Okay, I had a lot of fun last year doing the 12 Days of Pitchmas, pitching 12 films set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So this year I’m doing Pitchgiving for movies set in the DC Extended Universe. My plan at the moment is to do one pitch a week for twelve weeks, posted on Friday. Depending on how this goes, I might also do a Pitchmas, too, but given that that’s 3 months from now I’m not making any promises.
The rules are basically:
No sequels to already established movies/teams
No stories I’m already aware of (it’s possible I’ve missed reporting of a thing, but I’m the one holding me accountable for this)- I may pitch a movie that’s only been titled but that I know nothing about (as I did with Blade last year).
Hopefully you have as much fun with this as I do.
I’m assuming we’d go with an arc featuring Deathstroke as their big-bad, setting up Terra to get recruited in the first one, then betray the team in the second, for a third-part finale. I’d shoot for a combo of the Johns era team, and the classic team (Robin, Beast Boy, Raven, Starfire and Cyborg); for this one probably add in Superboy and Wonder Girl, reserve Impulse and Aquagirl for the sequel, maybe pull in Speedy and Ms. Martian for the third. I think Batman convinces Robin to attend/run a ‘camp’ for young heroes on the West Coast, one part Heroing 101, one part getting them out of their mentors’ hair while they deal with something big and dangerous. Robin is, at first, a controlling, entitled dick, assuming he’s the only one who knows what he’s doing (to be fair, he is the most experienced- though if we keep JL Cyborg that might be a point of contention- which could be fun). His co-leader is Wonder Girl, who runs the women’s side of things. Yeah, this basically starts as a summer camp thing.
“This is dumb,” Robin says, throwing his tights into a suitcase.
“It’s an opportunity,” Batman says. “To build your own community.”
“A redundant web of superhumans independent of yours, in case the Justice League is ever incapacitated.”
Batman smiles, ever so slightly. “It isn’t just that. The work we do is… unique. There aren’t a lot of people who can understand it- or us. Being understood for who and what we are can make the difficult choices we have to make worthwhile.”
“It’s summer camp.”
“It’s a team building exercise.”
“Two problems with that: we aren’t a team, and I’m not a team player.”
“You’re already an excellent partner; being on a team is just being a good partner to multiple people at once.”
“You’d never have made Dick join a team,” he pouts.
“The Titans were Dick’s team. They helped him become a man- it helped him become his own man.”
“So you’re trying to get rid of me.”
“I didn’t want to get rid of Dick.” Batman sighs. “One of the hardest things about being a father is letting your children go. It was hard, with Dick; we fought, a lot, and there’s still a strain there. I hope I’ve learned from it. But you’re always welcome here, and you’re always welcome as a partner. I want you to have the freedom to be the man you choose- whoever that ends up being.”
I think we do similar scenes, at least with the big 3, setting up that Wonder Girl (Cass) is uncertain about taking on a leadership role, since she’s pretty green. Diana reminds her that she trained with the Amazons, so she knows how to support people, build them up, and strengthen them as a group.
Superboy is worried about getting pushed around by Robin as he and Superman fly to San Francisco. “Tim’s, the current one, is the third Robin. Dick was the first.”
“No, I said a.”
“Jerk, then. Why is everyone in Batman’s entourage a jerk? Is that their organizing principal? An overdeveloped jerk gene?”
“Our ‘family’ are lucky, Connor. We were blessed with extraordinary abilities, and the responsibility to use them to help people. Batman’s people… come from tragedy. They’re trying to put the world right, so what happened to them doesn’t happen to anyone else. Sometimes that makes them tightly wound. But they are good people.”
“Is that why you let Batman push you around?”
“There isn’t anyone I couldn’t push around. But you know what takes more strength? Not letting what you can do overtake what you should do. The world is better off when I work with Batman, so I do.”
“He’s still a jerk. I am not ready to deal with all these jerks.”
