The Pitch: We start on a briefing largely presented by Daredevil and She-Hulk. She takes point, and has a more aggressive, prosecutorial demeanor. “Some of you have been Avengers, most of you have met them. This isn’t a task for them; theirs is a world of moral certitude, wholly pure good versus nightmarish evil. Our task is more subtle and more difficult, requiring us to exist within a world of gray.”
“I prefer black and white,” Punisher says, slamming home a magazine for emphasis; for further emphasis, he isn’t wearing the red skull uniform from the Thunderbolts, but his black and white uniform. “A world where the bad guys are dead, and everyone else is safer.”
“Please hold comments to the end,” Daredevil says coolly.
She-Hulk eyes him angrily, seething with a desire to smash, before continuing calmly, with a glint of humor in her eye. “The Kingpin is, first and foremost, a real-estate mogul. It is through those channels, and using those contacts, that Fisk built an underworld empire with ties to every known ethnic gang in New York City, with tendrils that go up and down the coast, and reach all the way into Pride territory in Los Angeles. It’s also where he derives his legitimacy and power; he’s been on a first-name basis with every Mayor we’ve had since the Chitauri invasion, and not a one of them has condemned him, not even when he spent time in a federal prison. He is more dangerous than any other criminal figure precisely because he has that deniability, that presumption of innocence, that invincibility. Leave that intact and he won’t see the inside of another cell, but damage it, and he becomes vulnerable.”
“Get me a vantage point and enough gun to cross the distance,” Punisher begins, “I’ll show him just how vulnerable he is.”
“This man’s a psychopath. You all know that, right?” Hawkeye asks, pointing a thumb at Punisher.
“I’m sorry, are arrows suddenly nonlethal?” Punisher asks.
“Quiet,” Daredevil yells. “We’re not here to police one another. Today, we’ve got a higher call to answer. Some of our alliances are going to be uneasy ones, but if we’re taking the fight to Wilson Fisk- and I mean really taking it to him- we’re going to have to accept any help we can get. But… I understand everyone has to follow their own conscience. Anyone who doesn’t want to work with Frank, doesn’t have to. But there are ways that he can hurt Fisk’s empire that the rest of us cannot.”
“That’s because he’s a domestic terrorist,” Hawkeye says.
“Not all of us are lucky enough to be spies and have SHIELD and Nick Fury okay the bombs we set,” Castle says. “And I’ve never killed anyone I didn’t intend to. You think your aim’s that good? You think Sokovia would agree?“ Hawkeye tries to throw a punch, but Spider-Man catches his fist with a web.
“Oh, come on,” Hawkeye says, as Punisher reels back to sucker-punch him. But he takes a boxing-glove arrow to the face, and we pan to see Kate Bishop is the one who fired it.
“I have always wanted to use the boxing glove arrow,” she says, overly proud of herself.
Punisher turns back angrily towards her. He does not draw, but even his scowl’s enough she kind of flinches. But Daredevil’s there, the angel on his shoulder. “Punching a man while he’s webbed up? Come on, Frank; you deserved that one.”
Punisher glares a second longer, before smiling, licking the blood off his lip. “Wasn’t very sporting,” he admits. “I’ve never had a lot of patience for Avengers sanctimony. They’re sloppy. Maybe when the threats get big enough, they deserve some more leeway… but you’ll never convince me that putting Stark in that armor instead of an actual soldier didn’t lead to a higher body count. And I’m still not sold on Operation: Kingfall. Or joining, however temporarily, your little band of Heroes for Hire. I’ve had a bad history with mercenaries.”
There’s a lot of that sentiment, actually; they came, out of respect, to hear the pitch, but so far the pitch has been more a presumption that they’re in. “Think that’s my cue,” Luke says, and stands up. Luke is the hype man for the Heroes for Hire; always has been. But this is still going to need one hell of a sell job. “I been a lot of things, in my day. But the one I kept coming back to was helping people. I know a lot of you were here through the worst of it. Kingpin took near everything away from us. So this could feel like revenge, petty, and mean-spirited, and frankly, beneath all of us.
“I also know those were lean times. We had to share the pot we pissed in. And I wouldn’t blame anyone who couldn’t do that all over again.” His face falls, like this is the ‘everyone who isn’t in can leave moment,’ “But the trick is we won’t have to. Kingpin’s stepped on a lot of toes, hurt a lot of good, reputable people’s businesses. And this is New York, so of course some of them are billionaire industrialists who don’t take kindly to having a criminal elbow his way to the head of the table. What I mean to say in all of this is: we’ve already been hired, ethical, corporate sponsorship. I’m talking salary, comped meals, new threads.”
Colleen Wing slaps Danny on the back, assuming Luke means Rand is picking up the check. He plays coy, but also lets everyone make that assumption. Most of us will, too, because Luke continues with the pitch. “Did I forget to mention he insisted we have this thing catered?” Servers start bringing in a spread on carts in silver serving dishes, fancy things, and at least for a moment, this wins people over.
We cut to later. Hawkguy is talking to Spider-Man over pizza; Spider-Man has his mask rolled up so he can eat. “We’re Avengers,” Hawkeye complains. “You’re supposed to have my back. I’m telling- wait, who’s in charge of the Avengers? Is it me?”
“It can’t be you. It’d be me before it was you.”
“Get back to me when you hit puberty. You’re just lucky there wasn’t a Young Avengers, then, or you’d be sitting at the kiddy table.”
“The kiddy table?” Kate asks.
“And by that I meant…” Clint turns towards Spider-Man, only to see that he’s leapt to the other side of the room. “He’s supposed to have my back…”
“That’s why you have me.”
“No one else brought their sidekicks…” he mumbles.
“I’m your partner– not that way. And I’m the only person but the guy in the red leather pants- which I’m very jealous of- whose gone toe-to-toe with Kingpin.”
