Kevin Smith wants to take “Clerks III” on the road, has ideas for a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) portrayal, expects to return to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and is doing amazing things with the Vancouver Film School.
Fans of “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” were treated to a live roadshow and Q&A with stars Smith and Mewes. But now in a new interview, Smith confirms plans to take “Clerks II” on the road.
“That’s the ultimate plan. My God, it was successful, but it was also just fun,” Smith tells ET Canada. “Every night I’d watch the movie with them and do a Q&A afterwards. It was so beautiful. They loved the movie, I love the movie, so it was a mutual lovefest. As we were doing that, I was like, ‘We are definitely doing this with ‘Clerks III’, if we get to make it.’ Granted, that was before any of us heard the word COVID and that has changed things a great deal.”
“I’m hoping by the time we are hoping to tour the movie, which would be sometime early or mid-next year, that more people have decided to take the free vaccines that are offered to them and perhaps we can all come out and play and all gather in an indoor space and watch the movie together,” he adds. “Hopefully, by the time we’re ready to take her out into the world, which we absolutely will, people will feel much better about going out to see a movie.”
Smith has been weaving his various movies, such as “Clerks” and “Mallrats” into one another as part of the View Askewniverse for decades. The MCU has confirmed the appetite for nostalgia and inside information through its extended movie universe, something Smith used to get a lot of flack for.
“I know it’s the fashion right now to be like, ‘Look, there’s the thing that’s like the thing!’ You pop that into a trailer, You show an image from another movie in a trailer and people are like, ‘Oh, take all my money. Nostalgia., nostalgia.’ But to be fair, I’ve been doing it since the second movie,” he says. “Since ‘Mallrats’, we’ve been connecting back to the other movies and stuff.”
“When I saw what Marvel was getting away with, I was like, ‘Oh!’ Cause I remember when I was making movies, the criticism I would always get from the studio side was, ‘Must you have all these references to the other movies?'”
Smith says movie studios used to be under the impression that having inside jokes and easter eggs would alienate new viewers. The renowned director suggests rewarding attentive fans is important so long as you can still tell an isolated story.
“Their philosophy was, ‘You’re in a movie theatre, you’re watching the movie and only 25 per cent of the audience laughs and you don’t understand why they’re laughing, maybe that takes you out of the movie and you won’t like it as much as you would.’ Specious logic at best but that’s what was used on me all the time from the studio side… But that’s the world we live in now. If you can build a universe and reference back, callbacks to other films in a series, that’s big money and kind of an art form at this point.”
“So I was well-positioned for this time in life because I’ve always been connecting the movies through-and-through. There’s always a balance. There are enough references where people who have watched the previous movies feel like we were looking out for them, they were rewarded and stuff. But you always have to make it user-friendly for somebody who’s like, ‘I don’t know what a clerk or a mallrat is. What is this?'”
Speaking of Marvel, Smith recently explained how he doesn’t have the interest or scope to direct major MCU blockbuster movies. He would, however, love to sign up for a cameo or supporting role if Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige comes calling.
“As we’re heading into ‘Fantastic Four’ world soon, Willie Lumpkin, the mailman who Stan [Lee] played in the other ‘Fantastic Four’ movies. That’s a character who doesn’t get into any trouble. He pops in, delivers the mail. Maybe he gets involved in an adventure here or there. That’s my speed,” he shares. “If Kevin Feige was like, ‘We need you to pull a Lumpkin for us,’ I would pull a Lumpkin all damn day. Which sounds way dirtier than I meant it. But no hero.”
“I never read the comics and think, ‘Ah! Moonlight. That’s who I am.’ No. At best, we’ve had two Foggy Nelsons in the world of Daredevil. One was Jon Favreau and then one was the kid from ‘The Mighty Ducks’ [Elden Henson] who was in the Netflix version of the show. That’s a character that is kind of my speed if they were ever to do another iteration of ‘Daredevil’. That’s honestly the only way I could see myself at home in the Marvel Universe if I was cameoing or had a bit part. That would be worth more to me than directing an entire movie.”
One comic book character Smith believes is primed for a transition to the big screen is The Question.
“Hands down, there’s a character over at DC Comics called The Question,” the filmmaker shares. “It’s a visually interesting character who puts this puddy on his face, releases a gas and the puddy adheres. The mask removes all his features. He looks like a human being but he’s missing eyes, nose holes, no mouth, no earholes. Everything is just action figure bland.”
