12 Days of Pitchmas, Part 2: West Coast Avengers

West Coast Avengers

Note: Just saw one of the WandaVision stills which makes me think the show may be covering some of this territory… but this pitch was already written, and all I could really do was bump it up the schedule a few slots to try to get it ahead of any other reveals…

Avengers cast-offs, mostly, people who didn’t make the cut, kind of appropriating the name they don’t have any rights to. Simon Williams (played by Nathan Fillion again, even if his scenes were cut from Guardians 2) takes down Hawkeye’s portrait and heaves a heavy sigh, the rest of the West Coast Avengers portraits are hanging still, and I’m thinking there’s an alternate Quicksilver, who was a mutant in an alternate reality before ending up here. “Didn’t even last long enough to get his name added to the lease… Stark’s outfit might not have standards, but here on the West Coast, we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior.” We don’t see who he’s sparring with. “Don’t you have a sex tape, Simon?” “Yes, and I performed beautifully on it- and I didn’t resort to any rough stuff. Didn’t get my TV show out of it. That was for-” “Being a washed-up has-been of a” “redundant retort? And besides, we’ve got a perfectly servicable Hawkeye right here.” It’s Kate Bishop. “Why Simon Williams, you could charm the pants off a cat.” “Like you wouldn’t take back-end points to co-star with an animated cat…” he mutters.

I’m going to tell you now: large sections of this will be based on Tom King’s The Vision; I will spoil the crap out of it, and it’s worth reading if you dig contemplative sci fi; it also presents a challenge, since so much of the story is told through prose. But I’m a glutton for punishment, so here we go. 

It’s a dingy, dismal, rainy LA night. As Victor walks under the street lights, they flicker, with a blast of electricity shooting down from the last as he reaches his destination, bathing the storage unit in darkness. He looks flesh and blood, what of him we can see. Victor opens the unit, switching to a low-light vision mode; we see his blank, expressionless face as he performs various maintenance tasks to chambers that will resemble the one from Age of Ultron. Over this, the sound of Dr. Bruce Banner’s voice lecturing a hall breaks in. “At the time, we knew Ultron and Vision were engaged in a high stakes game of chess for the codes to the global nuclear stockpile, while we were trying to find and shut down all of his bodies. What we didn’t know until later was that Ultron was really more of a virus, leaving his malicious code everywhere he went. But Vision knew, and he did the same to his own code; turning it into a virus specifically designed to co-opt Ultron’s coding. When he was alive, Tony, he let me think he programmed Jarvis- the AI that became the Vision- to do that. I may never have known otherwise, but when he passed, he left me his notes on Vision and Ultron, even bolded the words so I couldn’t miss it. Tony was like that. Brilliant. And a dick.”

We cut back to the low-light vision as the first cradle opens, and a very Vision-like hand reaches out. “Vision was my friend, like too many, taken too soon. The things we could have learned from him, could have discovered with him.” A whole new Vision pulls himself out of his cradle. He turns to Victor, and they shake hands before saying, “Brother” each in turn. Vision then opens a second cradle, this one housing a female Vision named Virginia. Two smaller cradles sit in the corner, conspicuous but unopened as the pair embrace.

Cut to a very normal suburban home, notable only for the hovering mailbox out front. Cut inside, where Vision and Virginia are seated in front of the television, watching footage of Vision on the news, with a scrawl stating that he died five years ago. “I’m afraid you are dead, my love,” Virginia states coldly. “And yet, I function,” he says. They are both dressed a little too old-fashioned. “Are the children yet returned from school?”

Cut back to Bruce at the lecturn again. “What we found out, only later, was that Vision created himself as much as Ultron, Tony or I did. After Ultron attempted to shred his programming, he reached out into the bowels of the internet. There weren’t other AIs like him in existence, let alone ones connected to the web. But he did find a project at UCLA. Simon Williams,” the audience burst into laughter, “yes, the star of Some Kind of Wonderful, he had been in an on-set VFX accident. Doctors weren’t certain he’d ever wake up, so they were endeavoring to digitize his thoughts and personality. Vision used this code to replicate the missing pieces of himself, taking on Williams, ahem, dynamic personality.” More hoots from the audience. “Easy for a physicist to take potshots at a celebrity,” Simon says, standing up in the audience. “I see the Avengers sicced their attack dog.” “My cousin is our attack dog- and she’s a hell of a lot more reasonable than I am.” “And I take it I wouldn’t like you when you’re unreasonable.” “But for all I care, you’re infringing on the Avengers copyright.” “Your killer robot infringed on my mind, first. I think that puts us square.” “Having seen it at work, I’m surprised he could button his own cape- proving in this instance the copy is better than the original.” More laughter, and Simon storms out.

