Pitchgiving Part 4: Red Hood & The Outlaws

Start on a black screen, as John Henry Irons narrates. “I remember the day I met the Man of Steel.” A big hunk of wall is lifted off of him, by Superman. John rolls out, before Clark is hit from the side by Zod, dragging him back into the fight. “Most of Metropolis was evacuating. I couldn’t run. I’d been running my whole life.” He stops at his company, Iron Works, a relatively humble start up. “Now, it was time to stand my ground.” We see his Steel armor (it’s missing the cape and S symbol). Next we see the armor outside, stomping loudly across the pavement. We see his POV, as he scans. We also hear his phone, and a note that it’s dialing on his HUD. As the phone goes to voicemail, he finds three people under the rubble, with weak but persistent life signs. He uses a big old steel hammer to first crack a chunk of concrete, then prop something up so they can crawl out.

We reverse, to young Natasha Irons POV, and her narration. “I remember the day I met the Man of Steel,” she says, as she crawls out, and they both, in unison, “and how that day changed my life.

Cut to however many years later (I’m not being lazy- I don’t know when this would be filmed, so it could be 5, it could be 15), with text to that effect. An older Natasha is running excitedly through Iron Works, still modest, but also growing. “Uncle John?” she calls. “Uncle John.” She stops, seeing that the cradle where the Steel armor sits is empty. “Oh.”

John’s phone rings inside the suit. “I’m working,” he says. We watch his POV as he gets shot by a ‘gang member’- actually a merc hired by Luthor. He back hands them, and they crumple.

“Like hunched over your drawing table, doing what you pay yourself to do? Or hot-rodding in our irreplaceable six-million dollar prototype.”

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Besides, Bruce Wayne takes it personally when you don’t spend the whole grant in a fiscal year.”

“Yeah, well you’d undo a lot of good if you trashed our one and only exoskeleton; the entire economy of this neighborhood is built around our little startup.”

“I know. I built it.”

“Tell me at least you’re being careful.”

“Careful as I can be. What’d you need?” We see the plans in her hands, for adaptive armor plating. She tells him it can keep until he gets back, she doesn’t want to distract him. But he’s already distracted. His suit’s scanners find something. At first it says that it’s ‘unknown tech.’ He changes the scan parameters, and zooms, and this time it comes up with: “Origin: Iron Works, patent #TAOS-500-1993-06” “The hell?” he asks. He flies to the gang member, and snatches the gun from him, staring at the part while gripping his arm forcefully. “Where did you get this?”

“Uncle John? You okay?”

“Our tech,” he says. “They stole our tech. And put it into guns. I got to go, Tasha.”

Steel bursts through a wall, and destroys a high tech gun facility, smashing all their equipment and tech. It doesn’t need to take long. He flies back to the office, and is in the process of removing the suit when more gang members, similarly armed, break in. He’s still wearing part of it, but his chest is exposed, maybe his face. They set fire to the building, and shoot him several times as he fires back. They leave one man behind to make sure he doesn’t get out. He’s hit from behind by Steel’s hammer, wielded by Natasha. She gets John out to the street, and an ambulance, as the building and the rest of the armor burn.

Cut to Luthor, giving a press conference. Luthor for Mayor signs flank him, as well as balloons. “I’ve known John since he worked in our labs at LexCorp. A brighter mind I haven’t met, a brighter human flame I doubt could be. It’s a tragedy that his life has flickered out.” He’s interrupted by an aide. “I’m informed Irons has made a miraculous recovery. But still, I say, the price we nearly paid, the cost of his brilliance and his light, would have been too much. We can’t afford to pay it, and if we continue to allow this city’s lack of leadership, we will, again and again. So I’m asking, humbly, for your vote, this November. We don’t need super men to make Metropolis great again- we just need to work together.”

Cut to John’s hospital room, where Natasha is waiting for him to wake up. Jaime Reyes enters, and sits next to her. “So… this is weird,” Jaime says.

“You got that right. Absolute wrong time to hit on me.”

“Okay… so now it’s weird for two reasons. I work for Kord Industries. Some of our tech has been stolen, and somehow found its way into the hands of Metropolis gangs. I know the same thing has happened to you. And Queen Industries. Wayne Tech. LexCorp. And you know that Amazon flight that got shot down? We’re pretty sure that was to get their hands on Amazonian tech, too.”