“We’ve all, oh you mean when he rag-dolled you around a toy store. Sure. That’s a great reason to bring you along. Like distracting a pit bull with its favorite chew toy.”
It’s a great opportunity to catch up with some old friends, Jessica Jones checking out Hellcat’s new costume, that kind of thing. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little behind on the Netflix Marvel shows (I think Luke Cage and Defenders are the only ones I finished watching all the way through), but there were a lot of great characters so there’s plenty of room to have them bounce off of one another.
Daredevil catches Punisher sneaking out. “I work better alone,” Frank says, before we know Daredevil is there.
“Maybe. But you haven’t come any closer than the rest of us to neutralizing Fisk.”
“Neutralizing. Cute. Put me in a room with him, and he won’t leave it.”
“We don’t want him murdered. A dead Kingpin just opens up his influence and his territories to a successor. But a deposed Kingpin, one who falls, and hard, as an example to anyone else who would build that kind of empire…”
“What would you need me to do?”
“There are industrial drug processing facilities; most of the heroin on this seaboard pass through there.”
“None of it belongs to Fisk or his empire.”
“I think, whether his hands are technically on any criminal activity in the city, one of the reasons he has the clout he has is that he’s guaranteed the safety of every criminal working. Maybe they aren’t his facilities, but damaging them damages him, regardless.”
“Why not just call the cops?”
“I did. One of them was raided, eight weeks back. Everything was boxed up, put into evidence. Two weeks later it was back in one of their facilities, like it never happened. Same serial numbers. Same bricks of drugs. There isn’t a cop they can’t own or threaten- none with any kind of life expectancy.” That pisses Frank off.
“You make a compelling argument, councilor.”
“You going to be okay?”
“You aren’t that kind of counselor.”
“I’m not trying to be. But I’ve been alone. Isolated. It’s better to have people.”
“Not doing what I do.”
“I think especially doing what you do. Talk to Nick Fury. Talk to Hawkeye. Even if you don’t want to come in and work with them, doesn’t mean grabbing a beer couldn’t help you feel more human.”
“Humans make mistakes, sometimes lethal ones. I don’t want to be a man. I don’t want to feel. I want to be a machine, one that punishes the ones nobody else can.”
“Fine, Frank. But at the end of this, I’m buying you a beer. You don’t even have to drink it, but you’ll sit and listen while I drink mine.”
“Feels like a very Catholic punishment,” Frank says with a smile.
“Thought you’d appreciate that…”
During the party, Jessica conspicuously takes a call; Danny will be missing when she does. She’ll be back by the time things are winding down, the last one remaining is Jessica Jones. She’s had a few, and he tries to be gentle with her, and offers to get her a rideshare.
“Can’t. I threw my last driver into the Hudson. It was a case. He assaulted some fares, blackmailed them with photos. I might have taken the case a little personally.”
“He limps. But he gave up the extortion and assault.”
“And you’re stuck relying on the kindness of strangers.”
“Usually Trish gives me a ride. Did. Until she started working for the Single Female Lawyer.”
“It’s good to see you.”
“Careful. I wouldn’t want to upset Claire. I still owe her for some stitches.”
“She… moved on.”
He gives her a ride home. She has him stop, neither of them realizing until that moment that they’re where Jessica killed his wife. “I know what you lost here,” she says. “And I need to tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry you lost Reva. I’m sorry you lost me…”
“I didn’t have to lose you. What happened? That wasn’t you. Not telling me, though, letting me care about you without telling me… that was.”
“I know.” The scene is him comforting her, but then asking, “You need some coffee?”
“I am one coffee short of an Irish coffee.”
They find an all-night diner. “You mind if I ask what happened, with the nurse?” she asks.
“I happened, mostly. End of the day, she didn’t want to date one of us; I think she chose me because I felt like a less self-destructive version of Matt… until I wasn’t.”
“Self-destructive? I have no idea what that’s like,” she says wryly.
“Quite the pair we make.”
“Flawful, is what Trish calls it, though half the time she pronounces it like filafel and I get hungry.”
“But either way, you ‘feel awful?’” he asks with a grin, but then it fades. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I tried. I wanted to. I stayed close, because I knew I didn’t have a right to tell you, just to make me feel better, but I was hoping an opportunity would present, where it would be for you, even if it also made me feel better. Only… carrying it made me a wreck. And then you noticed… and tried to unwreck me.”
“That… is not how I’d have described that night.”
“Different kind of wrecking…” they both share a smile, “but I knew I screwed up. I couldn’t fix it without hurting you. I couldn’t stop it without hurting you. It was a slow-motion accident- I could see it all happening, but I couldn’t do anything but watch.”
“You know what I hate? You believe that’s true. To this day. You don’t understand how different things could have been, if you’d just been straight with me.”
“Maybe,” she’s noncommittal, and looks away.
“Jess,” he puts his hand over hers, and she meets his gaze.
“I’m still in love with you.”
“That was not what I expected.”
“Sorry,” she tries to take her hand back, but he holds it.
“Wait. Just because it wasn’t what I expected, doesn’t mean I want you to go.” He positions his hand so he’s cradling hers, instead. “It took me a long time to see why it hurt so much, finding out the way I did. It wasn’t just the betrayal, it was because you were the first person since Reva- the only person since Reva… I don’t know. I don’t know if I can do this. But I have tried to move past you, and I don’t think I want to. But if- and I mean if– it’s got to be slow. I’m not taking you home- well, I’m taking you home, but not- you know what I mean.”
“So you’re into me but you don’t want to bang it out? Maybe you aren’t right for me.”
“I think between the two of us our issues would be the life’s work of a gifted shrink- if either of us were the kind to see one. It’s a lot. It’s going to take a lot of time. Patience.”
