Until news surfaced yesterday of a movie adaptation for the Marvel/Icon comic “Nemesis,” I’d never heard of this title. Created and written by Mark Millar — the writer responsible for “Kick Ass” and “Wanted” — “Nemesis” reads like a dark-mirror version of “Batman.”
The story centers around Matt Anderson, a Bruce Wayne-like character who has more in common with The Joker in terms of mental and emotional stability. Little Matty, it seems, was orphaned as a lad when his billionaire, criminal father committed suicide instead of face prosecution and imprisonment at the hands of legendary Washington DC (a subtle nod to DC Comics?) policeman Blake Morrow. After being raised by an uncle, Little Matty traveled the globe, training under some of the world’s foremost criminals and martial arts and weapons experts. Now his only purposes in life are killing Morrow and terrorizing the police, spreading misery and chaos everywhere possible.
Millar himself has characterized “Nemesis” with the speculative, rather uninspiring statement “What if Batman was the Joker?” Moreover, the Nemesis costume looks like a kind of albino Batman, replete with cape and cowl.
Deadline Hollywood reports that 20th Century Fox has optioned “Nemesis” with — and this is probably the aspect that guarantees fast-track status — Tony Scott signed to direct. Scott has an impressive list of credits as both producer and director, the best of which, for me, is probably 1993’s “True Romance.” The guy’s been attached to a long list of other, much bigger Hollywood pics though, including, “Days of Thunder,” “The Last Boy Scout,” “Crimson Tide,” “Enemy of the State,” “Spy Game” and many others. There’s little doubt, in my mind, Scott’s a decent choice for a movie like this and, considering that old brother Ridley often takes a production role in many of Scott’s films, “Nemesis” is certainly off to an intriguing start.
This won’t be Scott’s next film, however, and, with almost 25 projects listed as “in development” or “in production” at IMDB, it’s hard not to wonder when Scott will find time. I wouldn’t be surprised, in fact, to see this one change directors before reaching production. Then again, considering that the first issue of “Nemesis” hit stands in May, Fox must be serious about getting this pic done. That could cause the studio to write some big checks in helping Scott clear his schedule, which leads to my biggest reservation regarding this project.
Granted, I haven’t read “Nemesis,” but the synopsis makes it sound way too derivative for my liking. To me, this story sounds best suited to the actual “Batman” mythos, as a kind of alternate-universe story. As such, this sounds suspiciously like a case of Fox getting ahead of itself in an effort to ride both the current wave of superhero and “Batman” popularity, and Mark Millar’s ongoing hot streak. With sequels to “Kick Ass” and “Wanted” being certain, Millar’s become something of a ‘go-to guy’ for independent, creator-owned comic-book properties — not a bad thing, necessarily, but possibly shortsighted on Hollywood’s part (thank goodness that doesn’t happen often).
I’m certainly on the outside looking in with “Kick Ass,” but I nonetheless found it vastly overrated and hardly justification for crowning Millar the king of creator-owned comic-book movies. “Wanted” was significantly better, but still far from reason enough to label Millar a wunderkind. If nothing else, though, “Nemesis” would have a modest built-in audience based solely on its gimmicky connection to “Batman.” Whether it would actually be a decent, original flick is another story. It’s probably a safe bet we’ll eventually find out — probably sooner rather than later.
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