“Darn,” Vision says, looking at his phone in his quaintly suburban home. “Mr. Lee left the artwork in the office; it needs to be at the printer within the hour. I’ll have to fly in. I’ll be home as quickly as possible.” He kisses her cheek demurely, and leaves out the front, running into Vin and Viv, their children, on the porch. “Greetings, father,” they each say in turn. “Children. Our dinner conversation will be postponed while I return to the office. Perhaps you could attend to your studies while I am away.” “Yes, father,” they say in turn.

Outside the lecture hall. “I told you not to match wits with the Professor,” Hawkeye says to a dejected Wonder Man. “I thought the Hulk am dumb.” “You’re thinking of that lunkhead brother of yours. The, what’s he call himself?” “Lunkhead?” “When in Rome, and with you, lunkhead seemed appropriate.” “You’re not going to start hounding me about him, too, are you?” “Implying there was ever a point when I intended not to? The clown calls himself the Grim Reaper, but looks like a pride float drove into a knife store.” “That feels a mite homophobic.” “Only if you feel criminals and floats should wear the same gaudy attire.”

Cut back to the Vision home, where there’s a knock at the door. We see the silhouette of a reaper- I’m thinking play up the cloak aspect and a skeletal mask, rather than the one he clearly stole from Hela’s closet. Close in on Virginia, worried, and not sure how to react to being worried.

Back to the lecture hall, Hawkeye pointing her phone at Simon. “Look at that helmet. I bet he gets great AM/FM reception.” “Kidding aside, he’s unwell,” Simon says seriously.

Cut to the Vision home, the door kicked in, splinters flying through the air as the doorknob becomes a projectile. Virginia, barely contemplating it, phases through it. Viv is nearer to the door, so when he turns his weapon and fires, it’s into Viv’s stomach. He’s approaching Vin, menacingly. Slow pan in on Virginia, as we hear screams, crying, Viv repeating, “Mother, mother, mother, mother,” on a loop. We can barely make out Reaper screaming, “You took my brother” and “You’re not real,” as it’s drowned out by the other sounds.

“Seriously, he needs help,” Simon says.  “I’m sure if we report him to the fashion police he can get all the help he needs. Now come on. I’ll buy you a cheeseburger, and you can forget all about the big green man who made fun of you.” He starts to follow her, and she stops him. “What have I said? Respectful distance. The last thing I need is anyone thinking we’re together.” “But we are together.” “In that we shared a car here, and are in the same room currently. But you’re only about one Cheeseburger from paradise, if you know what I mean.” “I know Buffet- but I’m not entirely sure you know what you mean.”

Cut back to the Vision home. Vision has his sleeves rolled up, and is trying to fix his daughter to no avail. Virginia is only semicoherent, repeating words at random as she explains that she chased off the Reaper before he was able to cause their son more than a flesh wound. “Her power systems are failing,” Vision says, lifting her from the floor. “I require more energy to reboot her, before the failure becomes irreversible.” He flies into the sky, and she’s about to follow, when she glances back at Vin, grasping the flap of ‘skin’ hanging off his arm and staring at the fluids that poured out of his sister. Virginia walks over to their son, while calling Vision. “Where are you going?” “The Palo Verde nuclear facility has the largest capacity available in the area.” “She can’t handle that kind of charge.” “Correct. I intend to use myself to absorb enough of the overage to protect her systems.” “You’ll die,” Virginia says, betraying her first real hint of emotion. “Perhaps. But if I expire, it will be resuscitating our daughter. I love you, Virginia.” He hangs up. Vision bursts through a metal door into the dam, and finds a large coupling and tears it out of the wall. He strokes his daughter’s hair, and says, “I love you, Viv.” He grabs the sparky end of the coupling in one hand, and touches the other to her shoulder. For a moment they both are lit by the arcing electricity, before the power dies and the room goes black. We see the room in Vision’s low-light mode. “Damage detected” flashes in the bottom right, as he looks at his daughter, motionless. Then she sits upright, gasping.