“So what’s your point?”

“Well, we’d like to help. Exchange information. Try and figure out what’s going on.”

“And what are you going to do about it?”

“Me?” he chuckles, and we hear his Scarab suit assemble as her eyes go wide. “I’m a super hero.”

“Wait. I recognize you. You were a superhero. That UN team. You lasted about as long as Crystal Pepsi.”

“It’s not that team, and-” she starts to push him.

“And I want to be alone, with my uncle.”

“That could have gone better,” Red Hood says in the hallway- though we don’t see him yet.

“Yeah. I still don’t know why you had me talk to her.”

“Because I didn’t need her to join. Not yet. I just needed the seed planted. We’ll harvest it, in time.”

Natasha arrives at Iron Works. The building is a burnt-out husk. She pops her trunk, where the armor that John was still wearing is. She takes it inside, and finds the charred, shot up remains of the rest. And goes to work. She works the forge, crafting something new, something different. Her armor is sleeker, and, as the plans suggested, adaptive, lots of little moving parts; think similar to the Bay Transformer designs, only the plates shift to provide more strength or protection as the situation dictates.

Natasha, wearing her new armor, leaves Iron Works as the sun sets. On the roof as she flies off, we see Artemis, and Red Hood (again mostly in shadow or off screen). “I don’t understand your conviction that we need her,” Artemis says. Her costume design is clearly Amazonian, but I’d probably try to find some midpoint, where her fashion is eye-catching, but just this side of fashion forward enough that she could walk through town without people assume she’s going to a ren fair. She carries a shield and spear slung on her back.

“We’re a capable group,” he soothes. “But she’s a builder. Whoever’s behind this… they’re doing more than just bashing tech together. If we have to engineer our way out of this, we’ll need her. Unless you think you can design sophisticated cutting edge counter-measures requiring doctoral-level understanding of a half dozen scientific and engineering disciplines.” She shoves him, and we think for a moment that this is going to devolve into a brawl. She pounces on him, straddling him and kissing him; it borders on violent, and that’s part of why we cut quickly away.

We cut to Natasha, flying through the streets of Metropolis. She bursts through the door of another impromptu weapons assembly facility. She encounters resistance, but starts wading through it. One of the attackers circles around her, and is aiming a gun at her back. We zoom close to the trigger as he starts to pull it, and the gun goes off. She’s replaced in his sights by a big red S. Superman crushes his gun, before knocking him into the wall. Natasha spins around, surprised. Clark smiles. “Hope I can be of assistance.”

“You,” she says angrily, taking a step towards him.

“Me?” he asks.

She punctuates each sentence with a shove. “Where were you? When he was attacked. He called out to you. And you didn’t come.”

“I was across town. Parasite was trying to melt down the reactor at Star Labs. I couldn’t be in both places… I hoped John would be all right until I was done. I’m sorry, Natasha,” he squeezes her shoulder. “Your uncle’s a good man. I know he’ll be proud of you when he wakes up.”

“If,” she says bitterly. He smiles knowingly.

“I meant what I said, Natasha. If you want my help, I’m happy to. Especially thugs like these, who aren’t cautious about who might get caught in the crossfire-”

“Just don’t get in my way.” Montage, as they wreck up the place together, Superman mostly a blur. They finish, and Superman tenses. “Cat up a tree?”

“An abusive husband has taken his wife hostage- and is threatening to drop her off the top of the LexCorp Tower.”

“Go,” she says, and we pan out, showing her standing in the destruction, utterly alone.

Natasha drops her keys on her counter. She’s still wearing the suit, sans the helmet, which she sets down loudly on the counter beside her keys. The lights come on, turned on by Red Hood, sitting at the table in her nook. I’m assuming he’s wearing a domino mask resembling the one he wore as a Robin. He holds up his hands, with a little smile. “The hell are you doing here?” she asks.

“Largely what you just got done doing. And if I’m not mistaken, what you anticipate doing again in fifteen minutes, when the counterstrike occurs.” She tenses. “This is a honey pot, right? You’re goading them into attacking you, like they did your uncle- only they won’t catch you with your armor half off.”

“Okay. So how’d you know where to find me?”

