The Deal: this is the eighth in a series of pitches for the rebooted DC Movies. I’m leaning on AI art to mock-up these pitches, because it adds some truly glorious chaos into the mix. The usual caveats apply: a story about Black characters should be written and directed by Black creators; skill and empathy can only get you so far when trying to talk about experiences you haven’t had.
All due respect to Ray Fischer, he’s too old. Cyborg is a Teen Titan, or at least should be plausibly able to play 19 by the time that first Titans movie comes out, which I suspect will essentially be the Cyborg sequel.
Because we’re mostly avoiding origins, this will mostly not be one. But we are going to have some flashbacks, because I do want his past to influence this story- and because Cyborg is the rare hero whose origin isn’t well-trod in the public consciousness.
Cyborg narrates. “I was a guinea pig.” We start on a literal guinea pig in a cage in a classroom. The cage is sitting on an overburdened bookshelf, already tilting from the weight. Above it is a light, barely suspended by a set of fraying wires. We pull back, and see a young Black child staring sadly at it, almost communing with it. “My parents experimented on me, giving me a genius intellect. Too bad they didn’t test it on themselves, or they might have been smart enough to see where all of this was going lead.”
Victor flicks his pen, and it bounces off the wall, hitting the lamp, bouncing off the opened window and knocking off a plastic sprinkler head, causing a field filled with birds to get sprayed, making them all fly into the air, hundreds at once, pulling the kids of out of their seats, and the teacher out of hers to deal with them. The lamp falls, and the force is enough to overcome the bookshelf’s remaining strength, causing it to collapse, sliding the cage into the wall, where one of its glass walls shatters, allowing the guinea pig its freedom. The teacher glances back, but Victor is nowhere near any of the chaos on the other side of the room; she goes back to trying to get the rest of the children to calm down. But there’s one other student who didn’t get excited about the birds, and that’s because he saw what Victor did, and is giving him a thumbs up from the other side of the room. This is young Ron Evers.
“They weren’t satisfied stopping at the human limits of intelligence.” Young Victor is strapped into what’s basically a dentist chair as his parents, in surgical gear, install computer components into Victor’s head, now. “It started out simple; my motherboard, RAM and processors needed power, and coolant. There was a hard limit to the storage capacity of a human brain, so they installed 500 terabytes of flash memory into my back. But with the added weight, I couldn’t stand up straight, and modeling showed I’d need a metal rod in my back by 20- or an upgraded spine.
“I hated that they gave me enhanced hearing; with human ears I might not have heard every horrible thing they said, to each other, or about me. But I heard everything the night my mother died. Mom was drunk; she’s been drinking a lot, lately.
“I never should have let you do that to our son,” Elinore cries.
“Let me?” Silas is angry, but a lot of it is at himself. They both have seen what their quest has done to their son, and neither know how to make it right, or process what they’ve done. “You were driving me.”
“We were driving each other, Silas. Farther than we ever should have gone. And I’m going to take him away from you. This has to stop.”
“You’ll take him? You’re a lush- one who gets so stupid when she’s drunk she doesn’t know not to drive. You honestly think any sane judge would give you custody of our son?”
“I think anyone who spent five minutes talking to you wouldn’t give you custody of anyone.”
“I’ll ruin you before I let you take him. Don’t forget- you were the authorizing physician for every procedure. You signed off on everything we did. Makes you at least as responsible as I am.”
“We’d both lose him.”
“Maybe we should,” he says, but it’s more out of cruelty than a moment of clarity.
She takes one last pull from a bottle, and storms out. Silas is upset, but doesn’t follow, until he hears her car start in the driveway, and tries to run after her. But Victor is two steps in front of him, in part because he is now more machine than man. “Mom!” he yells as she peels away. He tries running after her, but his metal skeleton wasn’t really designed for that kind of speed.
Silas catches up to him in his own car, and has Victor get in the car. Victor’s cold to him. “You didn’t have to talk to her like that,” he sulks.
Silas tries to explain that parents fight, that they both only want what’s best for him, and sometimes they don’t agree what that would be. But the important thing is making sure his mother doesn’t get herself into more trouble- or hurt. Just then, her taillights, which they’d been following, disappear.
She ran off the road. It needn’t be a terribly violent wreck, but she won’t survive it. She says goodbye to both of them tearfully, and it’s clear Victor will continue to blame his father for this night.
A week later, it’s raining. Victor, in a hood, is living on the street. “Victor, come home,” he hears his father’s voice in his ear. “Your mother wouldn’t want this.”
“And she’d want you hacking into my auditory processor like some manipulative Jiminy Cricket?”
“Please, Victor,” his dad’s breaking; he doesn’t want to have to bury his wife alone. “Help me say goodbye.” But Victor’s angry, some of it likely displacement from years of their experiments, but some of it justified, too.
“How about you do the world a favor, and jump in the hole with her?”
“Victor, I,” we see, “Message terminated” on Silas’ screen, and we linger with him as he whimpers. “I’m sorry. So sorry. For everything. Oh God…” his head falls onto his keyboard as the fact that he’s lost both his wife and his son overwhelms him.
Then we’re back with Victor, in the rain. It’s kind of miserable. It’s a weird angle, somewhat distant; it won’t be immediately obvious, but Victor’s being watched through a scope. “Hey,” someone says from the dark, and Victor moves. “Tough break- I heard, about your mom.”
“You remember.” It’s his old friend, Ron Evers. He’s now running with a teenaged gang, and they’ve got a place up the street. Mostly they use it to hang, or occasionally, to store stuff they’re trying to hide or sell. But it’s dry, and has a TV, and, most importantly to Victor, wi-fi. See, Victor’s outgrown his implanted storage capacity, and has been remotely storing parts of his mind. It means when he’s connected to the internet he’s even smarter- and when he’s not, he feels the loss of that information, and that capacity, like he’s missing a part of himself. It also gives him access to do a lot of cool stuff; just as a note, I want to limit Cyborg to what’s actually possible- that means if it’s hooked to the internet, he can access it. If not, he can’t (so only access to government files available through say Interpol’s sharing network, but not things that wouldn’t be on a server). As Victor leaves with Ron, we cut back to the scope view, and see it lower, and the man holding the gun taking his finger off the trigger.
“Getting soft in your old age?” Ravager taunts Deathstroke over an earpiece. He chides her. She’s observing to learn, and one thing she needs to learn is discipline, and patience. Ron Evers, one of Victor Stone’s few known associates, is a local gang leader, one who the police keep tabs on. If he goes missing, the police will look into it, inviting more scrutiny than their employer wants on this job. He wants Stone to simply vanish- so that his father can believe that he used his implants to drop off the grid. It’s the only way to guarantee there won’t be a trail leading back to him.
The next day, Cyborg is woken as Ron and several other gang members arrive at their stash house with rival gang members in pursuit. Cyborg takes them down, in scenes that should feel vaguely RoboCop-esque. Ron tries to recruit him into the gang, but Cyborg refuses; he’ll stop bloodshed, but he’s not going to help them do anything illegal- including babysit whatever they stole. Ron wants him to stay, both genuinely, and because he has a plan, and agrees to move the stolen merchandise elsewhere.
That night, Cyborg is attacked by members of the rival gang again. He takes them apart, and is interrogating one, and finds Ron told them the stuff was there, that Victor took it from them and it was ripe for taking back. Just then, Cyborg is attacked from behind by Deathstroke, who uses an electrical device to short Cyborg out.
Cyborg restarts in safe mode, and an access panel for external memory opens up, and Slade jams in a thumb drive, which Cyborg boots from. Victor wakes in Deathstroke’s garage. Deathstroke tells him his parents were gifted surgeons and chemists, but some of the tech had to be made custom by experts- and his employer purchased plans from those. He’s now booted into debug mode, which should prevent Victor from being able to use any of his extra resources- leaving him with only his human components. Deathstroke gives him an option- if he agrees to assist his employer of his own free will, he’ll be compensated for his time until such time as they can reverse engineer his upgrades and how they interface with his organics.
Deathstroke takes a sample of Victor’s cerebral spinal fluid with a sci-fi needle, and when it turns blue, injects it into his own spinal cord. This was part of his compensation- upgrading his own mind the same way Vic’s is- at least the chemical portion- Slade isn’t comfortable with the idea of putting a bunch of metal crap inside himself- it would become an exploitable weakness.
Victor asks what the alternative is. Deathstroke tells him door number 2 is he cuts his implants out of him. His benefactor believes there may be organic portions that are integral to the system, that it would ultimately be faster to learn from the functional system as a whole- but isn’t willing to lose out on this kind of an advancement just because they can’t come to an agreement.
This pisses Victor off- he’s not willing to work with someone so barbaric. He stands up, snapping the restraint, and removing the thumb drive, clearly in control of all his faculties. He’s also connected up to the internet, and pulls up files on Deathstroke, a mercenary nicknamed ‘the Terminator’ because for years he specialized in ‘termination’ contracts- little more than assassinations. He’s worked, officially and unofficially, for a dozen world governments, though those files are all compartmentalized and kept far the hell away from an internet connection- but there’s enough publicly known to paint pretty nasty portrait of Deathstroke.
Deathstroke is smart, and planned a half-dozen ways to take Victor down. Unfortunately for him, Cyborg has been upgrading himself without his parents knowing- so Deathstroke’s intel is largely out of date. Quickly Deathstroke realizes he’s outmatched, especially with the upgrade only beginning to rewire his brain, and burns his safehouse literally, taking a go-bag that, and as he lifts it it pulls the pin on a series of white phosphorous grenades that set the entire place on fire, escaping.
Cyborg helps people on the nearby floors out of the burning building; a firefighter gives him one of their coats so he can sneak away as they cops arrive. Cyborg is walking back through the rainy streets when his ears, scanning passively for keywords like ‘cyborg’ pick up chatter from the rival gang. They know Deathstroke took him, so they’re planning on hitting Ron’s new safehouse while it’s vulnerable. Cyborg goes to help, but also feels manipulated by Ron. He stops the rival gang, but just as he’s about to pivot to deal with Ron, he’s attacked by Deathstroke again. This time Deathstroke isn’t using nonlethal weapons, having decided Vic’s going to force him to kill him anyway. Deathstroke tries to use Ron as a bargaining chip, but Cyborg lures him away, in part by calling the police to ensure Ron’s been caught with the stolen goods.