Phone ringing, before Kate picks it up. She sees it’s Simon, and makes a face. “No, no no no and ew.” “What? Oh. The time. Sorry. It’s not… what it seems like.” “Better not be. I’m an excellent shot.” “It’s my brother. He’s been missing. Days, now.” “And you think Clint gave me a doofus-seeking arrow. Actually, he might- nope. Boxing glove, one that says ‘Long Distance Gerbil Delivery System’ with a Post-it about needing a new gerbil.” “I figured, you spent some time with him, maybe he taught you how to, I don’t know, track people.” “In the hit a moving target sense, yes. In the Sam Spade one? No.” “Normally I wouldn’t ask. Or, normally I’d ask someone else, but Quicksilver ran down a list of every single place he’s used his debit card in the last seven years.” “I’m assuming a lot of adult bookstores.” “More than you would have thought there were in the area, yeah. But, Kate, please. I’m freaking out, here. Even if it’s just moral support, keep me from making matters worse.” “I bet he had a whole quiver full of doofus-seeking arrows, but used them all up on you, didn’t he?” “That a yes?” “I’ll meet you at the least adult bookstory place you want to check first.” 

Cut to school. Vin is flexing his fingers, staring at the repaired tear. CK approaches him. “Hey, you’re, uh, Viv’s brother, right?” “Correct,” Vin says noncommittally. “I’m her lab partner, in chem. I heard you guys had like a break-in, right? Must have been intense. And she’s… okay?” “She is recuperating. My parents believe she will return to optimal operation shortly.” “Right? Cool. Um, say, I, I said we, we’re lab partners, right? Mrs. Arcuda gave her an extension, but I’d still, like, we were working together really well, and I… I’d like to be able to call her, keep up work on the project. So, could I get her phone number? You people have phones, right? Are you even listening to-” Vin seizes him by the throat, holding him in the air. “Viv believes we are not so different from humans. Example, I’m depressing a nerve sensor in the walls of your carotid artery- for all intents and purposes your off switch. It exists to prevent the heart from flooding the brain with blood; currently, it is preventing any bloodflow to your brain at all.” CK’s face is going blue, and Vin drops him into a ball on the floor.

The Visions are sitting in the principal’s office. “Frankly, were it up to me, I’d bounce your kids so hard from here they’d land on the sun.” “That seems unlikely.” “I don’t see you sending them to my school as any different from a kid bringing a gun. They’re deadly weapons.” “They are sentients, children.” “Yeah, well, the Superintendent’s kid’s got all your merchandise. And your friends brought her husband and her other kid back, after Thanos… so today, against my better judgement, you and your screwed up kids get a pass.” He grabs Vision by the wrist. “But I swear, either of those kids of yours screws up at all, and I will hold a press conference, torpedo my entire career. Because those kids are my responsibility, and I’m not going to let a pair of overprivileged toasters-” Vision phases through the principal’s grip. “I believe that the amicable portion of our discussion has ended, and suggest we cease, lest the situation prove hazardous. You have been drinking, after all, and in your elevated condition may act out unwisely.” The principal narrows his eyes, recognizing the implicit threat.

Simon and Kate meet on the street. “I thought you were coming in costume.” “No. Makes people nervous, and it kind of makes people assume I’m a sex worker- which is not the kind of attention we need if we’re keeping it low-key.” They track him down to a low-life bar, mostly supercriminals wearing their civvies, along with some Pride-associated henchmen. Simon unrolls a few hundreds for one of them to tell him his brother got agitated when the Alex Jones-alike program in the bar discussed rumors of a return of the Vision. He got hammered, then went looking for their residence. Most of them assume nothing happened, that Grim was always getting upset over this or that, throwing a tantrum, then got found sleeping it off in a park or the gutter. “Seems like all roads lead to Vision, huh?” Kate asks. Simon shrugs noncommittally.