“Iron Works was that workshop. With it destroyed, there weren’t a lot of places for you to take your gear. Your uncle has a storage unit outside town, but I checked, and there’s nothing there but some surplus décor and clothes- from when he downsized to an apartment.”

“My aunt’s things. She died, cancer; doctors think it probably had to do with the destruction in Metropolis- inhaling too much debris.”

“Ah,” he says. After a moment, he forces himself to say, “My condolences.”

“You don’t sound too… condoling.”

“My father was a great many things; empathetic is not one of them.”

“Sucks for you. Now tell me why you broke, entered, and I should treat you differently from the hood you are.”   

“When bad people steal dangerous tech, we take it back.”

“We?” I’m not sure the most fun way to do it would be, but we introduce the rest of the team; maybe they’re surrounding her in the shadows, and turn on more lights to show that.

“Most of us have been disavowed, fired, excommunicated. I’m dead.”

“You don’t look it.”

“Joker beat me nearly to death with a crowbar, before he changed his mind. What he said was, ‘Why kill the Boy Wonder once, when you can do it again and again and again?’ He’d kill me, and each time his sadistic doctor girlfriend would revive me. I died a dozen times before I got away. Found out later he killed another kid and blew up the corpse, to make Batman stop looking for me.”

“And what do I call you? Old Robin?”

“Technically I was the middle Robin, and Red Hood suits me just fine. And this is Arsenal, late of Queen Industries, and former protégé of the Green Arrow. If it fires a projectile, he can kill you with it.”

“Except a sling shot,” Arsenal says. “Man’s got to draw the line somewhere.”

“The lady in all the leather is Artemis. For all intents and purposes Wonder Woman’s bitchier sister. The other Amazons weren’t big enough zealots for her; they kicked her out of Paradise. But she’s still enough of a team player that she fights from the outside to keep their island, its people, and their tech, safe and secure. Oh, and don’t assume anyone else can call her bitchy. Even I’ll pay for it- eventually. And our speedster is Jesse Quick. Technically the Flash family have never patented anything, but there’s been some… exotic additions to the weapons. Utilizing the same Speed Force that lets her move at the speed of light.”

Jesse is a motormouth: “It is quite possibly literally the dumbest thing you could think to do with superspeed… but there’s also zero chance that he stops there. And Flash and Kid Flash were both busy with a thing, so they asked if I could assist. I think I was also driving them a little nuts in the house…”

“And you’ve met Jaime, on loan from Kord Industries. He’s still more connected with the public face, so he’s more liaising on this. He’s also the nicest of us, which is why I sent him in as our official condoler.”

Natasha stares at them a moment, before asking, “Wait, that guy with the bow literally wears a red hood but you’re Red Hood. How does that make sense?” she asks.

“I got to the name before he did.”

“And Arsenal’s cooler,” Arsenal says, though he doesn’t sound terribly certain.

“Really? Cause it kind of sounds like you just smashed ‘arse’ and ‘anal’ together,” Artemis says.

“Before this he was ‘Speedy,’” Red Hood says.

“Cause he can also move super fast?” Natasha asks.

“Nope. That’s Jesse.”

“Your names make no damn sense.” She pauses a beat. “How the hell did I end up on the island of misfit toys?”

“If it quacks like a duck…” Jesse offers with a shrug.

“Everyone quiet,” Jason (Red Hood) says, becoming serious. “A car just pulled up. Lights off.”

The room goes dark. Natasha puts her helmet back on, and we watch from her POV as she switches to night vision. The Outlaws take apart the fire team. They’re more vicious, generally, than you’d expect of a hero team (with Jesse, Jaime and Natasha on the less violent side- but it’s a spectrum). Jason captures two of them, including their leader, and interrogates them, running a prisoner’s dilemma, using little bits of information gleaned from largely uncooperative prisoners to imply their cooperation until one cracks completely.

Montage: they bust up several more places where guns are being assembled. Intercut, more footage of campaign stops and TV spots of Luthor claiming to be the only man who can make Metropolis safe again. Cut to another interrogation. The exhausted, bloodied attacker breaks, and admits, “It was Luthor. All of it. He built the guns. He bought the exotic hardware that goes into them.”

“Mr. Law and Order?” Arsenal asks.

