Pitchgiving 2020, Part 9: Swamp Thing: War on Gotham

Adapting the Alan Moore run, particularly the story focused on Swamp Thing making war on Gotham, leading into Justice League Dark. I think he teams with Poison Ivy, allowing him to draw a line by the end where he doesn’t agree with Bats, but knows Ivy’s so committed to plant life that she’d kill all the animals, too, and that’s too far (if we’re careful, setting her up for an eventual face turn later). We’ll also use this as a backdoor pilot for Constantine, and work Zatanna into it as a conduit between Batman and Constantine, trying to negotiate a peace. In part, this should feel like a disaster/alien invasion movie, with Bats and Zatanna researching possible scientific or magical means of ending the conflict, while the plantlife under Ivy’s control is largely a force of nature unto itself.

We open on the Wayne Green Initiative, an internal environmental science group within Wayne Industries; they have a dual mandate, researching green technology breakthroughs while also providing autonomous oversight to Wayne’s industrial divisions. Its director, Jason Woodrue, is young, handsome and charismatic. Most of the women in the office seem charmed by him, but not Pamela Isley. She values brains and ethics over clout- and she has it bad for Alec Holland. He’s a researcher from Louisiana, doing research on the restorative properties of certain kinds of plantlife. Pam’s research is more dealing with plant interactions with hormones, pheromones and attraction; she posits that there’s more to giving flowers than meets the eye- that plants are working on humans on a more subtle level than that- her work is proving the underlying chemical reaction. She’s also got a dual doctorate in plant toxicology.

A coworker brings Pam flowers; it’s completely inappropriate, but what she really objects to is that they were cut. “Would you bring an equestrian Mr. Ed’s severed head? Would you bring a dog lover Lassie’s excised tail?” She’s also annoyed at the unwanted workplace advance, but it’s filtered through her moral outrage. We see her apologizing to the flowers as he walks away.

He’s concerned Alec, who shares lab space with her, saw what transpired, and to save face tells him, “Watch out for that one- she’s a man eater.” He goes on to tell him she’s been through most of the staff, that most are haunted by the experience, that she’s the real reason Gary transferred. Alec says he thought Gary’s mother was sick, and the coworker- it might save time to make it Jason, is skeptical. Alec is mostly still disinterested- science is his first love. We montage our way through the day, and in time-lapse watch as every other lab and office is deserted, save Pam and Alec’s. We see an unknown man strolling through the halls, dumping a can of gasoline. We watch as the electronic locks go from displaying a green light to a red one, and hear the thunk of them locking; the noise is surprising enough for Alec to finally look up from his work. Pamela catches his attention, and smiles at him.

We see from her POV, as her vision lights up and she sees Alec framed by flames, and she lets out a breathy, “Wow.” Alec sees the same- only he doesn’t mistake it for an Ally McBealian daydream, and springs from his chair to tell her there’s a fire. They try the doors, try the suppression system, try the phones- nothing’s working.

“Someone sprung a trap for us,” he says. That’s when the valves to the chemicals and tissue samples start to open, flooding the floor with chemicals, and the air with green mist. They’re both terrified, and say that in these concentrations their research materials are toxic. Alec tries to throw a chair through the glass, but it rebounds with a thud. Alec sees the hood vent over Pam’s station, and asks if she thinks she can fit through there (it needs to be just big enough to accommodate her, but not him). Alec tears down the hood, which is basically a bunch of sheet metal, bloodying up his hands.

She doesn’t want to leave him, and he tells her she isn’t- she’s going for help. She kisses him as the music swells. He gives her a boost into the vent and she shimmies away. Alec goes to his desk and pulls out a bottle of champagne and two glasses. We see a framed picture of Abby Arcane in the drawer where they’d been, a striking woman with white hair with a black streak in it (we can reverse those if it’s hard to make look realistic). We match cut to Abby, only instead of smiling, she’s sad. We pull out, through the ring Alec is holding out to her, as she says, “Alec, I can’t,” with dreamlike reverb. She gets up and runs away, disappearing into the green of the wooded swampland.

We cut back to the lab. The smoke now is so thick we can scarcely see through it, but we can make out the opened champagne bottle on the desk, and one spilled glass of champagne. We follow that trail to Alec, face down in the chemicals, and in his open hand, the ring.

We cut away, to a man knocking on a door. A blonde brit in a trench coat, smoking like a chimney. A young psychic woman in New York opens the door into her condo. On her easel is a horrific drawing of a creature that was once a man. “Looks to be the thing that was keeping Benjy up,” Constantine mutters. “Coarse, he thought it was Cthulhu and Elder Gods coming back. Judith thought it was Elvis, or maybe Elvis by way of aliens. The only bleeding thing every psychic in America can agree on is it’s coming. I haven’t bothered with Sister Anne Marie- she’ll tell me it’s Jesus and to get my affairs in order.”

She starts sketching, filling in details of a classic Swamp Thing cover, but dancing around the central figure, leaving him as a silhouette. She tells him the others were lacking for one thing: inspiration. She tackles him to the ground with a kiss. We cut to the aftermath of their romp, John putting back on his shirt. “But is he the one we need?” John asks. She doesn’t think he knows what he’s growing into- so she really can’t say. But what she can tell him is where it’s happening- Louisiana- and that it’s starting right now.

Cut to Alec in a black void, naked and curled in the fetal position, kind of echoing the void in Under the Skin. “Alec?” we hear in a woman’s dreamy sing-song.

“That’s a nice name,” we hear from a voice nearer by. “I’m Dead. Man.” Alec doesn’t look up, but Dead Man is kneeling beside him, chattering. “Also dead. Not like you. You’re only mostly dead. Pre-dead. Nearly. Apparently you’ve still got work to do, but no mortal coil to shuffle back to. Hmm. Anyway, I get this sinking impression we’ll be meeting again. You can call me Boston, by the way, or Brand if you’re nasty.”

“Alec?” this time it’s even more melodic and drawn out, and Alec sits up; Dead Man is gone. “There you are,” the voice is full of warmth and affection; it’s Pam, but also, it seems to be emanating, visualized with green ripples, from a solitary red rose that is growing, with tendrils of ivy reaching out from its base. Subtly, as the scene goes on, the black void takes on a green hue; we’ll also be filling the space wall to wall with plant life. As she speaks, the rose grows larger, until Poison Ivy, in all of her splendor, including clothes grown out of ivy and moss, steps out of it. By that point, the plant life has spread, revealing that it’s not so much a dark room, as an endless overgrown forest. “I was sorry I couldn’t save you. I tried. But I didn’t even really save myself… but when I woke up, I could hear you. I thought I was going mad; a not-improbable side effect of the chemical exposure. But it was you.” She embraces him, and their world is engulfed in green light. And suddenly we’re back in the real world, with Ivy holding the Swamp Thing. “Welcome back, Alec.”

“Back?” he asks in a halting, inhuman voice, taking a step back from her. He sees the crude approximation of a body he’s suddenly in, formed from vines and muck. “What am I?” She tells him he’s so much more than a man, and encourages him to feel the green- the collective voice of the plant world around him. She tells him they are those plants’ hands- and their righteous fury. While searching for him she dug through their files. Some of Wayne Tech’s divisions are producing more pollution than they’re supposed to, a lot more. Rather than clean up their act- Wayne Industries decided to take care of the watchers. She holds up her phone and thumbs through story after story of Wayne Industries and chemical spills, environmental fines. She tells him she thinks they’re back for a reason.

“And I think she’s barmy,” Constantine says from the darkness, before he’s lit by a match and then the cigarette he lights with it. He tells them if he was resurrected mysteriously his first act wouldn’t be to lash out at an entity maybe tangentially related to his death or figuring out the fastest route to becoming plant Hitler. “But I can tell you what you really are.”

“No,” Ivy says, “he can’t. Because he doesn’t know you. You’re Alec Holland. And that’s all that matters.” He’s swayed by Ivy for the moment, who’s familiar, kind, beautiful, and feels almost like a part of him. Constantine protests, says he could stop them in a way that is at least plausibly threatening to her. Swamp Thing reacts on instinct, spinning towards Constantine, who is seized by vines and branches, one in particular tightening around his throat. Alec is surprised at himself, and turns away from Constantine, as the branches and vines release him.

Constantine takes one last drag from his cigarette before stubbing it out on a nearby tree, and saying, “Bollocks,” in the darkness.

Cut to a hotel room. We see new chopper footage of a dam being destroyed by vines, tearing a large “W” symbol in half, and its reservoir flooding onto the science buildings below. “Unfortunately, the Batman was nowhere to be seen as ecoterrorists destroyed the Wayne Industries facility with quick-growing plantlife.” I think that’s the point the sound gets slowly drained away with the remote, but here’s the rest of the dialog, which can be subtitled on the TV even as it mutes. “The facility, once infamous for chemical spills and safety violations, has turned its record around in recent years thanks to the personal involvement of CEO Bruce Wayne, who oversaw an overhaul of executive staff…”

Alec is pouting under all his Swamp Thing makeup. “People could have been hurt,” he complains. Ivy soothes, a little too aggressively sexual, but says that she compromised, and they gave the staff hours to clear out.

“You don’t have to be this,” he says.

“Be what?” she asks angrily.

“You’re beautiful. Kind. Intelligent. You don’t have to be, uh-”

Oh,” she says, and laughs bitterly, “those rumors. You know Jason starts them about any woman who doesn’t sleep with him- which since most of us have figured that out, is basically everyone. But that’s also beside the point. If I want to throw you down on the bed and have my way with you,” she pushes him back onto the bed, “I should have as much right as you to express that. Though right now I don’t even want to look at you.”

From the bed, he can see himself in the bathroom mirror. “I know. I’m hideous.”

“No. Because you’re being an asshole.” She lays between him and his reflection, and strokes his face. “You’re beautiful. You have a beautiful mind, a beautiful body, and a beautiful soul. You just can’t let men like Jason Woodrue pollute you. Just like we can’t let people like Wayne pollute this beautiful green world we have.”

“Let’s do it,” he says, a bit more animated, and her eyes light up. “Let’s hit another Wayne facility.” She’s maybe a little disappointed that it wasn’t her that piqued his interest, but she also wants that, so it’s not a huge loss, either. She tells him she’ll be out in a moment.

Swamp Thing steps outside as she disappears into the bathroom. “Using the facilities,” Constantine says, lighting another cigarette from behind him. “Curious how you haven’t needed anything. Not the bathroom. Not food.”

“You say you know about me. I think you want to control me.”

“Like she isn’t?” Constantine stares at him for a long moment. “I’ll tell you one thing. This,” he jabs Swamp Thing in the chest with two fingers holding a cigarette, “isn’t you. It’s a borrowed car you’re driving, nothing more. You could borrow another, half the world away, or decide to drive something… more impressive.” Constantine flicks his cigarette as Swamp Thing spins towards the door as Ivy exits.

“Talking to yourself?” she asks.

“Just considering possibilities…” She puts her arms around him, saying she likes the sound of that. He guarantees she will.

We’re in a production plant. A pair of guards are on extra alert, after what happened to the dam. The coffee in one of their cups shakes, and he asks the other guard if he heard that. He didn’t. Outside, we see the trees around the facility shake. They’re shaking in a line- something is coming, something big. A Swamp Thing stories tall smashes his way through a ten foot high electrified fence, sending a shower of sparks across the parking lot. Then it walks to a transformer in the parking lot and tears it out of the ground, and tosses it through the front doors. Back inside, one of the guards shoves the other out of the way as the transformer caves in the entrance. The extra large Swamp Thing falls into the parking lot, and Ivy climbs off it, while a normal sized Swamp Thing grows out of its scalp. They walk past the two guards in the entrance, cowering.

Cut to deeper inside the facility, Ivy kicks a guard in the stomach, and he collapse against the wall, smacking his head and falling to the floor. Swamp thing tendrils a security guard, then broods. “This isn’t like last time.”

“No,” Ivy agrees, but she’s kind of having a fun time with it, growing a potted fern into another guard, “this time they’re resisting.”

He grabs her hand. “I don’t like hurting people.”

“Are you sure they even think you’re people?” she asks. There are several gunshots through him, and we get close up on the holes as they close automatically. Swamp Thing tendrils the guard who shot him as he runs away. “Because he just shot you in the back, yet here we are, pulling our punches.”

“I didn’t say it isn’t necessary,” he menaces, “but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“Maybe we should start there,” Batman says, swaggering out of the shadows wearing a gas mask. “Exactly why is this necessary?” The room fills with mist, a mist that has defoliating agents in it and visibly weakens both Ivy and Swamp Thing. Batman has a fancy-looking ‘gun’ that’s basically just a high tech bottle of weed-killer. “The only reason we’re talking is that you’ve been pulling those punches. But I’m not convinced either of you are people, either; if a big dose of weed killer would kill you, maybe we’d have our answer.”

