Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 13

Click here to review Part 12.

So far:
Batman stopped John Corben from killing Superman with a sliver of kryptonite.  In the aftermath, Superman discovered that Batman is Bruce Wayne, and Batman discovered that Superman is Clark Kent.  They agree to, if not work together, at least stay out of each other's way while they investigate the connection between Corben and Lex Luthor.  At the same time, Lex Luthor wanted Corben silenced, so his assistant, Mercy Graves, dispatched the Commander Blanx, an evil shape-shifting Martian.

"Not these blue-violet lenses.  Not even indigo lenses!" 
Intercut with the fighting happening at Metropolis' SCU station house, Batman (Richard Armitage) sneaks into the LexCorp Factory.  He skulks around the sub-levels, and after some foot and electronic reconnaissance, he discovers Luthor has manufactured two dozen models of the construction drone that are designed for war.  He might also find the Metallo battle suit that Luthor showed Corben earlier.  He finds out that kryptonite is the energy source used for powering the suit and the war drones.

Meanwhile, back at the police station:

Commander Blanx (Thomas Kretschmann) reveals his true form, a pale-green alien form in exotic military regalia.  He has already killed John Corben's lawyer, a handful of police, and severely injured Captain Maggie Sawyer (Sabrina Lloyd).  He looms over Corben (Michael Biehn), who is inching away, looking for a weapon or a place to run.  Cops are storming into the hallway and stopping short at the sight of the alien creature.

As Blanx reaches for Corben the ground beneath his feet erupts as Superman (Jon Hamm) crashes through the floor.  Blanx is thrown back as Superman positions himself between his would-be killer, John Corben, and his would-be killer's would-be killer, this mysterious alien.

Superman gives Blanx one chance to surrender.  Blanx responds by hitting Superman harder than he's used to being hit.  Superman actually flies back into the far wall, narrowly missing the group of cops who have come upstairs to see.  Superman shakes it off and tells the cops to clear the building, then he flies at Blanx.

What follows is a massive battle between two "Alien Atlases".  Superman has strength and speed over Blanx, but the Martian has more deceptive fighting traits.  He uses illusion, disappearing, phasing through walls and floors, every trick in his arsenal.  The titans seem to fly and fight around Corben, with Blanx still trying to kill him and Superman trying to save him.  The station house gets wrecked, utterly trashed, while we actually see  Superman being super and saving people from the wreckage while he's fighting Blanx.  The real Dan Turpin (Mike Starr) lifts up Maggie Sawyer and carries her downstairs.

The fight ruptures a gas main.  Blanx uses his telepathy or illusion to trick Superman into using his heat vision, which sparks the gas.  The explosion badly scars Corben.  The fire, though, has a very different effect on Blanx, he shrieks and visibly cowers from it.  Superman notices that Blanx falls to his knees and seems to almost go in shock.  Superman puts out the fire with his freeze-breath.  When he looks back, Blanx is gone.

Outside the station, Superman confirms with Dan Turpin that everyone got out okay, except they can't account for John Corben.  Turpin tells him there was also a reporter named Clark Kent who vanished when the trouble started.

Here we've reached close to the end of Act II, and I know I'm missing something.  When I started this fan-cast posting, I said I had a vision for how the Justice League movies should go.  But in terms of story, I only had a couple sentences for each movie.  I had a loose idea of the structure, but I've been writing the majority of these 13 (so far) posts by the seat of my pants.

I have a lot of action and reversals planned for Act III, but I'm missing the turning point in the end of Act II.  The driving arc of this movie was supposed to be Batman coming to terms with his limitations as a human in the face of such god-like beings as Superman and the Martians.  Well, Superman and the Martians have begun to dominate this story, and I'm not sure how Batman will make his emotional arc.

So, I'm going to acknowledge that there is a big moment here that I don't have figured out yet.  This whole story I'm crafting isn't fully plotted out, so there are scenes missing and stories undeveloped, and I'm owning that right now.  I didn't write ten drafts of a Superman/Batman screenplay before I sat down to write this.  I had, like, a paragraph.

To Be Continued…

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 12

Click here to review Part 11.

So far:
Batman and Superman met during Batman's disastrous attempt to arrest John Corben.  The Dark Knight's lack of familiarity with Metropolis put him on uneven ground, and Corben's kryptonite shiv was nearly the death of the Man of Steel.  Perseverance won out, though, and Corben was brought down and taken into custody by Metropolis' Special Crimes Unit.  When Superman recovered from his wounds, Batman told him that Corben stole the kryptonite for Lex Luthor.  Luthor, of course, has no intention of being implicated in Corben's crimes.

Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson) is starting his morning.  He might be in a hotel, or a borrowed conference room at LexCorp Tower.  He's eating breakfast while staff bring him reports and such.  He answers a call from Bruce Wayne (Richard Armitage).  Bruce is also beginning his morning, but he might be working out or stretching in his hotel room.  Maybe he's icing his knees or shoulders; we see the bruises and cuts normally covered by his suit.

Bruce tells Lucius that they need to stay in Metropolis for at least another day while he does some fact-finding.  He asks Lucius to look closer into LexCorp's books and designs, any incongruities.  Lucius tells him they'll need a cover story for why they're staying.  Bruce says he has a story, but he needs Lucius' help selling it to the Board.

Cut To: The Daily Planet

"Can an iPad recreate that hot-off-the-presses newsprint
smell?  What, it can?!!"
Lois Lane (Jennifer Carpenter) is at her desk, writing a story about the Superman/Batman battle in the street.  She's watching leaked smartphone footage of the event, focusing on Superman on his knees.

Clark Kent (Jon Hamm) sits at his desk across from her, sort of lost in thought.  Lois asks him if he's ever seen Superman take a beating like this.  Clark's mind is elsewhere; he doesn't even respond.  She throws a paperclip or something at his head, getting his attention.  He tells her he can't think of an explanation for what happened.  Lois speculates that if John Corben was strong enough to almost kill Superman, maybe Corben is an alien, too.  For that matter, maybe Batman is.  (Lois could namedrop or imply references to Wonder Woman and other heroes at this point.)

Clark: "You think the Batman is an alien?"
Lois (beat):  "Well, what do you think he is?"
Jimmy: "Bruce Wayne!"

Clark is startled by Jimmy Olsen (Kevin McHale) blurting out what he was thinking, but Jimmy wasn't reading Clark's mind.  No, a crowd of newsmen and women have gathered just outside the bullpen, because Bruce Wayne has walked in the door.  Lois bolts up and rushes to meet Wayne.  Clark is much more cautious, watching Bruce carefully, wondering why he's here.  Jimmy orbits Bruce like a satellite, taking more pictures.  Bruce is annoyed, like outside LexCorp.

Perry White (Tim Matheson) cuts through the crowd, introduces himself to Bruce.  He asks what the Planet can do for him.  "I needed to buy a paper," Bruce says.  The crowd laughs.  Perry says Bruce can have the latest edition on his desk.  He won't even charge Bruce the three dollars.

"No, I mean I bought The Daily Planet," Bruce says.  The crowd doesn't laugh.  Perry's jaw slackens.   Over at his desk, Clark grimaces.  He knows somehow Bruce Wayne, the Batman, figured out that he, Clark, is secretly Superman.

Jimmy continues to take pics until Bruce puts his hand on Jimmy's shoulder and says, "Kid, your job literally depends on you never, ever taking another photo of me as long as you leave."  Then Bruce tells Perry that the editor's phone is ringing and that it's the president of Wayne Enterprises' publishing division wanting to talk to him.