Viv is back at school, and CK offers to walk her home. “You know, I could carry your books, if that would help.” “They are not heavy, and my repairs are complete. But a walk. I think I would like that.” They have a pleasant bonding walk, teenage romance blossoming for about as long as we can stand it before cutting.

There’s a knock at the Vision home, and Virginia tenses. She edges to it, opens, and finds a phone, with the code on a post-it note on it, and the instructions to “Play video.” She does, and we see her digging in the back yard, covering something up. The shakey phone footage moves to a different angle, where we can see the remains of the Grim Reaper that she’s burying. The phone chimes, with a text message, directing her to a house down the street. She’s halfway out the door. “Who is it, Virginia?” Vision asks. “One of the neighbors,” she says, “believe their dog has gotten loose. I told them I would help find it.” She leaves, and walks several blocks to the house.

“Come on in, Mrs. Vision.” He’s got a gun tucked into his pants. “It’s Virginia.” “Virginia. My son’s CK, the boy, the boy your son nearly strangled in the cafeteria. I wasn’t, I was over there to talk to you, when I saw what you… I didn’t mean to see what I saw. But after what your boy did, what you did. You don’t belong here. I want you and that little electric slut of a daughter-” “No,” Virginia says. “This is our home. We will not be, be threatened out of our home.” “Dad?” CK asks, coming into the room, “why are you yelling?” “You stay back, you, you metal,” as Virginia phases through the gun, he fires, hitting CK several times in the chest. “You, you killed my boy,” he says, crumpling to the ground. “No,” she says, making a fist. “Just you.” She hits him in the head and it’s a nasty impact, then to black. 

“You should have called sooner,” Mockingbird (that’s right, Adrienne Palicki- in general I’m for giving the hard-working Marvel TV folks a shot at the big leagues, personally) tells Simon. We might recognize the location from earlier, the storage where the Visions were first found. “I have access to SHIELD resources, and a rolodex, you don’t.” She steps out of the way to reveal Tigra. “Anything, Greer?” “It’s like you suspected, we’re the first people in this room in years.” “But the records on it say it’s been being paid in cash monthly, registered to one Victor Mancha.”

Cut to, as his name is mentioned, Victor, looking more normal than before, like a regular kid. “Honey, could you get that?” his mom asks from elsewhere in the house. “Shuh,” he says around a mouthful of pizza. He opens the door wide, only to be hit with electricity. His eyes roll back in his head and he falls to the floor. “Victor?”

They’ve taken him back to the storage shed. “Like I said, access to a better rolodex.” Whoever the ‘new’ Iron Man from IM4 turns out to be, they’re here, take a poke around in Victor’s head (Note: like I said, I bumped this pitch forward).

“I don’t know… what you’re asking for, it’s like, trying to use an unbroken bronco to pull a carriage full of eggs. Even if we can I don’t know if it’s wise.” “I don’t think we have any other options.” “I can try and put in some failsafes, so he can’t hurt anyone… but his core coding is an offshoot of Ultron’s.” “I need to know what happened to my brother,” Simon says, “even if it’s to know we need to hold a funeral.”

Cut to the Vision home, the back yard. Dirt flings past camera, and we pan over to a hole, the hole Virginia had dug. The neighbor dog is standing on the Reaper’s corpse, wagging his tail. He barks, then nips the Reaper’s bladed gauntlet. Pan back and away, there’s the sound of electricity and then an explosion. Inside, Vision hears it, and goes outside. We see the most emotion on his face we’ve ever seen as he sees the Reaper’s corpse, along with the neighbor’s dog.

Knock on the Vision front door. Vision opens it, and he and Victor shake hands, and say, “Brother,” in turn. “I heard,” Victor starts, “that the family was having some… difficulties adjusting.” “Difficulties may perhaps be understating the issue. Please, enter.” The home has been destroyed. “Remodeling?” Victor asks. Virginia is there, in the background, but she’s frightened, trying desperately to blend into the background. “Yes. I have read that to truly create a home, one must start from the most primordial elements. I do not understand completely; it puts me in mind of p and not p- p, problems solveable by computing, and not p, those that cannot.” “Yes, and p vs np is itself a question that may be either p or not p- unless or until an artificial intelligence can decipher an efficient test of p.”