Suddenly, a vine tears Batman’s weapon away, and we find out that while Swamp Thing is reasonably weakened by the defoliant, Ivy is not. “I wonder what it would do to you,” she says, as still more vines seize Batman’s limbs and tear away his gas mask. This Batman is looking a little ragged; not to get ahead of ourselves, but he was out of town researching, and had to fly back, so he’s been up 48 hours at this point. The vine with the poison menaces him, as Ivy talks about the ability of plants to leach toxins out of the air. It sounds like she’s wrapping up, and is going to spray all of the poison down Batman’s throat when Alec protests, barely able to hold himself off the ground.

“He defends the status quo. That means everyone who’s powerless, remains powerless, and everyone who’s exploited- including the green world that speaks through us- remains in chains.”

A door that has been in the back of the scene kicks open with surprising force, ruffling Constantine’s trench coat as he lights a cigarette, and blowing the defoliant away. “Still raving like a nutter,” Constantine says, walking into the room, he pauses noticing Batman, “though, when in Rome…”

“Thank you,” Alec coughs, finally strong enough to stand back up.

“Come with me. I’ll tell you what you are, and why the rest of us need you in fighting shape and not wheezing on the floor here.” While Swamp Thing is distracted with Constantine, Ivy gets in too close to Batman.

“Freeze countermeasure gamma,” Batman says. Panels in his gauntlets and boots heat up and start to glow red, singing the plants enough to free him, and he headbutts her, before using the underside of the fins on his gauntlets to cut the vines. Attacking the plant seems to hurt Ivy, which demands that Swamp Thing rescue her and flee. Constantine turns towards Batman, reluctantly preparing to propose an alliance- to discover he’s gone.

Constantine says, “That’s rude.” More guards arrive, and try to cuff him at gunpoint. He ignores their demands, and opens the door he entered through. The guards tell him it’s a maintenance closet, and we can see it’s no wider than the door and no deeper than a man. “I know. I just need to borrow it. Wont’ be a second.” He closes the door, and when the guards open it he’s gone.

Similar to the scene earlier with Constantine knocking on a door, only this one is a red door with a gold star and the name, “Zatanna” painted on it. She opens the door and smiles, in her hat and coattails performing/heroing outfit. “John!” she says, pulling Constantine inside and hugging him. “It’s been too long- which probably means something horrible’s in the offing.”

“Right you are. And you’ve contacts in the charge of the tight brigade, and I thought…”

“Who do you need an introduction for?”

“The one in Gotham.”

“Oh, um,” she’s most of the way to blushing.

“That a problem?”

“No, I just… didn’t expect it to be someone I was so intimately familiar with.”

“Oh, um…”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” she protests a little too eagerly. “He trained in the escape arts with my dad.”

“But no proper magic.”

“No. He didn’t like power he couldn’t wrap his head around. I think that’s why he can’t keep a woman around… something the two of you might have in common.”

We cut to profile, as they’re preparing to exit via her dressing room door. “You’re ready?” she asks.

“The enemy of my frenemy is a prat in long underpants.”

“Play nice, John. If push comes to shove you’re the one intruding on him, so if I’m forced to take sides, it won’t be yours. Rood ot evactaB”

She opens her dressing room door, only now it’s opening up into the Batcave. Batman’s voice echoes off the walls. “I don’t like it when you come here unannounced.”

“Can the theatrics; dad taught us both most of the same tricks.”

“Don’t think they were for your benefit, love,” Constantine says.

Batman makes himself seen, then turns, leading them into his labs. We see several beakers with lengths of the vines he collected earlier in them. Most of the vines look pristine, and have numbered labels on them, save the last that’s black and shriveled. “What are you planning?” Constantine asks. Batman looks tensely at him.

“You can trust him; I vouch for him.” He relaxes somewhat.

“I’ve found a compound that should work even against Poison Ivy.”

“That’s not her name,” Constantine protests. “It’s-”

“Dr. Pamela Isley. Unfortunately I hadn’t gotten the fingerprint match back, or I might have been better prepared for her.”

“And less flippant about their humanity?”

They glare at each other a moment. “She’s calling herself Ivy, now.” Batman displays notes left at their last two break ins, signed by Poison Ivy. “DNA is no longer remotely a match for Dr. Isley, though the remaining human chromosomes are; she seems capable of introducing plant DNA into her physiology; and of course you saw the control she has over plants. That’s why I needed samples from that vine. If my defoliant works on it, maybe it has a chance of slowing her down, too. But I’ve been watching footage of the dam. He can grow himself a new body, over a range of at least a mile. I think I need to spray defoliant over a five mile radius, to make sure they can’t get away.”

“You kill every plant in a five mile radius, you won’t need to worry about that- you’ll need to worry about picking out a plot.”

“He isn’t Alec Holland. I checked the reports. Holland’s body was found at the scene. But still, I did my due diligence. Checked this swamp thing’s fingerprints, compared its DNA. There isn’t any part of Alec Holland in it. It’s in no way human.”

“It thinks it’s Alec Holland,” Constantine argues. “It thinks it’s human. Of their little Bonnie & Clyde road show, he’s been the voice of compassion. Maybe he’s not technically human, but does that give us an excuse to be inhumane?” Batman balls his fist, on the verge of taking a swing at Constantine.

Zatanna puts a hand on Batman’s shoulder. “Don’t,” she says. “He’s not wrong, and you know it.” His fist unclenches.

“What do you need?” Batman asks.

“I need you to get him away from Green Thumb Barbie long enough for me to talk sense into him.”

“And if you can’t?”

“Then the world probably ends in a screaming ball of agony.” Batman’s eyes narrow. “But we can discuss that later.”

“We’re definitely going to need to.”

Cut to Ivy and Swamp Thing in a chemical treatment plant. He’s concerned, and wants to make sure they don’t hurt anyone. She’s a little dismissive, but makes it sound like she’s honoring his wishes. Part one of their plan is introducing her growth hormone into the water supply, which should counteract Batman’s defoliant and protect not just them but all the plants in Gotham. Then they meet up to execute part 2, but first they need to empty the right amounts in 2 different reservoirs.

After Alec leaves, we see Ivy add something poisonous to her formula, and is about to add it to the reservoir when Batman arrives.

“That isn’t what he wants,” Batman says from behind her. “I don’t think it’s what you want, either, Pamela.”

“Pamela’s dead,” she says.

“No. Alec died. You survived. Metamorphosized, perhaps, but alive. But I know who tried to kill you.”

“Jason Woodrue,” she says.

“Yes. Strangely, his fingerprints match those of a man who disappeared in the 70s- he was fingerprinted in relation to disappearances, lab assistants and colleagues had a way of disappearing around him. The match doesn’t makes sense. That Woodrue would be over 90 if he were still alive. And Wayne subsidiaries fingerprint employees for background checks; Jason Woodrue’s fingerprints on file with Wayne were different. So either there are 2 Jason Woodrues, or one who can change his fingerprints and appearance. Woodrue may have disappeared, but if anyone can help you find him, help you get closure, it’s me.”

“That is curious,” she says, the last word coming out as steam. “As is that. You lowered the temperature. You’re trying to convince the plants in this reservoir it’s winter, so they’re more sluggish. I never pegged you for a man of science.”

“I dabble,” he says, ducking a vine that swings over him.

We cut to Swamp Thing, at the other reservoir, “You don’t want to do that,” Constantine says from behind him.

“I’m just protecting my own,” he says.

“No. Ivy wants you severed from humanity. She wants you to herself. She’s put poison in that vial, in hopes that once you’re a murderer, you’ll need her all the more.”

“The green speaks to me. It requires an avatar.”

“Right it does, sunshine. But it also requires the rest of it to work, the spinning rock, the big puddles, even needs the chimps flinging dung to propagate.”

“You mean to say the world is threatened.”

“I’m not sure we’re limited to just the one globe, but that’s about the shape of it, yeah.”

“And you say there’s more than Ivy’s growth hormone in this vial?” Constantine nods. “Prove it.”

“I’m pretty sure whatever’s in that vial would kill me at that concentration, so I don’t know how.”

“With a lab, obviously; I don’t expect you to do it now.” He hands Constantine the vial.

“Batman’s with Ivy. He promised to leave on the kidd gloves, though I suspect that’s to the side of things. You know she’s still human. There’s rules about killing them. Plants? You stick it in the bin and it’s like you never had a ficus.”

“That’s macabre.”

Now’s the big fireworks show finale, Ivy and Batman duking it out. She’s more capable than he hoped, he’s using everything at his disposal just to keep her at bay and talking. Eventually he gains the upper hand, maybe injecting her with a massive amount of horse tranquilizer, and telling her she’s only 15% biologically human, otherwise it would probably kill her, but plant parts of her should be immune. Then he says, “I know Jason Woodrue wasn’t the first man who hurt you. He likely won’t even be the last. But you didn’t deserve what happened. Everything I’ve seen tells me you’re a good person, put in a difficult, even impossible position. I want to help. We’ve all done things to be sorry for. But please, Pamela, let me help.”

“You can’t,” she says, defeated, and we see for the first time how traumatized she’s been by everything that’s happened. “I’m sure you’re loaded. That private plane of yours must have cost as much as a city. But we’re not talking about problems that can be fixed- not even with millions of dollars. You need billions, to start, and infrastructure, and-” she turns to see he’s removed his mask, and a smile crosses her lips as she recognizes him. “And Mr. Wayne, I think we just might be able to change the world together.”

We cut back to Constantine and Swamp Thing, walking out of the reservoir. They’re met by Batman and Ivy, her hurrying because she’s afraid he’s poisoned the reservoir. She runs towards them when she sees him, and asks, “You didn’t?” Constantine holds up the vial. “Thank God. Alec, I’m so,” he puts his finger to her lips.

“I know. But I think I need… something else. You helped me. And I’ll always owe you a debt for that. But I think we’ve become toxic for one another. And we both deserve to be happy.”

“Yeah. We do.” She kisses him. “So go be happy.”

“And what about you?”

“I think I need to do some work on myself. It’s not healthy for me to be this volatile; a friend told me they have a very compassionate outpatient program at Arkham, administered by Dr. Quinzel. And I need to stop judging based on first impressions,” she gives a glance back in Batman’s direction.

“I hope that will make you happy, Pamela. You, too, deserve to be.”

“I think it will. But what might help is some closure.” She turns to Constantine. “You’ve been promising to tell us what we are. So?”

“He’s a plant elemental. As far as I can see, you are a science experiment gone wrong.”

“But I can talk to the green.”

“Maybe. Or maybe you talk to plants, and he’s a big dumb ficus who can talk to the green without even thinking about it. Really it’s potato, poh-tah-toe, because he came back through plant magic, and you didn’t.”

“That doesn’t change anything,” Alec soothes. “You’re still Ivy.”

“Pamela,” she says. “I think I’m going to try to just be Pamela for a while, first.” To credits.

Mid-Credits Scene: Stunned silence, lasting a good ten seconds, as Batman, Ivy and Swamp Thing stare at Constantine. “I should be dropping all of you off at Arkham,” Batman says.

“Can’t be any worse than Ravenscar,” Constantine quips.

“So the world is going to end…” Ivy says.

“No. The world is trying to end. Isn’t it always?” he asks Batman, for some reason expecting a game answer and not the silence he receives. “I’ve spent all this time and aggravation because we need your big dumb ficus to help stop it.”

“He has a name- Alec.” Ivy says.

“I’m not sure I still feel like an Alec. I think I may be more comfortable considering myself a-”

We do the cutesy thing where we cut to a title card for Swamp Thing, then add text, “Will return in Justice League: Dark.” More credits.

Another Mid-Credits Scene: We pan slowly around Ivy in an evaluation room. It’s a little dingy and worse for wear, but nowhere near the hellscape Arkham eventually becomes. The doctor, mostly off camera, rattles off her impressive list of credentials and research projects, especially proud of her work with metahumans and those with nonhuman physiology. She also mentions that in preparation for treating her, she read her work, and was impressed. “You really care about the environment, and plants in particular. You don’t see that kind of passion often, particularly not outside these walls. Other therapists might try to extinguish that flame, but I think that fire is part of what makes you unique, Pamela. I want to work with you on channeling it in healthy directions.” We finally reveal a pre-crime Harley Quinn sitting opposite her, preparing to examine her. “Don’t think of this as a search for a cure; I want to help you develop the skills and coping techniques it takes for you to heal yourself.”

Post-Credits Scene: Batman arrives in Louisiana. We see some swampland, then Batman landing a harrier-style jet on it. He walks inside a home in the middle of nowhere. “Ms. Arcane, I have some… news about your fiancé.”

