Rebooting a Franchise: Who is James Bond?

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As it happens, I am not actually a massive fan of James Bond; I’ve seen one of the films (Skyfall; competently made and engaging enough, but not stunning) but I’ve not read any of the books. It’s one of those franchises that I respect from afar, rather than ever really engaging with.

Still, though, something I am interested in is this whole climate that’s grown up of reboots and restarts and remakes, and Bond is a franchise that is interesting in that regard; it’s one where recasting the lead is a fairly frequent occurrence, but the majority of the time it’s been done as a soft reboot rather than anything else. (Think Ed Norton to Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers, as opposed to Christian Bale to Ben Affleck in Batman vs Superman.)

Previously, the recasting of Bond has been something that’s just done, and ignored – you know, like, “George Lazenby is James Bond now, don’t question it, just get on with it”. And, you know, fair enough – it’s worked very well for them so far – but I’m interested in what might happen were the recasting made into the central conceit, and main selling point, of the movie.

What if, when watching the new movie, you didn’t know who Bond was?

Okay, so, hear me out. You know how James Bond is a spy, yes? I know typically we see him doing more of an action-y sort of thing, but for the film I have in mind, we’ll begin with him undercover, doing some infiltration work at a glitzy party (it can, obviously, give way to action scenes later, but I like the possibility of a tense, slow burn thriller.)

But, like I said: what if we didn’t know who Bond was? We’re beginning with him undercover, so there’s no reason why we have to know which of our glamourous party guests is Bond, right?

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This is something that Eon (or whoever it is now, I think Eon has lost the rights) would emphasise in the marketing campaign, leading up to the film’s release.

A poster for each of our potential Bonds, and four different trailers – each one implying a different candidate for the title role. One trailer for Idris Elba; one trailer for Ian De Caestecker; one trailer for Lara Pulver, and one trailer for Alexander Siddig. (Which is not to say that I’m advocating any particular one of them for Bond, but more that there needs to be variety in these choices; it doesn’t work if they’re all generic, square jawed action stars.)

There are dual benefits to this, I think.

Obviously, from the point of view of Eon (or whoever), it should work out pretty well; if they push the “Who is James Bond?” campaign really well, they can get people genuinely invested in it, and that should hopefully result in a wider audience turn out, because people really want to find out who it is. You’d also have the extra free marketing as it creates more of a social media buzz, and leads to more interest – you know, people saying who they hope it is, digging in and analysing it, etc etc.

I also believe, from a story point of view, this would actually be a really unique and exciting movie. If you’re going into it with all that context, it’ll be more than just another action movie – I know that I personally would find it to be a much more tense affair in general.

There’s a lot of different ways you can go with the story, incidentally; I think probably you’d kill one of the potential Bonds early on, just to ratchet up the tension a little. Maybe you’d have a bit of a fake out, seemingly confirming that one candidate is Bond, before revealing they’re Alec Trevelyan, AKA 006. I do think, though, you’ll have to reveal who Bond is by around the end of Act Two, just because we need to see Bond being Bond, and the mystery can’t be sustained forever.

(Tempting though it would be to kill off all potential candidates in the opening 5 minutes and then introduce a new guy, that’s probably actually a very bad idea for numerous reasons. Absolutely hilarious, mind you.)

Still! That concludes my pitch for the first post-Daniel Craig James Bond movie. He’s probably still got one more left, doesn’t he?

Let’s say, then, that this is going to come out in 2020, featuring various new and exciting actors, directed by the Russo brothers, and written by me. It shall be called Bond, because I like the simplicity, and the mystery it evokes.

What do you think?

Related:

Forget a James Bond movie – television should be 007’s new home

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On the identity of Kylo Ren

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So, I watched The Force Awakens again recently; I maintain my original judgement, that it’s a fun film with great characters, but ultimately a very derivative plot. Interestingly, I’m pretty sure most of the people there were also rewatching it; there were no big laughs at any of the moments there were the first time around, so I’m assuming that was because the other people there were anticipating the jokes, rather than that they didn’t find it funny. Glad to see lots of people liked it enough to watch it twice (or thrice!), in any case.

There was, though, one sticking point for me, and that was the identity of Kylo Ren – or, more specifically, how it was revealed to us.

From this point on there will be spoilers.

Consider, if we jump back to 1980 for a moment, The Empire Strikes Back. Everyone is familiar with the twist which takes place at the end of the movie, of course – Darth Vader is Luke’s father. That’s thought to be one of the most impactful moments in cinematic history, and it’s certainly one of the most memorable; you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t know that Luke is Darth Vader’s son. (Which, I suppose, is something of a shame, because it means it’s rare that people are able to actually experience the twist. But that’s beside the point.)

Part of the reason why this is such an effective reveal is the way we come to learn the information – it’s built up as a surprise, and delivered during an already tense moment. It was foreshadowed previously; Darth Vader and the Emperor have a conversation about “the son of Skywalker”, but they never get any more specific than that.

You can see it here. (Incidentally, there’s a rather clever moment where the Emperor says to Darth Vader “Search your feelings; you know it to be true”, which is echoed later on, as Darth Vader says the same to Luke upon revealing his identity as Anakin Skywalker.)

In any case, though, what’s crucial is that the Emperor doesn’t simply say “your son”, or “the son of your former self, Anakin Skywalker”, or anything that would pre-empt the coming reveal. The exposition is built up as a dramatic moment, rather than as a piece of throw-away dialogue (which is, notably, the problem in Revenge of the Sith when we learn Palpatine is Darth Sidious).

In The Force Awakens, though, we have an almost complete reversal of this scene – rather than saving the revelation of Kylo Ren’s identity for his confrontation with Han Solo on the bridge, Supreme Leader Snoke says something along the lines of (and look seriously spoilers!) “Han Solo… your father”. This is very much not a big reveal – there’s no big gasps from the audience, there’s no shock or surprise. It’s just not structured as a reveal.

I suppose in some ways that makes sense; in The Empire Strikes Back, this information was a reveal to Luke as well. Here, all the characters know the information already – it’s not a surprise to Snoke or Kylo Ren or Han. Why, then, structure it as such? Well… for the audience. After all, if it’s not going to be structured as a reveal to us, why Kylo Ren? Why not just tell us in the lead up to the movie? Announce Adam Driver as Ben Solo, Han and Leia’s son?

Because a twist reveal is just more fun, to be honest. But what we got didn’t really function as a twist reveal.

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So, let’s structure it thus: we remove any reference to Kylo as Han and Leia’s son until the final confrontation on the bridge. Prior to this, you can just keep it vague; Han can say things like “I saw him, Leia. I saw… Kylo Ren” and Leia can respond with “I wish you wouldn’t call him that”, to which Han responds “That’s who he is now. That’s all he is now” and suchlike. We don’t reveal who he really is until Han calls him by his true name on the bridge – and, hey, that becomes a cool character moment for Han too, because it’s a more overt symbol of how he’s trying to connect with his son, in that it’s the first time we see Han acknowledge Kylo as his son.

But… if we’re going to go for a big reveal, why not push it further? Let’s see if we can top The Empire Strikes Back.

You know what I thought was kinda silly? Naming Han and Leia’s son Ben. I could buy Luke naming his son Ben, but Han and Leia were more likely to call their child Lando or Chewy – Han barely knew Obi-Wan, and didn’t exactly seem to like him, and I’m not convinced Leia had even met Obi-Wan. It was fan service that didn’t really land properly, in terms of the actual characters.

You know what they might name their child, though?

Luke.

So let’s run with that, and take a page from the book of the speculators and theorists: we’re going to have a fake out, and imply that Kylo Ren is Luke Skywalker, fallen to the dark side.

