When Marc Guggenheim isn't finishing up the first draft for the Green Lantern superhero movie (its nearly finished), he's writing Amazing Spider-Man, Young X-Men, the Wolverine video game, and producing the movie Resurrection (based on his comic book about the aftermath of an alien invasion.) Fortunately for us, Marc made some time to answer all of our questions about the countless projects he's working on. Find out what he wants to see in on the screen in Resurrection, possible story lines for Dusk and Cyclops in Young X-Men, new X-character Anole, and if those crazy kids Spider-Man and Black Cat are going to hook up.
Q: Do you have any dreams for directors or cast in Resurrection yet? Have you spit balled a few ideas?
Not just yet. I hardly ever develop 'pie-in-the-sky' sort of ideas for directors. There are so many great directors out there. I wish I could say that I had a particular wish list, but that's not how my brain operates.
Q: Why did you decide to write Resurrection ?
I love science fiction, and like anyone who loves science fiction I've been watching TV shows and movies and reading comics about alien invasions for my whole life, practically. At the conclusion of every one of them I was always left with the question: "Well, what now?" You have a world that is fundamentally changed. Changed infrastructure-wise but also sociologically, politically, and economically. I'm really sort of fascinated by how we would rebuild things. What survives and what doesn't in terms of our ideals and our beliefs?
For example, if aliens were to invade, it would throw our whole religious system for a loop. Because we're supposed to believe that man was created by god and that we are the only life in the universe what happens when that belief is not just challenged, but completely proven false. There are a million questions just like that about a world post-alien invasion and post-contact with an alien race. What happens to America if there's no president? What happens to America if there's no line of succession any more? We take democracy for granted in this country, but democracy doesn't just exist because we want it to. It was fought for and constructed very deliberately hundreds of years ago. If you got rid of all of the things that were keeping that system in place, how would the vacuum be filled afterwards?
Q: How will this be different from other post-apocalyptic movies coming out like The Road?
I loved The Road. I read it and I thought it was incredibly gripping and moving. The world that Resurrection is in is very different from The Road. As bad a shape as the world is in at the beginning of Resurrection, it's in much, much worse shape in The Road... There are all sorts different projects that are out there that deal with life post-apocalypse. What makes Resurrection different is they are dealing with life post-alien initiated apocalypse. And as a result I'm getting into a couple of things that you can't do, post-nuclear, post-zombie or post-natural disaster. Pick your brand of apocalypse. We are going to be showing some pieces of alien technology, some alien cells. We've got the whole mythology of, "Why were the aliens invading us in the first place?"
Q: What are you most excited to see be brought to live on screen from Resurrection?
One of the things that's in the comic that we're excited about seeing on the film are the carriers. They are these massive, massive ships. I'm excited to see these on a huge scale.
Q: Where did you get the idea to start the comic with a flash-forward?
I love the flash-back and flash-forwarding. In comics, I feel like have the most license to play along with that stuff. It's something I like to do a lot. In case of Young X-Men it was actually a very practical thing. I knew that I wanted that first issue to be an homage to the first half of Giant-Size X-Men Number 1, where Professor X went around the world and gathered up the team of new X-Men. And I knew I wanted to do the same thing with Cyclops. The problem is that as a whole first issue goes, if I were to just come in and just do Cyclops assembling the team, you would never get a chance to see the team in action. As a fully formed team in costume, doing their thing. The solution was the flash-forward. Then I get to do my homage to Giant-Size X-Men while at the same time not making readers wait until issue 2 to in order to see this team fully formed and kicking butt. And then of course since one of the characters is a precognitive it just seemed natural to make the flash forward something that she was predicting that would happen in the future.
Q: Are any other X-Men making an appearance?
In the second arc for sure we'll have a lot of the tried and true characters. Basically, this first arc is all about putting the team together and setting them up. Once I've accomplished that I'm going to start integrating them pretty tightly into the X-Universe.
Q: Any characters that will be coming back that you want to tell us about?
I would definitely expect to see Anole, who is a very popular character, a character I certainly like. I don't want to spoil too much, but you can definitely expect to see Anole and a few other characters from the past. Including one X-Man that I don't think anyone knows about just yet.
Q: Tell us more about Ink, the character that can take on powers from his tattoos. Are there any other tattoos he will be getting in the future?
If you go back to the first issue and you look on the cover in that flash forward. You can see that he's shaved his head and he has two lightening bolt tattoos on the side of his head so those are new powers that he'll be getting. My goal with Ink is to constantly be changing him by giving him new tattoos, thus giving him new powers. So he's going to be pretty dynamic.
Q: Why did you choose to bring Dust into the group? I know that it is a timely subject matter but were there any other reasons?
When you are trying to fit characters for a team you want a mix of a lot of different things. You want a mix of genders and powers. It wouldn't make sense to have three bruisers on the team. You want a mix of ethnicities and beliefs and what not. I also didn't want there to be just one token woman, I wanted a couple female characters. And having a character who is Muslim and from Afghanistan, in today's political climate, I think is interesting. It's not dissimilar to having Colossus having on team X-Men during the height of the Cold War. But mostly I thought her power worked really well in connection with everyone else's powers. She's has this really cool power in terms of being able able to turn herself into a sandstorm, I think she has a lot of different potential, in terms of spinning it. I thought it fit with the whole team.
Q: A lot of writers have started incorporating timely matters with the Middle East into their writing such as prejudices and terrorism, are you?
I have an idea for a Dust-centric story, that doesn't actually deal with terrorism but deals with prejudice against Muslims. That's a story I'm kind of dying to tell. I'm envisioning a self contained story with her. The idea is a little incompatible with another character I've got so I have to make some choices in terms of which story I want to tell and how I want to tell it. They also have a lot of plans for Dust that have nothing to do with her heritage. I don't mean to be coy but I like to keep my options open. Particularly if I make my way through another book I want to be able to allow inspiration to strike. It drives my editors crazy.