“Alec’s dead. Believe it or not we still get Google out here. And even before he got dead, he was just an ex- I never said yes.”

“He said you were on a break. And you would, eventually.”

That gives her pause. “So you really did know Alec. I’m not surprised he met some strange friends in a city like Gotham.”

“I do know him. He’s still alive. And if you’re willing, he’d like to see you. Though to warn you, he’s been through some changes…” We can see Swamp Thing’s giant silhouette in the doorframe behind Batman, before we cut to black.

Pitchgiving 2020, Part 8: Batmen

Focused mostly on the relationship between Batman and his Robins (current, ‘dead’ and Nightwing), but also with a healthy accounting of Batwoman/girls as well (they would take over in the sequel, reversing the amount of screentime as we give Batwoman the spotlight in Batwomen, presumably ending with “Batfamily” where we bring them all together which I think would have to introduce a nonbinary member of the gang, because otherwise this is getting a little too gender-normative- Batwing might be a good candidate, or maybe Duke- possibly the new Oracle (I’d make this Oracle a person in a wheelchair inspired by Babs- and of course cast Kiera Allen from Run because she- and it- are amazing), if DC are squeamish about using an existing character. Specifically focuses on the death of Jason Todd, how it caused a rift between Nightwing and Batman, and how it impacts a current case. I think it adapts part of Sword of Azrael, loosely. The sequel would necessarily follow Batgirl (Gordon), Batwoman and any other lady bat-family members we want (I’d probably try to work in Cassandra Cain over Spoiler- unless we could fit them both- but that’s my preference- though Stephanie Brown might be worth adding if she were a Robin at the time); it would likely involve Batwoman’s family and the machinations of her sister.

A blonde, spectacled man is running through the dark streets, clutching his bag like it’s his salvation. A man in a cape drops down in front of him, surprising him, and he falls into a puddle. We think for a moment it could be Batman, until he draws a sword that lights on fire, and in the glow from its flame we see he’s Azrael (the old-school, knight design). He cuts down the blonde man, and we cut away. Morning, Bruce is eating breakfast with Alfred and Tim, with the news on in the background. Tim asks about Dick, and why he left. Bruce talks about him becoming his own man, and needing to live his own life. Tim says he gets that, but that Dick hardly even comes around, and asks what happened. Bruce drops his silverware loudly, and the sound on the TV fades up, “body found decapitated in Gotham’s infamous Crime Alley has been identified as one Ludovic Valley. Police suspect it was a mugging gone wrong, as Valley’s effects were stolen after his murder.”

Cut to a different blonde, bespectacled man, Ludovic’s son, Jean Paul. He’s studying at a religious school, and is interrupted by a priest. Cut to him in the priest’s office, along with a lawyer. We hear words intermittently, like “sorry for your loss,” and enough that we gather that the priest has his father’s Will. He hands him a parcel around the size of what his father was carrying, and then says words we don’t hear; Jean-Paul loses consciousness, hitting his head as he falls to the ground, which we see from his POV.

Alfred and Tim are alone in the mostly dark manor. Alfred asks Tim to remember how he came to them, how he deduced Batman’s identity and asked to be taught. But he wasn’t the only Robin who wanted Dick’s old job. Jason Todd stole the wheels off the Batmobile. Bruce took him in. Trained him. And the Joker killed him- beat him nearly to death with a crowbar, then blew up his body. That was the real end of Bruce and Dick’s relationship. Dick blamed Bruce, for being too eager to fill the hole he left; Alfred says he probably blamed himself for leaving the hole, too. And the tragedy is both men, proud, and stubborn, couldn’t get over their grief enough to admit that they needed each other more then than they ever had.

Cut to POV shot, upside-down, hanging over Gotham. Azrael drops (the Jean Paul Valley redesign), landing outside the Joker/Quinn hideout we saw in the climax of Birds of Prey (this is set before that). He wades through circus freak thugs, slicing them up with his burning gauntlets. He manages to fight his way to the Joker, who is at first amused. His smile starts to fade as the religious fundamentalism starts to seep in- he realizes Azrael is incapable of getting the joke- which is about the scariest thing possible to him. Azrael cuts him pretty badly with his burning gauntlet, and he only escapes with the timely intervention of Harley Quinn- who he promptly abandons. Azrael chases after Joker, but loses him.

We’re in a gym in Bludhaven. Nightwing, in civilian garb, is beating the crap out of a punching bag. Tim, also in his civvies, steps out of the shadows. “You’re the new guy, right?” Tim introduces himself. Dick has kind of a fine line to walk, here, because the Dick we know and love is kind of unceasingly positive, and he’s at kind of a personal crisis point, here, at the same time. So he wants to be friendly, and supportive, but he’s also worried Bruce is endangering Tim, and that he needs to work his stuff out before someone gets hurt. But Tim used his detective skills to track Dick down, even though he’s largely living off the grid. Dick’s impressed, and they agree to go a round. Dick’s the better fighter, and bigger, but Tim does a decent job holding his own, and more importantly he’s really good at reading Dick and compensating. “I knew Jason. I don’t think Bruce ever knew that. But when I heard there was a new Robin, I reached out. Tried to give him some friendly advice. Mostly we just commiserated over Bruce. He was pissed off- but I don’t know that I could say he was wrong to be angry. I tried to help. I tried to get Bruce to see that Jason’s volatility made him vulnerable… but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what he’s like.”

“Proud. Stubborn.”

Dick stops, glares for an instant before smiling. “He must love you.” He tousles Tim’s hair, and we cut away.

At night. Joker attacks the GCPD. To save time, we might just want to cut to the rooftop, where he’s shot Gordon, broken the glass on the batsignal but is using it, with a smile sliced into the paint on the symbol. He wants Batman to protect him from Azrael- that he knows Batman wouldn’t let some other vigilante murder him. Batman punches him. Repeatedly. Gordon gets taken to the hospital, Joker gets taken to a safe house. Later that night, as the storm rages on. The safe house gets broken into; at first it’s unclear what’s happening, but there are in fact 2 Azraels acting in concert. Batman puts up a token fight, Robin is useless. Surprisingly, the Joker puts up the best fight of all, but is eventually taken. That’s when it’s revealed that Tim is in the Batsuit, Joker’s in the Robin suit, (and complains about there being “too much room in the tights” while tugging at the crotch), and that Batman was in disguise as the Joker.

We cut to the Azrael safehouse. LeHah, who we recognize as the Valley lawyer from earlier, is our old school Azrael, and Jean-Paul Valley is the newer one. Jean-Paul is brainwashed, barely able to respond to questions. LeHah is convinced that the Joker is their antichrist risen (Biis), and they need to murder him. The rest of the Order weren’t convinced, and so he’s also taking them out, one at a time, and had to remove their previous Azrael, Ludovic. He’s in control of their newest one, controlled by the System. But LeHah recognizes the boon they’ve found. Batman is Bruce Wayne, in control of the Wayne fortune. With his resources, Azrael’s war on the wicked can expand beyond its current humble expression, so they’re going to break him, for his financial secrets and for the location of the Joker, then they’ll kill him for aligning with the demon Biis.

Nightwing shows up in the cave, to help Tim save Bruce. “I wasn’t sure you’d come,” he says.

“You’re a better detective than that,” Dick replies. Tim accepts the compliment, and pivots to the other Azrael sightings. They all correspond to a religious rotary club’s membership- all connected, powerful Gothamites, specifically targeting the leadership. Next in line is a man named Harcourt. We have a cameo, here, from the Batwomen, and how they’re going to handle the rest of the crime in Gotham, including the mysterious appearance of Alice, so they can focus on rescuing Batman and watching the Joker.

Robin and Nightwing stake out Harcourt’s. He’s hired his own security, which the two Azraels plow through. NewAz is robotic, hurting because it’s the most efficient path from A to B. LeHah relishes doling out religious punishment a little too much, and likes to throw out maxims like, “Azrael does not protect,” and “Azrael does not wound,” as commandments to his protégé. Despite Nightwing and Robin’s intervention, they’re unable to save Harcourt. New Azrael pauses to hear Harcourt’s confession as LeHah flees, and the opening is enough for Robin and NIghtwing to subdue him. They’re able to break through the System enough to talk to Jean-Paul, who is terrified, because he’s been a prisoner essentially since meeting LeHah. He’s tried fighting the System, but it’s like trying not to breathe. They receive a note from LeHah, offering an exchange: Bruce for the Joker.

They meet in the mountains surrounding Gotham. Joker is anxious about their plan, rambling like the lunatic that he is, and at the first opportunity tries to bolt. He’s shot by persons unknown, (presumed to be LeHah), preventing him from escaping. Though it turns out the Joker had his own plan, and his thugs arrive, and it becomes Joker, Harley and clowns vs. the Batmen, while the two Azraels duke it out, accidentally setting fire to the trees and chalet. In the end, Jean Paul makes a conscious decision to save Batman rather than kill LeHah, carrying him out of the burning chalet, even as LeHah screams that “Azrael does not protect!” at him. LeHah tries to attack Azrael as he carries him out, only to be shot himself. The mysterious shooter tells Azrael to go, then tells LeHah , “You can walk out of here, and live to avenge another day. Or you can keep coming, and I’ll put you down like Old Yeller.” We cut away to Azrael carrying Batman away. We hear gunfire as the chalet collapses in on itself.

Tim and Dick fight back to back, holding off the Joker’s thugs long enough for Azrael and Batman to arrive. Joker laughs, and says Batman’s too weak to fight, that they can finish them all off right now. Batman stands in a fighting stance, does that little come get some wave like Neo in the first Matrix, and the Joker and his crew lose their nerve, and head away. Dick’s grinning. “I thought he was right. I thought you were bluffing. I thought-” he turns, and realizes Batman is face down in the snow. “Yeah. That’s exactly what I thought.” He bends over to help him up.

The four men are in the Batcave. Bruce has a blanket around him and a cup of cocoa to warm him up. Dick says one thing is still bugging him: he can’t figure out who the shooter was. “I would have thought that was obvious by now,” Tim says.

“So, this is awkward,” Jason says, stepping out of the shadows. “Especially because Bruce doesn’t like it when I shoot people.” Dick says his name in disbelief: Jason Todd. Tim launches into his explanation of the facts, that the Joker blew up someone alongside Jason’s mother. But that a few months later the Red Hood appeared on the streets of Gotham, and Bruce told him they’d “lost” one of their safehouses, without answering any follow-up questions.

Dick isn’t impressed. Instead, he turns his attention to Batman, who stands, and drops the blanket. “He asked me not to tell. Not you. Not anyone. He said he could never undo what was done to him. But for it to have any value, any meaning– Jason Todd had to stay dead. I’m so, so sorry. I wanted to tell you the truth. But it wasn’t mine to tell.” Nightwing balls his fists, and for an instant we really don’t know if he’s going to throw a punch. If it doesn’t feel like too much, I’d have a single tear fall down Batman’s mask, and Dick embraces him. 

Credits scene setting up the sequel, basically an excuse to adapt the Rucka Batwoman Alice storyline, because it’s good. I might throw in Mad Hatter, too, since it’s hard for me to have an Alice without him- just eventually have her discard him and turn out to be the real big bad all along. Really, for those unfamiliar with the story, it could make for an interesting midpoint reveal, that she isn’t an innocent caught in his web, that she’s been manipulating him this whole time- it just has to be handled carefully so you don’t end up completely undermining him, as happened to Bane in Dark Knight Rises (though conversely, a part of Jervis’ charm has always been how truly pathetic he is).

Pitchgiving Part 7, Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes

In Metropolis, a few years into the future, the Clock King has a hostage, with a gun to her head. “Your family take pride in being faster than a speeding bullet. I assure you, with my technology, you’re not faster than this one. Put on the belt.” She puts on a high-tech looking belt, and he turns it on, freezing her in place (this is super obvious because her cape stops in mid-billow). “I discovered a Kryptonian loophole. We haven’t found an effective counter to your prodigious strength, but what I could do is slow you down. You’ll live decades in seconds. I’ll be dead before you could think of a response. I do owe you a tiny apology. This was never about you. You’re the proof of concept. When it works on you, I’m going to collect the billion dollar bounty Luthor put on your cousin’s head.” He turns away from her, talking to his henchmen. “Dip her in the metals. Lead first, so her cousin can’t find her- then the bronze.” She’s lifted with equipment and dipped in a vat of molten lead, then another of molten bronze. It leaves her an impressive-looking statue. That statue is donated a year later at a memorial to Supergirl in Metropolis, missing and presumed dead. If there’s room in the budget Superman gives her a goodbye speech, about fighting on in her name. We do time-lapse, of the city growing and changing around her statue, a ticker showing that time is speeding up, first a year a second, then ten, then tens, until we arrive in the 31st century, at night. The statue is pulled off its pedestal by a futuristic truck with some kind of sci fi chains.

