What if… Jack Kirby characters made the big screen?
Rob lets his imagination run wild, assigning directors to projects left, right and centre - all based on characters created by Jack "The King" Kirby
Comic-to-movie adaptations are big business. Some are great, some are rubbish but as long as there is a vein of creativity to tap, filmmakers will continually delve the depths of the long boxes to come up with something new and innovative to appease the avid cinema going public,
With the Silver Surfer limping into cinemas last year in Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer (noted for not only being mediocre but also the longest title for a film last year – apart from that Jesse James thing), and an impending Dr Strange film potentially being worked on by Guillermo del Toro the back catalogue of Jack ‘The King’ Kirby’s work is a pure goldmine.
With Kirby’s passing nearly a decade ago, the King’s legacy has never been so popular. The Kirby estate is continuing to publish new material based on ideas such as last years Galactic Bounty Hunters, which was be co-written by Lisa Kirby (Jack Kirby’s daughter) and Steve Robertson. Writers such as Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and Jim Starlin are still tapping into the creator’s legacy, with characters such as the New God, 4th World and Eternals being produced for major publishers
So we have Dr Strange tripping into parallel worlds ruled by demons like Dormammu overseen by the watchful Del Toro. What about having audiences blasting into the Microverse where Ant-Man battles his way through sub-atomic dimensions filled with monsters like Blastaar? And the insect-like Annilhius helmed by Edgar Wright, or mo-capped by Robert Zemekis? These other-worldly concepts, filled with Kirby’s unique style of drawings of giant futuristic technology crackling with unknown ‘Kirby dot’ energy, would just be superb.
Who else wants to see Darren Aronofsky bringing the surreal world of Zen-La, the original home of the Silver Surfer to life? What about the classic ‘deal with the devil’ the Surfer made with the planet-devouring Galactus, and the character wielding the Ultimate Nullifier at his former master bought to the screen? Or to watch Stephen Soderbergh introduce readers to the concept of giant space gods, superhuman assistance and alien races, all based on Kirby’s homage to Erich von Daniken’s book from the 1970s, Chariots of the God.
The idea of seeing Terry Gilliam take on the classic ‘Inhumans’ characters (introduced in Fantastic Four issue 45) in their secret city of Attalin would be nothing more than breathtaking. Think Baron Munchhausen but with the flavour of the X-Men thrown in.
The Inhumans, whose main cast included Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak and their mute leader Black Bolt, are superhuman off-shoots of humanity and completely alien. With advanced technology, which has created the ‘Terrigen Mist’ a mystical substance that through science could unlock genetic potential, Gilliam’s eye for the bizarre and unreal would be the perfect medium to see this completely varied and surreal civilisation bought to life,
Then of course there are his lesser known books. First of all who would tackle Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers (for the relatively small publisher Pacific Comics)? Well, I would assign Robert Rodriguez to do the honours for this one (in 3D of course). And what about his other ‘also ran’, Machine Man? That honour would go to Tarantino, and would probably take a nod from NEXTWave and make the purple-coated robot into something akin the Bender from Futurama.
Then of course there are the giant space epics. In 1970 Kirby was made a huge offer by then DC publisher Carmine Infantino, and under the agreement was to give the artist complete creative control of any books, characters or work done for the company. This creative freedom allowed Kirby to further explore the idea of cosmic characters. This exploration came under a series of books that came under the banner of Jack Kirby’s 4th World. The first titles from the series consisted of three titles: New Gods, Mr Miracle and The Forever People, and were originally intended to be huge mega-series with all the titles linking together in some way and for the books to have a finite lifespan.
The first 4th World titles hit shelves in 1970 and lasted until 1973 where they were cancelled for reasons that still to this day remain unclear.
The stories feature giant alien gods, with the battle between good and evil, represented by two planets, the goodies coming from the paradise-like New Genesis and the bad guys coming from the industrial hell-like Apokolips. The 4th World comics covered the quest for the evil lord of Apokolips – Darkseid – to find the anti-life equation. Filled with weird and wonderful characters such as Kalibak, Lightray, Big Barda, Granny Goodness and Scott Free (aka Mr Miracle), the books – although popular in the day – are now seen as modern sci-fi classics.
So finally which director could handle such a monumental directorial undertaking? In my opinion there is only one director out there who could handle this kind of space epic. With a beard as nearly as famous as his directorial skills there is only one person alive who can bring such a suitably massive scale epic to the screen and at the same time capture the humanity to the characters… yup, step forward Mr Jackson (you really didn’t think I was going to say Lucas, did you?).
Once the problems with New Line money and The Hobbit are out of the way there is only one way to get the bad taste of King Kong out of fans’ mouths and that is to get Andy Serkis, Ian McKellen, Viggo and the crew at WETA together again to help bring the majesty of Kirby’s cosmic epic to the screen.