled to open on March 28, 2008, and you can read more with Brandt and Haas on ComingSoon.net before the opening of 3:10 to Yuma on September 7.

Source: Edward Douglas