We’ll modify some of the earlier dialogue; Han can say things like “I thought I knew him” when Rey and Finn ask about Luke Skywalker. Han and Leia’s conversation would be more “To him, I was just family. But you were his best friend. You can reach him.” We’d also, I think, add in the idea that Leia doesn’t know exactly what happened to Luke, and make it seem that Han does – he can disparage the idea of looking for a map, saying that they might not like what they find, that sort of thing. Obviously Han doesn’t, but we want to preserve the eventual reveal.

Then, on the bridge, rather than calling out Ben, Han will say “Luke!”.

And everyone in the audience is shocked! They gasp! What a surprise… and how confusing it is when Kylo Ren removes his mask (it’d have to be the first time, so earlier scenes would need rewriting) and we don’t see Mark Hamill, but… Adam Driver? (Obviously, they wouldn’t have announced the casting of Adam Driver ahead of time.)

The conversation between Han and Ben Luke Solo will go similarly, but removing any outright references to how they know each other, until… this mysterious other Luke stabs Han. And as the music swells, and Han strokes Luke’s face, he says:

“I love you, son.” “I know, father.”

And then, with that callback to one of Han’s most iconic moments, we learn the true identity of Kylo Ren.

That, I think, is a lot more impactful than Andy Serkis’ throwaway exposition.

Related:

Star Wars Retrospective: Rewriting the Prequels

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Star Wars Retrospective: Rewriting the Prequels

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It is a truth, almost universally acknowledged, that the Star Wars prequel trilogy suffered from flawed execution. There’s debate as to whether or not the actual basic plot is any good; personally, I think it is, and with some refinement, the movies could have been perfect.

With that in mind, then, we’re going to engage in a little bit of dramaturgery. It’s like “dramaturgy”, but with surgical elements, because we’re fixing the movie. In this instance, an important stipulation remains: I’m going to try and adhere as closely to what’s laid out in the prequels as I can, without making too many major changes. The idea is to adjust character arcs, and individual aspects of the plot, to give us a movie trilogy which could still believably have been something we’d see on screen. For the most part, then, my prequel trilogy will still mirror the originals; we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were. (Mind you, if you are interested in some more dramatic departures and rewrites, I’d suggest checking out some of these reddit threads, which have some pretty cool ideas in them.)

The Phantom Menace

Primarily, the changes I’d make are ones which would impact the later films, in the hopes of bringing together a stronger prequel trilogy overall. For the most part, I did enjoy The Phantom Menace, after all. There are three key areas I’d want to change, though: Padme and Anakin, the Jedi Order, and the Trade Federation.

For Padme and Anakin, it’s largely just a case of simplifying and streamlining. I’d make Padme senator from the beginning, and excise the Keira Knightley plotline. Also, I’d try to make Padme a lot more proactive, as a character; there are elements of this in The Phantom Menace, but I’d want to play that up a lot more. Anakin I think should be aged up a little bit; it’s not that I had a problem with Jake Lloyd, but I think that an older Anakin (played by the same actor across all three films) will give us the opportunity to get to know the character much better. Anakin would need to be rewritten somewhat too – more Han Solo, less whiny brat – but I’ll cover that some more in Attack of the Clones. I also think it’s important for him to have some scenes with Obi-Wan, because their friendship is a really important thematic thread throughout the prequels. Anakin and Padme will need a lot of scenes together, too, to establish some chemistry and a close bond between them.

(Oh, and Anakin should build R2-D2, and C3PO should be one of Padme’s droids. That makes a little more sense.)

The Jedi Order, then. Two principal changes here, both of which are really presented in terms of Qui-Gonn Jinn. I’d emphasis the fact that Qui-Gonn is a bit of a maverick, and doesn’t necessarily agree with the Jedi council on a lot of things – or, really, anything. Perhaps he’s the only Jedi with the rank of Master who isn’t on the Council, because he consistently makes a nuisance of himself. It’s something that’s touched on a little bit, with his insistence over training Anakin, but once again, I’d want to emphasis it, just to make it a little more obvious. The second change would be in the presentation of the prophecy of the Chosen One; I actually like this idea, just not so much how it was used.

In The Phantom Menace, we’ll have prophecy as a secret; something Qui-Gonn knows about, and something the Jedi Council knows about, but it’s kept secret from the audience. When Qui-Gonn is trying to convince the Jedi Council to let him train Anakin, Obi-Wan and Anakin will be sat outside, and we can watch scenes of them bonding. Even when the council does eventually let Obi-Wan train Anakin, they don’t tell him why Qui-Gonn wanted to train the boy so much.

(Also, Mace Windu leads the Jedi Council. I’m not sure if Yoda would necessarily be in this film, but we’re positioning him more as… more Pope Emeritus than Pope, if you like. Yoda is trusted advisor and weirdo hermit, who’s trained lots of Jedi over the years, but isn’t the leader of the council. He has been in the past, but not for the last century or so.)

With regards to the Trade Federation… I’d alter the plot to make them Separatists. It establishes the basis of the conflict in the next movie, for one thing, and gives us a central plot across all three films: the Separatists vs the Republic. I think it’d also be worth changing Naboo to Alderann; Senator Amidala of Alderann is going to have a greater emotional impact, I think, given what we know from the Original Trilogy. Maybe we can introduce Bail Organa as leader of Alderann (I think Bail is a title rather than a name), and Palpatine can already be the leader of the Republic.

Oh, and Qui-Gonn isn’t going to be cut down by Darth Maul. He can lose, say, an arm or some such, and it’ll be heavily implied that he died, but all we’re going to see is him falling down the central shaft that Maul fell down. Also! Maul will appear to be working alone, without any appearances of a shady Darth Sidious type. Maul will be hunting Anakin; the implication at first will be that he’s hunting Padme, but it’s eventually revealed that he was after Anakin all along. This will serve to set up a bit of a mystery around Anakin; Qui-Gonn wants to train him, but won’t explain why. The Jedi Council don’t appear to like him, but won’t explain why. A member of a long thought dead Sith cult has appeared to try and kill Anakin, but it’s never revealed why.

The film will end with Anakin and Obi-Wan (firm friends by this stage), ready to embark on more adventures, and begin Anakin’s training… yet, at the same time, remaining in the dark about the mystery of Anakin Skywalker.

Attack of the Clones

It’s quite important to me, actually, to really emphasise that Obi-Wan and Anakin are close friends. I don’t think that Attack of the Clones did a particularly good job of doing this, so I’d want to open this film with the pair of them on some ridiculous adventure. Possibly on a jungle planet, something like that. It should take about twenty minutes tops – we’re essentially coming in at the end of another movie, watching their daring escape from whatever peril they were in.

When they’re back in their spaceship, laughing together, they can get their communication from the Jedi Council – they need to come back and help protect Senator Amidala of Alderaan, because it seems the Separatists are making attempts on her life, because of an important upcoming vote. Here we also learn of the existence of the mysterious Count Dooku, a shady figure about whom little is known, who has become leader of the Separatists in the three years since the end of The Phantom Menace.

Things proceed similarly to how they do in the actual movie for a while; attempt on Padme’s life, investigations, etc etc. It’s important that Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme all get scenes together; I want the three of them to be close friends. Think of the scene in A New Hope, after the Death Star has been destroyed, and Luke, Leia and Han are all happy together. It’s also important, of course, that we pick up where we left off with The Phantom Menace; Anakin and Padme are both very attracted to one another. It should be obvious to the audience – bluntly, Anakin and Padme should be everyone’s OTP, as it were. Every single audience member has to be saying “oh they love each other so much, I hope they can have a happy ending together!”