Perry leaves and the crowd disperses.  Bruce walks over to Clark's desk, chatting with Lois Lane, answering a few fluff questions.  "Mister Kent," Bruce says pointedly, "I believe there are still some unanswered questions between us."  Lois' eyes glance from one man to the other.  "For the interview," Clark explains, acting nonchalant.

If you've been waiting for this fan-cast story to turn into slash fiction…
just wait!
We then cut to Bruce and Clark stepping out onto the roof of The Daily Planet building.  The globe statue hovers above them.  Bruce comments on the view, acting not-at-all concerned about the heights or exposure.  Clark, by contrast, is barely able to contain his frustration.  Bruce knows his secret identity and bought his employer.  Is he playing some dangerous game, or does he have world class control issues.

Clark: "You bought the Planet?"
Bruce: "Yep."
Clark: "How many of your people told you buying a newspaper in this market was a horrible idea?"
Bruce: "All of them."
Clark: "But you did it anyway?"
Bruce: "Yeah.  I also bought a bank or two in Kansas."
Clark: "What?"
Bruce: "First Savings & Loan, I think, in--"
Clark: "Smallville?  You bought a bank in Smallville?"
Bruce: "Or two."
Clark: "Are you threatening my parents?  The people who work here?  Mister Wayne, you better know that threatening my friends and family is threatening me.  You understand what that means, right?"
Bruce: "I do, and if I wanted to threaten you, I have a piece of rock from outer space that should do it."

Bruce tells Clark that the stolen kryptonite is the reason he's still in town.  He knowns John Corben brought the kryptonite to the LexCorp factory.  Bruce needs to find out what Lex Luthor plans to do with an alien meteorite that can kill Superman.  Batman is going to the factory that night.

Clark: "I could back you up."
Bruce: "I don't need backup.  And if the kryptonite is there, you won't be much help.  But you can do something.  Corben's being held at the SCU."
Clark (understanding): "He can implicate Lex Luthor.  If he talks, he can bring Luthor down."
Bruce: "And how do you think Lex feels about that?"

(The last line Bruce delivers is deliberately identical to the question Clark Kent asks Lois Lane when they drive away from the Middleton Space Center.)

That night, Clark Kent goes to the Special Crimes Unit station.  He talks to Detective Turpin (Mike Starr), who has been a reliable source in the past, trying to get an interview with Corben or Corben's attorney.  Neither of them pay any attention to a somewhat suspicious-looking uniformed police officer walking past them and heading upstairs.

In the squad room of the SCU, Captain Maggie Sawyer (Sabrina Lloyd) addresses a few of her detectives, saying she just got off the phone with the police commissioner in Gotham and he won't give them any jurisdictional problems.  One of the young detectives asks her if Commissioner Gordon said anything about Batman and they all crack jokes.

The mysterious cop comes upstairs, watches Sawyer and the other detectives.  No one is looking at him, and we watch the mystery man physically change his face and shape to look like Dan Turpin.  He breezes through the squad room, casually acknowledging a few others as he does.  He corners a young detective.  His eyes flash and he asks what room John Corben is in; the detective, in a kind of haze, tells him Interview Room One or whatever.  "Turpin" moves on toward the interview room.

Maggie Sawyer sees "Turpin" walk down the hall as the other cop walks up to hand her a file.  She thought Dan was downstairs shooing away a reporter.  The other cop says "Turpin" was asking about Corben's room.  Maggie gets suspicious, not that there's something wrong with Turpin, but that he's facilitating an interview between Corben and the press.  She follows him to reprimand him on it.

"Turpin" goes to the observation room adjoining Interview One, and sees Corben (Michael Biehn) and Corben's lawyer through the two-way glass.  He watches them for a minute and then simply walks through the mirror. He phases through it, not breaking, not touching any surface, just materializes ghost-like on the other side.

Corben sees it and bolts up out of his seat.  The lawyer didn't notice how "Turpin" came in and asks him to leave so he can continue deposing his client.  "Turpin" reaches out to the lawyer and his fingers phase through the lawyer's head as seamlessly as he passed through the two-way mirror.  The lawyer spasms and bleeds out of his eyes, nose and mouth, before collapsing dead on the floor.  Corben screams for help.  As he makes a run for the door, "Turpin" grabs him and lifts him off his feet.  His fingers coil like snakes around Corben's throat.  His eyes glow as he says, "I haven't killed one of you humans in too long.  I forgot how much I like it."


Just before "Turpin" kills Corben, a gunshot rings out and a bullet flies from the observation room, striking "Turpin" in the chest.  He staggers back.  More gunshots shatter the two-way mirror and rip through the killer's midsection and face, knocking him down.  Corben lands sprawled on the floor.  Maggie Sawyer stands in the observation room, smoking gun in hand.

Surprise! It's not J'Onn!
Downstairs, the lobby reacts to the sound of gunshots.  Cops race upstairs.  The real Dan Turpin, who had been talking to Clark, ditches the reporter and heads upstairs with the crowd.  Clark pulls his glasses down and looks upstairs.  His X-ray vision gives him a hint as to what's happening.  He rushes against the crowd of cops and heads for the bathroom.

Cops rush into the interview room, checking on Corben, the lawyer, and the body that looks sort of like Turpin.  Then the body lashes out, violently, hurling the cops against the walls.  He stands, shedding his Dan Turpin disguise, and reveals himself as Commander Blanx (Thomas Kretschmann) a pale-green Martian warrior.  Maggie grabs Corben and pulls him into the hall, keeping her gun drawn on Blanx.  She orders him to put his hands up and surrender.

Blanx smiles and quite simply disappears.  Maggie backs up cautiously and ushers Corben down the hall where more cops are coming.  When she turns around, Blanx appears between her and Corben.  He grabs her and slams her head into the wall, and she crumples unconscious.

He turns his attention back to Corben as cops appear at both ends of the hall with guns drawn.  As the cops get ready to fire, the floor between Blanx and Corben explodes as Superman flies up to that floor.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 11

Click here to review Part 10.

So far:
Batman came to Metropolis to find John Corben, a thief who stole kryptonite from S.T.A.R. Labs Gotham.  Unaccustomed to a city as brightly lit as Metropolis, to say nothing of its citizens' tendency to look up at the sky, Batman's presence is tipped off by the media.  In the fight that follows, Corben uses a kryptonite shiv to nearly kill Superman.  At the last minute, Batman takes Corben down and flees the scene with a weakened Superman.

Police put up a cordon on the street where the fight ended.  Firefighters and EMTs rush into Corben's building to put out the fires and look for wounded people after parts of it blew up.  A beaten and bloody Corben is put in the back of a squad car in handcuffs.  An unmarked police cruiser pulls up and Captain Maggie Sawyer of the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit jumps out and starts barking orders to the uniforms and crime lab technicians.  Detective Dan Turpin is against the police cordon talking to Lois Lane (Jennifer Carpenter).

Maggie Sawyer (Sabrina Lloyd)

I loved Sports Night and really wanted to use Sabrina Lloyd for the Justice League fan-cast.  At one point, I had her slotted to play Iris West, but I wanted to see her playing something tougher, something a bit more mature and authoritative.  Once I knew the SCU would be part of the story for this first movie, it was easy to envision her as Maggie Sawyer.

Dan Turpin (Mike Starr)*

Another case of an actor just having the perfect look and demeanor for a character, Mike Starr is often cast as an enforcer on one side of the law or the other.  I indulged the typecasting and pegged him for Dan Turpin.