Cass and Robin meet first. They share an intellectual connection- both type As who are organized and competent and used to carrying others on their shoulders. Connor bumbles in and he’s a bull in their China shop, but he also sparks Cass’s curiosity. I don’t want a full-blown love triangle, but Robin getting miffed at Connor for being the easy heart-throb of the team can spark the larger conflict between them, that Tim doesn’t see him as serious, and Connor sees him as overly serious.
We meet the rest of the campers: Starfire, Raven, Terra and Beast Boy. Starfire is an aloof but passionate weirdo warrior princess from beyond the stars. Raven is a haunted, sardonic witch who likes people more than she’s figured out how to articulate. Terra is a bubbly, girl next door with a smile that melts hearts. Beast Boy is the youngest, or at least the youngest at heart, he’s everybody’s goobery little brother who can’t stop making animal/fart jokes. The dynamics are roughly that Raven is jealous of the easy charisma/fitting in of Cass, and Starfire is both the biggest outcast and the least aware of that fact. Terra’s a bit of a tomboy, and she and Beast Boy get along swimmingly. I think Cyborg is there as support personnel, utilizing his tech to cook their meals. He’s also quasi there to keep an eye on them, too, though his instructions were to let them make their own mistakes. We also meet the camp site, a series of small cabins, and a central meeting hall where they dine. There’s also a lake for them to swim at.
I’d probably play most of the story as a coming of age/campground flick, but as things progress, the place goes from spooky to downright malevolent, with an escalating series of ‘accidents’ that nearly hurt them. Robin narrowly prevents Beast Boy from dying in a freak accident as a support beam collapses, nearly hitting him. The beam doesn’t look tampered with- but the odds that the beam fell when it did, that naturally occurring damage eroded it in just the way it did are infinitesimal. He tells Beast Boy that if they’re under siege, the skill, talent and caution of their attacker rivals Batman’s, which of course makes them immediately assume it’s a test. Robin calls Bruce, who is in the middle of a fight with criminals but doesn’t stop talking (or punching) while denying involvement.
So Tim and Cass set up a trap, maybe revolving around them doing a dance. That gives us a chance to pair our characters off, at least in the short term. Cass asks Connor. Starfire asks Tim. Terra asks Beast Boy. And the set up works, and they end up ensnaring Deathstroke in their trap. He monologs, and the Titans get cocky- only for Rose to shoot Deathstroke loose, and provide covering fire. Connor stands in the path of the gunfire, amused. Tim gets hit. At first Connor is flip, while Starfire rushes to his side. “He’s a bat person. They play 9th degree chess and have armor built into their Underoos.” When he doesn’t hear more, his voice trembles when he glances back, “Right?” Tim’s bleeding.
Connor wants to fly him to a hospital, but Tim says he’ll bleed out if they don’t stabilize him first. Tim barks orders, essentially overseeing his own emergency surgery. Cass uses her lasso to tourniquet the leg. He has Connor use x-ray vision to tell him about the shape of the bullet, which pancaked and continues to slice at his femoral artery. He has Raven clamp down on the artery so he doesn’t pass out, then Beast Boy shrinks down and becomes a small creature to block the artery. Wonder Girl goes in after the bullet with her fingers, and manages to pluck it out. “I need a ride to the hospital.” Superboy steps forward. “Not you.” Wonder Girl picks him up. “We aren’t all bulletproof,” Tim says through bloodied teeth as he strips away his mask. Wonder Girl flies off with Tim.
We cut back to the dark dining hall, where Superboy is standing alone. Cyborg enters.
“I screwed up,” Cyborg admits.
“Really? Cause I’m pretty sure I’m the one who let Robin get shot.”
“Batman asked me to come here. Keep an eye on you kids.”
“It was on me to keep you safe.”
“I assume you don’t have kids,” Connor says. “Even normal kids get hurt. Put them in tights and tell them to charge a super villain with a gun and- you weren’t here to keep us safe. You were here to make sure we didn’t get each other killed. And I nearly did.”
“Kind of sounds like we both screwed up,” Cyborg says.
“Yeah,” Connor says. “So what are we going to do to make it right?”
