Veteran comic book writer Mark Millar made quite the impact over at Marvel Comics before he began fleshing out his own Millarworld line of comics. That proved to be quite a success with the venture eventually bought by Netflix, but prior to the likes of Huck ,Superior, and Kick-Ass, he had actually revamped Marvel’s Avengers over in the Ultimate Universe.
Now, the writer, acclaimed for work like Civil War and Old Man Logan, has revealed that he wasn’t allowed to use the phrase “Avengers” in the Ultimate line because the publisher had no faith in the term anymore, and they simply wanted his new spin on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to be a fresh start to make it more cinematic for the future.
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While speaking with Entertainment Weekly on what he and Brian Michael Bendis did with the line of books, he said, “Brian and I pretty much ran the Ultimate line ourselves. He did Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, I did X-Men and Ultimates. It’s funny to look back on now, but I had been begging them to relaunch the Avengers.”
“Marvel had no interest in bringing the Avengers into the Ultimate line; they said those characters are dead and no studio was interested in them. I was always a really big Avengers fan. I got some credibility from doing Ultimate X-Men; that was the No. 1 book when it launched. So they said, would you want to do Ultimate Wolverine? I said no, no, I’d love to do Avengers. They won’t even let me call it the “Avengers” because they thought Avengers was such a dead franchise that I had to call it “Ultimates” instead,” he continued.
The Ultimates was launched in 2002 (drawn by Bryan Hitch) and ironically laid the groundwork for the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that started with 2008’s Iron Man and built to 2012’s The Avengers. It was a more contemporary take on the characters, with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury even jumping from the comics to the big screen. Millar’s words hold credence because in 2004, Marvel had the Avengers Disassembled event that broke the old team apart and gave rise to the New Avengers and such, clearly indicating they wanted a new direction. Given the success of Marvel Studios to date, this gamble to shape a new era using comics that were meant to influence film has paid dividends.
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However, Millar indicated he’s still in disbelief to this very day how weak the Avengers’ brand had gotten back then, and how much he was allowed to subvert it. “It’s crazy to think now that Avengers was such a diminished name in the industry, and Marvel had no faith in at all. But what was great was they let me do whatever I wanted because they expected nothing from it.”