We see Turpin briefly working the press line, talking to Lois Lane.  She wants his thoughts on Batman being sighted in Metropolis.  Maggie Sawyer shouts at Turpin to get back to the crime scene.  Turpin and Sawyer talk about the aftermath, about witnesses saying Batman and Superman were fighting each other or against each other, no one knows.  No one knows where the two went, either.

Lois walks away from the cordon, slipping through more reporters and onlookers.  As she gets back to her car, John Jones (Giancarlo Esposito) is there waiting for her.  Like the scene at the space center hangar, he calls himself "detective" and shows a badge that is not there.  His eyes flash again, putting a psychic whammy on Lois.  She asks if he can confirm or deny Superman and the Batman were working together or against each other.

Jones says, instead, he wants to hear what she knows about the space station crash.

Cut To: A mini Batcave in one of Batman's Metropolis safe houses.

Superman (Jon Hamm) stirs and regains consciousness on a gurney-style bed in what looks like a jury-rigged med station in Batman's base.  He is mostly recovered from the kryptonite Corben used against him.  Batman (Richard Armitage) watches him from across the room.  Superman sits up, disconnecting a heart monitor that he was hooked up to.

Superman asks about the man they were fighting, who he was and what happened to him.  Batman asks why Superman called him Bruce Wayne back during the Corben fight.  Superman says that he can see through the mask.  Batman looks incredulous, but Superman insists he's telling the truth.    Batman notes that Superman didn't look so super dying in the street.

Superman: "That man had kryptonite."
Batman: "I've studied it.  The radiation isn't that high."
Superman: "Not to you.  To me it's deadly."
Batman: "Why would you do that?"
Superman: "What?"
Batman: "That stuff can kill you. From the look of things, it might be the only thing that can. That's quite a weakness to share with someone you don't know."
Superman: "I guess I trust you."
Batman: "Why would you do that?"

Superman trusts Batman because he didn't let him die in the street, he kept him safe and kept his secret identity.  Batman wants to know more about the kryptonite.  Superman asks if he can step outside and recharge in the sunlight.  Batman says it's three AM.  "Not everywhere," Superman responds.

Batman says, "I have more questions," and Superman comments that he noticed Batman/Bruce asks a lot of questions.  The way he says it, the reference, reminds Batman of what Clark Kent said earlier that day about Bruce Wayne asking all the questions in the interview.

Superman fumbles through Batman's gadgets and tech on his desk and finds a radio transceiver.  He asks about the range on the device and Batman assures him it's strong enough for wherever.  Superman slips out of the hidden door of the safe house, leading into an alley of a rundown building.  Superman focuses and runs, jumps, and flies off over the city.

We see Superman soaring over the city, see him racing out over the harbor, flying across the ocean as the sun rises over the horizon, reaching out to meet him.

Batman sits at his computer, typing away, searching for something.  He asks again about the kryptonite.  Superman flies over Europe and Africa and tells Batman a brief origin story.  Superman's flight over the Eastern hemisphere is intercut with scenes of planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lara, the death of the planet and his rocket to Earth.  As we see glimpses of this history, Superman explains the planet's destruction, how it irradiated the kryptonite and how it effects him.

"You've seen what a small dose can do to me," Superman says.  "A larger amount I'm sure would kill me."

Batman asks why Lex Luthor would want to kill Superman, explaining that Corben brought the rest of the kryptonite to LexCorp.

Cut To: Lex Luthor's office, the next morning.

Lex Luthor (James Nesbitt) and Mercy Graves (Sanaa Lathan) watch the news coverage of Superman and Batman's fight, with the arrest of John Corben mentioned almost as an afterthought.  Luthor, barely holding his rage in check, clears his office, sending his aids scurrying for cover.  Only Mercy remains.

She reminds Lex that Corben is a professional and knows how to keep his mouth shut,  Luthor, though, doesn't trust that.  He wants Corben silenced for good.

To Be Continued…

* I like Mike Starr for Dan Turpin, but my backup for the character is another big man known for playing cops, as well as Hannibal Lector's orderly, Frankie Faison.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 10

Click here to review Part 9.

So far:
John Corben stole a supply of kryptonite from S.T.A.R. Labs Gotham for Lex Luthor.  Batman tracked Corben to Metropolis.  The commander of an observation space station sabotaged the mission, crashing the station and seeding Earth with hundreds of Starro seeds aboard the escape pods.  The story of the space station, as reported by The Daily Planet's Lois Lane, has attracted the attention of the mysterious John Jones.

That night at the Middleton Space Center.  A security guard stands watch at the entrance to the hangar where Superman brought the space station's escape pods.  The guard hears something that draws his attention.  He looks off to is right, doesn't see anything, then looks left--

--to find John Jones (Giancarlo Esposito) standing right in front of him.  John identifies himself as Detective John Jones and holds up his badge… which is actually an empty wallet sans any form of ID.  The security guard glances down at the non-badge and back up at the man.  John's eyes flash a different color.  With a slightly vacant look, the guard says, "Go right in, Detective," and presses a security code into a keypad, opening the door.

Inside the hangar, John inspects the escape pods.  He singles out the pod with the scorched hole in the bottom.  He crouches down and runs his hand over the burnt metal of the pod.  In a bit of psychometry, John is bombarded by a mental image of a Starro--close up and fierce looking!  (This image flickers on screen quickly, like the Eye of Sauron when Gandalf touches that snow globe in Christopher Lee's castle.)  The sight of Starro hits John like a physical attack, knocking him down.  His face lightly ripples, changing color for the briefest second, telling us he's not human.

The security guard comes in with Doctor Erdel (Bob Gunton).  The guard explains to Erdel that the detective who came in had proper identification.  Erdel wants to know what a detective is doing there anyway.  They look around, finding no sign of anyone.  Erdel belittles the guard.

Erdel and the guard leave the hangar.  As they walk away, the camera holds on a shadow on the wall.  John Jones' face emerges from the shadow for a moment, watching them go, and then melting ghostlike back into the darkness.

Cut To: The Daily Planet.  A bit later that same night.

The Daily Planet lost $40 million in 2012, and that was
before buying a solid gold globe for the roof.
Lois Lane (Jennifer Carpenter) stands in the office of the Planet's Editor-in-Chief, Perry White (Tim Matheson).  Lois makes her case for sabotage of the space station crash.  She believes something was in the pods when they jettisoned and the total system failure suggests more than an accident or simple human error.

Jimmy Olsen (Kevin McHale) comes in with coffee and food.  He sits down across from Perry and the two eat dinner while Lois keeps talking.  Outside, in the staff bullpen, Clark Kent (Jon Hamm) sits at his desk staring at Perry's office.  He uses super-hearing to eavesdrop on the conversation.  Lois runs a monologue, talks about getting interviews with the station crew.  She doesn't give Perry much of a chance to respond until the end.

Lois leaves Perry's office and bumps into Clark, who has full biographical information on the space station crew.  (This would look better visually with a stack of papers and folders, but realistically, he would be holding a flash drive, assuming he didn't just email her the info.)  Clark says he anticipated that talking to the crew would be Lois' next move so he thought he'd save her time.  She's thankful.  She asks him about sharing a car ride with Bruce Wayne.  Clark almost mentions that he thought Bruce was a lot smarter than he comes across in the media.  He asks Lois if she wants to go to dinner; she turns him down so she can read the notes he gave her.  Clark disappointedly leaves by himself.