Cut to a close-up of the statue’s eye. A chisel is placed in the center of it, and a hammer comes down on it, cracking the thin layer of metal, and we see Supergirl’s eye behind it. I’d say we time-lapse again, as Brainiac 5 slowly chisels her out of the lead, and finally disables the Clock King’s belt. “Fascinating technology for the 21st century. A Tempus Fugit design, if I’m not mistaken, correct?” he asks her.

“When am I?” she asks breathlessly.

“This is the 31st century. A Saturday morning, around 10:34, Metropolis time.” He tells her he deduced that she didn’t disappear in the early 21st century, but was somehow subdued. Records from the time period immediately following her disappearance are sparse because of unrest, so he can’t tell her if Clark is okay. She insists she has to get back to save her cousin. He tells her it’s possible, but even in the 31st century time travel isn’t an everyday tech, that he can help her, in time. But first, he’s assembling a team to fend off an assassination attempt of Presidential candidate R.J. Brande (now a woman, and secretly Ms. Martian- very secretly, this is a reveal for the end of the trilogy). Brainiac 5 sees a growing conspiracy to reshape the future by an unknown entity. To that end he’s assembling a team that will be half classic Legionaires and (eventually) half legacy characters (some based roughly on Batman Beyond, the rest on the DC One Million arc). R.J.’s bodyguard is basically future Batman in an Iron Man armor that slides out of his clothes in plates (save this reveal for the very end of this movie). But their first order of business is stopping an assassination attempt.

She asks how he knows what history is the right one- why he’s so sure that Brande isn’t supposed to die. He shows her his memory board- think sci-fi equivalent to a conspiracy theorist’s home covered in string linking hundreds of photos. He can’t explain it, other than to say that there are inconsistencies occurring. One or two events that are statistically unlikely still occur with surprising frequency. But the path they’ve taken, a series of microtargeted breakthroughs, thefts, disappearances… it begins to strain credulity that this sequence of events could be anything but manipulated. She says she’s on board, and is ready to meet his team. He winces… because he hasn’t met them yet. He introduces her to their profiles, and as he describes each of them in turn, we see them in action.

Cosmic Boy is first. It’s footage of Magnoball games, with Cosmic Boy looking impressive. Supergirl is skeptical of recruiting an athlete. Brainiac says that the attack is scheduled to take place at a Magnoball exhibition. The exhibition is doubling as a get out the vote event, which is why both RJ Brande and her opponent, Leland McCauley, are there. Cosmic Boy’s team uniform  resembles his classic costume.

Next is Saturn Girl. “The Science Police use callsigns to keep their operatives’s identities secret. She’ll be the youngest interrogator through the academy when she graduates in the fall.” We get some CCTV footage of her on police raids, and some hacked footage from an interrogation room. She’ll be undercover as a cheerleader (now a gender-neutral, largely desexualized affair), and wear a variation on her original, 1958 costume.  

Last is Lightning Lad (& Lass, because he has a twin sister so I’m taking the freebie). They fled to Earth to get away from their villainous older brother, who had resorted to terrorism on their homeworld. Because they’re minors and fled without official documentation, they’re forced into the underground labor market. As a result, they do electrical work at the stadium together (I’d probably focus more on Lad than Lass- might even save her for a reveal during the fight when she turns the tables on their brother).

Brainiac explains that he hasn’t recruited any of them, but he’s profiled them extensively, and subtly manipulated events so they would be in place as a check on the plot he’s been tracking against Brande. We cut to game day. Supergirl, hiding under a ball cap and a varsity jacket, is seated a couple rows behind Brande. Brande does a little twirl for the cameras and audience. She’s given a microphone and uses it to say that today isn’t about her or her campaign, or even her distinguished competition- it’s about the voters, here in the stadium, but also everywhere, across the planets.    

After that, McCauley wasn’t going to be given a bite at the apple, but he seizes the microphone as it’s being carried away. He starts to take advantage of the situation. We hear enough to get the sense he’s an opportunist, maybe even an idealogue, and cut away to show movement from characters we care about. His speech continues in the background, faded down to where it can be suitably ignored. We show our various characters in position, Cosmic Boy out on the court, Saturn Girl with the cheerleaders, subtle interrogating them for information. Lightning Lad in the bowels of the stadium checking things; he’s probably talking to his sister, who we won’t know is his sister until later, about how these kinds of big, magno-events stress the old power grid, so they always want to check the main line. Cut back to McCauley ending his speech. The crowd erupts, not because they’re backing him, but because he finally shut up, a distinction that is lost on him.

The game starts. We see just enough of the game to think it’s cool, without it overstaying its welcome, then something happens. Cosmic Boy is hit, hard, with the ball. It’s supposed to have safety measures on it, but this broke a rib, would have killed a lesser player. He knows something’s up, and starts eyeing Magno specifically, the star player on the opposing team. We cut to Saturn Girl catching telepathic whispers, people mentioning words like ‘anarchist,’ and the stadium goes black and white and darkens, lighting who she’s hearing and bouncing around a crowd in a tightening circle until she lights up Saturn Queen, and stands up- which is noticeable because the rest of the cheer squad does not. She quickly sits back down. Finally, we’re in the bowels of the stadium again, Lightning Lad at the main line. It’s a colorful conduit crackling with energy- crackling a little to much, point of fact. The line shatters, and the power goes dark. Lightning lad gets the emergency lights in the basement on, but the rest of the stadium is dark. He tries to manually (by hand- using his powers) restart the main line, when out pops Lightning Lord, knocking him down.

Our villains are essentially evil versions of our three Legionnaires- but in this case Brainiac 5 reverse-engineered their team and built a group to combat them. Saturn Queen is Saturn Girl’s counterpart- an older woman, politically active in anarchist circles with an eye to freeing Saturn. She’s backing McCauley on the promise he’ll help her goals. Magno is another Magnoball player, younger, but essentially Cosmic Boy’s rival. He’s helping the event on the promise of Cosmic Boy being injured in the fracas and removed from their rivalry (he’s also being manipulated telepathically by Saturn Queen). Lightning Lord is actually the older brother of Lad and Lass. He supports McCauley based on implied support for ending the stigma against single births on his homeworld- but through violence and bloodshed.

While Lord and Lad tussle, Lass decides to repower the main line- Lord’s working way too hard to keep it dead for it not to be important. The lights come back up in the stadium. We start in on Saturn Girl’s perspective. She searches for Saturn Queen, but she’s gone. Then we’re back on the court, and see Magno float several balls at once, enough that when he fires them he takes out Cosmic Boy’s entire team; only he manages to catch his, though he’s showing signs of his earlier injury. “This isn’t like you,” Cosmic Boy yells, trying to talk him down. Magno yells back that it is like him- tired of always coming in second to him. He can’t tell him how long he’s wanted to wipe that vacant smile off his pretty face. He starts flinging magnoballs at him left and right. Cosmic Boy avoids them. For now.

Lightning Lad and Lord blast through a staircase, all sparks and lightning, and skid to a stop  on the court, still fighting. Cosmic Boy is still trying to talk Magno down (as Magno uses balls to keep his own teammates at bay) when a stray bolt of lightning downs Cosmic Boy. Seizing the opportunity, Magno turns towards RJ Brande and fires off one of the magnoballs. It’s caught, midair, by Supergirl, who crushes it in her hand and drops it, where it’s caught by excited fans below. A new blue streak happens tears through the roof of the stadium, this one the Bizarro Supergirl, holding an oversized trophy that reads, “Bizarro Am #1,” which she clocks Supergirl with.

We cut away, to Brainiac, in his lair, watching all of this unfold on CCTV cameras. He slams his fist into the console. “Damnit. He’s still corrupting the timeline.” He flips a glass case off of a button. “I was really hoping not to have to use this before I got a chance to test it.” He presses the button, which clearly incorporates pieces of the Time Belt that froze Supergirl. The images all freeze. “Well, they’re on their own.” He closes his eyes. “Just have to trust they can get the job done.”

We’re back in the stadium. Bizarrogirl smacks Supergirl with the trophy again, mangling it beyond all recognition; bizarrely, Bizarrogirl looks at it admiringly, both at it and her reflection, and says, “Perfect now.“ Supergirl goes flying into the stands, with the crowd barely able to get out of the way in time.

Supergirl says, “I need to get this fight away from the civilians, and flies Bizarrogirl to the ceiling where she punches her. She flies through the ceiling, and through a shimmering bubble, which, as Bizarrogirl touches it, slows her down. Supergirl stares a moment; if we want to drive home the idea, she takes a quarter out of her belt and flips it at the bubble, where it stops in mid-air. We cut back to the court, where Lightning Lord and Magno have sort of teamed up against Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy, and have them on the ropes. We cut back to Saturn Girl, working her way through the crowd. She’s about halfway to RJ. Which we zoom in on.

“I have to thank you, RJ, for bringing me such a nicely-honed weapon,” Saturn Queen says, stroking the face of Brande’s nonresponsive bodyguard. He’s dressed in a futuristic looking suit, has dark hair, vaguely reminiscent of Bruce Wayne or Terry McGinnis. “And I like the poetry of turning your own weapon on you. Kill her.” The bodyguard doesn’t respond.

“He’s not killing anyone today,” Saturn Girl says, and punches Saturn Queen. Queen’s impressed that a Titan as young as her could block her telepathy, even momentarily. But it’s only delaying the inevitable. She leads her gaze to the court. Especially after switching partners Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy are doing poorly- on the brink of losing, even. They’re preoccupied with stopping the lightning to the degree they have no attention for the hail of magnoballs flying towards them. Supergirl lands in front of them, and the balls clank against her, falling harmlessly to the court. Lightning Lass flies through the hole in the stairs her brothers did earlier, and lands on their side.

Close in, as Saturn Queen smiles. Girl’s eyes go wide, as Queen gives her a telekinetic shove, one that carries her towards the court; at the last second she gives Queen a tug, dragging her along, as well. They land together in the midst of the big central court fight. Lots of punching, Cosmic Boy has a natural predilection for leadership, since what they’re doing isn’t dissimilar from magnoball except in the particulars. The good guy’s win, but as one last little screw you, Magno fires off one last ball at Brande. Saturn Girl tries to grab it, but Lightning Lord zaps her. Supergirl tries to fly after it, but Saturn Queen grabs her telekinetically, slowing her just enough she misses it. We cut beside Brande, who flinches at the coming shot, only for it to be sliced in half in mid-air, falling harmlessly to the ground. We see that Brande’s bodyguard is wearing an Iron Man esque suit of Batman armor. The symbol itself is red, because it’s building more off of Batman Beyond than modern Batman.  The crowd reacts in cheers as we cut away.

Saturn Girl sets up an interrogation. At first she’s trying to figure out why they can’t leave- the time bubble. Supergirl interrupts to tell her she might know who did that- and he’s a friend. She thinks. Saturn Girl pivots, offering leniency to the three (or one of the three), if they talk. This is probably a good time to get out the various character motivations/injustices each is interested in. Magno, in particular, suddenly feels like himself, and Saturn Girl is able to trace the footprints of a psychic in his brain, flipping switches. He’s overcome with grief at the people he hurt. She tells him he was manipulated- but also cautions that the rage she used to control him was real- that he needs to have a long, hard look at how much he stresses winning. He agrees, and is about to confess what he does know, and says the name “McCauley,” when McCauley, with a team of lawyers, bursts in. “Summon the devil, and he will appear,” Supergirl says. He assigns one lawyer to each of them, and they insist they won’t allow interrogations to continue until they have a chance to confer with their clients.

Brande arrives. McCauley swears he had nothing to do with it, and plays the Godfather card- he’s a connected, powerful man, and sometimes people do things for him without his asking. If there’s a Ra’s al Ghul actor chosen, he reprises here, because (spoiler), McCauley is actually Ra’s. And yeah, unlike the comics, I think he should be Ra’s the entire time, not just Ra’s in a rubber nose later.

Brainiac 5 meets them outside the bubble, with an army of police he called. One of them, familiar with him, threatens that if this is another of his false alarms they’re going to process him this time for filing a false report. Brainiac hits a button on his belt, and the bubble collapses. He leads police inside, to the room where the interrogations were taking place. They go directly to Saturn Girl, because she’s Science Police, and say that Brainiac says these three made an attempt on RJ Brande’s life. She corroborates, and they take them into custody.

