Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Interview with Susan Hillwig #3

For the last two weeks we had parts 1 and 2. Below is part 3:

Matching Dragoons: Okay, let's go back in time and give you some ultimate control... Jonah Hex movie. Who do you cast? What story do you tell? Do you change anything from the comics (as sometimes movies do? Superman, Spider-Man...) Who directs, who writes? 
Susan: Here's the thing: There's some stuff about the movie that I liked.  Overall, this was quite the fail, but parts of it were good to me.  Josh Brolin did a fine job, I think, so we can keep him.  I have no real opinion on other actors to cast, or who'd be the best director, but as far as writers go, I think they need to get more comic book writers in on these movies, because the people writing these characters month after month have a better grasp of them than Hollywood does more often than not.  Seriously, did they ever think of handing this script over to Justin & Jimmy and asking how true to the character it sounded?  Or maybe they did and the producers said, "Feh, what do they know?  They write funnybooks."  In my brain, I've cooked up about a half-dozen scenes that smooth out a lot of the bumps for me -- if I had the time, I'd make a "novelization" fanfic, just to salvage something outta that mess.
Focusing on the broad strokes, though, I'd say the first and foremost mistake the movie folks made (after giving Hex supernatural powers) was putting him in a "save the world" type situation.  That ain't Hex, he's small-scale, downright selfish at times.  So that's the sort of story to go with, something that's small-scale to most folks but very personal for Hex.  Next thing to do is bump is up to a R rating in order to get rid of any worry about pulling our punches.  If there's blood, if it gets gruesome, so be it, Jonah's world ain't any prettier than he is.  Third thing is to forget that we're making a "comic book movie".  That layers on expectations that Jonah refuses to live up to, and is probably why they saddled him with powers and a sympathetic origin...because, you know, comics is all capes and muties, right?  Why do we have a guy whose only superpower is being ugly and refusing to die?  That won't draw people in, but big ol' explosions and Megan Fox will.
Alright, let me get off the soapbox and spin our new yarn.  Instead of Jonah narrating, we have Tallulah Black -- the majority of this will be from her viewpoint.  As with the story that introduced her, Tallulah's family is slaughtered by thugs hired by the government to reposess land.  She's all scarred up and wants revenge, and to get it, she seeks out a man whose cruelty and viciousness is legendary: Jonah Hex.  She's heard stories, she knows he's an ex-Confederate and (according to some tales) a traitor who let his men die at Fort Charlotte.  A lot of what's in those first Tallulah issues would be used here -- the training, hunting down those responsible -- along with a few scenes where Tallulah tires to puzzle out the true Jonah from the stories.  She'll press him about some things, and he'll either give a short answer that says little or he won't say a word at all.  This is how the whole question of his scar would be handled: no origin tie-in, no huge scene, just Tallulah asking, "Did it happen during the War?", followed by a split-second flashback that only shows a red-hot tomahawk pressed to Jonah's face as he screams, then back to the present and Jonah saying to Tallulah, "After."
As in the comics, the two will grow close, and at some point we'll get some late-night-by-the-campfire sex.  Then our tale will take a twist as they head to Virginia to get the last guy.  Once there, they get waylaid by Turnbull and the Fort Charlotte Brigade, who put out a false trail to lure Hex in so they could get their own revenge.  We'll use the kangaroo-court setting in WWT#30 as a basis for this, including locking Jonah and Tallulah in the shed for the night so they can be executed in the morning (she gets lumped in because she tried to help Hex fight off the Brigade guys).  While in there, Tallulah demands to know if all their accusations are true, and for the first time in our whole lil' movie, Jonah's gonna open up to another human being.  This would be part of a long flashback, showing Jonah's moral conflict over fighting for slavery, his surrender, and the backstabbing he got from the Union forces that led to all those Rebs dying.  After this catharsis, the duo manages to break out.  We get some more fighting, during which Tallulah gets seriously hurt, then a final conflict with Turnbull (maybe with him ending up on a pitchfork like he did the comic).  Jonah gets Tallulah to a doctor, and while she's still bedridden, he leaves her, saying that she's got more than enough experience to get the last guy on her own -- that small glimmer of humanity that peeked out in the shed has been smothered again.  The scene fades out, replaced by Tallulah with a baby girl in her arms -- the whole movie has simply been Tallulah telling the girl about her absent father, Jonah Hex.
There ya go, the perfect Hex movie...which probably still would've done horrid if you pitted it against Toy Story 3.
MD: Let's say All-Star Western is canceled and Jonah is thrown away completely from DC. Which character in DC now fills that Hex-Shaped hole in your pull list?
 Susan: If you mean a replacement of the same caliber, there really isn't one at the moment.  Thanks to this DCNu stuff, I'm buying fewer and fewer DC books.  Aside from All-Star Western, I get Green Lantern, Aquaman, The Shade, and I just jumped on Earth 2.  That's my DC quota right now.  Nothing that's currently being printed by them is capable of filling that hypothetical void, I'm sorry to say.  Matter of fact, I could probably walk comfortably away from DC if they axed ASW.  However, I can tell you who used to fill that hole in between the Hex Vertigo minis: Tommy Monaghan.  I devoured all 60 isses of Hitman, plus the few specials and guest-shots he appeared in.  I could totally picture Tommy and Jonah getting drunk together at Noonan's, then capping that off with a knock-down, drag-out brawl with some random strangers.  Of course, Tommy's dead now...unless Flashpoint retconned it.  Yeah, I'd take back every nasty thing I've ever said about The New 52 if it bought Tommy back!
MD: Does Marvel, or did they ever, have a character counterpart to Hex? I have one in mind, but I'll keep silent so as not to taint the jury.
 Susan: My Marvel Western experience is limited.  I dig Two-Gun Kid (he's an Avenger, what's not to love?), but I don't actively seek out his stories.  Him and Hex are like night and day, though, so no comparison there.  But if you're referring to any Marvel character, then Punisher's pretty close.  I know J&J used the phrase "Punisher in the Old West" when pitching the second series, so that might be why he comes to mind.  There's a good amount of Wolverine's personality in Jonah as well, that innate savageness that doesn't mix well with polite society.  Yeah, somewhere between Punisher and Wolverine, that's Jonah Hex.  That about what you had in mind?

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