“Not my strong suits, I know.” She’s stand-offish, before she switches to vulnerable. “But some things are worth working for.”
In the background, through the front window of the diner, Felicia swings by. We cut to her swinging through street level, before she lands on a roof. A moment later Spider-Man lands on the wall next to her. “Felicia, fancy swinging into you, here. Wait, that was lame…”
“Spider,” she says. “Were you stalking me?”
“Stalking? No. I might have been swinging around outside the party for a couple of hours hoping I’d see you because… I wanted to talk to you.”
“Should I consider myself down one more life? Because if you’re here to lecture me about the terrible things I’ve done, you can save your breath. You can’t make me feel worse than I already do, letting an animal like Kingpin corner me like that.”
“Hey! Whoa! Felicia… I wanted to talk because… because I talked to Mr. Murdock.”
“He… did some legal work for my family, and it’s still weird calling him ‘Matt.’ But he told me… what you went through, and that part of how they manipulated you into stealing again was playing me against you. And… I feel terrible for putting you in that position. I wanted what was best for you, but I see now that I put you in a position where you could be hurt, instead. That’s why I came tonight. It’s why I want to help take Kingpin down. Because I know there’s no way I could say sorry enough to make up for it, but I can at least make sure the people who hurt you see justice.”
“Oh, Spider,” she says, and peels up his mask to kiss him.
We cut back to Luke, waving from his car as Jessica enters her building. Her office is unlocked, and for a moment we’ll play up the idea of danger. A figure is seated behind her desk, cloaked in shadow. “Well?”
She flicks on the lights, blinding Iron Fist. “These things take time. Before tonight, he wouldn’t even talk to me. And I’m surprised you’re not using Trish. Everyone else seems to be.”
“She’s got a conflict, since she worked for him. And was busy tonight. But obviously you were my first choice.”
“I’m not screwing him for you.”
“I wouldn’t ask. If you screw him, screw him only for you. But this… this is for Luke. I love him like a brother, but… you see the worst side of people. So do I. Luke sees the best. Even when he’s dealing with the worst.”
“Wow. You just aren’t capable of saying the right thing.”
“I didn’t mean you. I more meant the Hand. And vampires, apparently. And I don’t want Luke accidentally selling his soul to the devil.”
“Especially not if he’s going to drag the rest of us down to hell with him?”
“Luke’s my priority. The rest of us are certainly a compelling second. And if you’re not concerned, you can always quit.”
“You’re right. He was evasive. He doesn’t want to talk about it. Which means there’s something there. And I can’t let him screw this up just because I’m screwed up.”
Iron Fist stands up, and starts moving towards her door. “For what it’s worth, he always talked about you. Even when he was with Claire.”
“That’s sweet. And you should know, if you break into my place again, I’ll give you an enema with your own Iron Fist.”
“I have never seen what he sees in you.”
“Sorry you’re not his type,” she shuts the door on him.
We cut to a storage facility. Close in on a lock on a storage space, before She-Hulk’s green hand seizes it and tears the lock clear.
Hellcat opens the door, while talking. “I feel like, as my lawyer, you should probably be telling me not to do things like this.”
She-Hulk steps inside the storage space. “I’m not your lawyer, I’m your employer. It wouldn’t be ethical for me to also represent you. But I can talk to Matt about representing you. And we’ve tried the legal route. There isn’t a judge in the city Kingpin hasn’t bought or threatened; most wouldn’t even take my calls, let alone consider a document request.”
“And what makes you think Kingpin has actual documents in here, let alone ones confirming criminality?”
“He doesn’t- at least, not here. This is the start of the maze, not the end of it.”
“What makes you think there’s any cheese at the center, though?”
“Why isn’t this all an elaborate trap? Because he came up through real estate. Which means somewhere, he has to have records. Maybe not the kinds that would stand up in a court, but at least the kind that would stand up to other criminals. This is a start.”
We do a flyover of an industrial facility as the sun rises over the horizon, before finding Frank at a high position, overlooking the area with binoculars. He watches a guard exit a door, and jots down the time, before opening a thermos and pouring himself a cup of coffee. Daredevil lands behind him.
“You make more noise than you think you do,” Frank says, not looking up.
“You’d be surprised.”
“This isn’t a two-man job. All you’re doing is increasing the chances we get seen.”
“No. I’m here for support.” He’s got a satchel, with some kind of food that travels, maybe a couple of hot dogs. Frank brought supplies, and he looks at them. “Sometimes a hot meal makes a difference.” Frank shrugs, and accepts a hot dog.
Frank and Daredevil eat together. “Take it you lost the toss,” Frank says.
“I brought you in because I can see past our differences. But I also know not everyone can. I volunteered to work with you.”
“So no one else would have to.”
“So no one who couldn’t see the utility in what you do. And because I’m the only one who had a chance of convincing you not to just kill everyone here.”
“Couldn’t.” Frank hands him the binoculars, before stopping himself, “Right. The patrols they use at night, are hired hands, from a legit security company. Innocents. Likely means the cleaning staff are, too. Could be others. We’ll have to be careful.”
“I’m not just talking sparing the janitors. I want to save as many lives as I can.”
“You can’t save everybody,” Frank says bitterly.
“I had to learn that the hard way. But we save who we can.”
“I’m not taking chances. Not with my life. Not with yours. Not with anyone’s.”
“Fine. The plan will be yours. But I go in first. I put down everyone nonlethally that I can.”
“And if I have to plug someone to save you?”
“You’ll do what you have to do.”
“But can you live with that?”
“Are you, a lapsed Catholic, asking a fellow lapsed Catholic, if I can handle the guilt?”
“They really drill it into you, don’t they. But we find a way to get by.”
“It’s a sin not to.”
Later, She-Hulk arrives to her office with two coffees. She puts one on the desk beside Trish, in her civilian clothes. “You get any sleep?” She-Hulk asks.
