Mark Millar Shares His Thoughts On THE ULTIMATES Influence On MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS

The comic book writer looks back on creating The Ultimates with Bryan Hitch and shares his thoughts on the hit series influencing everything from the look of Nick Fury to the tone of Joss Whedon's superhero ensemble.

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By Josh Wilding - 4/26/2012
In an interview with New Empress Magazine, Mark Millar has looked back on the creation of The Ultimates and the role that the two volumes of the series have had in shaping Marvel Studios and Joss Whedon's vision of Earth's Mightiest Heroes on the big screen in The Avengers. Of course, one of the most notable influences was the casting of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, although the film takes many other inspirations from the series as well. You can check out the Q&A in full by clicking on the link below, but here's what Millar had to say about the links between the two.

"The Ultimates was the book I wanted to write when I started at Marvel eleven years ago, but the Avengers characters were regarded by management as less commercial than the X-Men and so they offered me Ultimate X-Men instead. The idea was to re-invent their characters for a modern audience and X-Men launched at number one so they trusted me with the Avengers revamp. Even so, they still tried to talk me into a Wolverine book instead as Cap, Thor, Iron Man and Hulk were all, in the company’s eyes, a little less cool."

"But I always loved them and used what capital I had at the company to push this through and Editor In Chief Joe Quesada was very supportive of me. I told him I wanted Bryan Hitch on art, even though Bryan had just signed with another company, and they moved Heaven and Earth to get him on the project. We really just took all the elements that made The Avengers hard for a mainstream audience to accept and streamlined all the characters into a single book, bringing them under the command of Nick Fury to pull the whole thing together. I’d wanted more ethnically diverse characters in the line and made Nick Fury black, but it was Bryan who came up with the genius idea of Samuel L Jackson to be the face of the character’s reinvention."

"Our first storyline was basically Independence Day with superheroes and we took the Chitauri aliens from the David Icke books and made them the bad guys, Loki being the the villain from our second book. Kevin Fiege (who runs Marvel Studios) was a big fan of the books and told us it made him realise an Avengers movie could actually be a lot simpler than they’d thought and so they used book one and the ending to book two as the template for the movie, which is enormously flattering. People have suggested we should feel ripped off, but we don’t own these characters. All we did was give them a lick of paint and come up with a story and the visuals. These are Marvel-owned characters and I have my own little empire with Millarworld so I’m genuinely just pleased to see all this on the big screen and wish them nothing but the best with it."


STARRING:

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Ramanoff/Black Widow
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Tom Hiddleston as Loki

RELEASE DATE: April 26th, 2012. (UK) May 4th, 2012. (US)


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39 Comments
marknjoanna - 4/26/2012, 5:24 AM
and marvels beat down of dc is still on
Seejay - 4/26/2012, 5:26 AM
Hopefully "The Avengers" will prove them wrong.

"
but the Avengers characters were regarded by management as less commercial than the X-Men
"

Perhaps CA, IM 1-2 and Thor already surpassed the X-men movies in total gross?
marknjoanna - 4/26/2012, 5:36 AM
marvels 2012 line up.the most anticipated cbm of all time in the avengers plus a spidy reboot.dc s 2012 line up the 8th batman movie this time with cat woman again.hummmm looks like dc with its one horse show is going to keep getting beat down.
Gmoney84 - 4/26/2012, 6:27 AM
I loved the Ultimates. There were a few problems I had with it like how they treated the Hulk but overall it was a fun take on the characters.
breakUbatman - 4/26/2012, 6:30 AM
Nice one Mr. Millar
figuresmaniac - 4/26/2012, 6:32 AM
@telavizion .... lol
comicb00kguy - 4/26/2012, 6:34 AM
I personally hate seeing so much ultimate influence on the Avengers movie. The ultimates turned many of my favorite characters into a bunch of depraved, amoral, and utterly despicable vermin and deviants who had absolutely no heroic qualities or redeeming value whatsoever. They were every bit as loathsome as the villains. Hopefully, it's only the costume design and the idea of Jackson as Fury that show as influences in this film, not the contemptible and vile personalities of the characters.