We’ll separate the three of them at this point; Anakin and Padme are sent to Alderann together, back to her home, and Obi-Wan continues his investigations. It’s the same as the actual movie, basically. While on Alderann, Anakin is significantly less creepy to Padme, and the pair get much closer to starting their relationship. Padme can actually suggest a relationship, but Anakin turns her down; he loves her, he knows he does, but he has a Jedi code. Obi-Wan goes off to Kamino, and finds out about the Clone Army… which was, apparently, ordered by Qui-Gonn Jinn? Shocking revelation! Obi-Wan is horrified and confused, especially since he ‘knows’ Qui-Gonn is dead.

We’re going to cut the Tattooine arc with Anakin’s mother, and continue to follow Obi-Wan to Geonosis – the base of the separatists. Then, Anakin has visions of Obi-Wan being in danger, at which point he contacts Mace Windu to let him know. Mace Windu listens to Anakin, but doesn’t really give any indication he actually gives a damn. Padme wants to go, Anakin also wants to go, but at first wants to follow his orders. In the end, though, Padme convinces him to go with her to Geonosis, similarly to the original movie.

Cut to Geonosis, where Obi-Wan is listening in on a Separatist meeting. He realises he’s in the presence of Count Dooku, the leader; the Republic has never been able to identify him before, so this is pretty important. Count Dooku is speaking, Obi-Wan is reckless, and jumps down, threatening to arrest Dooku. “Who are you?”, Obi-Wan asks, and a voice replies… “I am your master.” Dooku steps forward into the light, and we see… it’s Qui-Gonn Jinn! Older, greyer, and with a robot hand, and yet unmistakably Liam Neeson. Obi-Wan attacks him, immediately, out of rage and passion and confusion, but Qui-Gonn has him disarmed and knocked unconscious with ease.

The scene between Obi-Wan and Count Dooku from Attack of the Clones plays out similarly, except with Qui-Gonn. We learn that Qui-Gonn survived, and due to the corruption of the Jedi and the Senate (hinted at in the previous movie) he joined the Separatists and slowly rose to be their leader. Obi-Wan feels completely and utterly betrayed, because Qui-Gonn seems to be the villain. He accuses him of trying to kill Padme, Qui-Gonn has no idea what he means, but Obi-Wan thinks he’s lying. Qui-Gon leaves Obi-Wan.

We don’t have the clones, yet; Padme and Anakin rescue Obi-Wan on their own. They get him out quietly, without any confrontation, and return him to the Jedi Council. We end up with a meeting between the council, our three heroes and Palpatine. Discussion turns to the Separatists; Mace Windu suggests using the Clone Army (which belongs to the Jedi now) to attack the Separatists. Obi-Wan and Padme are against it, Anakin is hesitant to commit either way, but Palpatine is ultimately persuaded by Mace Windu.

The Jedi launch an attack on Geonosis, then. The Separatists have their droids (this is important) and the Republic have clones. I’d like it if Anakin and Obi-Wan actually got to know a pair of clones in this movie; it’s really important to humanise the clones, the same way they were in The Clone Wars cartoon, to emphasise the fact that these are still real people living and dying.

On Geonosis, the clones and droids fight; the Jedi are also involved in the fighting. Anakin and Obi-Wan are there to lead an attack on one specific part of the Separatist base, but Obi-Wan sneaks away to find Qui-Gonn – and his best friend Anakin joins him. (This will be an important moment in terms of their relationship.)

They find Qui-Gonn, and the fight with him is not dissimilar to the original fight with Count Dooku. We’ll ask him about his motivations – Qui-Gonn thinks the Senate and the Republic is corrupt, wants to start a new government. (”You want to make yourself ruler of the galaxy?” “Perhaps”.) Crucially, though, Qui-Gonn won’t cut off Anakin’s arm. In fact, Qui-Gonn uses the force primarily, rather than his lightsabre – which is Darth Maul’s red one from the last movie, because he lost his green one in the fight. Qui-Gonn appears to be a Sith – and when he throws some Force lightning, this is borderline confirmed. For most of the audience, then, it seems like Qui-Gonn is to be the Emperor.

(“It is naive to think of the force in terms of light and dark, my old Padawan. You know I have always studied the ways of the Living Force, trying to find balance. There are depths of the force the Jedi have never studied, powers they have never known. The ability to bring life itself. But, then, surely your Padawan knows this, yes? After all, he is the Chosen One.”)

During the fight, Qui-Gonn reveals to Anakin and Obi-Wan the existence of the prophecy, explaining the mystery we set up at the end of the previous film. Both Anakin and Obi-Wan feel betrayed, and, given how shocked they are, start to lose the fight. Yoda comes in to save them; things proceed as they did in the original movie. When Qui-Gonn has left, Obi-Wan and Anakin ask Yoda if this is the truth. Yoda, wise old Jedi that he is, is able to shed some light on the prophecy of the chosen one who will bring balance to the Force. Maybe he was there when the prophecy was first made, that could be cool.

With Geonosis sorted out, we return to Coruscant. A few important scenes; Padme in the Senate, listening to Palpatine discussing the war. We’ll have a conversation between her and Bail, about the separatists, and the corruption in the Republic Senate. Obi-Wan and Anakin talking to the Jedi Council about the prophecy. Anakin is furious at Mace Windu, and has an angry (not whiny) outburst. He leaves; Mace Windu begins talking to Obi-Wan, who cuts him off, and says he thinks Anakin is right. Obi-Wan leaves as well. Mace Windu can talk to Plo Koon or Kit Fisto or someone… and it’s revealed that they, the Jedi Council, ordered the creation of the Clone Army. Why? We’ll find out in the next movie.

The final scene, then, is Anakin going to see Padme, just after his outburst. He explains that the Jedi, for all their moral code, are seemingly corrupt. Anakin and Padme begin their relationship at this point.

Revenge of the Sith

The first half hour or so of this movie can be essentially the same, with the mission to rescue Palpatine, but with a few slight changes. Qui-Gonn remains our Dooku figure, but General Grievous is cut; Qui-Gonn is going to take his role in the movie as well. We’ll have a second in command type figure, though, a humanoid that Anakin can kill. Not at Palpatine’s command, though – just in a fight on board the ship. Over the course of the Clone Wars, all the Jedi have had to do things like this. (Palpatine will ask Anakin to kill Qui-Gonn, but he’ll refuse.)

Anyway, when we return to Coruscant, Padme and Anakin can meet up, as in the original. She’s pregnant! Surprise. How wonderful. But it’s revealed that this is in fact their second child (Anakin: “Maybe it’ll be a boy this time. I like the name Han.” Padme: “Don’t be ridiculous, we’re not calling him that.”), because in the intervening years between now and the end of the last movie, Anakin and Padme have already had a daughter – Leia.

This is, I think, the most significant of the changes I’ve made so far, but hopefully it’ll be an important one, in terms of Anakin’s fall to the dark side. Most of the restructuring of this film that I’ll be doing is, essentially, to try and make Anakin’s fall to the dark side a little more organic and natural.

It does get a little complicated from hereon out, though. I think Palpatine’s revelation about the powers of the Sith come too early; he ends up being very suspicious, and Anakin starts to look like an idiot for not doing anything earlier. Also, I actually quite like the idea that, thus far, we’ve been suggesting that Qui-Gonn was to become the Emperor; hopefully Palpatine has seemed relatively innocuous so far.

Anakin can still have his visions of Padme dying in childbirth, but I think also we’ll include a vision of the death of Leia too. Remembering what Qui-Gonn said in the last movie, Anakin goes to the Jedi Archives, and starts checking out some Holocrons on the Sith. Initially, the Archives won’t let him – his access was restricted by another Jedi – but Anakin bypasses it with his tech skills. Perhaps the Sith Holocrons were last checked out of the Jedi Archives by Qui-Gonn Jinn, again indicating that he’s the Big Bad Sith.

