Writer Gary Whitta has had a hit-and-miss track record over the years. Having made a name for himself as a games journalist, including a stint as editor-in-chief of PC Gamer, Whitta eventually broke into screenwriting with the 2010 Denzel Washington flick The Book of Eli. His next produced film credit was M. Night Shyamalan’s latest, the critically savaged After Earth. However, Whitta is proof positive that one dud doesn’t mean your career is over, having since been announced as the screenwriter for Gareth Edwards’ standalone Star Wars spinoff (believed to be a Boba Fett movie). That alone would grant him geek bragging rights for eternity, but now he’s running up the score by adapting Mark Millar’s comic Starlight for the big screen.
Starlight is only the latest of several of Mark Millar’s comics to be turned into movies, following on the heels of Wanted and Kick-Ass. Published by Image Comics and featuring art by Goran Parlov, Millar’s Starlight tells the story of Duke McQueen, a strapping space hero in the tradition of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. He etched his name into history by saving the whole damn universe, but that was 40 years ago. Since then, he’s returned to Earth, built a family, and gotten old. Now his wife is dead and his kids off doing their own thing, so what’s left for a grizzled old space adventurer but one last, epic adventure?
Word that Fox would be turning Starlight into a movie first came last December, with Latino Review reporting the rumor…some three months before the first issue of Starlight even hit shelves. Director Gareth Edwards’ involvement was announced in May, and with Whitta signing on as writer we’ve got the last piece of the creative puzzle until they start making casting announcements.
While The Book of Eli and After Earth are Whitta’s only produced film credits at this point, he also worked on one of the many attempts to adapt Akira into a live-action film. He’s also one of the writers on Telltale’s outstanding Walking Dead games, so that alone proves he doesn’t have anything to prove, After Earth or no After Earth.
Image’s Starlight published its fifth issue last month, with issue #6 due in October. Here’s Millar talking about the origins of Starlight to Comic Book Resources:
The idea for this came to me when I was about ten and watching all these old shows on the BBC. I remember thinking that when these guys got back home they’d just be talking about their experiences all the time and if you accidentally ended up on an alien world of a different time zone or whatever the chances of it happening again are pretty remote. The chances are this is the one and only amazing thing that will ever happen to you and so you have to go back to driving a bus or working in a factory or whatever you were doing before fate pulled you into that pulp novel environment. The ordinariness of that really excited. The notion that you could have once been gliding through the clouds on the back of an alien dragon, but now buying washing powder and phoning your wife to see if you need anything else from the supermarket — I don’t know. That’s just really interesting to me. The irony is that I’m not even sure people would really believe you either. What pictures do you have of your old alien adventure? Did you bring anything home? The idea of being a bit of a joke when you get back is kind of fun, but also the idea that you can’t stop talking about it because it was such a huge experience. I always had this thought of a Die Hard 1.5 where John McClane just talks about that time he jumped off the roof of a building holding onto a fire hose. He’s talking to his wife about it all the time, like when he cut his feet on that glass. Nothing else has been as interesting since and my guy I guess is a bit like that. [Laughs]