And yes, I feel this strongly about this topic because nearly thirty years ago, it was the Avengers that got me into reading comics. They've been my favorite team ever since, and I've been eagerly awaiting an Avengers movie for a long, long time. I'm hoping the story in the movie holds up as good as it's sounding. We shall see next week.
MassExecutions - 4/26/2012, 6:49 AM
Has Mark Millar ever said what message he was trying to get across in The Ultimates, especially the second volume?

Part of the time it seems like its "Oh, force in is no good/must be restrained, even in the hands of good people or nations!" then part of the time its like "Force is the only answer to the worlds problems!" Ditto on traditional ethics.

I didn't quite get it.
Hawksblueyes - 4/26/2012, 6:56 AM
Like comicbOOkguy I have always hated The Ultimates. The stories themselves were never the problem. The problem was the fact that the characters portrayed WERE NOT THE AVENGERS. If they would have simply given the book different characters I probably would have enjoyed the books.

Captain America was never an arrogant, quipping, kick you in the face when the fight is over, douchbag. Thor was never a peace activist, hippie, sent to Earth to save us, pacifist. Hulk was never a murderous cannibal.
They took the best thing about Hawkeye (his personality) and completely threw it away. Lets not even start about Quicksilver and Wanda's freaky, incestuous relationship. And although all they did to Stark was ramp him up like he was on cocaine, they took Marvels version of Alfred (Jarvis) and turned him into a sex freak drag queen.

Also, even though The Avengers had worked with the government many times over the years, in this book they now became the Governments puppet. I've said before and I'll say it again, all Millar did was rename Youngblood, The Avengers.

However, this movie still excites the Hell out of me due to the fact that it's clear from the previous films that the main reason for my taste of the books does not show up in the film. So far, every single Avenger we have met has retained their classic personality (save Stark). The characters on the team are the classics we grew up with not the twisted up versions from the Ultimates.

I can't wait.
RedMosquito - 4/26/2012, 7:03 AM
It is the 8th Batman movie Just1Superguy, you're forgetting the Adam West one.
ThaMessenger07 - 4/26/2012, 7:17 AM
^ Yeah that David Icke. But man oh man did the Chitauri make for great villains!!! lol
DarthLaney - 4/26/2012, 7:18 AM
@Hawksblueyes

Completely agree, well said. However, Stark in the movies is very similar to Stark in the comics during the late 80's and Early 90's. I'm pretty comfortable with the way he behaves as being 616 Stark.
Mephistopheles - 4/26/2012, 7:18 AM
What a good attitude this guy has! I'm glad he understands that although the Ultimate Universe influences the movie, the characters are ground out from the 616 universe.
BigK1337 - 4/26/2012, 7:18 AM
@Just1Superguy

Wow, a typical DC fanboy rant on the Avenger movie; didn't see that coming.

Seriously, I enjoy DC comics as much as the next guy but I think you are being ridiculous to let your love of great comics like that get in a way of enjoying an event like this.
Fastestmanalive - 4/26/2012, 7:28 AM
Right on, I loved the Ultimates, one of my favorite comics of all time.

I remember reading it and it seemed to be written and drawn very cinematically, like it was more of a movie then a comic the way the story was told and the visuals were portrayed, and apparently others felt the same way :)
mrHJK - 4/26/2012, 7:38 AM
Ultimates definitely paved the way for The Avengers movie
marknjoanna - 4/26/2012, 8:05 AM
batman robin (adam west) very bad/superman very good/superman 2 very very good and still dc s best fight scenes/superman 3 very bad/superman 4 very bad/batman ok/br kinda ok/br very bad/bf very bad/bb good/tdk great/superman returns bad/green lantern very bad/catwoman very bad and jonah hex very bad.best of dc so far superman 2 and heath
Shadowelfz - 4/26/2012, 8:07 AM
I'm glad they went with the ultimates avengers. The characters are more modern and relevant. As great as it would be to get the original Avengers on the screen their costumes and naieve good-guy attitudes would not do well in a movie.

Just imagine seeing that purple travesty that's hawkeye's suit, or visions green-and-yellow suit for that matter. These characters look great in comics but in real life they'd be laughed at. While people hate the paramilitary suits for the ultimates its what a hero would wear, so the characters are both fantastical and believable. Caps new suit still looks awful, though.

I'm with Millar on this one... for a change. And to hear him act humble for a change is also pretty neat.

monkeyballs- I have to disagree, personally at least. Of all the MARVEL produced movies I enjoyed everyone (even Iron Man 2 which people hate for some reason). The Fox produced gargbage that is X-Men and FF and Ghost Rider movies were done by outside production companies with full use of their licenses.