Cyborg takes on Deathstroke, who is getting smarter and more dangerous with every passing moment. Eventually, Cyborg jury-rigs some tech into a sonic cannon; given the amount of explosives and detonations Deathstroke has been involved with, he surmises he likely suffers from tinnitus, making the attack extra effective against Deathstroke. It’s effective enough Deathstroke retreats.
Cyborg drops in on the rival gang, to make sure they aren’t going to retaliate against Ron in prison. They appreciate him taking Ron off the street, but he still stole from them. They tell Cyborg it’s a two-fold problem: this rival gang is modeled on the Black Panthers, and they do a lot of community outreach, so the loss of that money hurts those who can least absorb it. Worse, Ron attacking them makes them look vulnerable, and will lead others to do the same.
Cyborg asks about the value of what was lost, then drops him a Venmo for three times that. The gang leader is concerned the money’s going to lead to federal scrutiny when some bank reports the money missing.
“I took one dollar from every person who used a racial slur on social media in the last minute.”
“We cool, then.”
Victor is about to leave, but turns. “A penny of that goes to guns or drugs, and I’ll make sure you get a cot a cell or two down from Ron.” The other man shrugs, and explains he sees them like the government; they’re basically an army and a safety net rolled into one. Drugs or more guns than it takes to keep the peace would make his neighborhood worse, not better- and that’s not what he’s about.
Victor returns home. His dad hugs him, but he’s still not ready to warm to him. “I understand,” Silas tells him. “I know how much I blame me. I can hardly imagine how much you do. I can’t undo any of it, and I know I’ll never make it right. But I can try to make it better than it is. If you’ll let me.”
“I can try,” Victor responds.
They attend Elinore’s funeral. It’s raining again. Silas tries to take Victor’s hand, and at first he pulls away, and Silas stops. But then, after a moment, Victor takes Silas’ hand, and squeezes, and we roll credits.
In an end credits scene with Deathstroke, we find that his employer is Lionel Luthor, who praises the Stones’s work as revolutionary. They refused to sell it, even in part. Luthor had hoped Elinore’s car accident would soften them up- but he would never have sanctioned her death, comparing it to burning da Vinci at the stake to get him to sell a painting. “I told you cutting somebody’s breaks is an inexact science,” Deathstroke says. “You choose between plausible deniability or predictability.”
“I didn’t call you to hear excuses,” Lionel calls him off; he’s seen news copter footage of Deathstroke trying to shoot Victor in the face, that they can’t take Stone’s opus through force, and instead need to try more finesse.
In one final credits scene, Victor finds a piece of tech in his home because it turns on. At first, it displays a holographic bat symbol, then we see Batman talking. “These aren’t the circumstances I was hoping to contact you in. In fact, I was hoping I’d never need to. I was content to confine my activities to Gotham, and leave you to your own. That option’s off the table.”
“What the hell?” Victor asks.
“Divided, we’re easy prey. Together… we might stand a chance.”
We cut to black, and white text appears, one line at a time:
We start in a poorly-lit bar. “Look, we’ve all had our asses handed to us by the scarlet speedster,” the speaker turns, and we see it’s Captain Boomerang. He’s speaking to four other Rogues.
“What I don’t get is why, if it’s your plan, it isn’t your team,” Heat-Wave says.
“I have an in, that’s all. Doesn’t change I’m not the leadership type.”
“Maybe calling yourself a ‘Captain’ is giving off confusing signals,” Heat-Wave says.
“Besides, we’ve got a fully capable leader-type right here,” Boomerang claps Captain Cold on the back, “and a bloody Captain to boot.”
“I still think I should lead,” Weather Wizard pouts sullenly.
“Mate,” Boomerang soothes, “Heat-Wave’s dating Golden Glider, and she’s Cold’s blooming sister. Right now, it’s a family team; I’m fun uncle Boomerang. A man smart as you claim ought to see the smart play is figuring out how you fit into this dynamic- not how they can fit around you, yeah?” Weather Wizard tries on a smile. “There’s a smile; careful, widen that any further, I might think you want me to make you me auntie.”
We cut to later, in the same bar. Boomerang is the only one of them left, and he’s drinking with Rick Flag. “That was defter handling than I’d have given you credit for,” Flag says, “enough to make me think this batshit plan of yours has more than a snowball’s chance in hell.”
“It’ll take a sight more than flattery and stale beer to get into my knickers, Captain.”
Flag slides a dossier across the table. “And you can keep the contents of your stale knickers to yourself.”
“It was the beer I said was stale-” he stops himself, “you’re flirting with me. Careful your lips don’t write checks your mouth won’t cash.” Flag glares, because that is not the idiom. He gets up to leave, and Boomerang grabs his wrist, insisting the Rogues don’t kill.
“That’s fine. This is a proof of concept. No one’s asking you to put a bullet in the Flash. You just got to put him down.”
“Right. And the unspoken bit isn’t that you’ll have a sniper ready the moment he’s moving slow enough to snipe? Because the Rogues may not kill- but that doesn’t mean they won’t kill me if I make them murderers.”
“My superiors wouldn’t go to this much trouble just to kill him- there are easier ways to do that.”
“I get a little excited and a little afraid when you say things like that.”
Flag starts to leave, but over his shoulder says, “That’s proof you’re not as stupid as you look, sound, act and dress.” Boomerang lets fly with a boomerang, slicing Flag’s shoulder holster strap right beside his neck so it falls off him; at the same time, Flag draws, spins and fires.
“Missed me,” Boomerang says, triumphantly, as Flag gathers the shredded remains of his holster.
“Did I?” Flag asks, as Boomerang becomes aware of a glug-glug noise. Boomerang moves his jacket, and sees the hole Flag blasted in his flask.
“Aw. My mom got me that flask last Christmas. Sewed the little boomerangs on herself.”
We’re going to montage the origin, mostly because I like the idea of Flash giving us a one-minute origin story only slightly sped-up, almost like a ‘last time on’ flash-back. “Okay, I know you’re really excited to get into the story, so we’ll do this really quick. I’m Barry Allen, crime scene tech and physicist- because physcisting doesn’t really pay the bills- and I kind of accidentally managed to breach the space-time barrier and end up infused with the Speed Force, which turned me into the fastest man alive, as in, can move at basically the speed of light. That gave me the time to do all of the things I’d always dreamed of, like learning how to sew my own costume and stop most crime in the city before anybody gets hurt. Also car accidents and a lot of other things. And no matter what Superman says, I always beat him in our races- except that one time he planned the route over every mountain range- I had to run several thousand more miles than he had to fly, how is that fair?”
Flash comes to a stop in the center of the frame, and peels off his mask. Iris enters, and kisses him. We have some lingering narration. “Oh, and this is Iris West. She’s amazing.” And we also meet Wally, a couple of years younger than them. “And that’s Wally. He’s… annoying, in the way all little brothers are.” I… like the idea of having Wally be a huge dork, as in when he knows Barry is coming over, he puts on his plastic-masked Batman costume, similar to what Hank wore in Venture Brothers.
“That was so cool,” Wally says, making a fwoosh sound as he runs back inside. Barry asks if he’s late, and she tells him he’s always right on time.
“No, really.” She admits he’s a few minutes late- but at this point they always assume he will be. He follows her inside, and continues his narrating. “The Wests kind of became my home away from home. After mom died… dad and I fell apart. We couldn’t save each other, but this family saved me.”
“What have we said?” Mrs. West chastises Barry.
He looks down, runs out of the room, and back in in civilian clothes. “No costumes at the dinner table,” he says dutifully. Wally clears his throat with a loud “Ahem.” “Except for Batman,” Barry adds, “because no one knows his secret identity.”
“You really don’t?” Mrs. West asks. “I thought you all knew each other.” It’s… clear she’s got a thing for tall, dark and mysterious men.
“Smells great,” Barry says.
“He’d have to, right?” she asks Iris, before realizing he meant the food, and pivoting sheepishly. “I made extra. I know how many calories you burn.” She butters a roll, before asking. “And how’s that father of yours?”
Barry takes a deep breath, before saying, “Drunk,” then running offscreen and back. “Yep. Still drunk. Passed out in his underwear. Wait.” He disappears again, and returns. “My underwear. I’ll just burn them.”
“I wish there was something we could do,” she says.
“Nadine…” Mr. West says.
“There really isn’t anything else to be done. They’ll never smell right again.”
“Ira…” she says in a similar tone, but it’s plain from her face she’s teasing him.
“It was a tragedy,” he says. “I don’t think I’d do any better, if anything happened to you,” he puts his hand over hers and the Wests share a tender moment, before he turns his attention back to Barry. “But I’ll stop in. See if I can’t get him to come out. Make a family day trip out of it.”
“You’re welcome to try,” Barry says. “Nothing I’ve done has worked. But half the time he tears up the moment he sees me, because I remind him of mom.”
“Batman demands peas,” Wally says darkly, slamming his fist on the table. Barry picks up a single pea from the central bowl, and flicks it at Wally, who blocks it with his spoon and exclaims, “Bat pea repellent.”
“If only his sheets had that,” Iris mutters.
Barry starts flicking faster, and Wally covers himself with a plastic cape, “Pea-proof cape,” as peas bounce off of it. Subtly, Barry is zipping to Wally after each, and catching them before they hit the ground.
“Boys,” Mrs. West says, “what have I said about starting food fights at the table?”
“Oh, no,” Mr. West says, hunkering lower.
“Give me a heads up so I can arm myself,” she says, grabbing the bowl of mashed potatoes. Chaos ensues. I kind of like the idea of doing similar to the Quicksilver FX scene from Days of Future Past, only it’s Barry saving as much of the food during the fight as he can while still allowing there to be a cathartic food fight.
