Jeremy Slater Talks Mortal Kombat 2 and his return to Marvel with Moon Knight
Jeremy Slater is a screenwriter who has penned projects that have pulled from different mediums to be adapted to both the big and small screen. From penning the original screenplay of the 2015 Fantastic Four, the live-action Death Note adaptation, and on top of Death Note, he also worked with Netflix and developed the live-action adaptation of The Umbrella Academy. He has also ventured into one of the greatest genres in TV/film, HORROR! Having brought the Exorcist to the small screen in the continuation series that he penned as well as the horror film The Lazarus Effect.
As bright as Slater’s current projects have been, his future looks even brighter as he has returned to the Marvel Universe in the upcoming Moon Knight series that is set to bring Steven Grant/Marc Spector a.k.a Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) to Disney+ on March 30th, 2022.
He also just signed on to pen the screenplay for the sequel to the rebooted Mortal Kombat film franchise. The films which most of us know are based on the highly popular fighting game of the same title saw itself rebooted and released in a pandemic heavy 2021 with Warner Bros. hybrid film release plan of simultaneous release in theaters and HBO Max. The film had much success in both formats which earned it a sequel and Slater will be one of the creative minds realizing that sequel to reality.
Slater is also set to make his directorial debut and jump back into the horror genre with James Wan‘s Atomic Monster attached. Not many details are known of the film other than it being described as “Back to the Future meets Aliens.” Slater took the time to answer some questions about his upcoming projects. Enjoy the conversation and be sure to keep up to date with Slater’s work by following him on Twitter.
- Thanks for taking the time to speak with us at Geek Network. Can we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in a tiny farming town in the middle of Kansas. I went to Notre Dame to study film, which was a tremendous waste of time and money, and I eventually wound up back in Kansas working as a bartender. Finally, I said to hell with it, packed up my car, and drove out to Los Angeles.
It took several years of eating Top Ramen and working soul-crushing jobs as a legal copywriter before I finally got someone to take a look at one of my scripts. Now I’ve got an incredible wife, two idiot dogs, and the only job I’ve ever wanted. I get to make movies! What could be cooler than that?
- First, congratulations on Moon Knight. The series looks fantastic, and I am pretty sure all fans are counting the days until it releases. How does it feel to get to work on bringing another Marvel character to life?
Thanks! Marvel comics were such a fundamental part of my childhood that it still feels totally surreal that I’ve gotten multiple chances to play in that sandbox. It’s both thrilling and terrifying, because usually as a writer, you have no idea whether a project will ever get made, or if viewers will have any interest in tuning in. When you’re working within the MCU, you know that millions of hardcore fans are going to be watching and scrutinizing and hyper-analyzing every second of your show, so it definitely adds an extra layer of pressure to get it right.
- I read that your initial script for Fantastic Four was truer to the comics than what we saw in the finished film, what can you share about what we would’ve seen from your script?
Yeah, I think my original script was probably a little too close to the MCU in tone. I think the grounded, real-world stuff in the beginning was the portion of the script that Josh Trank truly responded to, so they ultimately threw out the last eighty pages or so and just expanded upon our opening as much as they could.
The stuff that got thrown out was much more “comic book-y” in nature. If I remember right, Doom took control of Latveria and sent a bunch of Doombot assassins to attack the Baxter Building. In the chaos, one of Dr. Molevic’s “mole monsters” was set free and grew to an enormous size, so we basically recreated the cover of Fantastic Four #1 during their battle. Reed was arrested in the aftermath, and Ben was dropped into Latveria to stop Doom.
When he failed, Sue and Johnny broke Reed out of prison and they traveled to Latveria for a big, “Saving Private Ryan-esque” battle against an army of Doombots. We also had some cool cameos and end-credit teases for Annihilus, Silver Surfer and Galactus, setting up storylines for an eventual trilogy. I personally thought the script was a lot of fun, but it clearly wasn’t the right tone for Josh or Fox. It happens.
- With Moon Knight’s mental health being a key character trait and mental health awareness being a more conscious topic these days. Did you take any steps/research to represent his mental illness without falling into the stigma of mental illness?
We knew from the start that we would be featuring a fictionalized version of Dissociative Identity Disorder, but it was still important to us to get the details as accurate as we possibly could within the framework of our story. I also felt a tremendous amount of pressure in terms of the messaging of our show. We’re creating something that will be seen by millions of viewers, some of whom are no doubt struggling with their own issues and problems, and so it was important that our show features a message that’s ultimately positive and helpful.
The last thing I would ever want to do is release something into the universe that accidentally causes harm to some kid somewhere. And Disney and Marvel were incredibly supportive of that goal, and they brought in multiple mental health and cultural specialists and professionals to speak to our writers room and review our scripts in progress. I had a tremendous team of writers at my back, and we all took our responsibility seriously.
- Speaking of Moon Knight’s mental health. We see in the trailer that he is very much dealing with his dissociative identity disorder. What can we expect to see from his different personalities and his dealing with DID?
There’s not a lot that I’m allowed to say, because our show is structured like a mystery, and I want to let the viewers experience those twists and turns for themselves. But if you’ve seen the trailer, you already know that these aren’t the prototypical versions of Marc Spector and Steven Grant that you might recognize from the comics.
We’re pulling various elements and ideas from a bunch of incredible Moon Knight runs, and I think fans are going to be surprised by how it all comes together.
- You have some exciting projects coming up! We absolutely loved Mortal Kombat and are excited to hear the sequel got greenlit. Anything you can share about your plans or what you would like to bring to the sequel? A particular realm perhaps?
We’re still in the early stages of planning out our story, so at the moment nothing is locked in stone. But my goal is always to preserve the elements that people enjoyed from the first movie while asking “How can we top this? How can we show the fans something new?” We know that a tournament is coming, with the fate of Earth hanging in the balance.
We also know there are several beloved characters that the fans are simply dying to see onscreen. It’s such a great world with such expansive lore, and I think we’re all just really excited to create a sequel that surpasses the original in every way.
- Another project I am excited to hear more about is Thread. You and James Wan are cooking something up that has been kept under wraps, but I heard it being described as Back to the Future meets Aliens. Is there absolutely anything you can share with myself and other horror fans about the project?
Absolutely! THREAD is the story of a married couple who are given the chance to correct a past mistake, but in doing so they attract the wrong kind of supernatural attention.
I’ve been dying to get behind the camera for years now, and this finally felt like the right time. I also knew this might be the only shot I get to direct, so I wanted to make sure my first film contained everything I love about movies: humor, horror, romance, great action, monsters… I threw it all in a blender and this is what popped out. It’s my favorite script I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait to start sharing casting news and more details.
- Lastly, I see you are attached to the Fables project. I know it has been a while since I heard an update, and I am sure myself and many fans are very much still hoping we see the graphic novel get adapted. Any update you can give us on the development?
Oh God, I have no idea. I’d imagine it’s probably still in development somewhere, but I highly doubt anything remains from my original script. I actually don’t even know if Warner Bros ever read my script, since the director did his own rewrite and radically changed the tone and story. It was really disappointing, because I love Bill Willingham’s series, and I thought we were making something that was respectful to his characters and imagination while still being really commercial and cool. But nothing is ever dead in this town, so who knows. I’m sure Fables will live again at some point, and I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket!
- I want to thank you for your time, Jeremy, and I hope we can do this again in the future. Anything you would like to share with your fans?
Thanks for doing this! I hope you guys dig Moon Knight, and I can’t wait to share more information about Thread in the near future!
Thank you Jeremy for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to Moon Knight next month and definitely cannot wait to hear more about Thread!