As for DC I only enjoyed the first two Tim Burton and the Nolan Batman films. The other two were not up to snuff. Green Lantern could have been great but ended up only adaquete at best. I also hated all the superman movies, even the first two. People love Donner but personanlly I really dont like his Sups. Luthor was turned from a brilliant and compentant villian to a bumbling moron. Margo Kidder as Lois Lane was meh. The little action in the movies was boring. Superman only got taken out in cheap ways. The spinning backwards time thing was attrocious and added one more ridiculous thing Superman could do to make things all right. Throwing the S, nuff said about that. Zod and the other kryptonians were okay but could have been a lot better (though I did like what Terrence Stamp did with the character) Reeves as Supes was the only high point. He did a fantastic job.
Hawksblueyes - 4/26/2012, 8:10 AM
knossis: The original versions of these characters were flawed to begin with as we can clearly see in their individual films. What Millar did was not give them flaws but turn them into freaks.

And my question is why? What amazes me is the number of people who say "this is what turned me on to those characters." You know what? Those characters had oodles of fans for over 40 years already. Why piss of those fans just to add a few more? Create the same book and give those characters different names. All of a sudden your core Avenger fans have a new title they may be interested in AND you pick up new readers.

What they did is about equal to making a Van Halen record that sounds like the Foo Fighters. There is no reason for it. You lost both the VH and FF fans in doing so.
superotherside - 4/26/2012, 8:13 AM
Hawksblueyes Well said. I didn't like the Ultimates for the same reason. I didn't mind the story as much as how they did the characters. It was just wrong. I wanted these characters to be the same characters from the regular universe. Which they weren't. I don't mind updates but these weren't the same characters. Period. I did like the sort of scope and cinematic way Ultimates was done though. Actually out of the whole books, the only two characters I liked was Nick Fury, and Hawkeye. But that's it. Glad that the movies have kept the same characterizations of 616 with the cinematic scope of the Ultimates. I couldn't be happier with the movies. :D
MassExecutions - 4/26/2012, 8:14 AM
@Hawksblueyes - Why not do the same story with new characters? Two words: LOWER SALES. Sad but true.
marknjoanna - 4/26/2012, 8:16 AM
marvel movies.punisher1 bad/pun 2 ok/pun 3 not so ok/spiderman 1 good.2 good/3 ok/xmen 1 good/2 good/ 3 ok/dd ok/elec. bad/hulk 1 ok/hulk 2 good/ff1 ok/ff 2 ok/didnt see the blades/ironman 1 great/iron 2 good/thor good/cap a good.and ive heard nothing but good from the avengers (mostly)
marknjoanna - 4/26/2012, 8:20 AM
like i said marvels beat down of dc wont be stopping anytime soon.2012 line up the avengers (most anticipated cbm of all time)and a spider man reboot.and little ole dc with its one horse show has only got its 8th yes count them 8th batman film it being cat womans turn again meh.
ThaMessenger07 - 4/26/2012, 8:28 AM
Millar didn't turn them into freaks so much as expose them in a Worldly manor...

Shit is really as bad as Millar wrote them to be....

marknjoanna - 4/26/2012, 8:36 AM
in truth i think dc is geared for 10 yr olds and less and marvels worked very very hard to get the older crowd and winning.when your 10 you dont ask where is gothem city or how come nobody spots clark kent flying by.same for ww gl anyboby could spot them.or as some poster said 2 days ago why did aquaman leave his kingdom to live in the usa ditto with ww.atleast marvel wrote it to where thor was thrown here and didnt want to stay till love set in.
JohnnyKrypton - 4/26/2012, 8:57 AM
"People have suggested we should feel ripped off, but we don’t own these characters. All we did was give them a lick of paint and come up with a story and the visuals. These are Marvel-owned characters and I have my own little empire with Millarworld so I’m genuinely just pleased to see all this on the big screen and wish them nothing but the best with it."

Millar's writing (and ego) irks me at times, but he's dead-on here. Take notice, Alan Moore!
evyllsummer - 4/26/2012, 9:10 AM
Hawksblueyes...yeah that. That's also, by the way, one of the main reasons why Civil War didn't work for me: Millar was writing the Ultimate Cap more than he was writing the classic Cap.
Cumulactus - 4/26/2012, 9:10 AM
Let me go ahead and add my voice to what comicb00kguy and Hawksblueyes were saying.