We cut to the aftermath. “Barry, dear, did you manage to save enough for dinner, or should we order pizza?” A moment later and the food is miraculously replaced.
“Clearly, we’re wearing most of the mashed potatoes, and a handful of peas landed in Wally’s lap. I wasn’t touching those.”
Wally leaps onto the chair, and declares they should, “Eat my green pea-ness,” as he pelvic thrusts, sending a shower of green peas over the table- which Barry catches in a different bowl, which he sets on the ground for the dog.
“Yeah, no one should eat those,” Mr. West says.
Later that night, Barry arrives home. He’s try to be quiet as he goes inside. His dad is asleep on the couch, wearing underwear just a little too small for him and no pants, snoring drunkenly. Barry sighs, and goes to his room, and we linger there a moment. Barry brings out an Afghan, and covers his father with it. He stirs. “Nora?” he asks in the dim light.
“No, dad… mom’s… not coming home.”
“Oh. Right,” we hear his sadness in his voice as he rolls over. “Could use a drink.”
“No, dad,” Barry tucks the blanket around him. “Just go back to sleep.” Barry goes into his room and gets into bed, when his phone rings. They ask for him by last name, and if he’s awake. “Couldn’t sleep,” he says. They tell him they need him at a new crime scene.
We watch a sped-up version of the crime scene investigation, but it’s inverted; everyone in the background moves around fast, while Barry is very deliberate in his movements, and he narrates. “I think what I like most about crime scene investigation is I have to slow down. It’s meditative. Because moving at the speeds I normally do would disturb the evidence; the Speed Force curbs a lot of the impact of moving at superspeed- or people would hate me for all of the sonic booms as I crossed the sound barrier- but you can’t displace that much air that quickly without causing changes to airflow, displacing small piles of… whatever this is.” Barry is taking a sample of some grains of what look like sand.
Barry takes his samples back to the lab, and runs some experiments, before typing up a report on a mechanical typewriter (because a computer wouldn’t be able to handle him typing at that speed- and even then he pauses every page or so to use a bellows to cool the metal). He faxes that over to the detective, and heads home.
Barry’s dad isn’t on the couch anymore, but left a note on the Afghan, “Gone for beer.” “Great,” Barry sighs, “another bender. Guess I’ll see you in a week, pop.”
Barry is getting ready to try and take a nap when the doorbell rings. He winces and zips to it. “Hey, Jay. What’s up?” It’s his physicist mentor, Jay Garrick.
“I had a thought…” Jay says.
“At your age? Isn’t that dangerous?”
“Yuck it up, junior. You’ll have gray hair before you know it.”
“Your dangerous thought?”
“I think we’re close to a break-through.”
“Yeah. I remember our last break-through- it broke me through the rear wall of our lab. I still see stars when I cough.”
“Little cartoon five-pointers? Celebrities? Or just flashes of light.”
“You’re none of the kinds of doctor who could help, regardless.”
“No, but talking to any one of those might do you wonders. Seriously. My treat.”
“I’m fine, Jay. Sprained my shoulder, and it stopped hurting before my head hit the pillow that night. So this break-through…”
“I think I know where you went awry- similar to when I had my uh… blow up.”
“That’s a very low-key way of saying you personally burnt down an entire wing of the university labs.”
“Yeah, that’s why I’m ‘Uncle’ Jay, and not Professor Garrick. Though honestly, with all of the progress we’ve made since, I’m amazed I survived. My, uh, issue, was a couple of orders of magnitude bigger. And I think… maybe I finally cracked it.”
“Can it wait? I haven’t actually slept, yet.”
“And I’m not sure he’s about to,” Iris teases, pushing past Jay.
Jay puts up his hands. “I know when I’m beat; I can’t compete with that offer.”
“You sure? Maybe I prefer to be the little spoon,” Barry teases.
“You do?” she asks, her voice quivering.
“I prefer to spoon you,” he says, and pecks her on the cheek.
“I’m too old, and it’s too early for this kind of affection,” Jay says to himself, closing the door behind him.
Barry stumbles, and Iris supports him. “You okay?”
“I wasn’t exaggerating. Didn’t sleep a wink.”
“Can’t you just power through?”
“What do you think I already do? Even taking micronaps during the day, a regular day for me is like you being up for a month.”
“That sounds awful,” she says, leaning into him. “Maybe I can massage some of that tension away.”
“That’s how exhausted I am. I know you’re flirting. Look, if my body responds, you’re welcome to make use of me.” She turns to close his bedroom door as he stumbles inside, “But I might…” and as she turns she finds him already completely passed out. She starts to wriggle his pants off, and he stirs. “Hmm?”
“You told me never to let you sleep in the costume. Nobody wants a hero to show up smelling like, and I quote, ‘sleep toots.’ I hate you for making me say, ‘sleep toots.’”
She curls up under his arm to nap. “You love my sleep toots.”
“The toots I don’t mind, I just don’t like the name.”
“Okay,” he says dreamily, and passes back out.
Barry wakes to his phone ringing. “Take the pants,” he says, “you be Flash today.”
“If I only took the pants I’d be a different kind of Flash,” Iris says. “And crime doesn’t call your phone.”
“Oh, right. While I answer this, see about getting me a crime phone. Red, that lights up. Ask Batman where he got his.” He picks up his phone. They ask for him by name, and he spends a moment staring at his wrist before saying, “I’m not wearing a watch.”
“I know. I haven’t slept, either. No rest for the wicked means no rest for those trying to catch them.”
“Yep. I told the Captain you’re as good as two techs, might as well pay you like it.”
“Damnit. I wanted to sleep. Had a whole speech. Threw in some creative swear words, to sell it.”
“I know. And I went and purchased your pride. If you’re not okay to drive I can send a car.”
“I’ll figure it out.”
Iris drops him off. “You need to take the box,” she says, pointing to a box for a dozen donuts.
“Or you’ll eat them all?”
“I know you already ate the rest. It’s why I’m driving with a bear claw in my hand.”
“Sorry,” Barry says sheepishly.
“It’s okay. I only wanted the one.” She pulls him close with her non-bear-claw hand, “but you are going to have to help me sweat it off later.” She kisses him, and lets him go.
“It’s a date.”
“It’s a date if you take me to dinner and a movie first,” she teases him. She’s mostly in good humor about it, but there’s still some part of her that would like him all to herself, at least every once in a while.
This time around, we do a quick montage, of Barry studying the scene. He pockets some of the evidence. He processes some of it in the public lab, then takes the rest to the crappy lab he and Jay rent together. Jay’s surprised to see him. “I figured I wouldn’t see you today, that you’d be sleeping, then, uh, not sleeping, then sleeping some more.”
“Just needed to borrow some of the equipment.”
“Yeah. City only has so many centrifuges.”
He’s clearly looking at something on a slide. “That’s not a centrifuge…” Jay grumbles.
Barry’s moving a little too fast, a little too excited. “You’re right,” he tells Jay. “Wanted to double-check that I had labeled the slides correctly before the spin.” He throws a handful of vials into the centrifuge. “Hmm…” He turns to leave.
“Uh, shouldn’t you be taking the ‘evidence?’ You know, chain of custody, and all that?”
“Uh, right.” Barry shakes his head. “I should have mainlined a cappuccino before I came here; I’d forget my feet if they weren’t attached.” He haphazardly gathers his supplies, and as he turns to go, Jay stops him with a hand on his shoulder.
“Look, just, know if you find yourself in any kind of trouble, you can call me. I can help. I know- a has-been physicist with a bad back… but sometimes just having someone to bounce things off.”
“Sure, Jay. I appreciate it. And when I have a moment, we’ll push on your breakthrough, okay?”
Barry goes out to his car, and throws the evidence in the trunk, then parks a few blocks away, takes out his costume and speeds off. While running, he calls Iris. She’s between classes at the community college. “Were we doing lunch?” he asks.
“I know we talked about it yesterday, but you’ve been ping-ponging since last night so I assumed not. Why?”
“That case you dropped me off, was related to the one from last night, and between the deposits I found at each I think I know where they are now.”
“Cold’s cold gun, it doesn’t just freeze, but leaves a distinct chemical signature in its wake. There were also scorches that tested positive for the accelerant that Heat-Wave uses. So at least two of the Rogues were working together- I think they were trying to cover their tracks.”
“And yet you found them.”
“Well, maybe. And I don’t know yet whether or not they want to be found. It could be a trap.”
It is a trap, which he figures out fairly quickly, finding a bomb welded to a metal post… it’s only then he realizes that the warehouse is used in part for overflow for several local pet adoption agencies, and there are dozens of animals in cages. “Oh, come on,” he says. He starts springing animals from cages and running them outside, as the timer ticks down its last few seconds, and says, “If none of you puke on me, I promise I’ll help you find good homes,” the words happening in the moments he pauses enough to open new cages.
Flash and the last turtle are inches away from the flames as they grow from the bomb. Flash is winded, and realizes he’s definitely been puked on. “Okay, new deal: if none of you tell anyone how much you puked on me, I won’t kick any of you into the ocean.”
“Does that deal go for us? Because I imagine that’s a promise I can’t keep,” Boomerang say.
“Oh,” Flash says, “the boomerang guy. I wondered why the shrapnel was all in the shape of little boomerangs. I appreciate your commitment to the gimmick.” Golden Glider slices him as she skates by. I’m going with the classic version, who was an ice skater, who had skates that basically used the same tech as her brother’s cold gun to create ice everywhere she skated. To make her a little more formidable, the streamers of her costume use similar, but basically have razor edges that are also at freezing temperatures- it’s one of those that cuts Barry.
Barry turns towards her, at once confused and uncertain how to pivot, before saying, “I’m not comfortable hitting a woman.”
That angers her, and she balls her fist, about to throw a punch, “That’s not mutual,” except her laces are tied together, and she trips onto her knee. “Ow. I scraped my knee, you wang.”