Cut to Brainiac’s lair, with all of our Legionnaires present- save one. Saturn Girl objects to him monitoring them. Lightning Lad says that’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black. Cosmic Boy doesn’t agree with his methods, but he did help them foil an assassination attempt. Lightning Lass isn’t preoccupied with that, but points out his conspiracy theory, and him deducing a time-displaced manipulator, is either the work of a genius or a madman. “Or both,” Saturn Girl adds. Brainiac says the threat has only started. He hoped by bringing in Supergirl (he specifically stepped over thirty-seven easier and more straightforward plans), he could throw off the time manipulator’s machinations- but that he was able to adjust in real-time means that he isn’t just operating on static knowledge of one possible future, that he can manipulate, and manipulate, and manipulate. He shows them a belt he’s constructed, with a stylized L on it, and he tells them the world- the timeline, even- needed defenders, a Legion of Superheroes. One of them protests that they aren’t a legion, to which he pulls up a screen, with dozens of potential new recruits. He also says the belts should keep them safe, individually, from the Time Trapper’s manipulations- and also let them fly. “Speaking of flying and Supergirl,” one of them says, and we cut to the skies. It’s gray, raining, with thunderstorms.

Supergirl flies among the clouds, using her superhearing, tracks down super sobbing. Bizarrogirl is sad, because ‘Hoodman’ said that he’d help her get back home if she helped beat the Legion of Stupid Heroes. She thumps her chest and says she should be in the Legion of Stupid Heroes, because, “No one am stupider than me!” Supergirl talks sweetly to her, about being lost in the wrong time. But she tells her she has some really smart friends who said they’d help her get home; that they’re really nice, so they’d probably help her, too. She asks even after she hit them, which Supergirl points out she only hit her. Bizarrogirl says she was going to, though. Supergirl says yes, even if she planned to hit them. They might want to know about Hoodman, though, she tells her. Bizarrogirl is okay with that; she doesn’t like Hoodman. He pretended he wasn’t the one who kidnapped her, but she knew. “Bizarrogirl am smart.” Now… I’m not sure the best way to play this character. On the one hand, Bizarros can pretty easily be read as handicapped; it might make sense to lean into that, consult with disability rights activists and make sure that she is handicapped, and an empathetic portrayal. Probably beyond the scope of this story, but I’d probably have it clarified at some point that Bizarros aren’t technically disabled, but that on their world everything is backwards and/or mangled- but that maxim isn’t exactly right, either; Bizarro Supergirl is a hero, but what counts as heroic on her world is often things like starting forest fires and making hurricanes more destructive. So she wants to be good- it’s mostly just a matter of teaching her what that means on this world.

The pair of them arrive at Brainiac’s headquarters, Supergirl standing in front so they don’t attack her on site. “Everyone, I’d like you all to meet Arak. I know what happened today might look bad, but she’s just scared, and wants to find a way home. I was hoping you could help her, like Brainiac offered to help me.” Everyone is various degrees of skeptical. Cosmic Boy steps forward, and introduces himself to her. He explains that they’re up against someone who can fling incredibly strong opponents at them from different times, even different worlds. If she wants to help them keep people safe- he’ll do everything in his power to help her- to help them– make it back home. Saturn Girl agrees. As do the pair of Lightning twins. Brainiac realizes they’re all waiting for him to weigh in. Of course he’s in. He might have been in just so he could study interdimensional travel, and her unique, bizarre culture.

She stares at him, before saying something like, “Me not like green man.”

Which Supergirl puts her finger up. “I think that means she does like you, at least as we understand it. We’ll know I’m wrong if she punches you out of the stratosphere.”

He shrugs. “That’s why God invented force fields.”

“Did you invent a forcefield?” Supergirl asks. “Because if you’re referring to yourself as ‘God,’ especially given the entity whose lineage you claim you’re the fifth generation of- we might have to have words.”

“I didn’t invent the concept,” he back-pedals. “Though I did independently create a personal forcefield. I did make revisions, based on a Booster Gold design, to make it more robust…”

“Forget I asked,” she says.

There’s a somewhat tense moment, before a beaming Bizarrogirl scoops them all up in a giant bear-hug and says, “Me not like all of you.” We cut to black and the credits start to roll, but continue audio for a few more seconds, as various of them complain, and we hear cracking backs, and Brainiac asks if anyone can reach the forcefield button on his belt. One of the girls tells Lightning Lad he better have a candy bar in his pocket. Cosmic Boy says the same thing. He says, he may have one or two candy bars in his pocket. And we’re done, fade in the music.

Mid-credits scene: Text states that we’re “Beyond Time” as we see a castle floating in space, in a similar shimmering bubble to the one Brainiac 5 wrapped the stadium in, but with a menacing hue, like red or green. The Time Trapper, his identity concealed by his purple hooded robes, slams his fist down on a screen in his console, cracking it while it still holds an image of a smiling Brainiac 5.  From behind him, a woman, Glorith, calls to tell him he was right, the Legion have erected a barrier in the 31st century- neither his tech nor her magic can take them any further than the Legion’s founding. She’s worried he plans to shoot the messenger, and she can’t quite see it (because he’s facing camera and away from her, but a grin spreads across his lips (we can only see a bit of his mouth, then her over his shoulder).

For those who don’t know, the Time Trapper is more a hood that’s been worn by a bunch of different villains over the ages rather than a specific character. As such, come the third film, we’ll have ourselves a reveal. My idea, of the moment, is that the Time Trapper should be an older-still Ra’s al Ghul. He survives far enough into the future for time travel to be prevalent, and then takes rampant advantage. However, as a precaution, he basically destroys the tech, so only he has it- which also prevents him going any further into the future than when he first got the tech. So there are limits to his knowledge, and limits to what he can bring back from the future. But even from within this story there’s another potential candidate: the Clock King. And of course, there’s potential villains not already seen in this movie, like Vandal Savage (he’s eternal, so why not?). The other prominent idea is taken from the comics: that he’s Cosmic Boy, making sure things happen in a certain way so that the Legion is created; if we leaned in that direction, I’d probably go with Time Trapper being killed to reinvigorate Darkseid (who was beaten sometime in the 21st century, but survived)- who the Legion are needed to kill once and for all time.

Rough outline for the trilogy: Mordru and Glorith are the main bads for the sequel, constantly trying to screw one another over as the Legion’s ranks grow with the backing of the recently elected RJ. Glorith uses her magic to send Bizarrogirl on a confused rampage to discredit the Legion. McCaulley remains in the background, manipulating events, but he’s a background player for this one, because we’re saving him for the third movie, when he manipulates his way first into the vice presidency, then gets RJ impeached, largely over the Bizarrogirl scandal, and replaces him. It’s also when the Time Trapper’s plans come to full fruition, so the Legion, having lost official sanction, are up against their deadliest fight yet, eventually winning and sending Supergirl back; her prompt arrival convinces Clock King his plan was a failure, and he abandons it. Bizarrogirl, having found a new home with the Legion (I’d probably even give her a romance with one of the leads), decides to stay.

Pitchgiving 2020, Part 6: Justice Society of America

Justice Society- period piece, set in the seventies; could be fun to Earth 2 it up a bit; I think at the end of the first movie they end up getting fish out of watered modern day like Captain America. The Justice Society had it’s heyday in the late 50s/early 60s, and now they’re feeling out of touch with the newer folks. To sort of nod to the history pre-retcon, Wildcat is going to take on a slightly more Batman role, a Captain Marvel (not Billy Batson- his predecessor in the role- and way cheesier and much closer to classic Captain Marvel) plays Superman, and Powergirl will mostly fill Wonder Woman’s boots, since the chronology is that she spent the intervening years “alone.”

We open on a dark, stormy night. Jason Woodrue and his hulking assistant Cyrus are traipsing through the swamp. Woodrue explains that he’s been studying the local flora for years and that the location seems to have once been the location of what some cultures call a Lazarus Pit, but it was overtaken by the swamp, and he’s found a combination of new flora and fauna in the immediate location second perhaps only to the cornucopia found in the rainforests. He says that especially during electrical storms, the swamp displays some fascinating properties that he’s eager to test firsthand. Suddenly, a rope falls around Cyrus’ neck and he’s pulled off his feet. Cut to close up on dead Cyrus later, as the rope’s cut and his corpse drops into the swamp. Woodrue, pleased with himself, says, “I’ll be back every morning to take tissue samples. I suspect this is going to be a very profitable partnership.” Lightning strikes, and with the flash, we cut to day.

We see the Justice Society’s Hall (I’d probably pattern it off the Hall of Justice, because I’m a geek). We hear audio overlayed as the Society gripe like your parents do, not understanding today’s kids, or their music, and their anti-war stances. They’re not even sure if the world they’re fighting for is in any real appreciable way their world. The younger crop: Mister Terrific, Power Girl, Atom & Canary. I’m swapping in the Ray Palmer Atom as the replacement for the previous one, because he got shunted out of JLI, so I’d give him a chance to shine, here. I’d pick a very young actor, because only half the society are getting time displaced, so he needs to survive into the present day in some fighting form. He and Black Canary are barely old enough to vote young. Subtly, I want to develop a background romance between Black Canary and Atom- with the implication that he’s modern Black Canary’s father (cause that could set up some cool interaction later). Mister Terrific is likewise a legacy of Terry Sloane. They, Stargirl and Power Girl represent the next generation of heroes, learning at the feet of the older ones. During the conversation, someone mentions the irony of Sandman continuing to complain about having bad dreams.

Stargirl is our POV character. She’s escorted by her uncle, Jack Knight, into JSA headquarters. He’s older, his age showing, and he tells them he’s come to a decision, that he’s stepping down as Starman, and he’s been grooming his niece Courtney as his successor. “Star… Girl?” Sandman asks.

Power Girl adjusts her gloves, annoyed. “We are not having this conversation again,” she says.

“Not objecting,” he puts up his hands, “just trying to figure out the naming scheme.” He moves his jaw like it’s sore, saying more quietly, “Learned my lesson on that one.”

“I didn’t even need Kryptonian super hearing to catch that,” she says, then smiles, their tension melting away; clearly they’ve had some contention but they’re now friendly.

Knight says that he’ll still be around, making sure that Courtney learns how to deal with the other codgers, as well as help her learn the ropes. “And of course, I wanted to see the lovebirds off.” Hawkman and Hawkwoman have just been married, and are planning on going off on their honeymoon. They mention they plan to be back, but that it doesn’t always happen like they plan. Life is short- especially for them, and sometimes it can be hard when they find one another to pull themselves away. They fly off.

I’m leaning towards Green Lantern taking a leadership role, but any of the old guard could, really. He says that while they’ve got everyone gathered, is there anything the others need to be made aware of. Canary and Atom eye each other conspiratorially, with a pinch of flirtation to it. But it’s Doctor Fate who speaks up. “There’s been a disturbance in the forest.” He, Spectre and Captain Marvel discuss the fact that they’ve been able to feel dark energies in the forest outside of town. Spectre clarifies that it’s coming from the swamp at the heart of the forest, where a murdered soul cries out for vengeance. The three make plans to investigate it, and Power Girl offers her services, too, since she brings a host of super senses.

After the meeting adjourns, Wildcat asks Mister Terrific why he didn’t speak up. He says he still feels like the new guy- admitting Courtney’s the newer girl- and it’s hard to trust his instincts. And really, it’s the theft of a handful of electronic components. Sure the MO is the same, but there are only a handful of people in the world smart enough to do anything with those components, and until he can figure it out- and rule out it being some kid building the world’s most sophisticated radio, he doesn’t want to embarrass himself. I think I’d probably set up a flirtation between Courtney and Mister Terrific, too; really, this being set in the 70s I can’t help but want to poke the race-mixing bear as much as possible; I’d probably go with the newer, gay incarnation of GL, too (bonus points if DC will let us make one of the other older JSAers his boyfriend). Wildcat tells the pair of them to work together- but warns them she’s a probationary member- they’re just observing to report things back to the full JSA.

We cut to the early morning hours at the swamp. Birds chirp, and Woodrue is in a great mood. He’s using trees to navigate to the precise spot he left Cyrus, only the body’s gone. He’s confused, at first. “Too big to be picked apart by scavengers,” he mutters. Then he’s picked up by a massive hand.

The hulking beast that had been Cyrus Gold recites the rhyme, “Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday…” and snaps Woodrue literally in half, dropping him in the very swamp he was left. Then he starts marching towards the city, reciting the rest of the rhyme as he walks. And as he goes, rain starts to fall, and by the time he reaches the edge of the forest, and the end of the rhyme, the sky is blotted with black clouds.

We cut back to Woodrue, still lying in the muck. Depending on how graphic we want to be, you can show that he is literally lying in two halves, “I feel… marvelous,” Woodrue says with a smile on his face.                                                                                             

So the seeming A story is the investigation of the swamp, leading to a big superhero brawl against Grundy. The B story that’s really the A story in disguise is investigating some tech thefts, eventually leading to the revelation of T.O. Morrow as the villain. To thwart him Mister Terrific steals the last rare component he needs to protect it at the Hall of Justice. Morrow attacks while half of the JSA are fighting Grundy. Morrow’s built a clunky, Iron Man Mk 1 esque Red Tornado to protect him, but the half of the JSA going against him (GL, Wildcat, Sandman, Hourman, Flash, Stargirl and Mister Terrific) find out too late that the robot was incidental to the plan. Stargirl disables the Red Tornado prototype, and says, “You can’t beat us.”

