Netflix’s “Wednesday” has been a breakout success, the work a result of a collaboration between filmmaker Tim Burton along with veteran writer/producers Al Gough and Miles Millar.
Gough and Millar penned the “Shanghai Noon” films, the third “The Mummy” movie, crafted the stories for “Lethal Weapon 4” and Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2,” and served as creators, writers and executive producers on both “Into the Badlands” and “The Shannara Chronicles”.
They’re still best known though for their work as creators and showrunners of ten seasons of The CW’s Superman prequel series “Smallville”. Recently the pair sat down with THR to discuss the show’s legacy over twenty years on and revealed what they would do differently if they launched the show today.
Millar calls the series ” school network television” with the punishing schedule of pushing out 22 episodes per year, which is quite different to Wednesday, which ran for eight episodes. Millar says: “Each episode [of ‘Wednesday’], you could shoot four episodes of Smallville in the space it takes to do a single episode of this show.”
Gough says “Smallville” resonated as it arrived a month after 9/11, and it was “like comfort food for the American soul because it was about Americana, and everybody knew Superman”. Asked if there was anything they would do differently were they to do “Smallville” today, he says:
“The Clark-Lana thing played out way too long. Something else had to happen there. I think that was one that got a little repetitive… I think there are things there, if we went back, we probably would be a little more adventurous with some of those relationships and bring them to certain heads and let them play out.”
Millar adds they were “definitely cautious” and very conscious of the fact they wanted to get to five seasons back in the early days. He adds:
“As the father of girls, I think the female characters we would do differently today. I think Lana, her agency was not there. She could have been a much stronger character, and she always felt put in positions of weakness. It’s a different era, a different time. So, that’s something I think we could have done and would definitely look at to do better.”
Asked if they would ever want to revisit “Smallville” in some way, be it a reboot or a revival, Gough says:
“To be honest, no. I think we told that story, and they’re always refreshing Superman. I just read last night that James Gunn’s writing a new younger Superman movie, and I’m like, ‘OK’. I feel like we were very, very fortunate to do the show when we did it because we got to make the show we wanted to make, and frankly, there was no committee sitting over us telling us what we could or couldn’t do.”
Millar says the whole premise of the show was not canon, with their series adding a whole bunch of new takes and material to the mythology of Superman. He says that wouldn’t happen now:
“We categorically would not be allowed to make that show and make those changes today, which is a real tragedy because I think what’s amazing if you look at the history of comics and these characters, is they’re always evolving. They never stand still, and the idea that there’s a certain canon you have to [follow], it’s actually leading to stagnation in terms of the ideas.
Some of it’s, there’s obviously the cat calls from fandom, which people probably listen to too much that really, really has led to self-censoring, and we were still very privileged to have had that moment where we were actually free to do whatever we wanted, and it was amazing and very liberating.”
Gough adds: “I’m not giving James Gunn any advice. He doesn’t need our advice… he knows he knows what he’s doing.” Millar says if they were to tackle another prequel-style series of a famous character, it would be the young Miss Marple project they’ve been trying to get going for some time.