“I do feel bad about that.” He sets her on a park bench, and in a flash cleans and bandages the wound. “Less so about this,” he keeps ‘bandaging,’ until she’s a duct-tape mummy tied to the bench.
“Have you out in a tick, love,” Boomerang says, as the first of his boomerangs slices the piece of tape holding her upright.
She slowly tips, wiggling to try to right herself as she grunts, “No, no, no,” before thudding face first down onto the bench, “damnit.” The rest of Boomerang’s boomerangs fall harmlessly to the ground beside her, having been plucked out of the air by Flash.
He appears next to Boomerang, holding one up. “Fascinating construction. Lightweight alloy shaped to remain aerodynamically neutral, but with enough mass to be capable of a fair distance of flight. Sharp, too.”
One hits him in the back of the head and Boomerang is ready for a follow-up punch, catching Flash as he lurches forward. “Okay,” Flash says, picking himself up off the ground, “I did not see that one coming- which I guess is the strength of a boomerang.”
Boomerang looses a flurry of boomerangs, but Flash is nowhere near as they fly- and yet keeps closing the distance, eventually revealing that he’s got a big tree branch he’s been using to collect the boomerangs as they stick in it. “Weren’t you in the military? Hold on.” He’s gone a second, then back. “Nope, not that kind of Captain. Still. A bunch of those boomerangs were aimed at kids, moms, a blue jay, even your own partner.”
“They were all aimed at you.”
“You need to think about the possibility you can miss; you need to think about what’s behind your target.”
“First smart thing you’ve done… I was going to say today, but you chose that gimmick, that name, and that outfit. This is quite the rare win for you, so I won’t make you watch my victory Flash dance.” (I understand, with that sentence, the immensity of the Chekov gun I have loaded- Flash must do a Flash dance over the credits). With Flash’s back turned, Boomerang goes for his last holdout boomerang, which looked like a belt-buckle. He reels back to throw it, only for it to be replaced by a banana, which boomerangs, hitting him in the face. Flash sighs, “Your streak continues.”
Flash drags Boomerang a little too quickly to the bench beside Glider, and zip-ties him to it. The speed has him dizzy, and he reels, before starting to heave. “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the turbulence, but there are complimentary air or other sickness bags attached to your front compartment.” Flash tapes a brown paper bag to Boomerang. “Now we know you stopped having a choice of flying Air Flash the second you decided to be a criminal, but we’re glad you won’t have another chance for a while.”
While I haven’t mentioned it until now, every time Barry checks his phone, he has several emoji-choked texts from Wally. Wally is very excited that his sister is dating a superhero. Except this time, his phone is oddly quiet, quiet enough Barry calls Iris. “Everything okay over there? Wally hasn’t blown up my phone since lunchtime.”
“Huh?” Iris says. “He’s not home yet. And neither’s mom. I don’t think he had a game today. Dad?”
“No. They had their last game a few weeks ago. And track won’t start for another week.”
“Then where’s mom?” she asks as Barry walks through the door in his civilian clothes.
“No idea. She should have been home hours ago. And Wally should have been home on the bus. I’ll call her. You try your brother. Usually she’ll text if she’s giving him a ride or running an errand, but… I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“Want me to pick you up something to eat?” Barry asks.
“Hmm….” Mr. West says, “with your mom not home, there’s nothing stopping us from getting extra spicy Mongolian…”
“Except that she will eventually come home, and you’re terrified of the woman,” Iris replies.
“I’m not ‘terrified.’ I’m appropriately respectful. Half extra-spicy, half mild.”
Barry calls in the order; subtly, he is speaking Mongolian. “You remember where she said she’d stick the next pepper she found in her ‘mild’ Mongolian, right?”
“Actually, she was never very clear. It’s the not knowing that keeps me up at night.”
“Order’s in,” Barry says. “They said it’ll be ready in fifteen minutes.”
“So you’ll leave in fourteen?”
“Mongolia’s 6500 miles away, at a comfortable jogging speed, it’s about six seconds.”
“I’ll heat the oven,” Iris says.
Boomerang is alone in a dark holding cell. Flag saunters in. “Where’s Glider?” Boomerang asks.
“Yeah, they don’t book the men and the women together, for obvious reasons. Your plan seems to be all hitch.”
“A little snag- a contingency we planned for. Guy’s everywhere. The odds any one, two or four of us would get pinched were pretty high. Cold’ll come through.”
“Yeah, for his sister. You want to bet your liberty he’s coming for you?”
“I put a lot more than that on the line, here,” Boomerang says.
“Despite your obvious shortcomings- which are numerous- you’ve shown initiative. That goes a long way with me. I’m willing to bring you onto the Varsity squad. Or, you can keep playing JV ball here.”
“There isn’t a Varsity squad yet; right now this is the only game in town. I put this team together because I think they have what it takes.”
“Well, you ever get tired of life in that supervillain Guantanamo, you give me a ring- assuming you can find a way to do that from in there.” Just then, the wall behind Boomerang freezes, and Glider kicks it in. They’re not quite fast enough to vacate before the cops swarm in. Flag clothes-lines the first officer, keeping him from putting a bullet in Boomerang, then disarms the second, ejects the magazine and the chambered round before dropping the gun while showing the rest of the cops his government ID. “I wasn’t here,” he says, and walks out.
“Who was that?” Glider asks as she helps Boomerang out through the rubble.
“Spook. Trying to recruit me. Told him to sit on me boomerang and spin.”
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” Flash asks, socking him in the jaw as he speeds by. “What would Ma Boomerang say?”
Boomerang is pissed, and gets up, rage in his eyes. “She’d call you a” we don’t hear the words, as Flash zips off.
“Huh,” Glider says. “I guess his weakness is Australian profanity.”
“No,” Cold says, pointing to the background as another explosion rocks the city. “He was responding to our distraction.”
“And you couldn’t have timed that so I didn’t get walloped in the jaw?”
“And spare you a wallaby wallopin’?” Heat-Wave jeers.
“I’m prepared, not psychic,” Cold says.
Bullets from the cops whiz by Boomerang’s head. “You didn’t prepare me a boomerang resupply, did you?”
“Glider,” Cold says.
Glider opens a case filled with his signature Boomerangs, and his eyes light up. “I could kiss you,” Boomerang says.
“Not it,” Cold and Glider say at the same time. We show the cops again, this time falling in droves as boomerangs jab into them. “You didn’t kill anybody, did you?”
Boomerang kisses one of his boomerangs. “Didn’t need to.”
“Rogues, let’s go.” I’m assuming that they drive some kind of armored vehicle, like a Humvee, using similar tech on the wheels as Glider’s skates.
We cut back to Flash. He narrates, as he gathers bombs from all over the warehouse district. “The Rogues don’t kill- they’re very proud of that- at least, not directly. The first bomb was only meant to get my attention- someone had cleared the area just before- but the rest, I suspect if someone did get killed, the Rogues would say I killed them. Negligence. Which… feels flimsy, but it beats dealing with Batman’s rogues.”
Back with the Rogues. Boomerang looks out of the back of their getaway vehicle, and sees the ice marks the tires leave- they’re leaving a trail. “I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth…”
“And yet I sense a big Australian ‘but’ coming,” Cold says from behind the wheel.
“Were leaving a frozen trail even a Flash could follow.” As if to prove his point, Flash shows up, on their tail. Cold hits a button on the steering wheel, and a cold gun built into the 0 on his custom “0-KELVIN” license plate blasts the road, turning it into a sheet of ice. Flash is moving too fast to stop, and skids on the ice, smashing into a “Stop” sign. To add insult to injury, Cold blasts him out the window, freezing him in a block of ice. Flash vibrates out of it, and puts a chunk of the ice to his head.
“That was humbling,” he says, and runs after the truck, but they’re gone.
We’re back with the Rogues. “Ah,” Boomerang says “We were the secondary distraction.”
“Weather Wizard’s a prima donna. He was definitely going to vamp while he grabbed the girl. Whole plan falls apart if Flash figures it out before all the pieces are in place. And now there’s just one more.” He pulls to a stop, and we recognize the exterior of Jay’s lab.
Watching on security cameras, Waller is pensive. “I don’t like it,” she says. “The intel gives them his friends and family. Anyone with half a brain could figure out his identity from that…” She smiles. “You don’t think they have the brains, do you? Just like you think the Rogues are a waste of time.”
She’s talking to Rick Flag. “You don’t try to turn lapdogs into attack dogs. A villain that won’t kill doesn’t serve as much of a deterrent.” He hesitates. “But what if they do manage to kill Allen?”
“Then they earn a shot at the big leagues. This job is never about being right or wrong, it’s about learning to use your failures and your successes to your future advantage.”
“And the civilian casualties?”
“There are always civilian casualties in war, Captain. But we’re not risking anyone we can’t afford to lose.”
Back with Flash, he gets a panicked call from Iris’ father, Ira. “Bastard took her.” He’s bleeding from the lip.
“Who?” Barry asks into the phone, but he beats the audio to the West home. Ira managed to capture video on his phone, he and Iris trying to fight back against Weather Wizard. Weather Wizard used lightning to carve a taunt into Iris’ wall, along with the address.
“I’m coming with you,” Ira says.
“You can’t keep up,” Flash says. “I’d just be bringing them another hostage. That might even be what they’re counting on- a hostage I’d feel extra responsible for putting in harm’s way. I’ll put you someplace safe- and I’ll bring your family back.”
“Barry, they don’t get to walk away from this.”
“I’m not killing anyone.”
“I said walk,” he says grimly.
“I’ll get them home safely,” he pats Ira on the shoulder. “Now close your eyes, exhale, and try not to think of food.”
“That’s going to be hard,” Ira says, “when it smells so…” he realizes he’s in Mongolia, at the restaurant they order take out from.
One of the servers puts down a plate in front of him. “The red man said you wanted extra spicy.”
We’re back with the Rogues. “We sure have an awful lot of Wests,” Glider says. “Your G-man say why?”