From there, we’ll go to a droid/clone battle on some backwater planet. Anakin is leading the charge; when he’s in battle, fighting against the droids, you can see there’s a lot of fury in him, and rage as well. It’s clear that years of war have changed him. Soon enough, though, he finds himself in a position where he’s protecting some innocent family from a large army of droids. Just using his lightsabre isn’t enough; he needs to do more. And so, in a moment of desperation, he throws some force lightning at the droids, destroying them all in one go.

This is where Anakin starts to be seduced by the Dark Side, we can say; at the minute, he’s going to be quite conflicted about the nature of good and evil. He doesn’t trust the Jedi council, as he knows they’ve been lying to him about his position as the chosen one. And he knows that Qui-Gonn was once a good man, who he looked up to – if he’s tapping in to the dark side, is it really that bad? And, surely any power that brings life cannot be evil? And, again, if he is the Chosen One, then should he not be using all aspects of the force, in an attempt to bring balance?

After this, the movie can run similarly. Anakin returns, and is made member of the Jedi council by Palpatine; Obi-Wan goes off to find Grievous Qui-Gonn Jinn. Mace Windu asks Anakin to spy on Palpatine, which Anakin thinks is ridiculous; Palpatine is a friend of his, and a nice enough fellow, who’s clearly pretty stressed by the war. This drives the wedge between Anakin and the council further.

I want Padme to have a plot, though, because I didn’t feel like she had enough to do in this movie. So, we want some scenes of her and Bail Organa, discussing the war and the Republic. Padme, we come to see, is disillusioned with the Republic, and wonders if the Separatists did in fact have the right idea. Bail Organa finds her disillusionment quite interesting, and gets her to come with him in his spaceship – we don’t know where they’re going, though. (Baby Leia was left with R2-D2 and C3PO, which can be a good opportunity for humour.)

From there, we follow Obi-Wan to Utapa. It’s going to go similarly to the way it did in the original Revenge of the Sith; he ends up in a lightsabre duel with Qui-Gonn, his old master. The pair are relatively evenly matched, but Qui-Gonn is noticeably holding back – he doesn’t want to hurt Obi-Wan.

As with before, we’ll cut to Anakin and Palpatine talking. Again, as with the original, Palpatine will reveal himself to be a Sith – ideally though, this scene will be much more subtle, and it’s clear that it’s meant to be an attempt to manipulate Anakin, rather than just force his hand. Also, obviously, it’s a big surprise reveal – so far we all thought Qui-Gonn was the Emperor. Things run slightly similarly to what originally happened; Anakin flees, getting Mace; Mace tells him to stay behind, simply because he doesn’t like Anakin, but also because he’s arrogant, and believes he can take Palpatine without the help of the Chosen One.

The fight between Mace & his accompanying Jedi and Palpatine goes well for Mace at first; the four of them are very clearly winning, and Palpatine is only just holding his own. You’d intercut this of scenes with Anakin getting increasingly worried and conflicted internally; eventually, he goes to the Senate Chamber to watch. And that is when Palpatine starts to win the fight – he decimates Kit Fisto and Shaak Ti and the other one, fights Mace to a standstill, then electrocutes him, torturing him. Mace is writing on the floor in pain; Palpatine is using the force to hold Anakin against the wall, immobile.

Being tortured, then, Palpatine forces Mace to reveal that he resents Anakin and always has; that he deliberately kept details of the force from him (hence the restricted access in the Archives), and, finally, the revelation that Mace created the Clone Army. He can’t explain why, though, and that’s when Palpatine reveals he’s been influencing the Jedi council. At that point, Mace is killed. Thrown out the Window, beheaded, whatever.

Palpatine begins to spiel; “the Jedi are powerless against me”, and etc. He executes Order 66, and we have our cool montage. After several shots of dying Jedi (intercut with a grieving Yoda; I don’t know if he’s on Kashyyk, maybe just a meditative retreat), we cut back to Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn, still mid duel.

The Clones begin to attack the pair of them; they try to hold them off, but can’t. They escape together in Qui-Gonn’s ship, and Qui-Gonn takes Obi-Wan to the Separatist base. Qui-Gonn explains some more about his politics and what the Separatists do, and Obi-Wan starts to realise maybe his old Master isn’t the bad guy in all this. (At some point, we reveal that the Separatists have been using droids to try and minimise the casualties of the war, emphasising that they’re the good guys here – after all, the Republic created life and treated it essentially as expendable, something we already have a problem with after having got to know the Clones in the last movie.) As they touch down on the planet, we return to Bail Organa and Padme; they’re on the ship together, heading to some planet somewhere. As they touch down, we realise they’re on the same planet as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn – the Separatist base planet. This is confirmed when the four meet, and Qui-Gonn and Bail begin to talk; Bail has been working with Qui-Gonn for a long time. It’s also revealed that this is Yavin IV – and we start to realise that the Separatist Movement now is also the basis of the Rebel Alliance. It might be nice to see a young Mon Mothma or Captain Ackbar hanging around, but that could be pushing it a little.

Back to Anakin, then. Palpatine is torturing him, and taunting him as well. He’s destroyed all the Jedi – that’s the power of the Sith. Palpatine reveals that he has a spy within the Separatist ranks; he taunts Anakin further, telling him that Padme and Obi-Wan have betrayed him, joining his sworn enemies. His best friend, and his wife – yes, Palpatine knows about that. But that’s not all he knows about:

Baby Leia is brought in, kicking and screaming, held by a pair of clone troopers. Anakin screams – but Palpatine keeps torturing him, laughing. I think perhaps he will fill Anakin’s mind with images of baby Leia dying painfully, that sort of thing – Anakin is being driven insane, and not necessarily cognizant of the full truth. We want shades of what happened to Luke in Episode VI, before Darth Vader stepped in; with no one here to save Anakin, and his whole world crumbling around him, having already felt the power of the Dark Side… he falls. I’d put a “NO” in here, but we want something blood-curdling and guttural and disturbed.

We cut to Obi-Wan, Qui-Gonn and Yoda now, all at once. Possibly three faces on screen at once. They all felt it – they felt the power of the dark side. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan begin preparations to leave at once; they don’t know exactly what has happened, only that they must head to Coruscant immediately. Unbeknownst to them, Padme sneaks aboard (haha, parallels).

Palpatine sends Anakin away to Yavin IV, to destroy the Separatists. When Anakin has left, though… enter Yoda. He’s emerged from the depths of the Jedi temple, in the hopes of rescuing the child and defeating the Emperor. The Yoda/Emperor fight proceeds similarly to how it did in the actual film; I’d take out the lightsabres, and emphasise their knowledge of the force. Yoda “loses”, in the end, when he realises he cannot defeat the Emperor and save Leia – he takes the child and runs. When he gets outside, two soldiers can approach him and say they’re from Bail Organa, sent to find Yoda, so they go off with them. Easy.

We cut to space, then; two ships, one belonging to Anakin, the other two Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn. Short orbital battle, before the pair of them crash on a planet below – Mustafar. Emerging from the damage, we get Obi-Wan, Qui-Gonn, Anakin… and Padme. Things proceed similarly to before; Padme pleads with Anakin, but he force chokes her and tosses her aside. The final battle is essentially a mash up between the Duel of the Fates from the real version of The Phantom Menace, and the final battle from Revenge of the Sith; Obi-Wann and Qui-Gonn vs Anakin, before Anakin kills Qui-Gonn and it’s Obi-Wan on his own.