Cut To: The Batcave.

Alfred Pennyworth (Ian McElhinney) walks across the Batcave and sits at the computer.  He speaks into a microphone, says, "Yes, Master Bruce."

Back in Metropolis, Batman growls, "I hate this city."

Batman (Richard Armitage) stands on the roof of one of the highest buildings in Metropolis overlooking the city.  Unlike Gotham, Metropolis seems to glow even at night.  The traffic, the streetlights, the high-rises, everything is lit up much brighter.

Nighttime comparison: Metropolis (top), Gotham (bottom)
Batman leaps from the rooftop and glides with his cape or swings on a bat-line.  People on the street look up and point.  People in office buildings look out the window and gape.

"Sir," Alfred says, "you may not want to hear this, but… your presence in Metropolis has been noticed."  Batman asks if Alfred is sure.  "Yes, sir," Alfred says.  "You're trending."  The Bat-computer shows a social media site and #TheBatInMetropolis.

Later, Batman is on a different building, crouched on the fire escape, surveilling the building across the street.  He's holding some advanced-looking night vision goggles, spying on the apartment of John Corben (Michael Biehn).

Inside, Corben is soldering a three-inch sliver of kryptonite (that he didn't give to Lex Luthor) to a knife handle.  Yep, he's making a kryptonite shiv!  The TV is on in the background.  Suddenly, Corben is alerted to a helicopter hovering over his apartment and a searchlight shining down.  He changes the channel on the TV.  Local news is breaking the story that Batman has been spotted in the neighborhood.

In the Batcave, Alfred is watching the same news footage.  The news chopper camera is pointed down at the rooftop where Batman is hiding.

On the fire escape, Batman grinds his teeth as the searchlight circles around him.  "I really hate this city," he says.

Batman looks back at Corben's apartment across the street.  John Corben steps out onto the balcony and lifts a bazooka up on his shoulder.  He sights the corner of Batman's building and fires.  Batman leaps away as the rocket strikes the rooftop and explodes.

Batman glides away from the fiery rooftop, fires a grapple gun that hooks onto Corben's building.  He swings up and crashes through the window into Corben's apartment.  Corben fires a submachine gun, but Batman disarms him.  They fight.  Batman clearly has the physical advantage, but Corben's whole apartment is rigged.  Things start to explode, pushing Batman around, while Corben slips out.  The floor collapses under Batman, dropping him down to the room below.

Batman unburies himself from the wreckage and looks out the hole that used to be Corben's wall.  The room is lit up by the news chopper's searchlight.  And hovering right outside, silhouetted by the light, is Superman.

One of them is dark and edgy.
They're both startled to see each other.  Superman is as shocked to learn Batman is real as the other.  He drops down and grabs Batman, thinking he's the one blowing up buildings.

Superman uses his X-ray vision to see through Batman's cowl.  "Bruce Wayne?" he gasps, letting him go.  Batman snaps that Superman is letting the real criminal escape.  Superman uses the X-ray vision again to look down through the building's stairwell and sees Corben running down.

Downstairs, Corben rushes out of his building to find Superman standing in the street waiting for him.  Corben opens fire from a handgun.  Superman catches each bullet, crushes them together and drops the clump of metal on the street as he walks over to Corben.

Before Superman gets his hands on Corben, though, the other pulls the kryptonite shiv out of a lead-lined sheath.  Mere proximity to the kryptonite startles Superman.  He goes pale, begins to sweat, and looks disoriented.  Corben snickers and swings the k-shiv.  Superman attempts to block but it jabs right into his arm.  Corben backs Superman down, kicking him, punching him, stabbing him in the gut with the k-shiv.

Superman can't fight back.  He's on his knees, trying to crawl away.  He takes three or four direct stabbings into the stomach and a few defensive cuts on his arms and hands.  Traffic has stopped.  People are out of their cars staring in horror.  Camera phones are recording.  The news chopper is watching.  Corben is taunting the Man of Steel.  And Superman is spitting blood on the street.

Corben grabs Superman by the hair and lifts him up.  He holds the shiv to Superman's throat, about to cut him open in front of everyone.

Suddenly, Corben screams and drops the k-shiv.  There's a batarang embedded in his wrist.  He looks up in time to see Batman come down on him.  Batman wraps Corben up in his cape and brings him to the ground.  We don't see  exactly what happens, but when Batman stands up, Corben is unconscious.

Batman looks around.  The same crowd is watching and recording, plus now we can hear police and emergency sirens closing in.  On the ground, Superman looks barely alive.  Batman drops smoke pellets and a cloud covers them.  People back away, covering their eyes and mouths.

Police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances descend on the scene.  When the smoke clears, John Corben is tied up, still unconscious.  Batman and Superman are gone.

To Be Continued…

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 9

Click here to review Part 8.

So far:
Superman saved the crew of an orbital space station when it fell to Earth.  Lois Lane is investigating the crash for The Daily Planet.  Bruce Wayne came to Metropolis as part of a joint business venture with Lex Luthor, but as Bruce arrives at the LexCorp factory, he spots John Corben, a mercenary who stole kryptonite from S.T.A.R. Labs in Gotham.

Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck Richard Armitage) walks onto the main production level of the LexCorp factory.  He rejoins the tour with Lex Luthor (James Nesbitt), Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson) and Mercy Graves (Sanaa Lathan).  Lex makes some disparaging comments about how droll and boring Clark Kent can be.

In the factory, they oversee production of the construction/excavation drones (I still need a name for the robots).  Lex stresses the benefits of upgrading the drones with weapons capabilities to secure military contracts.  Bruce and Lucius shut that idea down.

Maybe, maybe, maybe we get a cameo from the drones' project leader, Supervisor John Henry Irons.  This would be a fun cameo and a nice easter egg, possibly leading to Irons' heroic alter-ego farther down the line.

Steel/John Henry Irons (Henry Simmons)

I was a big fan of NYPD Blue in the '90s.  When Henry Simmons joined the cast, I remember thinking he would make an awesome Steel if they made a "Death of Superman" movie.  Unfortunately, Hollywood went in a different direction

Lex Luthor excuses himself from the group and has Mercy lead them through the production tour.  Lex goes downstairs to a secret laboratory.  He meets with John Corben (Michael Biehn) and Professor Emmett Vale (David Clennon).

Professor Vale (David Clennon)

This is another example where I'm likely wasting a good actor on a too-small part.  David Clennon has a distinguished look, but more than that he has a voice that can drip with authority or sarcasm or both.  Professor Vale is a small part, but critical to the creation of Metallo.  And maybe Clennon could do something special with the few lines he would have.

For the fashionable CEO.
Corben delivers the lead case full of kryptonite to Lex.  They briefly discuss Corben's payment, and then Lex asks Corben if he wants to know the most expensive secret in the world.

Lex Luthor gives a monologue justifying his hatred for Superman, culminating with the explanation that kryptonite is the key to Superman's destruction.  Luthor and Vale unveil their creation, a suit of mechanized battle armor designed to fight Superman, which would be powered by the kryptonite.

Cut To: That night, in another part of town.

We see The Daily Planet website on a computer monitor.  Scroll through Lois Lane's story on the jettisoned escape pods.  We see Jimmy Olsen's photograph of Superman and Dr. Erdel looking at the hole burned through the bottom of the pod.  We pull away to see who it is that is reading the story.

And we see John Jones sitting at a desk in a dark room.