“I’m a cat. We’re nocturnal.”
“I’m not going to have to find a place for a litterbox for you, am I?”
“Only if you’ve got a really weird fetish, and triple my fee.”
“Of course. The tabloids would pay ten times my fee for the pictures alone. If I were for that kind of sale, I wouldn’t be working for you for a little scratch.”
“Cute. What have you found?”
“Raw intel, so far.” Trish leans over the printer, as it spits out another page. “I’ve been pulling any document related to the papers we found. But it’s all gibberish legalese. I could negotiate you under the table if it were something related to signing for a pop album… but this is way beyond me.”
“That’s because it’s shell companies within shells.” Jen starts arranging papers on her table. “This company exists only as a legal fiction- essentially a cut-out pass-through for this entity, which is essentially a holding company for this one…”
“I honestly can’t tell if you’re Beautiful Minding or just screwing with me.”
“I… might have taken a few of the pages home with me and been up all night researching in parallel…”
“I knew it!”
“That’s why you’re the PI.”
“But Fisk must have an army of lawyers. It would take forever to decode all of this, and in the interim they could be spinning up all new fictions to distance themselves from whatever we find.”
“I had that thought, so I called in a few favors.” Jeri Hogarth and Foggy Nelson enter, trailed a few steps behind by Matt Murdock.
We cut to Alias Investigations. There’s a knock on the door, and Jessica starts. She slept in her clothes, and stumbles to her door. It’s Luke, with food. “Figured after a night like that, you were going to need something to settle your stomach. Breakfast burrito?”
“Depends. Were you planning on staying to eat with me?”
“I can go, if that’s a deal breaker.”
“The opposite. I’ve had enough breakfast burritos come back on me, I don’t know it’s worth the risk. But for company? I can choke back my gag reflex.” We can tell from the look on his face he might have something to say about her gag reflex,” she notices what she said, too late. “Don’t. Too early.”
“A gentleman never comments on a lady’s gag reflex.”
“You’re as much of a gentleman as I am a lady,” Jessica says, taking a very unladlylike bite from her burrito. “God, that’s better than sex.”
“Not the way I remember it,” Luke says around a daintier bite.
“No, but I’m not sure my stomach could handle that much excitement. I… have something of a confession. About last night. It wasn’t a coincidence, that I was the last one there, or that I had a few too many. I wanted to talk to you… and I was anxious about it, so…”
“I put that together. That’s why I’m here. I wanted to talk to you, too. It’s why I offered you the ride. It’s why we stopped for coffee.”
“That’s… part of it. But I was also… I know it isn’t Danny, bankrolling you going after Kingpin. He tried to keep his cards close to the vest, but you and I both know Danny Rand would have been basking in the spotlight last night… if he was the one footing the bill. And it was written all over his face, too. So if not Danny, who? I doubt Potts or Stark would pony up, after we stole their Hulkbuster.”
“And I know there are a fair few billionaires in the city, and they’re just as petty and preening as you’d expect. But who hates Fisk enough to risk pissing him off?”
“Jess, this is just a social call.”
“Luke- it can’t be. We can’t compartmentalize. We can’t be Luke and Jessica in the sheets, Power Man and whatever on the streets.”
“Power Man? I guess I just think of us as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones wherever we’re at.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I do. And I get it. Believe me, I looked this gift horse in the mouth. I looked everywhere else I could think to, too. Guy has no criminal record, no known associations with any crime, organized, petty, or otherwise. If I didn’t believe this was both the right thing to do and safe, I wouldn’t have asked any of you to join me. I care about you too much.”
“Danny will be touched- as touched as he’s capable of being, anyway.”
“He can be a prick, but he’s capable of more than you might guess. And I wasn’t talking about Danny. I care about you too much.”
“I think I feel my burrito coming up.”
“I hear you. It’s too early, in the morning and in whatever this is-” she lunges for her trashcan and dry heaves. “Oh, you meant literally.”
“False alarm,” she says. “Wait.” She dry heaves again. “Nope. I think we’re safe.” Luke is staring at her. “What? I get egg in my hair?” We can see that he’s staring at her with adoration.
“You look perfect, Jessica.”
“And you’re-” she dry heaves again.
“Maybe the burritos were a mistake.”
“No,” she says, looking up, “they were worth it. Oh god-” she lunges one last time, and we cut away before we find out if it was dry or not.
We’re back in She-Hulk’s offices. We pan across a table that has been colonized by take-out containers from several different restaurants, to signify they’ve been here through three meals worth of day. To justify dragging her in, Hogarth gets to give the summation of what they’ve found. The gist is that Fisk’s paper enterprise, while spanning continents and wrapped in incorporations from dozens of countries, at some point they all refer back to contracts or other companies that mention one location. It seems to be a clearing house, where all of their full contracts are stored.
Quick cuts, of the employees closing up a bank. We watch the last of them leave, and pan up to see Spider-Man and Black Cat swing to the top of the building. She lands a moment before him, opens an electrical panel and places clips bypassing electrical circuits. “So…” Spider-Man lets the word out slowly, “I know I said this seemed like it was more in your wheelhouse, so I’d follow your lead? Well, I’m regretting that decision, and, if I’m being completely honest, freaking out a little bit.”
Cut inside a vent, as Black Cat leads him through. “Trust me, Spider. I’ve been breaking and entering since you were just an egg in a sack.”
“Wait. Are you older than me? And why does that make my tights tighter, or is it just the confined space?”
“Are you sure that’s not the view?” We don’t have to show that with the two of them wriggling through vents he’s got a nice view of her butt, but we should at least show the reverse, before he tries to maintain professionalism.
“And how long have you been doing this?”