From that point on, then, the movie proceeds very similarly to how it did in the original. Obi-Wan, enraged, defeats Anakin, leaving him to burn; he escapes in one of the ships, bringing Padme with him. They get to Yavin; the film continues as normal from there on, Padme giving birth to Luke, Anakin being made into the Darth Vader we all know and recognise. Notably, there isn’t a “NO” here, to show that Darth Vader doesn’t care.

We end with the same Obi-Wan/Yoda/Bail Organa discussion from the original. Yoda will explain, though, that both Qui-Gonn and Anakin misunderstood what it meant to bring balance to the force; it’s not about unifying the Light and the Dark, but destroying the Dark. The Dark is a corruption, an unnatural intrusion; the Force is balanced without the Dark. They decide on the same plans; to hide the children, away from the Emperor. We have the same concluding scenes, essentially, though there’s one new one – the same soldiers who rescued Yoda bring the broken pieces of R2-D2 and C3PO along, explaining they found them in Padme’s home. (They couldn’t find C3PO’s shin, though, so I guess he’ll need a new silver one!) The robots are taken away to be repaired and placed in the employ of Bail.

And so the movie ends, with the Jedi destroyed, and the Empire established…

Now, I readily acknowledge this isn’t perfect. Looking back over this, I think it needs to be tightened up in a little places, refined somewhat, clarified to a degree. I have, after all, done it relatively quickly. I’m not 100% happy with the final resolution of Episode III, actually, but we’ll leave it for now.

Whilst I do think this is a better overarching plot than what we got in the prequels, it’s important to stress that it’s very easy for me to extrapolate and create new plots by refining that which was already available to me. It’s not the same as creating this whole cloth, which is what George Lucas had to do.

Still, though. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into what might have been!

Related:

Star Wars Retrospective

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Fantastic Four Movie Pitch

fantastic four return 4 marvel cinematic universe movie pitch peggy carter 1970s dr doom peyton reed banner john krasinski

Okay, so. I’m writing the introduction to this before I’ve actually gotten around to seeing the new Fantastic Four movie yet, but it seems like it is in fact really, really bad. And that’s a shame, actually, because I’ve been defending it for months, on the basis that no-one had actually seen it yet. But people have now seen it, and it’s hard to argue with 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ll go and watch it soon, and add in my thoughts to the post then.

(Oh. I actually really, really enjoyed it. With a few reservations and all, but generally, I thought it was a lot better than it’s reputation suggests – not perfect by any means, but far from the abysmal movie people are suggesting. I actually wouldn’t reboot it, if given the option, but I’ve committed to this now.)

Anyway, I figured that it might be a good idea to do for Fantastic Four what I did for Spider-Man – a pitch for a reboot. We’ll assume, for a moment, that it’s going to end up in the MCU continuity, simply because that sort of mental gymnastics is a little more fun, but it could be easily done as a standalone.

On the Setting

Probably not something you’d expect to be immediately most important, but I figured it’d be worth putting this one first, because it has a fairly significant impact on the rest of the movie.

This particular Fantastic Four movie is going to be set in the middle of the Cold War. The lines are going to blur a little, since we’re obviously departing from established history a little (what with the Superheroes and all), but we’re looking at a slightly fictionalised 60s/70s, where we’ve still got that period of detente, but things are a little more tense than they were in reality – one particular Eastern European nation, by the name of Latveria, is stirring up trouble…

(The benefit of going back to the 70s is twofold; it provides a distinct visual style, which sets this film apart from others of its ilk, and it’s also going to help me with Dr. Doom, as you’ll see in a minute…)

On the Origins

Here, admittedly, I’m running into trouble. I’m caught between a couple of things – on the one hand, I want to skip the origins. An opening credits that’s a sort of mash up between that of Spider-Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk, where we see news articles and secret files on both the Fantastic Four and Latveria’s place in the Cold War, seems essentially perfect. Everyone knows the origin story, and they don’t particularly seem to like new angles on it, so it might well be best to just sort of get it over and done with. As much as I’d like to open the movie with scenes of Reed and Ben, or explore immediate reactions to their accident, it’s been done recently, and to fairly poor reaction.

So, actually, yeah, we’re going to go with the title credits. We’ll see the four astronaut/scientists doing their bit in the Space Race, getting hit by cosmic rays, and Latveria making a nuisance of itself all relayed through a series of clever news broadcasts and clippings and etc. The movie can continue on after that with a quick action sequence – Johnny Storm taking out a nuclear missile or something – before we come up with our inciting incident.

Now… slight departure from the comics, here, but stay with me on this. I’m going to attach the Fantastic Four to a government agency, and essentially make them spy type people. If it’s the MCU, it’d be SHIELD, with a cameo from Peggy Carter; if it’s still Fox, then just some generic agency.

On the Plot

What, exactly, does SHIELD want with the Fantastic Four on this occasion? Well, they’ve been hearing rumours and rumblings about the dictator of Latveria, one Dr Victor von Domashev, having unlocked a secret power. The suggestion is that this is some form of magic – Reed is skeptical, but the others shoot this down with relative ease. (”Magic isn’t real, that’s impossible.” “Well, so are we.” “Point taken.”) Again, if it’s the MCU, you can tie in Peggy’s concerns with Red Skull and the Tesseract and the like, but that’s not essential.

The bulk of the movie, then, is a bit of an espionage thriller with the Fantastic Four. You’d spend a lot of time in Latveria, meeting the oppressed populace, getting to know what things are like. Eventually, there would be a confrontation with Doom at the end of the movie. The Fantastic Four can stop his specific plan on that particular day, but due to the complexities of diplomatic immmunity, and the fact that he’s leader of an entire country, means they can’t exactly depose him entirely.

Leaving us with one very angry dictator, bearing a grudge against the Fantastic Four, who’s entirely ready to come back and fight again another day…

On the Characters

Reed Richards: We’ve already established that Reed is going to be openly skeptical of magic (which will provide us with a nice running gag), but I’m actually going to take that a step further and say that part of the reason he’s here is because he wants to believe in magic, because he wants to try and use it to help cure his friends. He’s exhausted all the possibilities open to him with conventional science as he knows it, but he’s determined to do something for his friends, so this is what he’s looking into now. That’s what motivating him throughout: pursuit of a cure.

Ben Grimm: So, something that presents itself to me as being an interesting possibility to explore is the fact that Ben is Jewish. (He also turns into what is essentially a literal Golem, but I don’t know a huge amount about Golems, so I’ll avoid any sweeping statements there.) Anyway, so. Let’s say, then, that either his parents or an uncle and aunt were killed in the Holocaust; Grimm has got a fairly personal reason to want to stop dangerous dictators in their tracks. This is a fairly basic starting point, admittedly, and you’d have to be sure to keep this subtle rather than heavy handed, but it does appear to fit in with the film, and it provides a little more diversity to the movie, which is always nice.

Sue Storm: I think with Sue… okay, right. Here’s the basic arc I’ve got in mind: This is all taking place in the first year of their accident, we’ll say, so even though they’ve got their powers and etc, they aren’t necessarily settled as a group. Sue in particular in going to have reservations – she’ll go to Latveria and do this because Peggy asked, but it’s not exactly something she’d have chosen to do. Her experience in Latveria is going to change her mind, basically – when she interacts with the people, she sees the good they’re able to do, and realises that their little group is in fact a positive thing. She of all them becomes determined to stop Doom, because of the friends she makes amongst the Latverian people.

Johnny Storm: This probably wouldn’t necessarily be something he’s comfortable with, would it? He’s not really the type who’d be into skulking about in secrecy, and would probably prefer to take on Doom directly. For Johnny, there’s going to be tensions between his brash nature, and he necessities of the mission that they’re on. You’d maybe have an action set piece at some point in the middle wherein Johnny gets frustrated, tries to save someone rather than keeping a low profile, and almost brings the whole thing crashing down around them.