“I told him to piss off,” Boomerang lies.
“Yeah. You have a secret informant and a government stalker? You’re just not that interesting.”
Boomerang sighs. “Intel is need-to-know. All I know, is this group would hit him where he lives, soften him up, yeah? They fit a profile.”
“And we aren’t going to kill them?” she asks, louder, to her brother.
“We won’t,” Cold says. “Excellent timing, as always,” he says, as Flash enters. “But this place is a death trap. Designed to slow you down, force you to make mistakes. If you do, innocent bystanders pay the price.” He reveals the others, tied, chained, whatever, to various high-tech torture devices. “Or… you kneel at my feet, take off the mask, and I cold-cock you with my gun. I’ve done the math. Even at your speed, you can’t save everyone- you’d need to be moving nearly three times the speed of light. I’ll give you a moment, if you want to double-check my figures.” As Cold monologues, we see Flash zip to the missing family members, including his father and Jay, and then pausing to indeed double-check Cold’s math. But when it comes to Jay, he winks- and not at human speed, but at Barry’s speed. Barry double-takes, and Jay vibrates free of his restraints, and they run outside to have a few nanosecond pow-wow.
Barry is stand-offish; whatever Jay has to say, he’s feeling betrayed and overwhelmed. “Here’s the thing, kiddo,” Jay starts.
“We don’t have time.”
“We do. You and I think, talk and move thousands of times faster than everyone else. We could have a day’s long argument and still have time to fix this.”
“What did you do?”
“You’re a brilliant physicist, better than I ever was, even in my prime. I literally stumbled into the Speed Force- I mean it, tripped on my damn laces and went head-over-tea-kettle. Working with you, I thought… I thought about all of the ways we could harness this speed- all of the ways we could use it to make people’s lives better. Crops that grow faster. Surgeries that are over in a blink and heal in seconds. Medicines moving so fast disease don’t have a chance to take root. And I thought… I thought I could protect you, make sure you didn’t make the same mistakes I did. And… you didn’t. You found your own damn way in. I took one night off to take Joan to a show, and… you made the breakthrough I never could. I was a fool. And I should have told you everything from the start. And I should have told you the day we started, and every day since. You deserved the truth.”
“You’re right. I did. It wouldn’t have changed anything. I still would have worked with you. But when it happened, I wouldn’t have had to feel alone.”
“Damn. I’m sorry I let you down.”
“Good. Because you’re about to get a chance to make it up to me. Time really is a problem here.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean even at our speed, we can’t save the other four- not without slowing down- not without making ourselves vulnerable.”
“If somebody’s got to take the hit-”
“That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying, is that we have to do the experiment again- one last time. We give one of them speed- three of us can fix this where two can’t.”
“Your dad, Iris’ mom, they’re too old. I got electrocuted, once, nearly stopped my heart. My accident was just like that- felt like I was in cardiac arrest. I was young, when I had my accident.. The codgers may not survive it.”
“So Wally and Iris are our only shots. I know she’d risk herself for her brother; and he’d die for her. I can’t… I can’t stand the thought of anything happening to either one of them. There’s no way I could choose.”
“Okay. So don’t play God.” Jay takes out a coin from his pocket. “Heads it’s Wally, tails, Iris.” He won’t wait for it to come back down, but catches it at the top of its arc and flips it into his palm. It comes up heads.
They rescue Wally first, then pull him into the Speed Force. While Jay sets up the experiment in the background, Barry explains what’s about to happen- that if he wants, they could try and pull in Iris, instead. But Wally wants to be a superhero- he loves the Flash, so the idea of being able to help, even just this once, he leaps at the chance, even knowing there’s a risk.
“Is it going to hurt?” Wally asks, and Barry winces. But his real question is, “Will it leave a scar? My dad says chicks dig scars.”
“Don’t call them ‘chicks.’ They hate that more than they like scars.”
“But if it’s that important, we’ll make sure you get a scar,” Jay says.
“Don’t help,” Barry says.
“We ready?” Barry nods, and so does Wally. Wally is engulfed in light and electricity. During the experiment, Barry runs out, and returns with an inverted version of his uniform, yellow instead of read, with a red lightning bolt insignia, for Wally. The light and electricity fade, and Wally is left smoking for a moment, before his eyes come open, and he zips immediately into the suit.
“Fits better than my batsuit,” he says.
“You get them and you get out,” Barry says. “The Rogues might be a few bananas short of a bunch, but they’re still dangerous, and I’ve dealt with them before.”
Barry charges at Cold, and a series of charges detonate as his approach, blowing him off his feet.
“You really don’t understand, do you?” Cold asks, standing above him. “I figured you’d save them. That was always part of my plan. The Rogues don’t kill people. But you don’t count.” He lowers his cold gun, and is about to fire. Jay knocks the gun up, so it discharges into the ceiling, while Wally smacks Cold in the stomach.
“Kid,” Jay says, “remember what I said about pulling your punches.”
“I was. I tried.”
Cold coughs up blood.
“There’s more than one?” Cold exclaims. “No wonder we couldn’t beat them!”
“The only thing you could beat is, uh,” Wally starts, hitting Cold again.
“A one-legged man-” Jay hits Cold.
“No,” Wally says, shaking his head after hitting Cold.
“A duckling,” Jay hits Cold.
Wally shakes his head approvingly, then adds, “in an ugly contest,” as he lands one last punch. Then he winces. “Especially until the swelling goes down.”
“At least he can put some cold on it,” Barry says, throwing an arm around each of them. “Thanks. For having my back.”
“Any time, kiddo,” Jay says. “Now, like a family.” The three Flashes square to the Rogues, whose plans fall apart at superspeed.
Barry wraps Glider’s streamers around a pipe, then guides her into a collision with Heatwave. Wally catches several boomerangs before sending them back on a collision course with Boomerang from the other direction. Jay spends a moment geeking out over the Weather Wizard’s tech, before turning it against him.
We cut to Boomerang, behind bars. “So,” Flag says, gloating. “Fifteen to life, or take what’s behind door ‘X’?”
Boomerang spits blood. “Suppose it’s time I stepped up to the bigs, then.”
Credits, and then, the Flash Dance.
More credits, then a mid-credits scene.
“Your task force not going well, Amanda?” General Wade Eiling gloats from behind his desk in a government office. “You’d still be happier working in that carnival freakshow in Gotham?”
“I argued for a handpicked team, but failing that, I could build something out of Gotham. Wetworks requires moral flexibility. You can train any man to kill, but you can’t make any man a killer.”
“I’m not talking about soldiers. Flag was a lousy soldier. But he does the job- whatever the job.” She snaps her fingers, and Flag brings in Harley’s hyenas, who growl and posture, making Eiling lurch back in his chair. He hands Waller the leash. “They only eat fish dosed in that Joker toxin.” She pets one of them. “I can leash a rabid beast, Wade, to get it to do what I need.”
“I take your point, Amanda; my report will reflect your objections, and I’ll back your next phase- provided you get those things away from me. And Amanda, next time, no theatrics. Or I put a bullet in each of your pets, and maybe you, too.”
“Wade, if I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were flirting.”
They share a smile.
More credits, and then one final scene. Barry, Jay and Barry’s dad are at the Wests, having a meal. Mrs. West pulls Barry to the side. “You… haven’t seen Ira, have you?” she asks, trying to hide her concern from the rest of them. He holds up his finger, that he’ll need one minute.
Ira is still in the Mongolian restaurant. He’s groaning, absolutely stuffed. “At first it was so good. And then… I kept eating, because I was worried… I think I’m more Mongolian food than man, now. Everyone okay?”
“Yep. And I have experience with this,” Barry says. “I’ll get you a cab, to a hotel. I can bring the missus to you. Cause if I move you… well, you’ll empty the contents of most of your GI tract all over both of us, and you’ll never really get the smell out of your clothes, or your nostrils.”
“Your experience? Your dad?”
“I’d rather not talk about it. But I’m not making that mistake again. Just, take it easy. No sudden movements.”
He heaves. “Don’t mention movements.” He heaves again, and we cut to black.
We hear Flash say, “Oh, God, I couldn’t get out of the way fast enough.”
The Deal: this is the sixth in a series of pitches for the rebooted DC Movies. I’m using AI art to mock-up these pitches, because it really adds to the madness, and especially for this pitch, we need all the madness we can get.
Batman is maybe the toughest nut to crack, because there have been so many Batman movies, and we’re going to stay away from origins for the most part. And that’s why we’re going to follow the Deadpool route, and make this a Valentine’s date movie.
We start in Arkham. I think the Arkham games found a good compromise, between the spooky, gothic architecture and the fact that there’s still plenty of real-world hospital infrastructure in place, too, so think a spooky castle retrofitted with bland tile and easy to clean hospital walls. We follow Dr. Quinzel, her hair already in twin tails, wearing a red and black corset beneath her buttoned up lab coat, humming the Joker’s theme song from the Batman Animated Series, because he’s too good a character not to have his own iconic theme.
She enters a secured room. She’s firm but kind as she hands over the plant. She put her job on the line vouching for Ivy- but if she attempts to use the plant to break out they’ll use the defoliant sprinklers. Ivy ignores the threat- which is old hat at this point. She’s transfixed with the plant; she’s basically a mother reunited with her child. Both glow under the grow light- which Ivy also credits Harley for. She thanks Harley, for being the one doctor in here who isn’t just putting her under the microscope, but who listens. In exchange she offers her own advice: “The clown isn’t good enough for you. He chews people up and spits them out, not to prove any kind of point, but because he thinks it’s funny. You’re as special as this blossom,” she gently strokes the plant’s petals, “and you shouldn’t settle for anyone who can’t see that.”
We cut to the DC title sequence.