Morrow smiles, and says, “You’re right. I can’t beat you today. But I am going to beat you tomorrow.” They’re engulfed in a beam of light, and disappear. Morrow leaves his broken robot there. Power Girl, in the aftermath of the fight with Grundy, turns, hearing trouble at the Hall, and tells the others, before flying off. She finds what seems to be the charred remains of her friends. Cut to later. Power Girl and Marvel fly in. The others are discussing it, and they don’t understand it, but they can’t find a trace of Morrow. The former Mr. Terrific manages to get Morrow’s robot working enough to project what it saw- the projection appearing to show the deaths of their colleagues, disappearing in a flash of light.

“I need some solitude,” Power Girl says, and flies off. One by one, the other members of the JSA leave, Spectre to seek vengeance for their friends, Marvel because there has to be a cat up a tree somewhere. Dr. Fate disappears to his tower. Canary says she needs a drink, but Ray feels like he has to stay. “Someone should watch the monitors,” he says, and she leaves. Wonder Woman cameo: in honor of her being in the JSA, she shows, making a show of giving in. “I always told you to call me, and I feel I’ve been responsive in a crisis, but I think I made a decision. I think I’m tired of… being alone. So if the offer still stands…”

Atom peels off his mask. “Princess, you picked a real lousy time to change your mind. There is no more Justice Society.” We cut away before it becomes apparent whether he’s awash in grief or actively blaming her, to black.

We flash text that says “fifty years later.”  

The Hall has seen better days. It’s boarded up, covered in cobwebs and dust. Suddenly, the missing JSA members appear in a flash of light, the same age as when they disappeared. “For the record, I did not like whatever the hell that was,” Sandman complains. “Now where the hell are we?”

“This… looks like the Hall of Justice,” Stargirl says.

Terrific peers through the boards covering a broken window. “Uh, I think the question might be when the hell are we,” he says. Before we do anything else, the new, improved Red Tornado smashes in the wall and starts tossing them around. The speed and fury of the assault means he’s winning, even against a Green Lantern and a Flash. Morrow is there, gloating that with technology from this era it’s a simple thing to build an android up to the task of dismantling what remains of their Justice Society. Things look dire for them, in fact, until Power Girl lands, knocking the android into the far wall. “I told you I heard them,” Power Girl says.

The Ray Palmer Atom, quite old and past his prime, now, grows from where she dropped him on Morrow’s shoulder and knocks the mad scientist out with a punch. The JSA seems poised to destroy the Red Tornado when Dr. Fate reappears, and pacifies the robot instead, shutting it down magically. He and Mister Terrific are immediately on the same page- that Morrow’s villainy can become a boon to humanity if they can reprogram it for good. Palmer asks if the same is possible with Morrow, and Hourman says that people are a lot tougher to debug.

Cut to later, the heroes are straightening up while catching up with what they missed. Older Atom does most of the talking; Power Girl is stoic, but there’s going to come a moment when the damn bursts and she finally tells them she felt responsible for losing them, for them disappearing. Sandman tries to tell her it wasn’t her fault. “When you can do almost anything, everything feels like your fault,” she says. “I missed you all, so much. I can’t tell you how hard things have been without you.”

“Did you know Captain Marvel was a kid?” She tells them. “Well, eventually, he grew up, and… didn’t want to be a super hero anymore. The world just got to be… too much for him. I really never thought I’d identify so much with the Big Red Cheese.”

While straightening Canary’s chair, Courtney’s eyes flick to Atom, and he admits that, “Canary died in Gotham. Maybe if I hadn’t been so caught up in my work… she didn’t want me around. And she wasn’t wrong when she told me that I wasn’t there, even when I was. If I had been… I never could find her killer.”

Green Lantern gives a mini speech to soothe them both. “We all know the risks, when we lace up our boots. And we all know the pledge we make in doing so- to fight for each other with every atom in our beings, to lift our friends when they fall, to find them when they’re lost. You kept the home fires burning while we were gone; that was all we could ask, but I know you did more. And you don’t have to carry these weights for us anymore, we’re here to help you bear them. So please, let us.”

One last scene to put a bow on things. Courtney is staring at a phone, with her uncle’s obituary on it, sitting outside the Hall of Justice. Mister Terrific sits down next to her. “I’m 18, but also like 60; I’m the oldest teenager in the world.”

“And I am the oldest 19-year old on record. At least until your birthday,” he replies. “So we go get some coffee, and try to figure out our place in this world.”

“I’d like that,” she says. And we roll credits. Mid-credits scene: same as the last shot we had of Jason Woodrue. His body has largely been claimed by the swamp- or really, subtly, his body has become the swamp. He is a creature of mud and muck and plantlife in the shape of a man, still in the position we left him. We zoom, closer and closer until we’re on his closed eye, which opens, the green of its iris is moss. We cut quickly to black as we hear his line again, this time distorted and inhuman, “I feel… marvelous.” End credits scene: Montoya leads Canary (modern) into a diner and sits down. Canary pauses, noticing the table isn’t empty. “Who’s this?” she asks skeptically. Montoya explains it’s her biological father, and she’s brought them together because she’s been digging since Canary challenged her in Birds of Prey, and she thinks she’s found a solid lead on her mother’s killer. “I assume since you’re sitting across from him like nothing’s wrong it isn’t him.” Montoya tells him no, but that she was pretty sure they’re going to need the backup.

Pitchgiving Part 5: Plastic Man

Side snarky note: Saw Wonder Woman 84. DC might actually need my help. Yikes.

Plastic Man

Plastic Man is mostly an origin story, but mixed in with a con man movie. Since most con man movies are kind of underwhelming, I’d probably aim it more towards an Oceans 11/Heist flavor, instead; con men are only as fun as their con, after all. Granted, we want to do this one Marvel style- so actually, it doesn’t matter if the con is a B plot, so long as we make people enjoy (in their way) Plastic Man- part of his charm is that he’s kind of a walking dad joke with a sprinkle of vaudeville, and a dash of Bugs Bunnyan madness. I’m thinking tonally shooting for the original Ninja Turtles movie, where it was comical but also grounded- likely either CG completely or at least heavily CGed lead (think an update to the Mask). It starts with Eel narrating over black. “They say the proper way to tell a story is to start at the beginning. So here it is.” Close in on a woman screaming, as we pull back, to reveal she’s giving birth. The baby finally comes, and she collapses. A nurse asks if she wants to see her baby, and her eyes go wide with terror. “It’s an eel!” she shrieks, trying to clamber out of bed to get away from it. “78 hours of labor will do strange things to a person, so you can forgive her for not recognizing the handsome fruit of her loins. Now why she decided to put that down on my birth certificate I’ve never fully understood. Mom, sadly, didn’t last long, so I never got a chance to ask what she was thinking.” Quick cut, a little Eel in an adorable little red suit, standing over his mother’s grave in the rain.

That same little boy, clearly up to no good; off the top of my head I’d say he’s selling dirty magazines folded into newspapers. “But I grew into the name. I was a slippery little bastard, even from a leptocephalus- that’s what you call a baby eel. To be fair, I was on my own. Unless you count the orphanage- but they rarely even noticed I was gone- let alone the few times I stuck around.” Some gangsters step up to young Eel, and at first he looks worried as their shadows eclipse him, then we cut to a few years later, him pouring drinks for them at a bar. “I fell in with a bad crowd- but I was good at it- being bad, I mean. I had a knack for cracking safes nearly as strong as my affinity for cracking wise. And they liked me for both.” The bar erupts in laughter, as drinks are spilled.

“There were a pair of researchers, the Dibnys, I think working in South America, researching, among other things, a White Martian corpse, on a grant from the Wayne Foundation. Luthor tried to buy their work, but being ethical types, they thought their patents should belong to the world and not Metropolis’ biggest egotist. Luthor arranged for an accident with their lab, one that turned them into flexible superheroes- and covered up the theft of their research. Funny enough, the mobsters he hired to get that research found out how much it was worth and stole it back, with Luthor’s own improvements, and jacked up the prices on him after the fact. Luthor refused to pay up. He figured it was easier to pay a couple local hoods pennies on the dollar to snatch it for him. I guess being a cheapskate is how you get to be a billionaire.”

As he narrates, we watch a montage as Eel and his criminal friends break into a mafia front company. There’s a big safe at the back that Eel starts to crack. “We were strictly small time, penny-ante. I was a rising star, destined for probably bigger things, but I liked the crew enough that I stuck around, longer than I maybe should have. But we were good enough for this gig.” We see a squad car pull up outside, and an aging GCPD officer get out. He’s older, not moving fast, but he hobbles out, sees the door ajar, and goes inside. “They were mobbed up- not that we knew that at the time- but it meant they didn’t worry too hard about anybody breaking in. We cut through their security like butter.” Eel gets the safe open, and stands in front of the opened door. “And that’s when things went straight to hell.” Eel is shot, and stumbles inside the safe, accidentally closing it with him inside. Eel’s crew try, but can’t get the door back open. They exchange fire with the cop, and manage to jump through a nearby window and escape.

Cut to later, for a gratuitous cameo as Batman gets the safe open, while the old cop chatters at him. “…eyes may not be what they used to be, but I got him, right here. He fell back in the safe, so he’s got to still be there.”

“Provided he didn’t bleed out,” Batman says coldly.

“Hey. There were three of them and one of me.”

“Did you even call for backup before shooting?”

“If I had, I’d still be waiting.”

Batman stops talking, and walks inside. “You definitely hit him,” he says, kneeling by a pool of blood. Batman takes a sample to analyze at his cave. He also finds an open briefcase (which might be visible when Eel is shot) with a broken vial. The case has the LexCorp logo, but the vial has the name Dibny on it (subtly, there were two impressions for vials, but only evidence of one), as well as research from the Dibnys. Batman takes a swab to analyze. “But I don’t see a body.” Batman glances around the room, and settles on an air intake pipe three inches in diameter.

“You can’t mean-”

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Using tweezers, he pulls one of Eel’s oiled hairs out of the pipe.

We cut to black, and back to Eel’s narration. “I had a record. Nothing serious, but my prints and DNA were on file, as a juvenile offender. Apparently they keep that in the system even after you hit drinking age.” A door gets kicked in by the cops, and we see Eel, asleep in his bed, still wearing what he wore the night before (an oddly ostentatious red, gold and black three piece suit and glasses). We watch the cops stream through his apartment. “Now, normally, I wouldn’t leave my tools behind to get found by the cops, but getting shot and locked in a safe and passing out and… how the hell did I get home?” The cops erupt into the room in full SWAT gear, without really thinking about it, his limbs go all bendy, and he manages to mow through them like a ninja octopus; this should be an FX feast for the eyes, and also hilarious as he Jackie Chans his way through the cops with whatever he manages to grab in his apartment as improvised weapons, causing as much embarrassment as injury. End on a laugh, then cut hard to black- maybe have one of his limbs preoccupied the entire time with getting a pie out of the fridge, taking it gingerly out of its cardboard box, then removing a plastic lid, adding a little whipped cream to the top, and then blam, the last cop gets the pie in the face.

As narration returns, we see Plastic Man running, spliced with more blackness; with each frame we get, his running becomes more exaggerated and stranger. “It came back to me. I panicked. And ran. And the more I ran, the more I panicked, because,” until we finally see him, running like a freaking cartoon character, pumping legs long enough to step over city buses, arms akimbo- it’s funny, in the moment, but also kind of unsettling. “well, you get the idea.”

Cut to later that night. Cops are on the scene, a squad car beat to hell by a superhuman. The officer from the night before was killed, gunned down, by the looks of it. The crime scene tech is greeting an attractive woman from the FBI. “We’re not used to getting federal attention quite this quickly.”

“I can tell you two things,” she begins. “The man these chemicals were stolen from has pull. And in case that pull might not have been enough to expedite my involvement, he used the magic words.”


“Terrorist applications. He said the stolen chemical agents could be weaponized by terrorists. What can you tell me?”

“Preliminary analysis says suicide of cop by cop.” She looks puzzled. “He’s got four slugs in his torso, same caliber as his service weapon, which is missing, you guessed it, four slugs. Ballistics will tell the tale for certain, but our theory is somebody wrecked up his squad car, and he caught them in the act. He pulled his revolver to arrest them, they struggled for the gun, and they got it from him, put four in his chest, wiped the gun clean and got it back in his hand. Must have been at close range, too. Because he had GSR on his hands- so he must have still been fighting for the gun when he was shot.”