“Dad took me on my first bank robbery when I was three, unless you count the ones he carried me in a harness.” She stops, and uses an EM measuring device to test if the alarms are still operational. Quick insert shot of the bypassed electrical panel on the roof.
They drop directly into the safe deposit box room. Felicia has a list of deposit boxes she will quickly and expertly open as they talk. “Do most banks just have a direct route through the vents to their safe deposit boxes? Because knowing that might have made me consider a different career trajectory.”
“Most don’t. This one had a clerk get stuck behind the time lock one night; she suffered some mild brain damage by the time they found her in the morning, and the insurance company said they’d either need to remove the time lock or connect to the vents to ensure no one could suffocate inside. Most of this job is research and knowledge; only 10% of it is catsuits and air vents.”
“That is the best part.”
“Onlybecause the renovations are recent. Vents get super dusty. The fur on my forearms, that’s as much for cleaning as I go as for style.”
“Yeah, definitely. I wash this suit so often. You end up with the weirdest stains from crawling on walls.”
The boxes are filled with MCU McGuffins, maybe a Gem of Cyttorak, or things of that ilk- things that link to heroes, to villains. And if some end up being fakes, who cares? Black Cat places the last of them down in front of Spider-Man.
“Are you just that good, or is everything a lot less secure than I’d like to think it is.”
“Never give a girl a choice like that if you want a straight answer, Spider.”
“I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight.”
“If you want, I’ll let you, but I have a feeling either way, you’ll be spending the night with me.”
We cut to a large, fortified facility. There are armed guards everywhere. “And we’re sure about this?” Hellcat, back in costume, asks. “I’m not strictly against being shot at, but those mercs look like they know what they’re doing, and I’d hate to get to the end only to hear that our princess is in another castle.”
“That’s why I’m here,” Jen says. “I’m going to give you a Hulk-sized distraction.”
“And by that you mean…”
“You could pirouette through the front gate in your birthday suit and no one would even glance in your direction.”
“I think you underestimate the power of my birthday suit.”
“I… think if I respond to that I might create a hostile work environment. Trish may have been my first girl-crush.”
“That… was probably the sweetest come-on I’ve heard in a long while.”
“I just, I mean teen me would squee at getting to meet you.”
“Trying to keep professional distance. But open to coffee, maybe, once I’m no longer technically your employer. But for now- get in position. Your distraction’s coming right up.” She-Hulk jumps down to street level. Hellcat swings down, in the opposite direction.
The compound has a wall around it, large enough that guards with automatic rifles are posted on top of it. She-Hulk runs through one of the pillars, sending chunks of stone flying. The guards scramble in the direction of the collapse, only for another of the pillars to give as she runs through it.
We watch as Hellcat swings into the courtyard, and slips inside. She checks the specs she downloaded for the building, on which she’s highlighted to most likely room. She slips inside a room to avoid a guard. When one enters behind her from the opposite direction, she knocks him out, and drags him inside, pocketing his keycard.
Hellcat slinks down the hall, then down some stairs. She finds a locked door where she expected the records to be. Because I’d kind of like to give Hellcat a moment in the sun, I’d make it a guard room, instead; so she has to have a quick, John Wickian fightscene in the confines of the monitor/guard supply room, using her tools and what’s around to fight off a half-dozen guards, using the confined space to her advantage. On the opposite end of the room there’s another door, this one leading into the storage she was looking for.
The room is larger than she expected, with wall to wall cabinets. Hellcat calls Jen over an earpiece. “Found it. But there’s a lot more in here than I planned for. How long can your distraction keep them occupied?”
Cut to She-Hulk, who is essentially juggling mercenaries in the air. “The tough part is mostly keeping them from hurting themselves or each other.” Another arrives, and fires off a shot. She kicks her shoe off with enough force that it knocks him back into a wall, struggling to breath.
Back with Hellcat. She finds two extra heavy duty cabinets- high tech, almost alien looking. “I think I’ve found the important stuff. You think you can carry out two cabinets?’
“Drop me a pin.” She-Hulk smashes her way inside. Hellcat shows her the fancy cabinets, and she tucks one under each arm. “See you back at the office,” she says, and then jumps away.
There’s a knock on the door at Nelson and Murdock. It’s night. The DA walks in. “This better be good, Karen. I only came because of your help in the Fisk case. Don’t make me regret it.”
“You won’t,” Karen says, leading them into the conference room.
Foggy is there, with documents spread out over the conference table. “As you may not be aware, my firm is suing Fisk Industries for predatory lending practices, monopolistic practices, and fraud, amongst other things, related to his development projects in Hell’s Kitchen. As part of routine discovery, his lawyers delivered 13 boxes of documents, 13, on a manifest with only 12. We only realized the error after our staff had spent hours perusing the documents, including how they linked to our case I suspect the manifest implies they intended to omit documents that should have been handed over, and either someone in their offices made a mistake or had a fit of conscience. Now, it is my legal opinion, as an officer of the court, that it is my duty to turn these documents over to your office where they seem to be part of a criminal conspiracy, and I’m going to stress that as soon as this information is understood to be in our possession, steps will likely be taken to remove incriminating evidence or goods. Act now, or I might as well be giving you really itchy toilet paper- but if you act now, I’m likely talking to the next Mayor of New York.”
Finally, we cut to Kingpin, sleeping peacefully. He’s woken by a phone call. He’s largely unconcerned, because as he explains it, “Even if they managed to take sensitive documents, they’ll have no provenance, no chain of custody. They won’t be able to prove they haven’t printed them up themselves, no legal way to tie them to our operations. Of course. Deal with it in your way.”
Kingpin hangs up, then goes to a wall safe, and opens it, to check for something. It can be a McGuffin, or something related to Vanessa. It’s there, and safe.