We’re in the Gotham subway system at night. A gang, calling themselves the “Mutants,” dressed in that strange 80s punk aesthetic from the Dark Knight Returns, menace first a black street musician named Milan, and then a woman waiting for the last train of the night. One of them pulls out a switchblade, and is about to mug her, when Batman swoops in and starts fighting them. The street musician starts playing Wesley Willis’ “I Whupped Batman’s Ass,” but as the fight goes on, he changes it to, “Batman Kicked My Ass” (which would be a slight variation on Willis’ “Birdman Kicked My Ass.” As he’s about to leave, Batman retrieves a green batarang from his belt, and throws it into the musician’s open case; the musician unfolds it, to find it’s an origami $100 bill. He looks up to thank Batman, but he’s gone.
Batman slides into his car, and roars off. Alfred calls over a built-in radio. “Commissioner Gordon has requested your presence. A break-in at WayneTech. Security footage shows the clown in the anaesthesia lab. They’re reporting a casualty.” The Batmobile’s engine growls as he increases speed.
We start in on a Wayne security guard with a rictus grin, with the name plate Owens. Batman is studying him, while an EMT assures him they used the anti-toxin Batman distributed to the city’s ambulance companies- but it hasn’t had an effect. “He’s using a new formula.” Batman has a booster in his utility belt. The smile softens somewhat. “He may experience facial paralysis. He’ll need to consult a plastic surgeon; there may be tissue damage.” Batman hands him the card of a good one, that Wayne’s insurance will cover. The EMT promises to tell him.
Batman walks to the lab where the majority of the damage was done. Commissioner Gordon is overseeing the case; he personally oversees any case involving the Joker. Gordon doesn’t know what Joker was after. “An experimental tranquilizer,” Batman says. “Gotham has a high proportion of meta humans and mutations. Typical tranquilizers don’t work on all of them, or even the same way. I consulted, and shared some tissue samples. Every other work station is smashed. But he was careful with this one. He knew what he wanted, and that it was fragile. If he has that, he’ll be able to reproduce it. He’s a chemical savant- that’s why we have such trouble keeping up with his Joker toxins.” Gordon goes to ask him a question, but he’s gone.
Batman swings down to his Batmobile. The lights come on as he approahes, and we’ll think he just has it remote controlled, until it peels away. He grapnels onto the top of the car. It’s not responding to the controls in his gauntlet. The driver swerves, nearly knocking him off. He manages to get the edge of a batarang jammed into the sliding top, and uses his cape to direct a gas grenade’s contents inside the car. The car crashes somewhat languidly into a light pole. Batman wrenches the roof open, to find an early teen asleep at the wheel.
The teen wakes in the batcave. It’s mostly dark, lit only by the instrument panel in the Batmobile. “Jason Todd, in and out of foster homes and orphanages since you could crawl,” Batman’s voice booms, coming from everywhere at once, augmented by the cave’s sound system. “I won’t bore you with your history, all the reasons you spent time in juvey, but your record indicates you’re on track for life in prison by your twenty-third birthday.” Suddenly Batman is behind him, and tears him out of the car with one hand. “So why did you steal my car?”
At first Jason is defiant. He’s been living on the streets, fending off all kinds of predators, for most of his young life. Batman tries to intimidate him, but Jason pivots, and says, “You’re not going to beat on me. In a way, that makes this cave safer than most of the foster homes I’ve been in.” Batman tells him he’s put 37 juveniles in the hospital. “Yeah, in self-defense, or protecting other people. And I tried to take your car because while I can’t steal a home, I can live in a car, and that seems like a pretty safe one to live in.” Batman comments that he managed not to damage the security measures getting inside. “Of course not. Wouldn’t be very safe anymore if I did.” Jason sees his opening. “You were faster, this time. Usually, crime scene investigation involving the Joker, and someone he poisoned, I should have had another 48 seconds.”
“You’ve been tailing me.” Jason’s stomach growls. “You’re hungry.”
As if on cue, Alfred arrives, with a sandwich, cut in half. His eyebrow raises. “Taking in strays again?”
“Kid needs a place to stay, and we do have extra rooms,” Batman says.
“Very good, sir,” Alfred offers the sandwiches first to Jason, who hesitates for only a moment before tearing into one.
We cut to Harley is sneaking in very Scooby Doo fashion into an overgrown plant sanctuary on the outskirts of town with a bottle of ether and a rag. She’s caught, almost immediately, and held by plant vines. “Heya, Red,” she says. Ivy tells Harley she’s immune to poisons- ether included, and Harley says “Oops, I forgot,” and drops both. Ivy’s skeptical- Harley didn’t forget- this is something else.
Harley exuberantly tells her she was going to kidnap her to create a rose garden that grows in a bat symbol- a bat symbol Joker could destroy that would then replenish itself, so he could destroy it all over again. Harley tells Ivy she wants the roses to have blackberry genes, so whatever Mister J throws at them, they’ll spring back. “Oh, Harley,” Ivy says, recognizing that the resilience she’s seeking in the plants is what she’s needed to survive him, and that her gift idea is to find something else to absorb his abuse.
She tricks Harley, telling her they’ll need some supplies. Instead they go shopping. They run into Bruce Wayne, and Ivy uses her pheremones to kidnap him and bring him along on their spree to pay for everything. Harley is focused on things to please Joker, but Ivy keeps steering her towards things that make her feel good, too- emphasizing that Joker should want to make her happy, too, that what makes her happy should make him happy.
Alfred, who witnesses the kidnapping, calls Batgirl. She calls Dick Grayson. At first he’s excited to hear from her. “I know you and Bruce aren’t on the best of terms, right now…” she says, and his face falls, “but someone kidnapped him, off the street. I could use the back-up.” He shows up not in his Robin gear, but as Nightwing. She comments that it looks good- and that he couldn’t dress like a Lost Boy his whole life.
Alfred keeps tabs on Bruce and his kidnappers, so it doesn’t take long for them to catch up. Batgirl and Nightwing have a will-they-won’t-they kind of romance; Batgirl has something of a crush on Bruce, but it’s a schoolgirl and her professor thing, and he views her as a surrogate daughter. They manage to free Bruce. Harley and Ivy get away, and Bruce is convinced their plans don’t have anything to do with the Joker’s.
On the police scanner, they hear about two crimes, a break-in at the bat research center, and one at Arkham. Batman takes the bat center, because he’s still a little worse for wear after being poisoned by Ivy, while the other two take Arkham.
One of the scientists working at the bat research center, Dr. Karl Lykos, has been taken. No ransom yet. An overweight detective, Harvey Bullock, is working the scene, sweating profusely. At one point he decides to sit in a chair, not noticing the whoopie cushion on it. Batman does, and tackles him out of the way, as it explodes violently.
At Arkham, Batgirl delivers an anti-toxin to an orderly named Westen. He’s able to wheeze out that Joker spent several minutes agitated, talking to Freeze, before leaving emtpy-handed. Freeze coldly refuses to speak to them. They’re skeptical, but call Batman. He thinks the victims’ names are a clue- that either Joker is hiding out at Low Pharmaceuticals, or the defunct owl sanctuary. Batman is closer to the owl sancutary, and they’ll take Low. Barbara lingers behind, feeling there’s more investigative work to be done.
Ivy creates the box garden Harley asked for, and grows a bat symbol out of it, offering to help her deliver it to the Joker. But she hesitates, then offers her thoughts, because she’d rather not give something beautiful to a man who doesn’t appreciate it, and will ultimately destroy it. This time, Ivy cups Harley’s cheek, to guide her gaze to meet hers, so Harley can’t ignore that Ivy is talking about her. “Because I’d rather this go to someone who appreciates its beauty.” Ivy waves her hand, and the blossoms change, instead becoming Harley’s black and red diamond pattern. Ivy kisses Harley, and it’s at first a beautiful moment… but then Harley pulls back. She’s still with Joker, still feels like she can’t do this, and leaves.
Batman arrives at the owl sanctuary. There are rose petals cut into the shape of bat symbols adorning the walkway. The large, open room is initially dark, until Joker is lit with a spotlight. Joker’s dressed sharply, think the date night version of what he usually wears, hair slicked back. One side of his head is conspicuously bandaged in what feels like both an homage to Two-Face and Hush. Joker gives a speech about their relationship, how important they are to one another, how he is the ying to Batman’s yoni.
The entire thing should read in Joker’s mind as affectionate bordering on romantic, and to the rest of the world as incredibly creepy. He reveals his grand gesture, Man-Bat, suspended by chains with his wings spread and lit with spotlights to resemble the Bat Signal. His chest has been cut open, the tissue pinned back to form a wet, pink heart in the center. It should be gruesome for a moment, until Batman says, “That isn’t Lykos.” He doesn’t wait for confirmation, but wings a batarang at the ‘Man-Bat’s’ wing, which tears away in a strange, wet clump.
Now we’re with Nightwing. He’s discovered a sonic emitter, and disables it. He’s not sure he understands it. It was broadcasting at a frequency that only dogs could hear, and not loud enough to cause any real damage. He’s attacked by Man-Bat, who was drawn by the signal.
We’re back at Arkham with Batgirl. She’s stopped at Clayface’s cell, noticing that the window looks different than the others. She opens his cell, but he ignores her. She reaches for him, and her hand sinks into his chest. It’s hollow. She pulls back her hand as Clayface attacks; she leaps out of the way, and closes the cell back up. She left an explosive inside Clayface, and detonates it, splattering him across the walls of his cell. Clayface’s window melts; it was made of clay, too, covering the hole through which the rest of him escaped. Barbara calls to the others that Clayface is loose.
We’re back with Batman, as ‘Man-Bat’ reverts to clay and falls from the ceiling, engulfing Batman. As he fruitlessly struggles, Joker admits that he must not have given Lykos enough tranquilizer earlier, so he escaped, and Joker had to improvise. Clayface was going to be a chocolate fountain immortalizing Batman pushing him into a vat of acid that attacked him once he got close. He also wanted an ice sculpture that would shatter into ice shrapnel, but Freeze refused to exchange it for his freedom, and didn’t even budge when Joker threatened Nora.
And that is when Harley enters. She’s furious, realizing she has been trying to build out a romantic Valentine’s Day for Joker, and he wasn’t even giving her a second thought, because he was busy obsessing over Batman. It’s Harley who kicks Joker’s ass while Batman fends off Clayface.