One thing that is important to emphasise (and you’ll do it by contrasting them against the other characters you see in the movie) is that these four people are very much a family. That’s their angle, the thing that should set them apart from other superheroes.

On Doctor Doom & Latveria

Okay, so, here’s the thing. I can’t take the name “Doctor Doom” seriously. Yes, as an alias, sure. But not as an actual literal name. Sorry.

So, what we’re going with is Doctor Victor von Domashev, nicknamed “Doctor Doom” by the oppressed populace of Latveria, who we’d learn a fair amount about. That’s actually how I’m planning on conveying the level of threat from Doom – we’re going to withhold showing him particularly, apart from occasional glimpses, and really build him up through the stories told by the people of Latveria. It might be nice to build a deliberate contrast between his public face (the learned man, the Doctor) and the impact of the harsh dictator that we actually see.

As the Four journey through Latveria (I guess looking for someone in particular? Some of the specifics aren’t quite there yet) they’re going to be spending time in houses and village communes and so on, and we’ll meet some Latverian families fairly intimately. Maybe at one point, Ben and Johnny can get swept up in the resistance movement, leading Reed and Sue to have to try and find them. Essentially, they’re going to be doing something not dissimilar to Martha Jones in Last of the Time Lords. Maybe you can steal the sea shanty bit from Turn Left with the Cossolantos, too – we can get to really know and like these people, before brutally murdering them! (Apologies if you don’t understand the Doctor Who references. Look them up!)

On the powers

The magic of Doom is, admittedly, something I’m not entirely certain of how to manage. I’d lean towards leaving it unexplained – make it a deliberate mystery, and that can provide a bit of tension throughout.

With the rest of the Four you can leave it as is, really, albeit perhaps with a few changes. It might, for example, provide a nice set of scenes if Sue is able to make people/things invisible too through contact with her – that doesn’t feel like too much of stretch, given that her clothes usually turn invisible too – and I’d like it if Reed’s powers were made a little weirder and more nonspecific. He’s not just stretchy, he’s malleable. So he can do things like becoming a parachute (a la The Incredibles), or he can get out of a cell by flattening himself and sliding under the door, or he can stretch his features to morph his face a little.

Also! I happened to read an old ‘leaked plot outline’ from the recent Fantastic Four movie recently- the outline was incorrect, but it did have an interesting idea about Johnny Storm’s heat powers. He’d change colour to signify how hot he was. I actually think that’s a pretty cool idea – he wouldn’t be green or anything like that, but rather than just one shade of orange, you’d have him changing between red hot, or blue-y flame, or white hot, and so on and so forth. I think you could potentially build something quite interesting out of that.

On the Franchise

So, then. Where does this particular movie aim to go? Trilogies seem to be the thing people aim for, don’t they?

I’m not sure where I’d take the movie after this. Obviously, I’m leaving deliberate threads dangling to return to with Doom, given that they can’t depose him (yet?) and he’ll inevitably bear a grudge against the Four (and particularly Richaaaaards!).

Part of me feels like Galactus and suchlike don’t quite fit the tone of this, if we’re going for 70s set in the MCU. It’s the sort of thing that you’d expect o have had a big impact on the state of the world, but obviously didn’t, given that we’ve seen the pre-existing current day set movies that obviously haven’t been through a visit from Galactus. Something that could be interesting, though, is if by Phase 5 or whatever, Marvel is more confident with skipping back and forth through their timeline, you’d have the Silver Surfer confront the Four, which is set up for a subsequent Avengers movie featuring Galactus? That has legs as an idea, I think.

If they do get to a third movie (which would feature the return of Doom), though, I think the important thing is for Reed to be able to cure his friends, as a culmination of their arc. Or, at the very least, to give Ben the ability to turn his power on and off. (”Rock on!”) That’s rather important to me – gaining those powers is such a massive upheaval to their lives, and Reed wouldn’t ever give up searching for a cure, even if the others had accepted their powers.

You know, I think this is a rather strong basis for a film franchise. Any thoughts?

Note from 2018: This was written from a probably fairly shallow understanding of the characters, and I don’t know exactly how much I agree with all this now anyway.

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Justice League Movie Pitch

justice league bruce timm dcau lineup silhouette movie pitch dceu dc extended universe batman superman wonder woman

A series of somewhat rambling thoughts on the execution of a Justice League film.

Context

Something that’s sort of worth considering is where this film stands. A Justice League film is going to need to set up the rest of DC Cinematic Universe, which would inevitably be spurned from it. Since this film is coming first, you need to be able to set up a hell of a lot of things in it. This necessitates a wildly different approach to the one The Avengers took, because you’ve had none of the ground work set up ahead of time.

Whilst that makes things difficult, it’s not impossible. It just means you’re going to need a heavy focus on…

The Characters

Now, this is where it starts to become a tad difficult. There’s three obvious ones you’re going to have to use – Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. It’s the three of them you’re really relying on – they’re massive icons, and having the three of them is already getting you close to that first billion dollars at the box office. Where you go with the others is the main consideration.

There’s two main things to take into account though. The first is how many people you’re going to put into this thing. Personally, I do think 7 Justice League members is sustainable, just about. You’d have to handle it quite precisely, and make sure to give them equal screen time – no focusing on Superman at the expense of Aquaman, for example. (He’s a seperate problem all of his own really.)

Also, diversity. It’d be really ridiculous to have another superhero film with 5 white guys and only one woman. So, I’m thinking that Jon Stewart should be the Green Lantern for this one (not the Daily Show guy) because that’s a little bit better, at least… It’s still not great, but I think for the first installment, you’re better off sticking with the traditionals, however of their time they are.

So, the line up we’d be going with is…

  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Wonder Woman
  • The Flash (Barry Allen)
  • Green Lantern (Jon Stewart)
  • Aquaman
  • Martian Manhunter

These characters would then, hopefully, be spun off into their own movie series’ as part of a DC Cinematic Universe, to make further billions of dollars. What that means is that this film would need quite a focus on the characters, more so than a film would usually – these people need to be 3D, living, breathing people in the minds of the audience at the end of it.

It turn, you’re not going to have the time to develop a villain, not really. This means you’re going to need to have either a pre-established one, like Loki in The Avengers, or one that’s really easy to explain. It’s also convenient to use one that will further the development of one of your main characters.

Ergo, the antagonist I’d elect to use is… the White Martians.

Introductions

Following on from yesterdays post about the context of a Justice League film, and how to set it up, I’ll now talk about introducing the characters.

So, White Martians was where we left off. They’re actually the ideal villain for this film, I think, but I’ll talk about that in a bit. First, it’s the opening scenes of the movie, and the introductory scenes of the characters.

It’s these first scenes where you’re going to have to do a bit of the legwork in establishing the characters. There’s this movie saying, which I think comes from Hitchcock, where if you introduce a character doing their job well, the audience is more likely to connect with them. And that’s what needs to be done here…

Superman & Batman you can pretty much coast with. Everyone knows these guys, everyone knows their remit. I’d say with the two of these guys you can have introductory scenes where they’re as Clark and Bruce. Simple stuff really – Clark is working late at the planet where he gets a telepathic message. Maybe you can have the iconic phonebox scene after that, that’d be nice. With Bruce, I’m thinking someone could go up to him at a fundraiser and ask for help. “I’d be happy to donate any money I can.” “Not that kind of help…” Dun dun duh!