Suddenly, we’re watching him through his security cameras. Before he shuts the safe, the camera goes to static. As he passes through them and off camera, they go off, one by one, until he lays in his bed. The footage of him opening his safe plays again, and we see a zoom as he inputs in his passcode 71967; it’s Black Cat, hacked into his security feed, watching his cameras on the smart lenses embedded in her domino mask.
“You’ve got the papers?” she asks, turning to Spider-Man.
“Picked them up from Murdock myself. Is… this okay?”
“Cold feet? Maybe booties aren’t the right footwear for a New York night.”
“I know he hurt you. Hurt a lot of people. But we’re framing him.”
“No. We’re just putting evidence of his crimes somewhere it will actually connect back to him. But if you don’t want to, I can finish the job myself.”
He exhales. “No. You’re right. He’s only out and hurting people based on technicalities, gaming the system. Just like he gamed me to hurt you. That’s more than enough reason to do this.”
They sneak inside. Felicia opens the safe, and they place documents and stolen items inside, enough that it would barely fit, if one of the papers weren’t blocking the lock- the kind of mistake you could understand someone making late at night.
They sneak out again. On the roof, Felicia bypasses one alarm, which she’s marked, “Security Company.” On another, she’s marked, “Police,” and trips that alarm.
Cut to cops arriving at Kingpin’s. He answers the door in silly underwear. “Everything’s fine, officers, fine. I have no need of assistance.” He sees that his safe is mysteriously open, and then that it’s filled with things he didn’t put there.
“Listen, sir, I’m going to need you to let me inside? We have reports of a break-in. I’m going to need to see ID, and make sure you aren’t the perp trying to bluff me.”
Kingpin’s face falls. He knows he’s lost. “It’s all right, officer. I can vouch for Mr. Fisk’s Identity.” It’s the DA. Kingpin shakes their hand, and identifies them by name, even thanking them for showing. “I’m sorry, Wilson, but you don’t understand the situation. I’m not the cavalry riding in- at least not for your side. I’m here with a warrant, to search the premises.” They hand him a folded piece of paper.
“This is absurb,” Kingpin howls. “I thought these pointless raids ended for good after I made sizeable contributions to the fraternity of police and your election campaign.”
“Wilson. Call your lawyer. He’ll tell you what I’m about to. Shut up. This is happening. All you can do is make things worse by talking.”
Relatively quick cuts. Cops finding the open safe. Cops locating stolen goods, taking pictures, collecting it in evidence bags. Kingpin perp-walked out the front door.
Cut to daytime, his lawyer speaking to reporters. “My client has been framed. It is obvious that jealous elements within the state are seeking a reason to embarrass and harass my client. But he is a strong, proud New Yorker. We don’t cower from a fight- we fight!”
We’re back in She-Hulk’s offices, but this time the entire crew is assembled. “He’d likely win, too,” Daredevil says. “The evidence they have, right now, is circumstantial. Possession might be 9/10 of the law, but it’s not 9/10s of a stolen goods conviction. And right now he has the full faith of the power structures of New York, businesspeople, politicians. We’re going to make all of them feel vulnerable- and make sure they all blame Fisk.
“Frank and I have scouted out the drug operation. We’re hitting it tonight. By morning, every criminal for a hundred miles is going to worry about everything they’ve ever stashed.”
She-Hulk takes over. “The rest of you will be hitting this facility. It was originally run by S.H.I.E.L.D.- they were going to start building helicarriers here in New York, until Hydra hijacked the first three in Washington. When the project disbanded, Fisk bought the property. Thanks to Ms. Hogarth, Mr. Nelson and Ms. Paige, we’ve connected the dots that it’s where Fisk has been storing stolen and contraband goods. Every time a blaster gets dropped in a fight, every piece of tech the Chitauri left behind, scrap from all those Ultron drones, Stark tech stolen during the Armor Wars, you name it, he’s been stockpiling it- even bought up the Vulture’s operation when Toomes went to prison. They’ve been supplying every hood on the seaboard with exotic weapons. It is a heavily fortified base. We have to fight our way in, and open the bay doors; they installed the doors, but not the pumps that keep the base dry- so it will flood in a matter of minutes. Should be enough time for Kingpin’s people to evacuate, but nowhere near enough time to move all the contraband or stolen tech. Questions?” Spider-Man raises his hand, and waits to be called on, which she does, obviously annoyed.
“Is it too late to change our minds and go with the Punisher, instead?”
“Yes,” Luke snaps. “But none of you have to come, if you don’t want to. This is an all-volunteer army. I won’t hold it against anyone who doesn’t think it’s worth the risk. Anyone who doesn’t want to, can leave, right now.” It’s uncomfortable, because he’s kind of peer-pressuring them.
“Anyone who doesn’t want to come tonight, just don’t show,” Iron Fist says. “No pressure. We all fight for our own reasons. And we choose when not to for our own reasons, too. Luke, can I talk to you after this?”
The rest, save for Jessica, file out, later.
“I want you to be straight with me. I’ve let you go this far implying I was funding your little operation. But I’m not about to watch you emotionally blackmail kids into doing your dirty work.”
“Kids? Spider-Man’s like thirty. He’s just got a thyroid problem or something.”
“Cut the jokes. Who’s your benefactor?” Luke remains tight-lipped. “You get anything?” he asks, looking to Jessica.
Luke’s eyes open wide. “Same Jessica. Lying. Manipulating.”
“Don’t. My job is finding out what other people are hiding. I may not have volunteered, but you never asked if Danny wanted me to probe. You’re the one hiding things. Deliberately. Even now.”
“Condition of our contract. Our benefactor demanded anonymity until the end of the job.”
“Then how do you know it’s not just a rival crimelord?”
“Because I’ve been the rival crimelord. And because I did my homework- or, I hired Trish to do it for me.”
“She hasn’t killed a wife of mine, yet, Jess.”