“I always thought you could make a film noir that’s pretty poppin’ with The Question,” he elaborates. “The allure of Batman has always been, ‘Can you imagine how terrifying if you were a criminal in an alleyway and this guy in a giant Batsuit showed up behind you?’… That’s not as terrifying to me as you’re in an alleyway committing a crime, you turn around and there’s a guy with no face who starts beating the s**t out of you. Not only are you being brought to justice, but you’re being brought to justice by a horror movie, for heaven’s sake.”
New Jersey-native Smith briefly attended Vancouver Film School (VFS) prior to making “Clerks”. Smith travelled to Vancouver in late September to host a live Q&A event with students, alumni and staff titled, “JUST F*#CKING CREATE”. VFS also launched the Kevin Smith Ambassador scholarship that covers all creative programs at the school.
“I was able to go up to my alma mater, Vancouver Film School, and do a speaking gig, which is something I always dreamed of when I went there,” Smith explains. “Going up on stage and leading the class, as opposed to sitting in the class. It was a wonderful homecoming for me because, without that school, I don’t make ‘Clerks’. It’s that simple. Canada and particularly Vancouver was the bridge to my entire future.”
Smith was pleased to see a wide demographic of students, both young and old.
“Some of them are grown-ass adults, which is always nice to see. You’re never too late in life to pursue your passion. Even if you’re 50 or 60-years-old, you can still take those classes and finally make that movie you’ve always dreamed about making. It was wonderful. It was a great experience to go up… I told them I’d come back once a month if they wanted me to.“
Smith was especially delighted to meet one of the scholarship recipients.
“The scholarship they have been doing now for a couple of years. That always blew my mind because I was a kid who couldn’t afford to go to VFS,” he says. “They didn’t have scholarships, I took a student loan out and I borrowed money from relatives.”
“While I was up there doing the VFS show, afterwards as I was leaving, there was a lady outside who was like, ‘I got your scholarship.’ We took a picture and I saw it online. She was an Indigenous woman. I was like, ‘Oh my God, they’re giving it to all the right people.'”
Fans in Vancouver won’t have to wait long to see Smith, as he expects to make an appearance in November for a screening of the “Clerk” documentary by filmmaker Malcolm Ingram.
“I think I’m coming up in November to do a screening of ‘Clerk’ the documentary about me at the Rio. So I’m going to be there very, very soon.”
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) October 2, 2019
Smith is a lifelong pro-wrestling fan and appeared alongside collaborator Jason Mewes on TNT’s debut episode of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) Dynamite in 2019. A close friend of Canadian wrestler Chris Jericho, Smith hopes to make another AEW appearance in the leadup to “Clerks III”.
“In a heartbeat, I would go back,” Smith says. “I love Jericho. So anything he needs from me, I’ll happily go do. I imagine we’ll kind of jump back out into the ring when it’s around ‘Clerks III’ time. As we saw recently, Rosario [Dawson] got involved which was pretty awesome.
“AEW does it very artfully,” he adds of celebrity crossovers. “It doesn’t feel like, ‘Oh this guy is doing it to reach a brand new audience.’ It feels like they’re doing it because it’s part of the fun.”
— B/R Wrestling (@BRWrestling) September 16, 2021
Companies like AEW, Impact Wrestling and WWE have begun utilizing “cinematic matches” — pro-wrestling matches pre-taped in various locations and shot like action movies — more frequently. Smith, whose directing credits date back to 1992, welcomes the new format of production.
“Pretty incredible,” he says. “Think about it. The sport has been around long enough that you’ve seen every variation that there is to see in terms of storylines and action. It’s a foregone conclusion that sooner or later they would be like, ‘Let’s make it a movie, for heaven’s sake…’ They can do it every week on the show. They have some of the best writers in the business, some of the most creative and whatnot. Writing dialogue on the fly in many cases.”
“I feel like we’re going to see a lot more cinematic [matches]. Not just cinematic, but multimedia takes on a sport that we’ve seen presented the same way since it became a cable phenomenon. How do you keep them in your seats after all these years? You always have new crops of people coming in, but how do you keep the old f**kers sitting around? You start showing them some new things. You start showing them a version of what they are achingly familiar with that can reinvigorate their interest all over again. Why not make it look good? We’re talking about film and entertainment, take your time and throw up some lights and you’re going to have something that looks as good as something you’d see in a movie theatre.”