Martian Manhunter/J'Onn J'Onzz/John Jones (Giancarlo Esposito)*

J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, rounded out the original Justice League of America lineup as a surrogate for Superman and Batman.  Like the Man of Steel, he's a displaced alien living on Earth, and he shares a number of Superman's powers, including super strength, speed and flight.  He also has telepathic powers, the ability to phase through solid objects, and alter his shape.  He can assume the appearance of different people and creatures.  To blend in with Earthlings, J'Onn J'Onzz has adopted the role and look of Detective John Jones.

In the comics, J'Onn was transported to Earth through a freak scientific accident.  Doctor Saul Erdel tried to contact Mars, and his crazy scientific equipment…brought a Martian to the lab.  Exactly as you would expect to happen.  For the purpose of these movies, I have changed how J'Onn arrives on Earth, but the details won't be revealed until probably the third movie.  For now, what's important is that J'Onn is a Martian living on Earth in disguise as ordinary human-looking John Jones.

If you've seen the fourth season of Breaking Bad, you can understand why Giancarlo Esposito is one of my favorite actors.  He can capture the austerity, aloofness, or simple bemusement of the Martian.  And he can wear the hell out of a fedora.

To Be Continued…

* Until about an hour ago, I was wavering between Esposito and Javier Bardem.

Bardem would bring an entirely different energy and power to the role.  Honestly, I would love either actor in the role, but I think Esposito might have the slight edge with his voice.  And this way, maybe I'll find another part suitable for Bardem.

To Be Continued…

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 8

Click here to review Part 7.

So far:
Batman has come to Metropolis.  Publicly, Bruce Wayne is meeting with Lex Luthor about a joint project their companies are working on, while privately, Batman is hunting for John Corben and the kryptonite he stole from S.T.A.R. Labs Gotham.  Clark Kent is going to LexCorp to cover the Wayne/Luthor meeting for The Daily Planet.

Lex Luthor (James Nesbitt) greets Bruce Wayne (not Ben Affleck) and Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson) and notices that Bruce is wearing sunglasses indoors, and maybe Bruce's expensive suit is a little unkept.  Luthor assumes Wayne is hungover, while Bruce assures him the city is just sunnier than he's used to.  Luthor goes on a rant about how awful Gotham City is and how he's not surprised so many of its citizens become homicidal maniacs.  "I mean, you understand, Bruce," Lex says, "your father put everything into that city and it killed him. Tell me you don't want to wake up some days and throw acid in someone's face."

Throughout the brief bout of smalltalk, it is clear that Lex thinks little of anyone else.  He's barely civil to Lucius, complimenting the his reputation while putting down Wayne Enterprises.  Also, throughout the scene, a parade of staffers circle Lex like satellites, occasionally approaching him with a glass of water or something to sign or…whatever.  The impression is that everything is moving around Lex, that he is the center of the universe.

Where Lake Shore Drive meets the other LSD.
(I see Luthor's office looking like an egg.  One wall is a curved floor-to-ceiling window with a panoramic view.  The rest is smooth, sterile, with holographic projecting technology, digital screens, lights, all sorts of things to stimulate his mind.  Actually, I see it a bit like the Cloud Gate [right] at Chicago's Millennium Park.)

Lucius cuts through Lex's self-adulation and reminds him of the reason for their visit.  With a word from Lex, the office is holographically transformed to a construction site.  Bruce, Lucius, and Lex are thrust into a three-dimensional presentation for automated construction drones.  The machines are programmed for construction and excavation projects.  The project was conceived as a joint venture utilizing advanced AI technology created by Lucius' team and the steel and manufacturing from LexCorp.  Wayne Enterprises provides the software, LexCorp the hardware.  (Like the space station mission, I need to come up with a name for the robots or this project, but I haven't thought of one yet.)

Bruce and Lucius concede the presentation is a nice bit of advertising, but they came to see the actual product in action.  Lex grumbles, irritated at their lack of enthusiasm.  He'll take them to the factory where the drones are being constructed.

At some point during this scene, Bruce and Lucius are introduced to Mercy Graves (Sanaa Lathan).  We first saw Mercy talking to the treacherous Commander Blake, but this is her real introduction, the first time we know who she is and how she's connected to other characters.  Mercy Graves is Luthor's chief personal assistant, functioning like a majordomo.  Mercy is beautiful and intelligent.  She makes an impression on Bruce and Lucius.

Lex, Mercy, Lucius, and Bruce leave the corporate tower.  Lex's private limousine is parked in front, with a chauffeur opening the door.  Clark Kent (Jon Hamm) and Jimmy Olsen (Kevin McHale) are arriving at the same time; Jimmy is first to notice Bruce and begins taking photos of the men on their way to the limo.  Staffers and Guards keep Clark and Jimmy at arm's length.  Clark identifies himself to Lucius and Bruce and tries to get a comment from or interview with Lucius.  Lex Luthor is quick to insult Kent in front of the others, to ridicule his small town background and potentially libelous stories about LexCorp.

Lucius tells Clark he's on a tight schedule while he's in town but maybe they can talk over the phone later.  Bruce says, "I'm up for an interview."  Record scratch.  Everyone stops and stares slack jawed at Bruce, except for Jimmy who continues to shoot pictures the entire time.  Bruce shakes Clark's hand and says he reads his paper every day.

Bruce: "Lucius, you go on with Lex.  Kent and I will follow you."
Clark: "We'll have to take a cab because I don't drive."
Bruce: "That's okay. I've got a ride."

The Lamborghini Reventon: Because even the rich
get spoiled driving the Batmobile.
Up to this point, Lucius has been a little peeved, while Lex is positively dumbfounded.  But as Bruce mentions having his own car, a sleek, super-expensive sports car races up and stops behind the limo.

A young driver steps out and hands Bruce the keys and title to the car.  Lex Luthor asks Bruce since he arrived when he's had time to buy a car.  "Ten minutes ago," Bruce says, "while we were upstairs talking about how awesome you are.  Meet you at the factory."

Bruce gets behind the wheel with Clark next to him.  He asks Clark if he minds taking the scenic route and then pulls away from the curb, fast, speeding past Lex and making sharp turns.

(There are countless ways to show Superman and Batman meeting for the first time, but I thought I'd go perhaps against expectations by having them meet unmasked before meeting in costume.  They would know each other by reputation.  Clark would have reason to interview Bruce for an article, so why not turn the tables and have Bruce initiate the interview.  Bruce, after all, would want the lowdown on Lex and Metropolis, and who better to get it from than one of the city's best journalists?)

Bruce tells Clark that whenever he travels, he likes to get a feel for the terrain, hence the car and the need to drive himself and explore the city before going to the LexCorp factory.  Clark asks Bruce why he would go into business with Luthor; they have different business philosophies and "morals".  Bruce pumps Clark for dirt on Lex based on his reporting, and it becomes clear to Clark that Bruce is the one asking the most questions.

The scene ends with Bruce driving into the industrial part of the city and stopping in front of the factory.  Bruce thanks Clark for his time and hands him the keys.

Bruce enters the factory.  In the lobby, an aid tells him the others are waiting for him down a level.  Bruce and the aid get in the elevator.  Classic trope--just before the door shuts, a hand reaches through and holds the elevator.  Bruce instantly recognizes John Corben (Michael Biehn) get on the elevator.

