The writer and artist of Iron Fist: The Living Weapon cuts to the core of Danny Rand, his own film direction career and more!
A seasoned comic book veteran who has tackled the likes of Spider-Man, The Hulk and Wolverine among others, Kaare Andrews has recently taken on the challenge of both writing and drawing the martial arts exploits of Danny Rand in IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON. Meanwhile, Andrews has also broken into the world of film, directing “Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero,” the third installment in that franchise and his second full-length feature.
We recently spoke with Kaare about the film, comics, how he juggles both and much more!
Marvel.com: First off, tell fans the premise of “Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero.” And I must note before we start, the cinematography was fantastic. Where did you get that feel?
Kaare Andrews: The premise of the film is a story that takes place kind of concurrently to the original “Cabin Fever” movie. It’s about a flesh eating virus that escapes into the world and the different people that deal with it. This one specifically deals with one man who is immune to the virus who may or may not be Patient Zero, which would be the originator of the virus. We don’t really know. And in terms of the look and feel, I work with a [Director of Photography] that I really love, Norm Li, and I’m a bit of a photographer myself and we have a lot of shared aesthetic and a lot of things that I love about filmmaking and one of them is the visual presentation of the images and imagery and controlling not only photography but the post production process in terms of color correction and visual effects and all that stuff. It’s really fun to play with the visuals of film.
Marvel.com: And this is your second full length, I believe?
Kaare Andrews: Yeah, my second full length-feature. In between, I did a small segment for an anthology film called “ABCs of Death.” The letter “V” for “Vagitus,” which is the cries of a newborn baby; it’s an old Latin term. And then I’ve always done a couple of music videos and I did a live action pilot for the Cartoon Network. Kids with super powers. It didn’t get picked up but that was actually my very first professional job, that TV pilot, so it might be fun to journey back into those waters at some point.
Marvel.com: Were you a big fan of the “Cabin Fever” films prior to this?
Kaare Andrews: I was a big fan of the first “Cabin Fever” film for sure. I watched the fairy tale story of the young filmmaker who started getting a lot of hype and ended up selling his film at the Toronto Film Festival and I was kind of onboard that whole journey myself and then I saw the movie in theaters with my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, and I bought the DVD and loved it, devoured all the special features. That film was right when I was trying to first become a filmmaker and I think it really spoke to me not only like it was a fun film but I really felt a sort of kinship towards Eli Roth towards that stage of his career because he was a little ahead of me and this was his first film and I was hoping to one day have my first film. So I really paid attention to it so it was interesting and fun to get offered the job later on.
Marvel.com: Did Eli have any say in the process?
Kaare Andrews: He was not really involved in the process. The extent of my conversation with Eli was he wrote me a very nice e-mail right before I started my work just wishing me good luck and saying how excited he was and kind of letting me know that the “Cabin Fever” franchise could withstand any and all crazy that we could throw at it so to create with abandon and don’t worry about doing anything wrong. It’s such a strange universe that anything can exist in it and just have fun.
Marvel.com: Why would Marvel fans want to go see this movie?
Kaare Andrews: My whole life I’ve been a fan of not just one thing but many things of nerd-dom. Whether it’s comics or video games or toys, I’ve always thought they were the same thing, especially when I was a kid. There was no difference between them. I didn’t look at a comic book differently than I did a cartoon or a toy or an action figure or even a movie. So once I established myself in the field of comics, I allowed myself to grow professionally into those other areas. And now, again, I feel like I’m treating all those different genres of art making as the same thing. And I don’t think of them as barriers anymore. So I think if you’re a fan of Marvel comics, you’re probably a fan of movies and it might be interesting to see a multi-hyphenate like myself tackle the two in different ways.
The funny thing is, in movies, it’s such a young career for me. It really is very early in my directing career where in comics I’ve been working professionally for so long now. It’s interesting to be in two different fields at two very different levels of, I don’t know how to term this, but station. Levels of what I’m allowed to do, what I’m supported to do, you know. Marvel’s been so awesome, I always love working with Marvel. I’ve really been supported a lot to the point where I’m trusted to write and draw a book and really take complete ownership of the character. And in films it’s such a young career for me, I haven’t really had that chance yet to own a movie like I can a comic book but it really feels to me like when I direct a movie like “Cabin Fever,” it really feels like I’m back in time drawing my very first comic book series for some crazy publisher out of Hong Kong or something. It’s a weird deja-vu type feeling often.
Marvel.com: How were you approached to work on IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON? Did you come up with a pitch or was it offered to you?
Kaare Andrews: Well, it was right after “Cabin Fever,” so when I go and do a movie, I have to take a fairly long hiatus from comic books. Up to a year, basically, because the hours of film production are just so intense and the hours of post-production are even longer than production and so intense. It’s maybe not quite a year but almost a year. I’ve had to do that twice now and so when I was coming back I had a lot of pent up energy and I had a conversation with [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso about what I might want to do and he had some ideas about maybe drawing an event title or something like that. But I had just written and drawn A+X and AVX: VS. [stories] and I really hadn’t written a big story for a comic book since SPIDER-MAN: REIGN which was many years ago. I had been spending most of my writing energies in the film world the past few years and I just had a lot of pent up energy to just write a comic book again and really write something. So Axel let me know what new titles they were thinking of pursuing, what might be available and asked me if I had any response to any of the characters or any ideas for them to kind of come up with a pitch and I immediately responded to Iron Fist and I said, “Let me just think about this, let me take some time.”