The Ultimates suck.
Classic Marvel stories, happenings, and plot bits repackaged as boring talkey melodrama... oh yeah I really want to see that in a movie.



Many of the things they did in The Ultimates with formerly cool characters were blatantly politically motivated. It worked very well because the Captain Planet generation seem to need that. Being fodder for the media wars, they need to sense that there is a soap box being stood on for the thing to valuable. The news media has turned politics into entertainment. Sensing this disgusting trend, Marvel shrewdly used it to their advantage, and bovine Generation Nothing were more than happy to go along.


Chewtoy - 4/26/2012, 10:12 AM
Eh... Fiegie himself has already said the movie version took a little from the Ultimates, but the spirit of it is grounded very much in the original Avengers... and it's absolutely true. From the various interviews Whedon has given, it's clear that the kind of jaded deconstruction that Millar attempted (without making any kind of clear point, as others have noted) was exactly the opposite of what Whedon wanted to do.

Millar didn't offer a "blueprint" to anything. All of the stuff that's getting ragged on as "we've seen it a million times before" came from his adaptation. All of the heart and character stuff that is winning acclaim came from Whedon adapting the relationships in the original and aiming for old fashioned true heroics.

Shadowelfz - 4/26/2012, 10:12 AM
I dont know Hawks the Ultimates dont seem that different from the originals, at least for most of them. Iron Man is still an alcoholic play-boy womanizer, they just gave him cancer instead of a metal shard in his heart. Cap is still a bad-ass American loving soldier who acts on his prinicples before his govermnent. Thor is still the son of Odin cast down to Earth due to his hubris, people just think hes a mental patient because, you know, he claims to be Thor. The Hulk is still a nerd who felt small and becomes a big marauding monster. Widow is still a femme fatalle spy. Nick Fury is still the same hard-assed leader, he's just black now and was in Iraq instead of World War 2. If you look at the old comics Antman was a mysoginistic asshole (he was always telling Jan to shut up and stop being such a woman. Just check out the original Avengers comics) so making him a woman beater is not a stretch at all.

Hawkeye, Wasp and Vision are all different from the original, but personally I like their versions, moreso with Wasp. As for everything that came after that you cant compare those characters as Loeb and company massacred these characters. That's like being pissed that Batman is an asshole based off of Frank Millers horrible 'Batman and Robin comics' where he called Robin retarded and said he was the 'goddamn Batman.'

As for the Cap thing I love what Millar did with Cap. He definately seemed out of place in modern times, which he should have. Are people pissed that he booted banner in the face after, you know, he killed hundreds of people out of some reckless need to feel masculated? Or pissed that he beat up Hank Pym after nearly beating Jan to death? I love the fact that Cap would not tolerate such things to the point where he would disobey orders to do what is right.
soberchimera - 4/26/2012, 10:54 AM
Alan Moore could learn a thing or two from this guy.
TheMyth - 4/26/2012, 11:53 AM
Just1Superguy, lol up until the New 52 Marvel had been wiping the floor with DC in comic sales for years. The New 52 gave a much needed injection into DC, and without it Marvel would still be embarrassing them. As it stands they just barely beat out Marvel in the short time since the new 52. As for your "My DC can beat your Marvel in a fight" comment... it's obvious you're just another butthurt fanboy who can't meet the realization that they're both successful comic companies and as comic fans, both deserve our respect. But I get that's too much to ask of your ilk. I can't imagine how miserable and disappointing the lives of you Nolanites and Marvelites must be that fictitious characters provoke you to such levels of self-degradation and immaturity. It's really sad...
HannibalKing - 4/26/2012, 12:15 PM
Nice little retelling of the truth there. The Ultimates was just a retitled previous submission to Marvel.
It was originally put to Marvel with the title Avengers 2099, which they rejected.
JeffreyVeregge - 4/26/2012, 12:16 PM
Mark Miller is a gracious man. I love how he credited Bryan Hitch for the look of Nic Fury. It is refreshing to see that sort of thing happen in an industry that in the past has been selfish in the spotlight.

