Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux
was a director for the Nickelodeon series Rugrats
when he first came up with the idea for Aeon Flux
. Set in the future and following a character who is one part nihilistic assassin and one part sexually charged vixen, TV's Aeon
was a slight departure from the adventures of mischievous talking babies. Ultimately, it would become Chung's contribution to MTV's experiment in adult-oriented animation called Liquid Television and would earn its own series of full-length episodes. A decade later the slinky shooter is set to make her big-screen debut in Aeon Flux
, with Charlize Theron
filling the title role.
Chung's original intention with Aeon Flux
was to fulfill his concept of what animation for adults should be. Inspired by European comic books and the films of Stanley Kubrick
, he wanted to push conventional approaches to storytelling and character development to the extreme. Rather than setting the show in a dark atmospheric world like most comics, Chung's stark and descriptive future holds to what he describes as an "anti-mood."
When asked by TVGuide.com how he would introduce Aeon
to someone who hasn't seen the shorts or the series, Chung pauses and reluctantly offers: "It was an academic exercise in using mass media to convey one animator's obsessions and abnormal proclivities."
We then ask, "So it's not just a hot chick running around shooting people?"
He responds, "It's that, too. That's one of the abnormal proclivities of this animator."
Those proclivities seem to be widespread. Aeon Flux
has spawned a cult following, influenced franchises like Tomb Raider
and Resident Evil
, and spurred Paramount and MTV Films to turn the animated series into Theron's live-action film.
However, don't expect the movie's creators to have the same sort of maverick sensibility as Aeon
's creator. Employing subversive themes and irregular story structure is rare in big-budget Hollywood endeavors, and from what Chung can tell from the drafts of the script he has seen, the silver-screen incarnation won't be taking those chances.
"The movie is not like the TV show. It's definitely been toned down," Chung warns. "The movie is really for people who haven't seen the show. They had this on their shelf and they were looking for some futuristic action movie. MTV Films had never done anything like this before. They'd basically done low-budget independent films and comedies. I think they wanted to try their hand at doing something on a bigger scale."
Chung's input didn't factor into that large-scale effort. Other than a few script notes he passed on to the filmmakers — notes he claims that they "really didn't pay that much attention to" — Chung was not a part of the production. In fact, he actually had different hopes for the property.
"I wanted to make an animated feature. That's what I lobbied for. I wasn't really sure if the fans of the show wanted to see a live-action version. I think [MTV's] thinking was, 'We're not going to just make a movie that's for fans of the show. We want to really open this up to a wider audience.' I guess they figured that live action was the way to do that."
That logic will be tested in theaters around the country this weekend. For a more "Chung-ian" interpretation of Aeon Flux
, consult the episode commentaries and making-of documentaries included in the DVD collection of the complete animated series, which hit stores on Nov. 22.