“Wasn’t this same officer involved in a shooting not 24 hours ago? Why wasn’t this man on leave?”

“If we put every officer involved in a shooting in this city on leave, we wouldn’t have a police force, we’d just have a help wanted sign.” A crime scene tech hands him a bag containing a single hair. “Oh, and we found evidence. At a glance seems to match the one found at the robbery last night; reeks of the same hair product, at least. We’ll get DNA back in a day or so to know for sure. But it might be the same guy, looking for payback.”

We pan away, to the rooftops. In silhouette, we see a giant horn, being used as a listening device, by a stretching Plastic Man. “I’d been set up. I didn’t go near the cop. Why would I? I didn’t have a gunshot anymore. Not even a scar. It didn’t hurt. I needed to clear my name. Well, not so much clear my name as… I don’t know what to call it. Clear my name of the crimes I hadn’t committed, at least. To do that, I was going to have to think smarter. Blend in.”

Plastic Man makes himself an old woman as he goes into the Hall of Records. “Changing shape was as easy as breathing. All I had to do was think of a thing, and bam, I was that thing. The harder part was not doing that; I couldn’t let my mind wander,” the clerk at the hall has a generous bosom and a low-cut shirt, and he starts to change into cleavage; he shoves his ‘cleavage’ back into his own dress, leaving his old lady disguise as the clerk looks back up at him.

“Will that be everything Ms. Ticman?”

“Please, call me Plas, it’s short for Plasida. And, no, dear, you’ve been an enormous help.”

He goes back to narrating as he wanders through the halls. We see him rifling through records, finding one for a hot dog stand that he lingers on, before finding ownership information for the joint he burgled. “That’s always sort of been my curse. As a kid I couldn’t concentrate. Doctors said I had ADHD. Or learning disabilities. The school nurse just said I was a jerk. Anyway, concentration wasn’t ever my strong suit- more like my Achilles heel.”

Cut to the street. He’s back in his trademark suit, eating a hot dog at a street cart. “I always compensated being the class clown. I ingratiated myself to the right people. Seemed like a track that fit my abilities better. Of course, that’s how I landed a career as an amateur criminal, and got myself framed for murder by some serious heavy hitters. These guys made the Russians look like chinchillas.” Subtly, Plastic Man’s face begins to become a chinchilla, before he shakes it off.

“Hey, brother, could you spare a dog?” a homeless man asks. His name is Woozy Winks. Woozy is mentally ill, living on the streets since the collapse of public investment in mental health under Reagan. I want to walk a line with him, and that’s one they screwed up with Freddy in Shazam. We can have fun with him, as a comic relief sidekick. But the punchline isn’t his disability. And also, we don’t magically remove his disability. He’s going to be heroic and disabled. Because that’s important. Plastic Man orders one more dog from the vendor, and gives it to Woozy.

“What can you tell me about that place?” he asks about the large building across the way.

“Real jerks live there. Always too serious. Won’t let me sleep in their doorway- not even when it’s raining.”

Plastic Man, largely not realizing he’s doing it, is literally staring daggers at the building. Woozy reaches out and touches one, and recoils at the touch. “What, are you made out of plastic? Neat! I’m only made out of hot dogs.”

“Hot dogs?”

“Cause you are what you eat. Momma told me not to eat plastic, cause it wasn’t good for me; I didn’t think it would make you a superhero.”

“I’m not a,” his suit changes into tights, as a cape grows out of his shoulders. “You know, maybe I am. Maybe I could be. Maybe I could be anything I want to be… but first I have to clear my name. The men inside, they hurt someone, and made the cops think I did it.”

“Fibbing isn’t nice,” Woozy says.

He convinces Woozy to be a distraction so he can sneak in the back. Plastic Man knocks out the guard at the rear and takes his clothes (because he can only make red clothes); he leaves him with a small towel over his underpants with the word ‘shame’ emblazoned on it, with narration, “I borrowed one of the mooks’ clothes to get inside, but at least I covered his shame.” Woozy knocks on the door, and the thugs hassle him. But then something happens. A strange series of accidents propels Woozy into the building, and he/it starts destroying things. In a very slapstick scene, a mostly oblivious Woozy narrowly escapes death a dozen times as various things fall, catch fire, etc. wrecking up the drug operation hidden inside, as Plastic Man narrates. “After knowing Woozy a while, I think he has two superpowers. One, he’s real lucky, and somehow can walk through rush-hour traffic on the freeway without taking a scratch, and two, he’s disconnected enough from reality that the danger he’s almost constantly in doesn’t make him piss himself. He’s like a real-life Mr. Magoo- only you’d actually feel bad if he gets pasted- no offense to Leslie Nielson.” Meanwhile, Plastic Man sneaks up to the boss’s office and finds paperwork leading to their hideout/headquarters. He manages to grab Woozy on the way out.

It’s dark outside, now, raining. We cut back to the building, as the cops, fire department and our FBI agent comb through the building. “Same MO as before,” the same detective says. “Comical degrees of chaos and bedlam, and hair from the same perp.” He holds up a baggy with a black hair in it. We notice, though it’s subtle, that more havoc than we witnessed occurred; not only did the thugs move or destroy evidence of their crimes, but someone made it look like Plastic Man rampaged through the joint.

“And did you know this was another front owned by the same syndicate that was broken into the night before last?” she asks. He dissembles. “Of course not. Because your local PD are inept, corrupt, or too busy shooting to ask questions at all. Someone is working their way up the food chain. I wonder why.”

Plastic Man knows he can’t let Woozy go back to his corner, so he brings him back to his hotel. He also gets them an armful of hot dogs, the wrappers of which are spread around as Woozy naps comfortably on the couch. If it’s not too silly, a sleeping Woozy has folded the foil hot dog wrappers into a makeshift crown, and sleepily sings “I am the hot dog king.” Get Danny Elfman to write a riff on the song from Nightmare Before Christmas; that’d be fun.

We see Plastic Man sneaking onto an estate with a manor. The home is mostly dark as he creeps inside, until he reaches the study. There’s a fire roaring inside, and he’s not two steps in before he hears a smooth baritone voice. “I expected you ten minutes ago. I suppose you took extra time bonding with the simpleton. One simply can’t plan for everything- not even Dr. Dome.” He rises from his chair, and for the first time we can see he’s wearing a mask that looks like he’s wearing a metal salad bowl on his head.

Plastic Man turns to the camera: “Are we sure we’re not going to get sued, here? As parodies that feels at once too clever by half and also really half-assed.” Plastic Man counts on his fingers, mumbling, “Which, by my math, is about one and a half cheeks.” Dr. Dome seems aware of him speaking to camera, and uncomfortable about it- like he’s breaking during a take and he’s not sure if he should keep going. “Anyway, maybe I’m thick, but I don’t get it. Why frame me? Why bother at all. I’m small potatoes- I’m the little guy. You’re punching down, here.”

Dr. Dome smiles, finally able to indulge his desire to monologue. “Because you have taken something from me. Something precious. Something I suspect I can juice out of you like an overripe melon. And because I needed you to disappear when I did, so there’d be no loose ends.” We notice that Plastic Man has tendrils along the floor going around Dr. Dome’s desk on either side. They form hands, one tapping Dome on the shoulder so he turns, the other forming a fist, and sucker-punching him when he turns back.

“That’s why it doesn’t make sense to wear just half a helmet. And also, that’s for calling my friend simple!”

“My poor buffoon,” Dome says, standing, “You didn’t think I brought you here to engage in simple fisticuffs, did you?”

“Freeze!” the FBI agent says from the doorway. In the dark it looks like she’s holding a gun, but it’s not, it’s a specialized hose that sprays liquid nitrogen. Plastic Man tries to get out of the way, but takes the brunt of it in the chest. His head and limbs are free enough for him to resist, but he’s at a severe disadvantage as he flails with his chest frozen in a block of ice. The FBI agent rushes forward to attack, and when he flails at her we discover she also has stretchy powers. She is, in fact, not an FBI agent at all, but the villain Plastique, in this instance a Dr. Dome improvement on Luthor’s formula, adding explosive abilities to Plastic Man’s. Plastic Man drags his frozen torso over by the fire while fighting Plastique. He thaws, manages to win (largely through the application of wackier ideas to Plastique’s more martially targeted ones) and capturing Dome. Then Plastic Man retrieves his hidden recording device, which captured the confession of the frame job and murder of the FBI agent Plastique replaced. Plastic Man hands off all 3 to the police detective who has been working with Plastique, who isn’t terribly impressed. “What about the rest of Eel O’Brian’s crimes?”

“Eel was a smalltime hood. Besides- he’s dead. I’m Plastic Man.”

“Well, I can see why you didn’t go with Rubber Man, but still, that’s not exactly a defense.”

Stunt casting time again. Either Batman comes back again, and offers to keep an eye on Plastic Man to keep him on the straight and narrow, or Amanda Waller shows, offering to get him a job with the Federal Government- and a clean record.

Roll credits. End credits screen: dark screen, we hear Plastic Man’s stretching, before old-timey TV serials lighting comes up, showing Plastic Man and Woozy, standing dramatically. Plastic Man is the background, a flag on a flagpole flapping dramatically in the background, and has made himself into the shape of a Snyder-proportioned Batman, complete with ears, nipples and a cape flapping in the opposite direction as the flag. Plastic Man narrates from a second mouth off camera.

“Plastic Man will return, same Plas time, same Plas channel.” He narrates as he makes comic-style words pop out: Like Deadpool, but sexier.

“Uh,” Woozy says.

“Like She-Hulk, but wittier,” he adds.

”Any, uh, characters we actually own the rights to?”

“Like Batman, but mannier.”

“Sometimes it can be real hard to be your pal,” Woozy says, a little frustrated. But then he realizes something. “Your lips ain’t moving,” he says, and touches a finger to his ‘face.’ “Who said those were lips?” he asks, gives a double eyebrow pump with accompanying sound effect, then, “And cut!” as we cut to black.

Pitchgiving Part 4: Red Hood & The Outlaws

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know. I built it.”

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

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

“Uncle John? You okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So what’s your point?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Me?” he asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You don’t sound too… condoling.”

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

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

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

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

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

“You don’t look it.”

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

“And what do I call you? Old Robin?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I got to the name before he did.”

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

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

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

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

“Nope. That’s Jesse.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Mr. Law and Order?” Arsenal asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roll credits. Mid-credits Sequel Set Up:

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

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


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

“I think that’s called a bruise.”

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

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

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

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

Pitchgiving 2020 Part 3: Justice League International

I would probably go with something akin to the “Formerly Known” series for this, give it a comedic slant. Though first, to get us to an international feel, I’m probably going to have to make some changes so it isn’t so overwhelmingly white and America-centric. As an example Ted Kord would still be around, but we’d also bring in Jaime Reyes as his in the field protégé from Latin America due to his heart condition (think Pym from the Ant Man movies, only in his fifties and pudgy). We’d eventually bring in the heroic version of Dr. Light, from Japan. We’d bring in the new Atom, Ryan Choi, after Ray decides to stick to teaching. Ice would still be alive (and not evil- though we could use that storyline in a sequel if the mood strikes). I think we’d bring in Vixen, too. We also have Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Mary Marvel, Fire (from Brazil), and finally the Dibnys. I’d tweak Sue Dibny in particular to have been Ralph’s research partner in his experiments, gaining powers alongside him as the Elongated Woman, and being of Australian/Pacific Islander descent- I’d also endorse race-bending Ralph, too, for that matter (though I’d probably save her having powers for the climax or an end credits scene). That gets us our international team.

I seem to recall DC threatened several times to make a Booster Gold movie. That would either serve as a prequel, if that went well; this would be a reboot if it went poorly, or, probably more likely, would supplant it entirely (I refuse to believe anyone was serious about a Booster Gold movie- which does sound like some kind of medicated powder). But Booster is our viewpoint character. He drives the plot, which is essentially that he comes from the future, knows of a calamity that requires this team to exist to deal with it, and so once again assembles them. Some of them he leverages personal affection. Some of them he leverages knowledge of their not proud moments. Some he bribes with future knowledge/fortune. We should play all of it light and breezy, because ultimately he’s one of the good guys and we want this team to work together and succeed- though it is ripe for a late reveal that someone isn’t as on board as they’ve pretended and there’s a nugget of personal drama to be mined.


We start in, zoomed, on a futuristic-looking chair with the Superman symbol engraved on it as the Superman theme music swells. The table is round, surrounded by more chairs, half occupied. We fade the music out, and fade quarreling in as we pan across Booster Gold, in a similar seat. Probably, because these characters are largely unfamiliar, we put either placards in front of them or white text overlaid at the bottom of the screen.

“Superman was a soft maybe,” Booster says, looking a little embarrassed.

Fire, seated next to him, raises an eyebrow skeptically.