Cut to an art museum, Vision and Victor about town. Victor: “You’ve got a really great family. But does it ever, is it hard to keep them great? Feels like that would be a lot of pressure. I guess, my mom’s human, and I’d do anything for her, but the idea of trying to keep a family like yours together… I want that, some day, what you have, but it just seems like it would be so much, you know” Vision doesn’t reply, but stares on.

Victor is walking through the snow outside, talking on the phone. “There’s something, something Vision won’t tell me, but he wants to. He’s a blank slate, but I know he knows something about your brother, Simon, and he’ll…” “Who’s Simon?” Vin asks, dropping down from the sky; he’s only just starting to become afraid. “Are you… spying on us? Who’s Simon?” he asks, sounding much more like a human boy his age. “Vin, calm down, I can explain,” Victor grabs his shoulder. “You’re here to hurt us,” Vin says, trying to break free. “Shh, if you’ll calm down, I can,” panels in Victor’s arm opens, and starts to spark with electricity. Recognizing the threat, the jewel on Vin’s head starts to glow. “Wait, Vin.” Vin is electrocuted, and his charred body falls into the snow. “Vin? Oh, God, no,” Victor says. He runs.

Inside the kitchen, Vision and Virginia are having a tense moment. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I did what I thought correct in the moment, to protect the children, and I hid it to protect you. If I could undo it, even at the sacrifice of myself-” the electrical explosion in the back catches Vision’s attention, and he phases through the wall into their backyard. His son is smoking on the ground, the snow melting where his body has touched down. He picks him up and cradles him.

“I thought you said you were programming in failsafes,” Simon barks at the Iron Man replacement. “I did. But I failed to specify sentients… I hard-coded into Victor a superceding directive to shut down rather than risk injuring a person, but… his programming didn’t consider the Visions people.” “He’s going to come for all of us,” Victor says. “I don’t want to die.” Montage as they try to set up defenses to make Simon’s mansion more defensible against Vision. Vision’s a bad ass, wading through all of the West Coast Avengers; they put up a good fight, but they’re outclassed, and one by one he puts them down.

The Iron Man replacement is the last one standing, because they’re guarding Victor. Vision shows, and IM explains they put a failsafe in Victor, that if Vision kills him, his electrokinesis will kill Vision just as it killed Vin, but implores that it doesn’t have to end with more death. Suddenly, IM is blasted from behind by Virginia, who has already phased her fist through Victor. “I explained to Viv my culpability in CK’s death. She was quite upset. Your presence has always calmed her.” “Virginia, don’t-” “I cannot lose you to my mistake,” she says, and tears out Victor’s circuits, before being engulfed in a ball of electricity.

She phases enough through it to still cling to life. Vision lifts her. “Please, take me home,” she says. Cut to the Vision living room, where Virginia sits on the couch. “Come, sit, let me lean against you. My head is heavy, and I would enjoy resting it against you.” She projects a hologram, of Vision in his superhero guise circa Age of Ultron. “A version of you was a hero who saved the world. It felt good, to save… you…” she dies, and we fade to black.

Viv is playing with a green Vision Dog, scritching his little belly. “Would you care to walk him with me?” she asks Vision. “I would,” he says, and rises. There’s a knock at the door. It’s Simon. “You… should not be here,” Vision says. “Were it just me, I might well have stayed away. But power like you have… we need you. The world will. And her. Maybe even the pooch.” He gives Vision his card with his agent’s name and number on it, and also his phone number scrawled on the back. “But while I’m here, please, whatever’s left, I’d like to be able to bury my brother.” “Burial,” Vision says, contemplative. “I do not understand the purpose.” “It’s about finding closure, about feeling like while some of your family is gone, their struggles are over. They’re at peace. I think we could all use more of that. Eric was a flawed guy, and I’ve known for a long time he had a bad end coming. I’m sorry that ending cost you so much, truly.” “We have lost much,” Vision looks back at Viv, “but we have the future to safeguard. If you require my assistance, I will provide it.”

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