I went and read the very first issues of Iron Fist from the 70’s, MARVEL PREMIERE #15 and I had never read those original stories before and I was so excited and inspired by how dark and how he really had the darkest origin story of any super hero I’ve ever read of all time my entire life of reading comic books. His father leads him into the Himalayan Mountains where he’s basically thrown off a cliff and his business partner tries to seduce his mother. Once she rejects his advances, he leaves them to die in the wilderness and she gets eaten by wolves in front of this young guy’s eyes and he gets taken into this mystical city and decides not to become a better person or save the world or right the wrongs of mankind but to train 10 years to become a living weapon only to hunt down the killer of his parents and then kill them.
It was like the darkest. It was really amazing and I hadn’t really seen that take of Iron Fist in a long time and I was instantly inspired and intrigued and had a lot of ideas. I pitched to Axel and he was excited about what I pitched to him and so we just jumped straight into it and we started working.
Marvel.com: Was it important for you to write and draw the series?
Kaare Andrews: For this one, yeah. Like I said, I had so much built up writing energy. The funny thing about film is the average—this is only the average—the average time from first draft to production is seven years. And that’s just the average journey of a film. That’s not even like, “Oh, this one’s taking a little bit longer.” [Laughs]
When you write these screenplays, often times you feel that you’re never finished. Until it’s made and seen, it doesn’t feel birthed. So after a certain amount of screenplays that you write, you just feel a lot of manic energy because it’s like you have a lot of work that feels unfinished even though you’ve invested years or whatever into these projects. And so I had all of this writing energy and I just wanted an outlet. I love comic books so much and it’s so rewarding in a comic book to just be able to take control of everything in a way that you can’t with film. I couldn’t just make a film, on my own, one-man band, but I can a comic book. I just had all this energy and was like: I just need to write a comic book next. I did SPIDER-MAN: REIGN and it was pretty successful and I got some offers to maybe do other projects and instead I chose to work with some of my favorite writers and just follow their lead and have fun with that. Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Zeb Wells; that was pretty cool. It just got to a point where, again, I have some things I need to say and I need to do this. Iron Fist, like I said, I was so inspired from that original storyline, maybe the darkest super hero origin of all time. It was just so fun. I get into a little bit of mischief sometimes and I knew that I could get into a lot of trouble with this book, and in a good way, so focus all that energy into creating a new storyline.
Marvel.com: What are your plans for the series? What kind of mark do you want to leave on Iron Fist?
Kaare Andrews: That’s a good question. I guess I don’t really look upon it on those terms. I’m not really looking at the book like, “What is going to be my legacy of Iron Fist?” “How am I going to define the character of Iron Fist?”
I think that’s totally an appropriate way you can look at a project as a creator and a legitimate way of thinking but I don’t think Iron Fist is known enough, I don’t think he’s well enough established for me to think in those terms. I can think in those terms for Spider-Man and I had thoughts like that during SPIDER-MAN: REIGN. “Oh, this is going to be my best take on this thing of Spider-Man.” He’s established; he is a thing. He’s a real archetype that everyone knows and everyone understands and any little push, any little redefinition of any aspect of his character I can own and call my own. But I don’t think Iron Fist has that fan base. People don’t know who he is. He’s not established enough. People loved, myself included, the [Ed] Brubaker/[Matt]Fraction/[David] Aja run that happened about seven or eight years ago [on IMMORTAL IRON FIST]. There’s people who love the [Chris] Claremont/[John] Byrne stuff and people who loved the original series but he is not known well enough, I think, to think in those terms. So it wasn’t me being necessarily, “How am I going to reshape this character?” It was more like, “What do I find exciting about this character, and what’s going to get me excited to create?” On those terms, the creation alone is probably a healthier way to approach a project. Like, what’s going to get me excited to draw these pages and have fun with these kinds of ideas and concepts that come with this character.
So I was very interested in this whole idea of, in that first initial storyline, he’s offered a reprieve from his quest for vengeance. K’un-L’un has a 10 year cycle and is going to make contact with the Earth again and he is prepped for vengeance. He has become a super hero living weapon and he is ready to kill a man. This is a super hero, mind you, not a super villain. He wants to hunt down and kill a man and the Yu-Ti of K’un-L’un asks him, “Listen, would you think about abandoning this selfish quest for vengeance and instead of choosing death, eat this fruit, stay with us, become immortal, live as a god in heaven, a literal immortal, and all you have to do is grow up and not be trapped in this vengeance cycle.” And he’s like, “Uh-uh. I’m going to Earth,” and he literally refuses life and literally chooses death. And to me, that was such a cool, crazy thing to do, to have a character literally do that. Literally, not even metaphorically, literally. I thought there’s so much I can do with that choice. Once that choice is a literal thing then there will be literal consequences.
What happens? If someone was able to [make] a choice of life or death and you chose death, what does that mean? It means at some point you might have a hard time connecting with the living and life and the good things and the healthy things and at some point maybe you’ll be cut-off from those feelings, maybe consumed by those feelings. There are consequences for those actions and it just seems like so many consequences could arise from that decision. My main goal was to be like, those choices are going to catch up with him now and everything that it means to refuse life and to choose death. That’s coming for Danny whether he’s ready or not.