“Mr. Always Just Barely Legally On this side of Law and Order,” Natasha corrects him. “He’s been skirting the law since he was in short pants. Figures this is all just one more scheme to get more power.”

“So there it is,” Red Hood says. “We bust into LexCorp, catch them red-handed with the tech, the invoices, the hardware, tie it all to a corrupt mayoral candidate, and it’s Miller Time.”

This sequence may get a little Ocean’s 11-like, but they bust in, make noise, wipe the stolen tech from LexCorp’s servers (after making sure all the plans print to every printer in the L-shaped building, first) and then bust out in time for the cops to find the guns. There’s a hiccup, when in the same facility laboratory space, they’re working on a killer robot or similar; Amazo might be a good choice. Amazo absorbs arsenal’s skills, and takes his bow, before shooting Artemis through the leg with an arrow. The Outlaws manage to by time locking themselves in a smaller side lab, and devise a plan: everyone is going to work together to buy Natasha time while she builds something that can take Amazo down- with the caveat that it has to be quick- before he can absorb its plans and turn them against them. They agree to leave Jesse with Natasha, both to help her, and because if Amazo is able to absorb her speed, he’ll be unstoppable.

Big fight, as Amazon one by one absorbs the mostly human talents of the Outlaws; Blue Beetle’s scarab proves to be a problem for him, and the magic that makes it go crashes his systems and forces him to have to reboot. Natasha builds them a two-step gun, first firing an electromagnetic pulse that should cripple most of his systems, then uses electromagnetism to fire her hammer through his chest. She designs it so Jesse can fire it, because she’s fast enough to get a bead on Amazo before he can try to absorb her powers or the gun’s tech. The combo disables the robot, and the Outlaws flee, narrowly avoiding the cops. Lex pivots, throwing one of his mid-level tech guys under the bus, probably Ivo but there are a lot of possibilities.

The emotional climax is they offer Natasha a chance to stay joined. She’s about to answer, when she gets a call from the hospital: her uncle John woke up. She has to go.

Clark Kent is there, reminiscing with John. He excuses himself quickly when he sees her. John tells her, “You, uh, just missed Superman. He told me what you did. For me. For Metropolis. He said he couldn’t be more proud of you. I told him I was. I want”

“Your suit back?” she asks, a little crushed at the prospect of giving it up.

He smiles, nodding at footage of her in the suit on the muted television. “I don’t think it fits me anymore.” We cut to his storage unit, where Natasha is helping him, using a cane temporarily. We hear his audio from the hospital room still, overlayed: “Besides, what kind of engineer would I be if I only had one prototype to tinker with?” He touches his palm to a picture frame, and the frame scans his hand, and suddenly the unit transforms, revealing an underground lab, and yes, an even fancier Steel prototype.

Natasha, walking on air, puts her keys back on her counter. Her apartment is still a little worse for wear from the fight inside it. “You never answered us,” Red Hood says, sitting in her nook again.

“Us?” she asks, turning and smiling. The rest of the Outlaws filter in. “I’m in.” 

Roll credits. Mid-credits Sequel Set Up:

“What is it, dick?” Arsenal asks Jason.

“Ironic time to call me that, because I’m trying to be sensitive, here.”


“I know. Something about a woman who kicks my ass as much during foreplay as sparring has softened me.”

“I think that’s called a bruise.”

“Regardless. I know you’ve had a… history with painkillers.”

“I was a junkie. No reason to sugar coat it.”

“I was told that was how you make the medicine go down, but you’re the expert. There’s a new synthetic on the streets of Gotham. It’s… nasty stuff. Batman… had a run in with it. Not only does it give you one hell of a rush, but it’s a supersteroid- the kind of leap you don’t make without dipping your hand into something cosmic, magic or our kind of high tech. Street name for it is Venom. It’s being run exclusively by a Santa Priscan gang called the Snake Kings; the mercs Santa Prisca brought in to fight the revolutionaries got a better offer from the rebels, and together took the country; they run gangs and an international drug trade from there. Makes Colombia look like a DEA front. You need to sit this one out, I can find myself another shooter.”

Arsenal bullseyes a picture in the center of a target; it might not be obvious, but it’s his own. “Nah, boss. Couldn’t live with myself if I passed up a chance to stomp some pushers.”

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