The Ultimates is one of my favorite comics runs, the second run was good but did not grab me the way the first arc did. I will never forget Cap kicking the Hulk in the sack. One of the best panels ever in my mind.
Hawksblueyes - 4/26/2012, 2:57 PM
knossis: 616 Pym slapped Jan after a downward mental spiral originally triggered by Ultron messing with his head. In the comics, this spiral was triggered, ran it's course and climaxed with Hank backhanding Jan, over the course of "years." After this backhand, Hank never lived it down and spent all of his time up to the present regretting his actions.For 25 years prior to this incident, he was one of the most straight ahead heroes and Avenger leaders, you could find.

The backhand was originally meant to show the public that spouse abuse could happen for any number of reasons and was more common than people at the time thought it was. What it ended up doing was ruining a great character.

Ultimate Hank was simply shown as the cliche, jackass, self centered, wife beating moron from the time he first appeared in the title until he exited stage left.

Steve Rogers (Captain America) was shown in the Ultimates to be a hot headed, arrogant, follow orders first, ask questions later, vindictive asshole that he never EVER, at any time came across as in the 616 universe. He had peoples respect due to his past legend, not due to his ongoing actions every time he interacted with someone.

Thor had absolutely zero in common with his 616 counterpart as far as personality goes. Never in all the years of the 616 universe did Thor come across as a pacifist. He was also not sent to Earth to watch over it or be "spread any sort of word" to the people as indicated in The Ultimates. Matter of fact he was constantly at odds with his father because Odin thought Thor should not meddle in the affairs of Midgard.

Hulk.....the differences here are so blatant and stupid, they aren't even worth talking about.

There are so many more I could write a very lengthy article n just the major differences in the characters themselves.

And you're absolutely right, many of us complaining don't know the in depth history of the 616 universe Avengers. I only purchased my first Avengers comic new, off the rack somewhere around 1976.

Argue any point about the differences between the Ultimates and 616 and give me any reason why you like either one and I'm okay with it. But don't tell me I don't know the 616 universe or I would see that the characters are the same. It appears maybe, you should go buy yourself some ooollldddd comic books and brush up on the 616 universe, because you are talking BS. =D

comicb00kguy - 4/26/2012, 3:04 PM
Hawks: Perfectly stated, my friend. I'm also looking forward to finally seeing this movie next week.
Ghostt - 4/26/2012, 4:47 PM
Classy statements by Millar, and very interesting. good show
AUSSYACE - 4/26/2012, 6:28 PM
but it was Bryan who came up with the genius idea of Samuel L Jackson to be the face of the character’s reinvention...

How UNCREATIVE & BORING...
comicb00kguy - 4/27/2012, 6:43 AM
Juggernaut: An excellent post that really hits the nail on the head.

Knossis: The thing here is that the ultimates turned earth's mightiest heroes into a bunch of sleazy degenerates and completely unlikable assholes. There is nothing remotely heroic, respectable, or admirable about any of them. The 'heroes' are as loathsome and vile as the villains. Now, I'm not saying I want to see silver-age DC, where all the heroes are a bunch of goody two-shoes and all bestest buddies forever. There is a profound difference between the human flaws found in the classic Marvel characters and the ones in the ultimates. The classic 616 characters fought common human flaws like jealousy, self-doubt, and selfishness, but the heroes would work through those flaws and find a way to save the day. They were more human than DC's perfect heroes, but they were still people you could respect and admire. They made mistakes, but would atone for them. Cue forward to the ultimates, where the whole damn team should be in jail themselves for their various vices and disreputable activities. Why would anyone want "heroes" like that?

Remember, part of the entire purpose of creating the ultimate universe in the first place was to create a more accessible version of Marvel's classic characters, unburdened by decades of continuity. The target was to reach new readers and kids, who didn't know those decades of backstory. Look at early ultimate books and notice the number of ads in those books aimed at kids. It didn't take long for hack writers to misinterpret the idea of familiar characters with a twist to make them unique (and to update origins as needed- many origins admittedly WERE dated) to mean finding ways to make the characters sleazy and despicable. The kids were forgotten, as they had been by the 616 universe before, and now there are no all-ages books to help turn those kids who love superhero cartoons and movies into the next generation of comics readers. I found comics after watching superhero cartoons as a kid, and wanting to discover more adventures starring my favorite characters. I want kids today, like my 4-year-old nephew to have that same opportunity.

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