“That’s… messed up.”
“It is. This is messed up. I’m in love with you… but I can’t trust you.”
“Yeah. Lot of that going around.”
Luke hits a button on the intercom. “Trish?”
Hellcat enters. “I was thorough. Patient. Luke’s been putting this together for months, so I had time to do it right. He’s clean. Maybe a little eccentric. But show me a billionaire who isn’t, and within a day I’ll tell you what kind of kinks he’s hiding in his closet- and the more zeroes the stranger it’s going to be.”
“So how strange is he?” Jessica asks.
“Stranger than Xavier or Spector, but not as strange as Stark.”
“But he’s clean?”
“No underworld ties. Not so much as a parking ticket- he’s got a driver, but still. He squeaks.”
“And let’s not forget,” Luke interjects, “even if he didn’t, this is the Kingpin. He’s wounded. But we’re taking our shot. We can’t miss. Or he’ll be more dangerous and less vulnerable than ever before.”
|Spider-Man/Black Cat||Break into Kingpin’s condo, leaving stolen valuables from his deposit box|
|Luke, Jessica, Hawkeyes, Iron Fist, Colleen Wing, Misty Knight||Break into Kingpin’s armory. It includes piles of Chitauri gear, and tech from every villain and supervillain (and a few heroes), including some surplus Iron Man/Ultron tech. Basically, when Vulture’s operation was busted up by Spider-Man, it was bought up and better funded by Kingpin.|
|Daredevil/Punisher||Fight their way through a facility. But first they destroy their vehicles, so they can’t move any equipment or drugs. Daredevil’s job is to flush them out, Frank’s is to prevent anyone from taking anything of value, and for that he uses bean-bag rounds. “This is Frank Castle. This facility is rigged to blow. You have just enough time to get to safe distance if you run. Now. Try to take anything, and I’ll put you down. Try to stay and fight, and my pointy-headed friend will make you regret it. I want you to live through this, because I want you to get the word out- Kingpin can’t protect you- he can’t even protect himself.”|
I imagine we’ll do a bit of an Ocean’s 11 Riff, as a framing device we have them discuss the plan, occasionally intercutting that, but then go into it actually happening.
We start at the front door. Luke and Iron Fist argue with Colleen and Misty because no one thought about how they’d actually break in- they should have brought Black Cat, or at least a She-Hulk to smash it down. Suddenly, a USB arrow, like the one from the Avengers, fires into the door, and it opens. “Why do you even have that?” Kate asks him.
“I don’t know. Ask Nick Fury.”
“You know you could have walked it over here, right?” Iron Fist asks. It’s probably too much to have him do the hand on the elbow raised fist gesture (and might be duplicating the joke from earlier by Jessica, too)… but I’d at least consider it.
They enter, and from here on in it’s a lot of fighting. It’s also an opportunity to play around with any tech we want to from previous films that might be fun, so the Shocker gauntlets, or what have you. It’s also an opportunity, if Sony wants, to have some proto villain gear show up. For the sake of synergy with the Spider-Verse movie, I’d probably have Tombstone running security. He’s probably tough enough to take on most of the heroes we brought along on his lonesome, especially with random baddies plinking away. If they’re along for the ride, during the fight, Spider-Man and Black Cat infiltrate and open the bay doors, turning it from a fight to a fight in an underground facility that’s flooding!
Meanwhile, likely intercut, Daredevil and Punisher are back at the drug facility. It starts with a bang, as Punisher blows up all of the vehicles in the parking lot, including a bunch of panel vans used for transport.
Frank comes over the loudspeakers in the joint with a message: “This is Frank Castle. Some of you call me the Punisher. This facility is rigged to blow. You have just enough time to get to safe distance if you run. Now. Try to take anything, and I’ll put you down. Try to stay and fight, and my pointy-headed friend will make you regret it.” We show Daredevil dropping down on one end of the place. “I want you to live through this, because I want you to get the word out- Kingpin can’t protect you- he can’t even protect himself.”
Daredevil gets essentially a supersized version of his hallway fight as he takes on the stragglers, some armed. And Frank, true to his word, is posted at the exit. He shotguns the first mook to try to run with a brick of drugs. He shotguns another, who was raising a gun, as several more scurry past. He turns, shotgunning one of them, who draws a gun and was going to try to shoot him in the back. This one, however, we pause on, as one of the others helps him to his feet. Frank’s using bean-bag rounds. If we need to sell this harder to make it fit within his character, we can make it a primarily trafficked workforce- people who didn’t want to work for Kingpin, so Frank doesn’t mind letting them live.
Eventually, Daredevil bursts out as the last few flee, limping. “That everybody?” Frank asks. Daredevil listens, and confirms theirs are the only heartbeats left in the facility. Then he asks about the safe distance. “Safe distance is right about here,” he points at their feet, before hitting a detonator. The explosion is relatively tame and contained; the point was destroying the facility, its equipment, and the drugs.
We have kind of an afterparty, similar to the party at the beginning. Clint Barton sidles up to Frank. “I heard you managed to go a whole day without killing anybody.”
“Day’s not over yet, Avenger,” Frank growls, but is mostly messing with him.
“Boys,” Kate says, putting an arm around either of them, before immediately backing off, “nope, immediately regretted both ‘boys’ and the contact.”
“So what’s it like, having a sidekick?” Frank chides.
“You want her, you can have her,” Clint says. Kate is offended in a cartoonishly over the top fashion, but our attention is drawn by Cage clanging on a glass.
Luke seems like he’s about to give another speech, but instead he tells them their benefactor wanted to introduce himself. Now, this particular reveal relies on having access to Sony properties. You could use Victor Von Doom as a backup, or maybe build out someone else; if we need to be creative we could always use Ezekiel Stane. If Sony is willing to play some but not all ball, you could use Silver Sable, too.