Corben, of course, recognizes Bruce Wayne, too.  The two size each other up; Bruce notices Corben carrying a lead-lined case.  Corben breaks the silence, asking Bruce what brings him to Metropolis.  "Working on my suntan," Bruce replies.  Corben makes a comment about Gotham, but when Bruce asks if he's been there, Corben lies.  When the elevator door opens, Bruce and the aid step out, but Corben rides it down another floor.

To Be Continued…

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 7

Click here to review Part 6.

So far:
Batman captured Mister Freeze after he broke into S.T.A.R. Labs, but Freeze was merely a distraction while mercenary John Corben stole the labs' sample of kryptonite.  Aboard an orbiting space station, Commander Blake placed alien star-seeds in the the station's escape pods and sent them to the surface before sabotaging the space station.  Superman saved the crew, as the star-seeds began to spread, possessing the people who found the escape pods.  Batman learns that John Corben is bringing the stolen kryptonite back to Metropolis.

Act II: Metropolis (mostly)

The North Atlantic Ocean.  Calm seas are suddenly interrupted as an object shoots up from under the waves.  Superman (Jon Hamm) is carrying one of the space station's escape pods on his shoulders.  He lifts it up, up, and away, turning and flying the pod back to the coast.

Pictured: symbolism!!!
At the Middleton Space Center, a group has gathered just outside a massive hangar.  The group is composed of engineers and technicians in coveralls, a few lab techs in white coats, and some uniformed security guards.  Doctor Saul Erdel (Bob Gunton) is in charge.  There's a flatbed truck parked next to the crowd.  The driver is looking up at the sky.  In fact, all of them are looking up at the sky.  One of the security guards gets a call over his shoulder-mounted radio: "Big Red is inbound."  Another second and one of the engineers points up at the sky.

Superman descends from the clouds with the escape pod on his back.  The crowd applauds as he settles the pod as carefully as possible on the back of the truck.  Superman confirms with Dr. Erdel that that is the last of the missing escape pods.  We get a look inside the hangar and it's full of the other escape pods that were launched from the crashing station, all recovered and brought back to MSC.

Superman says he scanned for lifeforms inside just like all the others, but it wouldn't have mattered because by the time they found this one it had sunk to the bottom of the ocean.  Erdel has had a busy couple of days answering questions about the crash, and this latest detail is more troubling still.  Why did the pod sink?  They're designed not to do that.  Superman shows Erdel the reason: a small hole, apparently burned through the side of the escape pod, which allowed it to take on water after it landed in the ocean.

As Superman points out the damage, we here the click of a camera, and a voice asking Superman if he knows what caused the damage.  Elbowing their way through the crowd of technicians are Lois Lane (Jennifer Carpenter) and Jimmy Olsen.

Jimmy Olsen (Kevin McHale)

For The Daily Planet's ace photographer, I wanted a young actor who could plant one foot in the realm of Geek and one in the land of Punk.  Someone not conventionally handsome, but who has a great big gee-golly smile.  A power nerd, essentially, from the Zach Braff School of Trying Too Hard To Be Likable.  I think Glee's Kevin McHale has that part nailed once he gets out of the wheelchair.

Lois identifies herself to Erdel and fires off a bunch of questions about what brought the space station down, what happened happened to the escape pods, etc. while Erdel orders security to escort her and Jimmy from the base.  Resisting the guards, she asks Superman what he thinks brought down the station.

Superman: "Doctor Erdel's team is looking into it, and when they find out the cause, I'm sure I'll read it your newspaper."
Lois Lane: "Any other comments for the record?"
Superman: "Your hair looks nice today, Miss Lane."

And boom! Superman is off.

A pair of security guards walk Lois and Jimmy to the gate and watch them leave.  When they get to the parking lot they find mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent leaning against Lois' car.  Clark tells Lois that he's here to steal Jimmy away for photos of the Wayne/LexCorp meeting he's covering.

Lois: "You think you'll get a quote from Lex after the last three pieces you've wrote about him?"
Clark: "Maybe I'll get something from Lucius Fox."
Lois: "Another Lex Luthor story.  You're obsessed with him."
Clark: "If Superman didn't exist, the people would worship Lex Luthor."
Lois: "But Superman does exist."
Clark: "And how do you think Lex feels about that?"

Cut To: Metropolis

Where Gotham City is dirty streets, Metropolis is sterling silver.  Gotham's old, gothic buildings crowd each other, closing in, like a canopy enveloping its citizens in its own darkness.  Metropolis' glistening cityscape reaches up like hands trying to pull down the sun.  Gotham is Old World.  Metropolis is the City of Tomorrow.

At the center of Metropolis is LexCorp Tower, corporate headquarters of LexCorp.

Bruce Wayne (Richard Armitage) and Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson) walk through a grand foyer in one of the upper floors of LexCorp Tower.  They're flanked by a couple of young, unimportant staffers from both corporations.  The foyer is luxurious, borderline ostentatious, with statues/busts and homages to the man himself.

A pair of attendants open the massive double doors to Lex Luthor's office.  Standing before Bruce and Lucius is Lex Luthor.  He says, "Welcome to the future," and whether he's referring to the city, the office, or himself is open to interpretation.

Lex Luthor (James Nesbitt)

Lex Luthor is egotism in a suit.  He might be the smartest man on the planet, but Lex sees himself as the only genius in a world of six billion Cro-Magnon men.  He cannot even gloat about his latest scientific breakthrough because the world is too stupid to understand, and in the time it would take him to dumb down his language to make you comprehend, he could invent something newer and better.

Lex Luthor could cure cancer today but he doesn't care.  He's not invested in saving anyone he can't use, and the vast resources of his intelligence must be focused on his unshakable goal: the death of Superman.

Lex Luthor will tell you the reason he hates Superman is that Superman can't be trusted.  He'll tell you the alien's presence is a danger in the same way any invasive species ultimately wreaks havoc on an ecosystem.  He'll tell you humankind will never achieve the next level of evolutionary success as long as we depends on something like superman to protect us.  Those are just rationalizations, really.  The truth is Lex Luthor hates Superman because he's jealous.  Because Lex Luthor has achieved all a man may achieve in this life… and people still look up in the sky for inspiration.

When I started thinking of actors I would want playing villains of the DC Universe, James Nesbitt was one of the first actors who came to mind.  I thought he was terrific in Jekyll, even when the show's quality wavered as schizophrenically as the character Nesbitt portrayed.  His dual performance shows me he has all the qualities needed for Lex Luthor.

To Be Continued…

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 6

Click here to review Part 5.

So far:
With the help of Catwoman, Batman learns that the man who stole a sample of kryptonite from S.T.A.R. Labs is a mercenary named John Corben.  Bringing Corben to justice will mean following him to the city of Metropolis.  Superman saved the deep-space observation station from crashing on Earth.  Unbeknownst to anyone, the space station was sabotaged by its own Commander.

Montage.  We see some of the jettisoned escape pods from the space station, now on the surface.  One is being picked up by a freighter in the South China Sea.  One has crashed into the jungle, taking down a mile-long streak of trees.  One is half-buried in the desert, similar to the droids' pod in Star Wars.

The freighter crew opens up the hatch and looks inside.  The captain sees the empty cargo container.  In the jungle, a group of rebel forces cautiously approach the escape pod.  In the desert, a bedouin tribe similarly discovers the pod.

Yeah, f***ing Starro!
Back to the freighter, the Captain looks around the supposedly empty escape pod.  He doesn't see something crawling on the ceiling above him.  It's a tiny dime-sized starfish-looking creature.  This is a star seed, part of Starro.  The little seed drops down on the back of the ship captain's neck and imbeds itself in his skin, attaching to his spinal cord.  Almost instantly, the captain's mind and body are taken over.