Nightwing throws a batarang on a line around Man-Bat, then gets dragged along into the air, literally only able to hold on for dear life. It’s not until Batgirl arrives that they can manage to wrangle the beast enough to give it the serum that counters his transformation. They manage to catch all three of them with ropes, and end up dangling precariously upside-down a moment, during which they share a brief little upside-down kiss. Nightwing is somewhat anxious, realizing he hopes that was romantic, and not him making their working relationship uncomfortable. “I’m pretty sure I got saliva up my nose,” she says, “and I’m just praying it was yours or mine, and not his.” Man-Bat is drooling profusely hanging above them; Batgirl realizes now she’s making it awkward, and gives him a second peck. “But totally worth it. We should just get down before things gets a lot slimier.”
Harley returns to Ivy. Ivy’s apologetic. She shouldn’t have kissed her like that. Harley’s apologetic, too. She’s been in an abusive relationship so long she couldn’t recognize real affection when it was staring lovingly into her eyes. But she taps the breaks. Because with the Joker’s spell over her broken, she recognizes she doesn’t want a rebound fling. She needs to figure out who Harleen Quinnzel is without Joker, before she can try to figure out who she should be in a healthy relationship. She’s very clear. “This is not a soft ‘No,’ Ivy. When I’m ready, if you want the first dance, I’ll save it for you. And if you find another dance partner before then, I truly hope they sweep you off your feet, because you deserve that.” They embrace.
We cut to Dick and Bruce riding silently home in the Batmobile. “So,” Dick says with a smile, “I imagine that wasn’t the Valentine’s Day you expected.”
“I had hoped to take Vesper to dinner. Tell Joker you have plans, and he laughs.”
“And you’re sure you haven’t done anything to encourage his twisted affections?”
“He’s a stalker, more dangerous for his self-importance. Nothing more.” For a moment they’re quiet, but Batman notices something in Dick. He’s happier than usual, even for him. “What about you?”
Dick can’t help but grin. “It was not what I was expecting, and yet.. one of the better Valentine’s I can remember.” Dick’s smile fades as they’re greeted in the batcave by Jason Todd in a Robin costume. “Bruce, this is a terrible idea.”
“I know,” he says. “That’s why you should train him. Because you survived me, and Gotham. You understand my faults in a way I’m too close to see. And you understand better than anyone what it takes to be Robin.”
“And if I’m certain there shouldn’t be one?”
“That’s between you and the kid. I might agree with you- there’s a reason I haven’t tried to replace you.. But convincing him is the rub.”
“You’re a real prick, you know that?” Dick asks, but he’s smiling.
“So you’ve told me,” Bruce says, grim, but behind it, he’s happier than he’s been in quite some time, and finally feels like his little family is whole again. Credits.
Quick note: Okay, so I made a mistake, and thought I could take last week off. But I was forgetting that I’d been sitting on this pitch to release alongside the new Spider-Verse movie… so Batman will come out next Friday.
The Deal: I pitch movies set in the Marvel or DC cinematic universes. Also other things. And I’m using AI to generate images, with often silly results.
This one started as mostly a joke idea, until I realized, “Multiplicity, but with Spider-Man” was the pitch, and then… then I realized we could just do a straight-up comedy, and even loop in Michael Keaton’s Vulture as the straight man for it, and fell in love with the idea. This is the year of the Spider, so… why not? Oh, and we’re definitely pulling in Paul Rudd, who has his own similarly-themed Netflix show called Living with Yourself, and because I think his character would be a hilarious mentor to Peter, the angel on his shoulder to the devil that is the Vulture. Plus, the two of them have comedy chops that we could really lean into. You might even be able to get Adam McKay to come and do this one, with all of that talent and budget, and that would be fun madness.
To start, this movie would finally play up the “Peter can’t keep a job to save his skin” angle. I’m going to say he’s staying with Felicia Hardy in the apartment he used to share with May- that their relationship has progressed since Heroes for Hire 2. Felicia’s footing the bill, but since Peter insists they pay their bills legitimately, they’re in danger of losing the apartment, so he’s searching the want ads for something that isn’t going to interfere with his school, or his heroing, which he coyly refer to as his night school (because Felicia is worried he’s going to accidentally blurt out something Spider-Man to a classmate without thinking). “Last weekend you were up for three straight days. You forgot to put on pants the whole day- not that I’m complaining. But you ordered a pizza, and the delivery girl could definitely see your web sack.”
“Felicia!” She nods, and we see the sack of webbing where he keeps his Spider-Man gear, definitely in full view of the front door. “That sack; yeah, I need to be more careful about who sees my sack.”
There’s a knock at the door, and Peter forgets to hide his websack, even though they were just talking about it. Thankfully, it’s Miles, wanting to be trained (especially having seen firsthand a fight with an Inheritor in Edge of the Spider-Verse). It’s subtle, to start, but he’s acting like he and Peter have already had this conversation, that Peter already agreed to mentor him. Peter doesn’t feel ready for the responsibility. He tells Miles that part of being a mentor is having the maturity to know when you’re not ready to be a mentor- but that Dr. Connors helped him a lot when he was Miles’ age. Miles is unhappy, but mentions that Dr. Connors wanted him to pass a message, one that doesn’t make any sense to Peter. Felicia hands Peter his phone, telling him he missed a call; MJ leaves a message telling him it was really cool meeting him and she had fun at lunch.
The trouble is, he still hasn’t contacted her, and he didn’t take her to lunch- he was with Felicia. Things come to a head when Vulture brings a second Peter home. He’s expecting to deliver Peter to May and tell her to keep him away from his daughter.
At that moment, Man-Spider (having taken the name Ben Reilly for himself) arrives, having had a thought. Realizing there are already two of them there, Ben tries to excuse himself, “Oh, I see we’re already here.”
“God, they’re multiplying,” Vulture says.
Felicia asks for a moment to talk to, “the supervillain standing in my foyer?” She leans into him. “He might have a problem with killing people like you. Look at him sideways in my apartment, and see if I have the same compunction.”
Felicia lets Vulture enter the room with the other three Peters. “Wait, how was he anywhere near Liz? I thought she moved to the West Coast,” our Peter asks.
“They’re in town. For a visit,” Vulture says.
“Really?” Pete says, leering.
“Dude,” Ben says, “Felicia.”
“I was teasing him. That overprotective father thing is so… ten years ago.”
“And what do you have to say for yourself?” Ben asks the new Spider-Man Vulture delivered.
“It was innocent,” Casanova Spider says with a shrug. “I was swinging along, and-”
“Wait,” our Peter interrupts. “How were you swinging. I invented my web-shooters.”
“I remember. I remember everything up until you got caught by the Jackal.”
“Oh, crap,” Peter says.
“So I grabbed one of your extra costumes, and built some web shooters. And I knew MJ had gotten that internship, and I was in the area. She… wanted to play a game like we’d never met, but we got lunch. She’s a really great girl; she deserves to have some quiet time with you. But after that, I was swinging around on patrol, when my spider sense lit up. It was him.” He nods at Vulture. “I followed him, and he met up with Liz. Then left. And she looked so sad. And so sweet. And… we were just talking.”
“Your lips were literally on her ear,” Vulture says menacingly.
“We started talking. She’s- the move was really hard on her. The blip was really hard on her, too. Everything, really, has been hard on her. She just needed a friend… I guess I was maybe a little too sympathetic an ear.”
“And when did you visit Connors?” Ben asks.
“I haven’t seen Dr. Connors since… since I was you, I guess.”
“Crap,” Ben and Pete say at the same time.
Vulture drives them across town. The Peters chatter amongst themselves, a little too loudly; some suspect, as a Jackal associate, that Vulture might be involved, and they should keep their friends close but their enemies closer. “Was thinking the same thing,” Vulture says.
They find out from Connors that there’s another Spider-Man, a Nerd Spider (is Poindexter-Man too much?). “He was wearing glasses, like you used to, Peter, and kept complaining about his allergies. Apparently, sneezing in the mask is… a problem.”
They track him down at the public library, doing research. He has braces, for some reason, and is dressed like the 60s version of Peter. He has some theories about what’s going on. His original hypothesis was that Jackal had some kind of a master plan. But research of the Bugle archives has found a series of brutal murders. There was flesh torn from the bodies, and each was found with a hand-print friction burn on their face. Nerd Spider picks up a piece of graph paper and sticks to it with his hand, before peeling the paper away. We zoom in to see that some of the fibers stay on his hand. “When we stick to surfaces, we extend what is, in essence, a low-level gravity field, just enough Gs to hold up a little more than our body weight- roughly us plus a person, plus compensating for whatever momentum we reach the wall with. But imagine one of the clones came out… not exactly correctly. A mutation, an aberration, something that amplified this field. Then imagine applying that force to a human being’s face.”
“The first murder,” we flashback, “was a man neighbors knew as Jack.” It’s another Peter, this one with a shaved head, and a little shorter than the others. “I believe he was one of the Jackal’s first attempts at cloning Peter, and worked to assist him. He was found, murdered, wearing a green outfit similar to the one the Jackal wore, with that tell-tale handprint across his face.” And we’re back in the library. “That’s when I realized the truth: Warren lost control of his clones. Someone has been letting us out.”
“To what end?” Ben asks.
“That…. I don’t know. But at least one of them is a killer. A Spider-Murderer- and that should give all of us pause.”