But my preference would be that Luke introduces them to their mysterious benefactor, none other than this universe’s Norman Osborne. I’d have him played by Willem Defoe, because that would twist the knife further for Spider-Man- since the last time he saw Norman he was trying to stab him with his own glider for murdering Aunt May. Peter’s unnerved, maybe even freaks out a little, say, webbing Norman’s hand to his chair. “Wait. You don’t understand, he’s-”
“Evil?” Norman asks with a smile. “They say no one can amass billions of dollars without being evil. But I give to the poor. I provide my innovations to poorer countries at cost. I daresay my record as a philanthropist is more sterling than Tony Stark’s.” Peter is incensed, but Norman reacts in a human way, “I’m sorry. I know some of you knew him, and while at times I viewed Tony as a business rival, I also appreciate everything he did, for all of us. After all, he brought my son back to me.” We introduce our new Harry Osborne, who, yes, was blipped.
“Harry?” Peter asks quietly.
“I paid you, handsomely, to deal with Kingpin. He was a blemish, a distortion, injuring commerce and enterprise in the greatest city in the world- all due respect to the Golden City. And I don’t know if Luke told you- I asked him not to, because I wanted to, but as a bonus for eliminating Fisk, I’m granting each of you a full-ride scholarship to the school of your choosing, good for any of you to use, to grant to your children, sidekicks, a loved one, or to give to someone in need. Whatever rise in the cost of school, for my lifetime, I will cover all expenses for a four year degree. And if any of you are scientifically minded, I’ll pay for a doctorate- provided you consider interning at Oscorpe after you graduate. I’ve taken the liberty, too, of making sure that any taxable benefits will be compensated for, as well, so you won’t need to worry about paying that out of pocket. You’ve done something extraordinary, for New York, for the country, and for capitalism- and it’s because I’m a capitalist that I believe so strongly in compensating a job well done.”
Later, Spider-Man and Black Cat sit on the top of the Oscorpe Tower. “You remember how we met?” he asks.
“I remember you were… depressed.”
“My aunt died, the woman who raised me. Norman Osborne killed her. But not that Norman Osborne. This one was evil, unhinged after being exposed to a chemical agent in a different universe. Maybe this one is like Mr. Stark. Maybe he’s just trying to do the right thing.”
“But you don’t think so?”
“I tried to help him- to cure him. That’s why he was close enough- he got close enough to hurt May because of me.”
“You can’t save everyone.”
“No. But May taught me you got to try.”
“She sounds like she was a great lady. I’m sad I’ll never get to meet her.”
She’s trying to comfort him, but it lands wrong. “Would you have? You don’t even want to know my real name. You don’t even want to see me with the mask off. Is any of this real to you?” His heart’s breaking; he isn’t attacking her, but feeling, in this moment, that he gave up everything to be Spider-Man, and he’s only this second realizing that a relationship with a woman who only wants to be with Spider-Man isn’t enough.
She pulls off his mask, and helps him peel away her domino mask. “I’ve known who you were since the first night we met, Peter. I haven’t been hiding you behind a mask, afraid you wouldn’t measure up- I’ve been hiding me, afraid that I wouldn’t, that if I dropped the sex kitten act… you could never be satisfied with just Felicia Hardy. Because I love you, and this is so real it terrifies me.”
“Felicia,” he cradles her cheek in his hand, “I love you, too.” They kiss.
Roll credits. Mid-credits scene: Matt Murdock is waiting in a bar. Frank Castle rolls up, and sits down. “Might as well call them over. I clocked them from the door.” They’re joined by Hawkeye and Nick Fury, who sit down with him. Hawkeye sets a beer down in front of Frank.
Daredevil says, “I didn’t become a preacher for a lot of reasons, but most important is I was never comfortable preaching, but I’ll say this: what we do, and especially what you do, Frank, it’s hard. It takes a toll. And if you let it, it will eat you. And I worry, not for your soul, but for what happens to Frank Castle when he’s hollowed out, when he stops caring, when he stops being careful. We might not agree on a lot, but I think we both never want you to kill someone you didn’t mean to.”
Frank glares bullets, before picking up his beer. “I can drink to that.”
“Settle a bet,” Hawkeye says, talking to Fury. “Natasha swore up and down you had a Doomsday plan, for a rogue state like Latveria, or if Ultron had tried to take and hold Sokovia. Basically, the idea was you rev up Hulk and this guy,” he points at Frank, “and drop them at opposite ends of the territory.”
“Never happened,” Fury says confidently, but somewhat quieter, somewhat mischievous, adds, “so far as you know,” before taking a swig. We go back to credits.
Another mid-credits scene. Luke arrives home, to find Jessica sitting in the dark, waiting for him.
“I owe you an apology. A lifetime of them, probably.”
“I’m not looking for apologies. I’m looking for a way to trust you. I want to. I know I shouldn’t but…”
“No,” she says, standing up. “You shouldn’t.” She kisses his cheek. “But I hope I can change that.” She walks out, and we resume credits.
We start in close, Norman Osborne’s reflection as he looks out over the city at night. We hear a sinister voice, one that should at least hark back to his Goblin voice. “You think they bought it?”
“Why wouldn’t they? I’m not some thug. I’m a respected industrialist and inventor. If anything I remind them of Stark.”
“You think any of them suspect it?”
“I think the blind lawyer must. They say he can tell a liar by his heart rate. Then again, he wouldn’t be the first polygraph I beat.”
We pull back, enough to see in the reflection a shadowy, cloaked figure who could be the Green Goblin. “Then the appropriate question is are you ready to take over New York’s underworld?”
Osborne turns. “I’m not, Parker. You are. Which is why this is the last time you and I will be in the same room together.”
We finally turn to see our next villain. “Parker Robbins is gone. Call me the Hood.”