We jump all around to star seeds jumping and attaching to the people who find them.  There are dozens of star seeds in each escape pod.  They crawl out of the pods and spread out in a wave.  We see every crew member on the ship possessed--those who resist are attacked by the others.  The rebels and the bedouins are all taken over.

(This montage could possibly come earlier, maybe breaking up the Catwoman scenes, but I don't know.)

Cut To: Middleton Space Center.

Commander Blake (Thomas Kretschmann) rests in the medical wing, hearing his test results from a doctor or nurse.  He had to fake his tests or doctor the results but I'm not going to explain how right now.  He brushes away the nurse and sequesters himself in a private corner of the wing, maybe a closet or something.  Once isolated, he drops the human disguises and changes to his natural form, that of a pale-green Martian named Commander Blanx.  He opens a freaky high-tech portable comm device that doesn't look human.

On the screen is another Martian, this one female and beautiful in her exotic pale-green alienness.  She is identified in this scene as Bel Juz, but we'll later meet her as Mercy Graves.

Bel Juz/Mercy Graves (Sanaa Lathan)

Mercy Graves was originally created for Superman: The Animated Series as Lex Luthor's chauffeur and bodyguard.  I've promoted her a bit to Luthor's executive assistant, and even more still, a treacherous Martian Jezebel, though that secret will be revealed in the third act of The World's Finest.  In the cartoons and comics, Mercy was white, but I tossed that out for Sanaa Lathan.

Remember how good that Aliens vs. Predator movie was?  Of course, you don't--it wasn't!  But Lathan was nice to watch.  She has played a woman in power and a woman of deadly purpose, and for the dual roles of Bel Juz and Mercy Graves, she'll play both.

Commander Blake and Mercy speak over the phone or computer.
Mercy: "Commander.  It sounds like your mission succeeded."
Blake: "I'm alive."
Mercy: "Thanks to Superman.  You sound disappointed."
Blake: "My sacrifice was supposed to consecrate this wretched planet in preparation for the Master's arrival."
Mercy: "The Master needed to see the danger the Kryptonian poses.  Now he's given me permission to destroy Superman.  And you get to be alive when He comes to break this world."
Cut To: On the outskirts of Gotham City lies stately Wayne Manor.  Sunrise.

Alfred Pennyworth (Ian McElhinney), Bruce Wayne's butler, emerges from his quarters and shuts the door.  Alfred is dressed in the formal wear of his station.  He takes us on a visual tour of Wayne Manor that shows how grand and cavernous its rooms and corridors are.  The house feels like a museum.  Alfred enters the master study of his former employer, Doctor Thomas Wayne.  On the wall behind the desk is a grand portrait of Thomas and Martha, Bruce's parents.  Alfred takes a moment to acknowledge the portrait, as if communicating with the pair.  Then he turns the hour hand of the grandfather clock until a hidden level is switched and the clock slides away, revealing the secret entrance to the Batcave.

"You should really consider updating to the Batcomputer 6,
Master Bruce. It fits in your pocket and it has Instagram."
The Batcave is as large as any of the halls of the mansion above.  Alfred's silent walking tour continues, leading us past an armory of weapons and gadgets, different model Batmobiles, and assorted trophies from the Batman's adventures.  It ends with Alfred stepping up behind Bruce (Richard Armitage), who is seated before a bank of computers.

The screens all show different images or stories of Superman.  Some screens show a loop of poorly-shot cellphone camera footage of Superman taking off.  Security camera footage shows Superman foiling a robbery at incredible speeds.  Some screens show news headlines and articles.  Most if not all of the articles are written by Lois Lane.  There's one really good quality photo of Superman leaping up, about to take flight, but looking back at the last moment, as if looking directly at the camera.  And smiling.  The photo credit is James Olson.

Alfred tells Bruce that he informed Lucius Fox that Bruce would be joining him in Metropolis.  He says his luggage is all packed, and some of the other "gear" is being shipped to the safehouse/s as per the instruction.  Alfred says he double checked the safehouse's security because Bruce hasn't been to Metropolis is a long time.  Bruce doesn't comment on that.

Alfred asks Bruce if he knows if Superman is really an alien.  Bruce tries not to rise to that either.  He and Alfred kind of argue as Alfred challenges Bruce for never investigating Superman (or any of the others that have popped up in the last few years).  No matter how Bruce tries to deflect Alfred's questions, the older man keeps coming back, nipping at him, wanting an answer.  This conversation might name-drop Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, or Aquaman, or it might refer to any of them not by name.

Alfred presses him on the matter because Alfred genuinely believes Superman could help Batman.  He thinks partnering with Superman could make Batman's mission easier, clean up Gotham faster, do it safer.  Alfred might even reveal his true concern as a flippant remark about Superman's butler not having to worry about him getting shot every time he leaves.

I'd like to see Superman
brood better than me!
The conversation ends with Bruce a little rattled.  He doesn't like talking about Superman or other superpowers, doesn't even like thinking about them.  But he better get used to it if he's planning to dress up as Batman in Superman's city.

(The point of this scene and the scene with Lucius before is to show Batman in a light that most fans aren't used to seeing him in, which is uncomfortable and insecure.  Batman is is uber-calm and collected in Gotham City; it's his playground.  But the thought of people with actual superpowers is unsettling to him because he cannot comprehend that.

Batman's arc throughout the three movies is going to be accepting the other superheroes, learning to trust them and finding his place among them, then ultimately uniting them and keeping them together after the crisis is over.)

And that's essentially the first act of the movie.  It could use a few more short dialogue scenes, maybe more with Gordon and Alfred, but that's the gist of it.  That's the Gotham section; the rest mostly takes place in Metropolis or Middleton Space Center.  We haven't really gotten to know Superman/Clark or Lois yet, but I don't want to spend too much time on them because I want a clear delineation of the different worlds the characters inhabit, and Bruce's journey from Gotham to Metropolis is part of that.

To Be Continued…

Black Canary in Deck-Building Expansion

Cryptozoic is the publisher of the popular DC Comics Deck Building Game!

At the latest Gen Con, the company announced the release of their first expansion set: Heroes Unite.  Where the original game allowed gamers to play as the seven heroes from the New 52 Justice League, the new set introduces a different, somewhat surprising lineup.

Now players can have fun with Shazam!, Nightwing, Batgirl, Hawkman, Booster Gold, Red Tornado, and Black Canary.
Bleeding Cool broke the news on their site with some interesting details.  And being Bleeding Cool, they got half the story months ago and jumped to a wrong conclusion.  They originally thought this lineup was a new Justice League International.

I don't know why they would be, but this lineup would make a really fun team to read.  Nightwing and Batgirl are Batman surrogates.  Shazam! is your Superman.  Black Canary, Hawkman, and Red Tornado represent the iconic satellite era.  And Booster Gold… is popular, I guess.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 5

Click here to review Part 4.

So far:
Someone stole a sample of kryptonite from the S.T.A.R. Labs in Gotham City.  22,000 miles above Earth, an orbiting space station monitors movement at the edge of the solar system.  Commander Blake secretly sabotages the station, ejecting its escape pods, which each carry a mysterious cargo.  Superman catches the falling space station and saves the crew.