Q: What are your plans for Cyclops? A lot of people have problems with this character and I know you are planning to do new things with him.
Everyone sort of has issues with Cyclops. Ironically I think a lot of people are changing the way they feel about Cyclops because of Messiah Complex and these other big events that rocked him to his core. He's changed. He's become a different person. He's become ruthless. All of that is in service of a personal evolution. He's been becoming his own man for years and years. His whole adult life he's lived in the shadow of Professor X. I think what people are reacting to, both positively and negatively, is [the fact that] he isn't reacting the way he used to because it's sort of like a child that leaves a parent. That is very much the type of relationship that he had with Professor X, it was a father and son type of relationship. And in here you have him moving out and charting his own course. And like anyone else who has done that, sometimes the parent doesn't like it, or the people around you don't like it. You have to take risks and try different things. He is trying to discover who he is. He spent all of these years living in someone's shadow, only servicing their agenda.
Q: Well he does seem to have a lot more personality than before.
I think he's a fun character. I think Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon over the years have done some really amazing things with him. I think it has gone a long way towards making him a more interesting and dynamic character.
Q: What do you think about Jason Schwartz the writer for Gossip Girl going to write the new Young X-Men?
Yeah I heard that the news and I thought, 'Really, the Young X-Men movie, you don't say.' I'll be really curious to see how that movie turns out. I'm really glad that they are making all these comic book movies now. It's a great time to be a comic book fan.
Q: Now that Peter Parker is single, what are Black Cat's chances with him?
Oh yeah that's funny. A lot of people ask about Black Cat. I can tell you right now we just don't have any plans to bring her into the book. It's not like we don't like her or anything, we've just got a lot of balls in the air right now and she just doesn't happen to be one of them. One of the big things that is different after One More Day, [is that] Black Cat no longer knows his identity. So the whole nature of a Spider-Man, Black Cat relationship will be very, very different, just because she doesn't know who Spider-Man is.
Q: How did you decide what to change in One More Day?
A lot of it was decided before the other writers and I were brought on. There was some discussion of do we resurrect Gwen Stacy while we were at it? And we collectively decided that obviously we wouldn't. A lot of it was decided before we got involved so I can't really speak as why they decided to change this or that. Most of it is just the natural outcome, of okay, Spider-Man is no longer married and the world no longer knows his identity.
Q: How have you dealt with the fan reaction with One More Day? Does it ever change your writing?
In Young X-Men there was a lot of negative reaction to the first issue. I think what you have to do is set your course and stick to it....I'm at the point where I'm almost immune to criticism. When you're working on something that is just starting out like Brand New Day is or Young X-Men, we're plotted out for the next year and a half at least. So we know what's coming down the road, the fans don't. There's no reason to change because people's reactions are based on a couple of months worth of reading. Those are not necessarily the same reactions they will have a year from now or two years from now. It's like trying to govern by the polls from a poll that was taken a year and a half ago. The problems that we are dealing with on Spider-Man in terms of story and things that we are trying to work out are about a year and a half removed now from where the books currently are. So you really can't react to people's reactions. You have to go forward to what you have planned in the first place.
Q: Why doesn't the Green Goblin know Spider-Man's identity?
Simply put everyone who knew Spider-Man's identity after One More Day, doesn't. So there would be no way for him to keep that knowledge. It would be like everyone forgot his identity except for this person or that person. This was something we had to decide very early on was, who knows and who doesn't know it and the thing that we all agreed upon was best to keep it simple. Let's come up with one bright light rule: nobody knows. And anybody that we want to know, it turns into a story about how they found out. Because now everybody has to rediscover that information.
Q: It's an old question, I know, but why did The Flash (Bart Allen) have to die?
That was another thing that was decided before me. I killed him but it wasn't my decision. Basically DC came to me and said look we're killing off Bart Allen, we're going to do it in five issues, do you want to write those five issues? And I said yes and even though I didn't necessarily think that Bart needed to be killed off. I was determined that if I was going to make it the most meaningful death possible.
Q: Was it hard for you to write that, the end to a character?
It was actually a lot of fun. I really, really enjoyed writing those. Those five issues were a really pleasant writing experience. Maybe because I've never really worked with anything quite like that before. Because I knew my character was going to ultimately die, I could do crazy things. Like reveal his secret identity in the second issue, and have him break up with his girlfriend. I could blow up a lot of things knowing I would never have to put them back together. I wouldn't have to put any genies back in the bottle. It was very educational for me to be able to write with abandon like that. I tried to do this a lot in Resurrection. That is, sort of write like each issue is the last issue. So it creates this sense of unpredictability so you never really know what's going to happen. Anyone can live or die. The book can go in any direction and it's going to be a wild ride. And I learned that by doing The Flash.
Q: When are we going to be able to see your Virgin Comics series Nowhere Man?
My editor was just asking me that very same question earlier today. I've got to finish the scripts, it will still be a couple of months. I'm not quite far enough to be able to solicit the book yet, but hopefully there will be a release date shortly.
Q: What can you tell us about it?
Basically what is exciting to me about it is that it's science fiction. Like all good science fiction it has a lot to say about out present society. Right now in the post 9/11 world we are asking more than ever, how much privacy are we willing to sacrifice for security. And Nowhere Man is set in a society where they have answered that question in an ultimate way. It's a world where there is very little black and white, there are a lot of shades of grey. Even our protagonist will discover that he might be on the wrong side. So the characters are constantly asking themselves questions, that hopefully people will start asking about our world today.