Green Lantern is a little bit more difficult, given that we’ve got the Ryan Reynolds film to contend with. What I’m thinking is that we should have a chase scene – Green Lantern is a space cop, essentially, so let’s show that. Here we’d quickly establish the powers that he has, and then go from there. When the alien drug dealer has been caught, his ring can bleep to give him a message. Pretty simple stuff. If you want, you can have Ryan Reynolds cameo, to say “yeah, they all work together and we can still have him turn up in a film at some point”. (It’s not necessary if that’d be confusing)

Aquaman is going to need some groundwork. Everyone is going to think of all the stupid jokes when people see him, so he needs to be instantly established as a heavyweight character. He also needs to make sense – more super strength is not what they need on this team. So I’m thinking we should swap that out for hydrokinesis – control over the water. (Also, he need not be dependent on the water, but is healed by it. Think Percy Jackson)

His scene, then, should show him taking out a massive great big sea monster single handedly. Standing on a cyclone. If that won’t stop the jokes, I don’t know what will. He should then get the message from a Dolphin though, so there’s still a degree of humour to him.

The Flash is another easy one. His scene should involve a bank robbery I’m thinking, similar to the start of The Dark Knight. Men with guns are threatening clerks and accountants – Thug #1 is about to shoot Clerk #1, but instead of hearing a cry of pain, we hear a clink. A bullet, dropped onto the floor.

The Flash caught the bullet! High speed antics ensue, demonstrating that the Flash is, in fact, very fast. As police arrest the thugs, a detective can approach him, and begin talking about an upcoming meeting…

Wonder Woman is, irritatingly, the only one of these guys who actually needs a set up film, because she’s kinda complicated. Picture her as the Thor equivalent – going into The Avengers without any of the Norse/Alien backstory would be difficult to say the least. It’s actually a shame to skip all the big backstory stuff out, because there’s potential for a really, really awesome film.

Anyway, working with what we’ve got. I say… hmm. This is a tad difficult actually. Okay, pretty much everyone is going to know who Wonder Woman is, at least as an image. Pretty woman who fights stuff (although they have to ditch the costume for the movie). Fine, you can sort of get away with that. Explaining who she is as a person is kinda difficult – there’s a lot of Grecian mythology stuff, and World War Two military ideas…

Hmmph, this is slightly ridiculous. Can we just have a scene where Wonder Woman fights a dragon or something? (If not, I say we have Diana Prince, Grecian Diplomat, in an embassy. It works, kinda)

Then we have Martian Manhunter, around whom this team is built. J’Onn has brought this group of people together because the White Martians are intent on taking over the Earth. Now, here, J’Onn is essentially the Doctor – he is the sole survivor of his race, the Green Martians, and lead the fight against the White Martians. (Who should maybe take on a different name, because colours of Martians might be unwieldy)

Anyways, he’s assembled his group, and brings them together in… a warehouse, probably. From there, he teleports them up to his spaceship – the Watchtower!

Character Dynamics

Anyways, character dynamics. Does what it says on the tin really. How they relate to each other, or should, in this film. (Meaning divergences from the comics)

Do we have to work with Man of Steel canon?

I guess we’d have to, wouldn’t we? It’s just that it is really bloody annoying. Apart from the fact it was an appalling film, it makes the idea of shared DC Cinematic Universe… well, difficult to say the least. People already ask things like “Oh, why doesn’t Thor/Hulk/Iron Man go and help Captain America/Hawkeye/Black Widow with Red Skull/Mandarin/Loki?” of Marvel, and they’re all relatively self contained.

If you’re working with Man of Steel as canon – well, the world would be a ridiculously xenophobic place, and everyone would hate Superman. This can sort of be worked into the plot, just about, but not with character dynamics.

You can’t have every character hate Superman. That’s ridiculous. The most you can manage is wary at best, really. But… hmmph, we’ll work with what we’ve got.

Other than that though, the characters of the Justice League actually work really well together. Sort of surprisingly, they’re all similar in some respects, so they would actually… become friends relatively quickly, as opposed to in The Avengers, when a group of quite different people were all coerced into working together by a shifty organisation. The only immediate friendship was Tony and Bruce, the others… not so much.

Flash and Green Lantern would both get along relatively well, since they’re both policemen, essentially. Superman, Batman and Martian Manhunter would all connect over their lack of a family – and I think that needs to be a sort of a theme here, how people are stronger together, and it can be examined through them. Aquaman and Wonder Woman would probably get along okay – they’ve got the same sort of mystical background thing going on. Maybe WW can pick him up on casual sexism or something.

The main negative relationship would be between GL and Superman. Green Lantern is not going to like Superman, definitely, at least at first. And that would be because GL’s job is to protect the Earth from dangerous aliens… and Superman is one of them. Hey, maybe Superman represents a failure on GL’s part – that could work quite nicely actually, tying in with the idea that these guys need to work together to save the day.

I’m imagining GL giving Superman a speech like this: “The ring translates for me. That symbol means hope. Is that who you think you are, a symbol of hope? You are a terrorist of the worst kind. The entire planet fears you. You are responsible for the deaths of thousands. If you think about endangering the lives of any of these people again.. the Green Lantern Corps will crush you, like you crushed those people.

(As you can tell, I hated Man of Steel. But I’m trying to make it work…)

Note: This was originally split across three posts (Context and Execution, Introductions, Character Dynamics), with the intention being to do a fourth instalment outlining the plot and the structure. I never did complete that fourth piece, leaving this (all three, now presented together) is somewhat unfinished. 

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Pitch

fantastic beasts and where to find them pitch crimes of grindlewald logo jk rowling david yates eddie redmayne jude law johnny depp

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m at least a week late. Yet I shall still add my thoughts to the pile. Here be thoughts on the casting, the plot and… probably other stuff.

On Story

In the interviews, the film was described as the start of a series. I assumed this meant a series about Newt Scamander, rather than adapting all the tie-in books, like Quidditch Through the Ages and etc. Although I imagine that films like that might be inevitable at this point.

So, the first chapter of the life of Newt. The first film doesn’t need to be his whole life – it can just be part of his research for the book. So here he is, in 1920s New York (which is good, because it sets it apart from the other films visually) and Newt is down on his luck. The biography section in the back of Fantastic Beasts says that he’s living on minimum wage, or the Wizarding equivalent. And then, from there, he goes on his quest… to find the animals. It shouldn’t be another, massive “end of the world” stakes story; this is a bit more of a personal quest type thing. Also, he should have a best friend who is a Slytherin. Not an evil one, cos they’re not evil, but an ambitious one, who is sarcastic (possibly referring to him as “Salamander” the whole time). I think that the friend should possibly make a fair amount of the journey with him?

Newt himself should be… like the magical Steve Irwin, but also quite like Hiccup III in How to Train Your Dragon (the film, not the book), where he has that sort of “well, why is this happening? Lemme find out” kind of quality.

On actors

I’m picturing Newt as sort of… a cross between Matt Smith and Martin Freeman, which I guess means someone like Ewan McGregor? I think he’d do quite well at the part.

Equally though, I think that perhaps he should probably be a POC character, cos there weren’t many in the Harry Potter films. So… suggestions?

If not Newt as a POC, it should be his Slytherin best friend. (The Slytherin guy should be really very important in the story. Like, this is really a friends story, I think.)

Also, Hugh Laurie should be in it. Possibly as young Dumbledore, possibly as someone else. Because he’s really cool.

On the tone and the world

The weird thing about setting this in magical America (assuming it is in magical America, that is. Maybe there’s just lots of fantastic beasts there, but no wizards) is that you kind of have to explain how the Wizarding world co relates with each other. And… that makes no sense at all, when you think about it. Why is it that no one stepped in when Voldemort was doing his thing? Britain’s in the middle of a civil war, and not one wizarding authority anywhere thought… hey, maybe we should step in and stop this Voldemort guy? (That’s kind of my only problem with JK Rowling’s writing. There’s a lot of stuff she didn’t seem to totally think through)

Generally, the film should be relatively happy, and fun, because it is about a guy going round and having the most fun ever doing what he loves.