We see some of New York’s finest walking a Peter in Spider-Man feety pajamas into Peter’s building. This Peter keeps repeating the address. I’m going to try and walk a line, here. In Multiplicity (hell, in virtually every story of this type), they do a ‘one of them came out wrong’ sort of joke. The character’s always some kind of handicapped, usually played for comedy. Obviously, that’s problematic, when the joke is that handicapped people are funny (as in the butt of the joke, not as in capable of being humorous). But I want to be able to have my cake and eat it, on this. So my thought, and were we to do this, we would absolutely consult with sensitivity professionals and stakeholders, is that one of the clones has trisomy 21, Down syndrome. This would be the one clone not played by Tom Holland, because we’d get someone with Down syndrome to play him. The cops knock on the door, and tell Felicia that this young man claims to be her nephew, that this is where he lives. Felicia invites him in (I’m going to call him Corky, after Chris Burke’s Life Goes On character; bit before my time, but at least Google seems to think he’s been a good advocate for that community), and calls Peter. Just as a note, this clone might be younger; I want him in adorable Spider-Man feety pajamas, but I want them appropriate to the character (which, I will note, he corrects people to call his “Petey Pajamas” because that’s adorable).
I think the only ‘joke’ we’d have, here, is largely a reference to Multiplicity. Vulture goes into a room where the extra Spider-Men, including this one, under the direction of Nerd Spider, are hard at work assembling web shooters for all of the Spider-Men. Vulture emerges a little shaken. “He said ‘she’ touched his peppy. If ‘she’ was my daughter, I’m killing them both.” Seeming to understand that sounds bad, even for a villain, he adds, “It’s not because he’s different. It’s that he’s 2. And one of you.”
“Can we postpone the filicide?” Original Pete asks.
“Because my daughter’s a filly?” he asks, glaring.
“From the Latin, fillia. I did take Latin in the first place to impress your daughter, though. That’s, basically a compliment. It takes studying Latin to impress her, even a little, and all I got from her was this little wiggle smile. Worth it, but, now I have a head full of murder- it could be a prolicide. She’s probably not technically a kid, anymore, or it could be a pedicide.”
“And what would killing a spider be?” Vulture menaces.
The punchline for the joke would occur in an end-credits scene. The clone with Down syndrome excitedly exclaims that, “She’s touching my peppy,” from the closed room. Vulture and Felicia both protectively barrel into the room, to find that Pizza Dog, yes, from the Hawkeye series, is licking his pizza- his pepperoni pizza. “She’s touching my peppy,” he says with a scowl, before closing the box, and sauntering off with it.
But also, he’s not just here for a joke. He’d be there, as part of the finale, suited up, part of the good Spider army fighting against the villains. I think, to make sure we’re being responsible, one of the other clones asks him if he’s up to the fight. He pulls on his mask. “Don’t worry about me,” he says, “I’m Spider-Man.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Realizing this is all getting out of hand, Peter starts calling his former mentors. Starting with Dr. Strange, then Nick Fury, then ringing through to Happy. Then he calls the Avengers line, and we see the call ring through to several others (to save money, we can always have the calls just show on a phone in the right setting. Finally, Ant Man answers, calling him “Peanut,” before realizing he isn’t his daughter; Peter doesn’t realize it’s not a pet name for him, and awkwardly calls him “Biscotti.” He agrees to help Peter, largely because Multiplicity is one of his favorite Harold Ramis movies. He and Michael Keaton will end up in an argument over which is the better execution to the idea, Multiplicity or Living with Myself, with each arguing for the other’s version (because that’s funnier).
Again and again, the story comes back down to Peter both feeling responsibility for his clones, but also feeling like they shouldn’t be his responsibility. That’s the secret weapon we have, here; Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Michael Keaton’s Vulture are both actually really devoted fathers, and despite themselves, will give him the kind of solid advice he’ll need.
I think they investigate a series of murders and break-ins, dead spiders, and tech stolen from former Parker mentors. That’s because the rogue spiders all share Peter’s memories, as well as his scientific acumen. So their goal is, largely, to make a New York where they won’t be freaks, where they can be normal, or at least where the only freakish thing will be that they’re clones. This leads to a confrontation, the good Peters convinced that it isn’t worth the risk- some people will die, especially the old, the sickly, the young- that they don’t have the right to force this evolution on people.
I imagine, to get a more personal show-down, the good clones each stake out a different final component, and it’s original Peter who is there when Kaine breaks in. Kaine… is not a fan of his, blaming him for a lot of what happened to all of them, for first letting himself be kidnapped by Jackal, by not rescuing the rest of them, by letting the Avengers make him their goofy kid mascot, rather than make it okay for mutants to be public with their mutations. Peter tries to reason with him; in a way, Kaine is his wayward son, and in others, he’s Peter if things had gone very badly for him.
But Kaine is full of rage, rage borne of pain, both physical and psychological, and he lashes out. He’s strong, stronger than Peter; for the uninitiated, Kaine is basically what happens when the spider powers end up turned to 11. Even though Peter is more experienced, he’s just not ready for Kaine’s unbridled fury; Ben shows up, and saves him. Kaine flees, but with the tech he needed (he was never really there for a fight, anyway). Peter manages to hit Kaine with a tracker, one that will allow them to confront him before he finishes his device.
To fill out the ranks of the Bad Spiders, we’re mostly going to use Kaine’s various personae over the years, Tarantula, Scarlet Spider (the black and red costume); it could be neat to have Otto side with the evil Spiders as Superior Spider-Man, maybe bring some spider robots into play (maybe having been injured during Sinister 7 and back to using his tech to puppeteer a clone- maybe one who suffers a head injury and ends up comatose?).
We do a big knock-down drag-out fight between the good and bad Spiders, including the triumphant arrival of Footy Pajama Spider-Man. He is completely competent as a Spider-Man; it’s possible, if there’s some fun to be had, in the idea that he’s different from how we’d expect from a typical Spider-Man, provided he’s not the butt of the joke, and provided he’s different, but in a way that totally works (see the Feety Pajamas); I am, likewise, toying with the idea that he has a pig stuffed animal that he sewed a matching costume for, so that we can sort of have Spider-Ham in this thing (though he will properly be in the next one, but shhh… you’re not supposed to know that yet).
Miles shows up at the final battle, in his own home-made costume, saying he couldn’t stand by and let other people fight, let other people get hurt. Peter takes a moment to apologize. “I’m the reason you got sucked into this insane world; I didn’t want that for you, and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen it, but I have a responsibility to help you be the best Spider-Man you can be; we all have a responsibility to make each other the best we can be. So stay alive, kid, and I’ll teach you,”
“How to stay alive?” Miles asks, ducking one of the Doppleganger’s talons.
“I guess that’s all I have to teach you. You’ve already got the patter down.”
We get a big fight, with everyone getting a moment to shine:
Casanova: “I’m really more of a lover than a fighter,” he says, as Superior advances on him. He webs Superior’s elbow to a gargoyle, then takes a step back. Superior lunges forward, before hitting the end of his leash- and then the web sproings the gargoyle into him.
Kaine confronts Feety Pajama Spider-Man: “You should be with us. We’re fighting for a world where mutants are treated with respect, and dignity.”
“Spider-Man isn’t evil. That’s what’s wrong with you.” He ducks a punch, webbing Kaine’s feet to the ground, before leaping over him and and delivering a crushing uppercut.
Miles, in his home-made black and red suit, confronts the Scarlet Spider, also in red and black. Peter’s nervous, because this one is nearly as deadly as Kaine. Peter keeps telling him to feel for the tingle, but Miles is having trouble sensing it, before his hand grazes Scarlet’s shoulder, and he zaps him with a venom blast. “Think I felt the tingle,” Miles says.
“I think we all felt that one,” Peter says, before spraying a web for another Spider-Man to knock an opponent over.
I think Ben fights a newly re-formed Doppleganger. (yes, from my Maximum Carnage pitch– though this time I’m assuming they put that symbiote on a different clone, so Ben can literally face his demons) I think he maybe gets his clock cleaned by it earlier, and so he refuses to take the serum Dr. Conners made for him, and at a dramatic moment in the fight, mentions Popeye, “except for me, it’s actually the opposite of eating my spinach.” His four extra arms tear their way out of his sides; it’s clear it’s pretty painful, but suddenly they’re evenly matched, in fact, maybe Ben is on top, and furnishes a syringe he shoots the Doppleganger up with. “That should help with the mutation, and I put in some tranquilizers, too.”
“I’ve been analyzing some of the tissue samples left behind by Electro, and realized some of the organic compounds they contained could bind with our webbing fluid.”
“You’re putting me to sleep, Poindexter,” Tarantula growls, swiping wildly.
“Yes. The point.” He hits him in the chest with a web that then zaps him. “Difficult to believe we emerged from the same gene pool,” he says over the smoking spider.
It’s only after defeating and unmasking Kaine that we find out the biggest reason he’s been pushing this fight so aggressively: the clones are defective. As the oldest clone, Kaine’s damage is the furthest progressed. He was hoping to make being a spider/clone okay, then to harness the sympathy and acceptance to try and get some of the MCU’s big brains to help save them. He wasn’t really a bad dude, just a desperate one, who felt responsible for the clones who came after him. On the one hand, this gives us an out, for why Peter isn’t the real villain, but it also gives us a way to hand-wave away the clones until/unless we want to bring them back- that they’ve been off curing/arresting the degeneration.
End Credits Scene:
Feety Pajama Spider-Man is still a little out of sorts, eating his pizza sticking to the side of a water tower, as Pizza Dog barks at him from the roof below. “My peppy,” he says, taking a bite from a slice. His stuffed Spider-Ham is webbed to the tower beside the pizza box.
A portal opens, energy and electricity scaring Pizza Dog, who barks at it. Petey drops his pizza, gobsmacked, and the dog snatches it and runs off. Petey’s not even paying attention, because he’s more interested in the portal. It starts off screen. I’m assuming he’s off screen, but we hear John Mulaney’s distinctive voice. “Hey, kid, how’s it hanging?”
“I told you, it’s Peter.”
“Kid, we’re all Peter.” We finally reverse, and see that Spider-Ham is there, with Indian Spider-Man and Penni Parker. “Okay, so half of present company excluded. This place has got way too many spiders. It’s ringing the dinner bell before we’re ready to serve just desserts. So come with us. We’ve got a safe place to prepare. And, yeah, kid. You’re going to need your Petey Pajamas.”
We cut to black. White text appears one word at a time.