Pics of Kanye and Kim's daughter
in a solid gold onesie on page 4.
The rescue is intercut with shots of Lois Lane (Jennifer Carpenter) writing the story and the headline popping up on The Daily Planet's website.  We see it picked up by television news, and a montage of footage showing Superman (Jon Hamm) shaking hands with the Middleton Space Center's mission director, Dr. Saul Erdel.  We see Commander Blake interviewed.  We see the space station wreckage.  We also see reactions of people watching the new.  Lois Lane, Perry White, and other reporters at The Daily Planet.  Lex Luthor watching from his office in LexCorp Tower in Metropolis.  And John Jones watching the footage somewhere on the street as the news is broadcast on a large screen outside a building, like in Times Square.

(I'll get to who plays Lex Luthor and John Jones later when they are officially introduced.  The problem with this montage is when and how to establish our change of setting.  Lois, Lex, and Jones are in Metropolis, when before this we've spent all our time in Gotham or in space.  A nifty title card identifying the city would be useful, but equally confusing since we're jumping right back to Gotham now.)

The news montage concludes with Bruce Wayne (Richard Armitage) and Lucius Fox watching the news in a Fox's office or a conference room in the Wayne Enterprises building in Gotham.*

Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson)

Following Morgan Freeman is a tall order for anyone, but Ernie Hudson has the most critical quality in taking up the role of Lucius Fox: affability.  Hudson is likable, and you want to watch what he's doing.  Since the days of Ghostbusters (1984) and The Crow (1994), he has consistently popped up in big and small screen projects, but for the life of me, I haven't seen many of them.  This was mostly a nostalgic choice.

Lucius Fox is the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, managing the business so Bruce Wayne can bounce around the globe, cultivating his playboy facade.  Fox knows the truth about Bruce, though, and he also functions as a weapon smith and tech guru for Batman.  Because, y'know, running a billion dollar corporation affords him a lot of free time to design Bat-planes!

So Lucius and Bruce are watching the coverage of Superman saving the space station in Lucius' office. They trade idle speculation on the source of Superman's powers; Lucius "modestly" acknowledges his own mechanical genius, while admitting he couldn't replicate those powers for Bruce without putting him in an exo-suit the size of a car.

They talk of Lucius' upcoming business trip to Metropolis.  Wayne Enterprises is involved in a joint venture with LexCorp to produce automated drones for construction and excavation.  Lucius is going to the factory in Metropolis to survey the product.  Bruce tells him to watch Lex Luthor and the numbers very closely.  He doesn't trust Luthor; he knows Lex wants to militarize the drones and sell them to the Army.  (Maybe Lucius plays the Devil's advocate and asks Bruce to consider what an army of Bat-drones could do for protecting Gotham.  Bruce shuts that idea down hard.)

As they leave the office, Lucius asks Bruce why he doesn't join him on the trip.  Bruce says he doesn't like Metropolis.  "Everyone likes Metropolis," Lucius says.
Bruce: "It's too…"
Lucius: "Clean?"
Bruce: "No."
Lucius: "Bright?"
Bruce: "Lucius."
Lucius: "Happy?"
Bruce (pause): "Antiseptic."
They get into the elevator and Lucius asks about Bruce's plans.
Bruce: "I'm meeting someone tonight."
Lucius: "Business or personal?"
Bruce: "With this one… I've never been sure."
The elevator door closes and we--

Cut To: Catwoman sneaking into a penthouse apartment that night.

Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Katie McGrath)

I wasn't a big fan of BBC's Merlin series, but I could watch every episode for Katie McGrath.  The actress who plays Catwoman needs that power.  She needs to steal the show for all five minutes she's on screen.

Catwoman is all sexuality.  Whether she's playfully drawing the Dark Knight out of his armor with just a whip and her eyes, or vamping in a skintight leather bodysuit, every move Selina Kyle makes is part of a game.  McGrath can play cunning, deceitful, wanton--the smartest person in the room who's crazy-sexy and she knows it.

We meet Catwoman breaking into a lavish suite that occupies the entire top floor of a skyscraper.  She effortlessly sidesteps the security alarms, laser motion sensors, etc. and finds the wall safe.  Without much trouble, she opens the safe and withdraws a handful of jewels.

Batman's shadow falls over her.  She's surprised to see him, but won't show it for more than a fraction of a second.  She attempts to justify her thievery that the rich man who bought these jewels for his mistress is a bad guy.  Maybe they're blood diamonds or whatever.  Batman calls her on it, asking if she plans to fence the jewelry and give the money to children in need or something.

"I'm getting mixed signals from this chick."
After a bit of flirting and fighting and flirting whilst fighting, which may involve fleeing the penthouse after tripping the alarms and chasing across rooftops, Batman tells her he needs to know the name of the thief who broke into S.T.A.R. Labs the night before.  Catwoman tells him to give her a week.  Batman wants the name tonight.

Cut to Catwoman strutting through a loud night club.  This should be as racy as it can be without making the movie inappropriate for kids.  So instead of strippers, women might be dancing in cages (perfectly appropriate for all ages).  Catwoman walks in like she owns the place, making a direct line for a guy in the back.  People notice her.  Musclemen and bodyguards get her in way.  She disarms and immobilizes them all without breaking stride.

(I hear Roxette's "The Look" playing loudly in the club during this scene.)

Catwoman finds her target, a shifty-looking snitch, wraps her whip around his neck and drags him into the manager's office, again without ever losing momentum.  She kicks the door shut.

Back to Batman and Catwoman on a rooftop.  She shows him the file of the man he's looking for on a tablet or smartphone.  She reveals he's an ex-military mercenary named John Corben.**

John Corben/Metallo (Michael Biehn)

Metallo is my favorite Superman villain, and failure of imagination is the only explanation I can think of why he hasn't appeared in any of the six Superman films to date.  He's a cyborg with the brain of a killer named John Corben, and his cold mechanical body is coated with synthetic skin.  Sound familiar?  (Before you accuse me or DC of ripping off the King of the World, understand that Corben's story predates James Cameron's film by a couple decades.)  Now take all the good stuff you know about the Terminator and give him a heart of kryptonite: that's Metallo!

For the purposes of this story, John Corben is former Special Forces turned mercenary, and perfectly human.  For now.  I'll get into the Metallo-ness of his persona when that part of the story presents itself.

Did you catch those references to The Terminator and James Cameron before?  Totally intentional, as was the decision to cast  Michael Biehn as Corben.  Biehn is a veteran of three Cameron films, he's played a soldier in those and other movies, but mostly it's the Terminator connection that tickles me.  Ah, the sweet reversal of the all-too-human hero of the first Terminator becoming a very Terminator-like villain so many years later.

On the roof, as Batman reviews the file on Corben, Catwoman points out that his presumed base of operations is Metropolis.  Catwoman asks Batman if he's leaving town will he bring her back something shiny to play with.  Batman says, "Behave yourself, Selina," leaps from the roof with cape spread like wings, and glides away.

To Be Continued…

* The scene with Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox is presumably the only scene in Gotham City set during the day up to this point.  Depending on the windows and natural lighting in the office, though, I would want the outside to appear overcast or even rainy.  We're in Gotham for most of the first half hour of the movie and I want to clearly define it as the Dark City in contrast to Metropolis that we'll spend most of our time in for the rest of the film.  Metropolis will have lots of daytime scenes, and even at night, it's brightly lit and flashy--something Batman will hate.

** At one point, I thought of making the thief Carl Sands, also known as Shadow Thief, but I chose Metallo because I wanted moviegoers to know Superman has more enemies than Lex Luthor and General Zod.