On the title

Um, is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them all that great a title for a movie? It doesn’t seem wholly marketable to me…

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The Flash Trilogy Movie Pitch

the flash ezra miller seth grahame smith phil lord chris miller rick famuyiwa movie pitch dc extended universe grant gustin film

So, at the same time that the Batman v Superman film was announced, it was also said that a Flash movie would be made for 2016, leading into a Justice League movie in 2017.

Assuming that it’s a success, sequels will be in order. This here is the plan they should try to follow…

The Flash

This. This is the film they should make; it’s pretty much the best possible way of doing things.

But to set up for a sequel, one last thing has to be added at the end, post credits…

EXT: STREET – DAY

An ELDERLY WOMAN is crossing the street using a zimmer frame.

A close-up shot reveals she has a hearing aid, meaning she’s deaf – so she can’t hear the car speeding towards her!

People on both sides of the street are yelling at her, trying to gain her attention, but to no avail – she just can’t hear them. And then, there’s a flash of red and yellow light! The elderly woman is gone!

In fact, she’s on the other side of the street, standing with… THE FLASH! He saved her from the car!

Whilst the Flash is being applauded by the gathered crowd, the camera stops on a MAN lingering in an alley.

He is wearing a dark blue suit with a red shirt. He takes out a phone, and begins to speak into it.

MAN:
You were right Max… he is one of us.

And, at that, he is gone – in a red and blue blur. He can run as fast as the Flash.

END OF MOVIE

So, that’s the post-credits teaser idea that leads into the next film: The Flash is not alone.

The Flash: Speed Force

So, at the end of the last film, it would have been established that the Flash, Barry Allen, is not alone.

But now, the story has to be a little bit more than that. What I’m thinking here is that it should become a film about what being super-powered will make you, as a person. How it changes your life, beyond the actual ability to run fast – what makes one person a villain, and another a hero – or, indeed, makes them do nothing. Which means, of course, you need to be able to contrast different people against each other.

The film should open with a brief re-introduction to the Flash; who he is and what his powers are. A quick action set piece, probably a car chase sequence – something to easily show he’s a good guy and he runs really really fast.

Anyways, what needs to happen is for Barry to meet the other Speedsters (because that is, for whatever reason, what they’re called). A group of them (at the minute 3, but possibly it should be expanded to 4?) meet up regularly to discuss, analyse and try to understand their abilities. The 3 of them are…

Jay Garrick: The oldest of the group, and it’s leader. He is quiet and reserved, but commands a lot of respect.

Max Crandell: Tending to go by the name of ‘Max Mercury’, he is a very intelligent man.

Savitar: Refusing to go by any other name, Savitar is somewhat of a wild card in the group. Manic and obsessive, no one really understands him.

To go with the theme of “How do you change when you have superpowers?” each character has to have differing reactions to said powers. So…

Jay Garrick: Let’s say, then, that Garrick has grown to hate his powers. When he was young, and first gained his powers, he used them to much the same affect that Barry did – although never became quite so famous, since there wasn’t a huge amount of media coverage back then.

But, being older than the others, he has come to notice a side effect of the powers – as you use them, your ageing process slows down. Which means he should be 80 – but is in fact 50. And his wife, whom he loves very dearly, is 80 for real; and he can’t be with her. He can’t watch as she slips away from him. I don’t care that you grew old, I care that we didn’t grow old together, so to speak.

Max Mercury: He’s researched the Speed Force. A lot. In fact, he’s come to be an expert on it – because that’s what his powers drove him to do. He wanted to understand, to research, to make it tangible to him.

Savitar: Savitar has come to view the Speed Force very mystically, as something that was granted upon him by a higher power – which is why he’s taken the name of the Hindu God of motion. He’s also developed a bit of a God Complex; he considers himself better than all of the ‘mortals’ and only begrudgingly respecting his fellow Speedsters. Savitar wants to be better than them as well – and the only way for that to happen is if he has more speed.

So, that’s our theme, and our characters. But we also need a plot.

If Barry has been doing his superhero thing for a while, then he’s going to have garnered a few enemies. One such enemy is a mob boss who operates in the city – Barry has more or less shut down his entire operation (this is shown over the course of the film, so there are still some action sequences to stop people getting bored).

Eventually, the mob boss, whom we shall call Moran, has decided to fight fire with fire – he wants fast crooks to beat the fast cop.

His gang, his mob, they realise that there’s a group of people who are researching the Speed Force – and so they kidnap Max Mercury and Savitar. Max is the brains, and Savitar is the hostage.

Max does the research, and finds out how to induce/remove speed from people. Savitar, meanwhile, goes completely crazy and is ready to become the big bad guy.

From there, the final act is a relatively simple sort of big fight. Garrick is guilted into using his speed powers to help Barry save the pair of them from the boss. Garrick ends up fighting the henchmen, whilst Barry is fighting Savitar – because he went totally crazy.

So what should happen then is that Barry kills Savitar, effectively saving the day – but not at a cost Barry is happy with.

That’s pretty much the end, but… I’m thinking there should be some sort of scene in which Garrick’s wife is made younger as well, just to make him happy, and complete his character arc.

Next film…

The Flash: Legacy

Final part. Probably going to be quite long and rambly, because I’m working it out as I go along.

At the end of the last film, events would have culminated in Barry killing Savitar. And this is something that should feed into his position in this film – he should be wondering about his place in the world as a hero. Believing he’s not suited to have these powers, to be in such a position of authority.

The film would start, then, by showing that Barry isn’t being the Flash anymore; in the months since Savitar’s death, he has retreated back into his real identity, working as a police scientist.

Perhaps as well the police have decided that the Flash is a danger to them – it was alright when he was helping old ladies cross the street, but now that he’s killed a person, that’s remarkably dangerous. Someone with powers like that, going around killing people? It’s not a notion they would even want to entertain the possibility of.

From there, we would bring in Professor Zoom. But we’d call him Professor Thawne, because it’d seem a bit cheesy to call him Zoom.

Let’s say that he’s been talking to Barry, offering him counsel on his life (Barry hasn’t told him that he’s Flash, but Thawne is evil and so already knows this. Maybe Barry told him he falsified evidence or something). But by way of giving him this counsel, he’s also sowing the seed of doubt within his mind, reinforcing the belief that Barry isn’t good enough to be the Flash.

And then Thawne goes out and does evil things at superspeed – killing people, theft, probably vandalism as well – which gives the Flash a bad name. Which means that the people of Keystone City will believe that the Flash is, in fact, evil.

What I’m really thinking here is that it would be similar to Moriarty’s plan in the Sherlock episode “The Reichenbach Fall”, mostly because I can’t really think of anything else for him to do. In the second film Barry would have fought Savitar, so there’s already been a superpowered fight; there needs to be something different. So the angle that I’m thinking it should be is a bit more psychological.

And the idea of Zoom discrediting better fits with his actual backstory, I think – crazy obsessive from the future who wants to become Barry Allen. How to make that fit in exactly I’m not sure; I suppose it would just be part of his final “I’m evil” reveal.

Eventually they do need to have a super speed battle, I suppose; it should come within the last twenty minutes or so. And then… I think Barry should sacrifice himself to destroy Zoom. Possibly they both end up inside the Speed Force or something like that. That’s a pretty good way of nodding to the comics, but isn’t absolutely finite if the powers that be ever want to bring Barry back.

This should probably be called The Flash: Legacy, because that does fit in with the theme, to a degree; it’s the legacy of Barry’s prior actions that haunt him at the start, and it is his legacy that Thawne wants to destroy.

But maybe this whole thing is just a bit rubbish… hmm. I don’t know.

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