The answer is, they track down Deathstroke, using Cyborg’s sensors and Connors senses. They find the cabin at the lake he was staging his attacks out of, and then track him to a base on the edge of the city. Cyborg wants to charge in, to get some payback. “No,” Connor says. “I screwed up last time by not thinking. We need a plan. And we should get backup.”
Back at the hospital, Robin waits until the nurse is done checking his vitals, then hobbles out of his room. The rest of the Titans are in the waiting room, dressed in their civilian clothes; Terra is missing, but don’t draw attention to it. “You shouldn’t be walking,” Starfire says, moving to support him.
“You don’t honestly think that’s the first time I’ve been shot, do you?”
“I kind of want to shoot him right now,” Connor says, before realizing it’s probably too soon. Pan around the room, everyone else looking horrified. “Uh,” Connor’s flailing.
Stop at Tim, and we linger a moment before he bursts out laughing, and slaps Connor on the back. “I’m actually starting to like you. Now lets get out of here before the cops show up.”
We cut to Deathstroke’s base. Cyborg is there, monitoring, until he’s hit from behind by a chunk of rock. Terra enters. She’s shaken up. Whatever the plan was, watching Robin get shot really messed her up. I think I would tweak the Deathstroke/Terra relationship. She’s desperate for a familial connection. She wants a family, and to feel loved. She gets the former from Deathstroke and Rose, but he’s also essentially grooming her at the same time. To my mind, it’s not because he wants her, personally, but because he knows that he needs his hooks in her deep for the betrayal that is to come. I’m sure even this idea is controversial- even for a villain, and I wouldn’t be surprised if DC balked at getting anywhere close to that topic (I mean, I’m not the one who made Deathstroke a statutory rapist- this is, if anything else, a slight modernization of the concept). But the key takeaway is Rose and Deathstroke love-bomb her to make her feel appreciated and cared for, with just enough withholding to keep her seeking approval.
The Titans arrive, with Cyborg rubbing his head. Terra flees, so as not to ruin her cover, getting out just in time. This fight goes differently, with Deathstroke having set traps specific to the Titans all over his base. The traps whittle down the Titans, until it’s just Robin fighting Deathstroke- which might have been a good fight, if he weren’t recently gunshot. Robin’s losing, trying to buy time and keep Deathstroke talking. Deathstroke claims they’re a job- nothing more. Robin’s horrified that the job might be from Batman, and trying to pull that information out of Deathstroke while losing… he doesn’t get confirmation. But he does buy enough time for his team to rally, and take Deathstroke down. At the last minute Rose arrives with a helicopter, dropping a ladder for Deathstroke.
“Flip a coin for who gets to rip it out of the sky?” Superboy asks Cass. The chopper fires a volley of missiles across the bay at San Francisco.
“Shoot them down,” Robin barks, and anyone capable of firing (Cyborg, Starfire, Raven) shoot down as many as they can. It’s not enough. “Flyers!” he yells. Everyone takes flight, with Starfire looping back and picking up Robin. She drops him on a missile that he disables and flips off of, and she catches him after destroying a missile herself. The rest take out missiles, too.
They meet atop a giant T shaped tower. “Deathstroke?” Robin asks. Cyborg scans, Superboy too.
“Must be some high end tech if we can’t find it.”
“Yeah,” Robin says, his eyes narrowing.
Cut to an underground base. Deathstroke is having a video call with Lex Luthor. “And he thinks it was Batman?”
Deathstroke is a little worse for wear, maybe in a sling. “The seed was there without my having to plant it. All I did was give it space to grow.”
Back to the rooftop, Terra lands behind them. “Where were you?” Robin asks, coldly, even for him.
“Sorry,” she says. “Seeing you get shot, I needed to clear my head. I went for a run. Then I saw the fighting,” she drops the remains of a missile, smashed between a pair of rocks, “so I came to help.”
“I’m just glad you’re okay,” Beast Boy says, nuzzling her. “Yeah,” Robin says, as we zoom in on his face, clearly suspicious, “me, too.”