We pan past an empty seat with Wonder Woman’s symbol on it, as Booster continues. “Ambassador Wonder Woman is in the building.” He adds, quieter, “She just isn’t answering my calls.”

Pan across Blue Beetle, in his classic Ted Kord incarnation/suit. Subtly, Jaime Reyes in his armored scarab suit stands behind him, looking kind of ominous. “Batman was never coming, though,” Ted says, as we pan over an empty chair with the bat symbol on it.

“No,” Booster admits. “But I thought the symbol would look cool on a chair.” During this exchange, we pan across the remaining members of the team: Captain Atom, Ice, Elongated Man (with a civilian-clothed Sue standing beside him).

“Oh, it does,” he agrees.

Elongated Man asks, “Did we ever hear back from that Big Red Cheese?” stretching into frame as we linger on Captain Marvel’s lightning bolt engraved on an empty chair and pointing to it.

The idea is simple. They were an attempt to build out an international, UN sanctioned Justice League. They ran a few missions globally, but, much like the ICC, never got American backing. Eventually, the US used its Security Council veto to neuter the team in its entirety, leading to it being disbanded. They’re viewed in the superhuman community as has-beens, but they only ever wanted to do good by their world. Might be fun to do a VH1 Behind the Music type intro for the team, pulling back to reveal once the characters are established that Booster is asleep in front of the TV. He’s visited by Old Booster. OB throws him around a little, explaining that the disaster he came back to prevent is still going to happen, and he can’t rest on his keister playing gigolo to the Desperate Housewives. “Gigoloing is harder work than it looks,” he retorts. OB tells him it isn’t funny. That if he doesn’t get his act together, everyone he’s ever cared about is going to die, and that includes his team.

We cut to Blue Beetle’s workshop. Ted Kord is wearing a blue jump suit reminiscent of his costume, working on his beetle ship (the Bug) while talking. “I promised myself after we disbanded that I was done wearing shape-wear, BG.”

“You know I hate when you call me that.”

“But I can tell by the way you use your walk-”

“Don’t start.”

“You’re a woman’s man, no time for talk.”

“I’m asking nicely.” He stops, and they stare at each other a moment, before in unison breaking into the shrill chorus, “Staying aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive.” “I hate you.”

“You love me.”

“But I need you.”

“You need me? Our friendship always had a tinge of codependence about it, but need-“

“I need Blue Beetle. The… catastrophe I came back to stop, it’s still coming.”

“You sure? I thought we prevented it just by forming the JLI in the first place- a deterrent.”

“So did I. Until… another me came back. Apparently we need to roll up our ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner and get back to work.”

“You said you need Blue Beetle. You don’t need me- at least not in the field. But you remember Scarab?”

“Your sidekick?”

“I think we both preferred assistant. He was in all of the press material anyway, so we weren’t a wall of white saviors. He’s been helping me refine my tech. And he doesn’t even have a heart condition.”

CUT To a Brazilian market. Booster is struggling under the weight of a comical amount of bags and boxes. Fire and Ice are leaving him largely in their dust as he tries his sales pitch. Finally, the tilting tower of commercial decadence topples, and a demure Ice says she can’t torture him any more. They were in from the moment he called. Fire pouts; she had a whole gauntlet of a day planned for him. But she perks up when Ice reminds her they get to be superheroes again.

Now Booster’s in a classroom. “I was always a background player. I may have designed the shrinking tech- hell, I got it through the first few years of field testing, and so far no cancers- but at heart, I’m an educator. I don’t like punching. Which isn’t to say I agree with an anti-violent premise- some problems, like fascism, have to be countered through violent resistance. But I can do the most good, and have the largest impact by far, from behind a lectern. Besides, spandex are a young man’s sport- and not just because I don’t have the glutes to fill them out anymore. Ryan? You can stop eavesdropping- because he’s really here to ask you the question.” Ryan Choi, the new Atom, grows out of a petri dish.

“I wasn’t eavesdropping. I was testing the modifications to the equipment. It wasn’t my fault you happened to be having a conversation nearby. And yes. You’ve got yourself an Atom.”

“Another 28 octillion of those and you’ve got yourself a team,” Ray says. Pause a beat, and both Atoms burst out laughing, as Booster stares in dumbfounded silence.

Booster grimaces, and we cut away to the sky midline as he says, “That’s one Atom down, one big, shiny, self-important Atom to go.” A US fighter jet flies by, an instant later pursued by a chromatic silver man with an atom on his chest. He catches up to the jet, knocks on the cockpit, and waves goodbye. The pilot inside calls over the radio that he’s confirmed killed, that Captain Atom is 3-0, and thank God he’s on their side. Over the radio comes the message that there’s an unknown flying object in their theater of operations, and requests they scout it. We cut to Captain Atom, answering through a headset, that he’s on it. He bursts ahead, leaving several fighter jets in his wake. He blows past Booster, flying in the opposite direction, then calls over the radio that it’s a known unknown, and they can stand down- that he’ll handle it.

They land together, Booster’s flight a lot more tentative and awkward, compared to the Captain’s. Captain Atom is overly straight-laced, still very much ingrained in the military culture and mode of conduct. He tells Booster he could have been shot down, that it’s restricted air space. Booster tells him they’re getting the band back together. Captain Atom explains that he’s not a free agent- he’s still a commissioned officer, and can’t go anywhere without dispensation from the military brass- which he isn’t going to get without someone more connected than Booster Gold asking. Booster doesn’t take that answer well- Captain Atom’s by far their strongest member, and the team is in serious trouble without him. Captain Atom tells him that he’s heard about someone else- someone who might be able to close that gap, says that he’s in Fawcett City, but he doesn’t know his identity.

The Elongated Man is doing a bit. He’s narrating himself as a hard-boiled, Chandleresque Detective in a seedy looking office late at night. Then Sue walks in, done up in something slinky, playing the femme fatale. Booster walks in, and EM continues narrating, with Booster becoming increasingly confused, until, “Clearly I’ve interrupted kinky date night- or at least bored and goofing around night. But we need you.”

“You mean him,” Sue says, crossing her arms.

“Everybody knows you’re the brains of this operation, Sue,” Booster tells her. “Without you, Ralph is brainless.”

“Hey,” he protests.

”I’m not sure that reply pleads your case all that well, dear,” Sue says.

Booster asks if they’re into anything heavy. Ralph starts to narrate a very noir sounding story, which Sue undercuts, admitting there’s a couple infidelity gigs, and a stolen bike, one with sentimental value- nothing they can’t give to someone else in a pinch. He says he needs their help tracking down a superhuman in Fawcett City. She asks if it’s a one-time gig, or if there’s a place on the team for them- he says there couldn’t be a team without her. And he adds that if he didn’t invite Ralph, then he’d be the team Butt Monkey- better if they split that role. “Because your butt can only stand so much monkeying?” Ralph asks. They refuse to acknowledge.

We cut to the sidewalk outside the Marvel household. The Dibnys explain how they tracked him down, first getting the neighborhood after Marvel did an appearance with Superman at a local school. From there it was just canvassing enough neighbors to find out that Marvels flying in and out of the residence is a largely open secret. Booster knocks on the door. Billy answers, and Booster tells him that they need Marvel for a new Justice League team; he tells Booster he is Captain Marvel. Booster is skeptical “I was led to believe he was taller. Wider. More formidable. Otnay an ipsqueakpay.”

“Wow,” Billy says. “You’re a jackass.” Sue agrees. “And I can tell you, as someone who’s at least met Captain Marvel, he’d have absolutely no interest in… whatever it is you’re doing.”

“But we’re talking fate of the world kind of stakes.”

“Nope.” Billy closes the door.

“Who was that?” Mary asks him.

“Someone looking to exploit Captain Marvel.”

“Exploit? It sounded like they needed help.”

“Yeah. Them. The Justice League. The Suicide Squad. The, what was it, Justice Society? I’ve lost track of all the people who’ve tried to recruit one or all of us. And we’re kids. I can barely pass algebra. Oh, crap. I have algebra homework.” He runs up the stairs. Mary glances furtively at the door.

Booster and the Dibny’s are still standing on the porch. Sue asks what the plan is, and Booser claims to be formulating a plan very slowly, making it obvious even to non-detectives that he’s stalling. Ralph says he should have brought a book of crosswords. Maybe some needploint. Sue teases him that he sounds like someone’s great aunt. There’s the sound of distant thunder, and the door opens, revealing Mary Marvel. “So, you said you needed some help.”

Mary and Booster are flying. “I’ve never been to Africa,” she says.

“It’s more modern than you’d think from movies and TV. I mean, the whole world is one stone tool’s throw away from cave people compared to my time, but it’s not like the continent is permanently stuck in the 16th century. Western media has some serious colonialist issues to unpack.”  

“I see what you mean,” Mary says as they descend on Ghana’s capital city of Accra. “This could be anywhere.”

“Accra’s a modern city, with 5 million people. Though there’s one in particular we’re looking for-there.” Booster points them towards the port, where there’s an explosion. “The Dibny’s were able to find out about a drug shipment coming through the port- the kind of shipment likely to attract her attention.” We cut over to Vixen. A rhino of light overlays her before she charges a car shielding gunmen firing at her, and knocks it over. She tramples on the men then, knocking the fight right out of them. One of them manages to crawl to the gun she knocked away from him, and rolls to aim it at her. Booster’s forcefield deflects the shot, and Mary punches him, knocking him out. Vixen thanks him for the assist, and calls him, “Buster.” It is what she will always call him. He says they need her- and just as importantly, wants the team to continue to reflect the vision of a world united against all threats.

“What kind of threats are we talking?” she asks, obviously interested.

If we can borrow Luther, he’s on an expedition into the heart of the Congo. They unearth a black diamond, which Luther is very careful not to touch without some heavy duty sci fi gloves. One of the workers, however, is not, and reaches out to it, perhaps called to it. Luther tries to stop her, but when she makes contact with it she’s transformed- and just as quickly, transported. I think ‘Eclipso’ is two characters, the worker who touched the black diamond, but also a more comic-booky looking version (an elf by way of the 80s He Man cartoon) she speaks to him in her mirror, which can magically show her things. She uses this to discuss finding a champion to test her power; she says she needs someone strong, but with a soul filled with rage and a desire for vengeance vulnerable to her manipulation. The mirror first shows Superman and Wonder Woman. “Plenty of power, but neither of them are angry enough- we’d have to work to build up their frustrations. And who has the time?” The mirror flicks instead to Batman. “Ooh. Never seen a soul crying for so much vengeance, but what’s this? He’s human. Call me when he finds a Green Lantern ring.” The mirror flicks past several metahumans (just use some b-roll from the various franchises), before settling on Captain Atom. “Hmm. Now this I can work with.”

We cut to the barracks at Captain Atom’s base. He’s talking with a fellow captain, an attractive young woman who is clearly interested. He slams his locker shut. “Everything okay?” she asks.

“I’m just frustrated. Booster showing up… I wanted to go with him. There’s good I could be doing, instead of playing tag with obsolete fighter jets.” She balks at that description. “Hey, I came up as a fighter pilot. I wish it weren’t true. But manned planes were already on their way out, even before the next real threats became Superman class aliens and metahumans. I jumped at the chance to serve on that UN team, even if half the reason they let me join up was to report back on it. And I wish I could have joined back up again- so some good could come out of this.” He’s gesturing at his silver containment suit.

She strokes his chest. “Doesn’t seem all bad to me. You’re fast. Strong. Can fly without a plane. You have abs I could grate cheese on, and I’m not sure you have to do sit ups to maintain them. Half of your brothers and sisters in the Air Force would kill to switch places with you- and the other half would kill to make time with you.”

“I’m not even sure if I could, since the accident,” he says, pushing her away. “No offense. You’re- well, obviously you’re gorgeous, and smart, and you’ve even been really sweet to me. But I’m upset- I’m just not in the mood to even try, right-” his eyes narrow as he stares. “Can you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

He traces a high-pitched hum into a half-open locker. There’s an earie purple glow emanating from inside. “Strange energy,” he mutters, almost to himself, reaching towards it. We see his face, as his eyes go wide, and his face is half-covered by a purple-hued circle. Cut to the sky above the military base, as a large explosion blows a hole in the facility. Subtly, Captain Atom flies through the hole and away.

Montage, of the various phones of the JLI members going off. The last we see is Mary’s, and it’s picked up by Rosa Vasquez, who says, “You know the house rules. No calls after 9 PM. I’m taking this.”

“If this is a drill, I will burn you alive,” Fire says sleepily into her phone. We pan to see she isn’t alone- Ice is with her.

“Sorry, ladies,” Booster says. “Something’s happened to Captain Atom.” We flash back, with ten minutes ago on the bottom of the screen. Amanda Waller walks into Booster’s place, tells him the President asked her to have the Suicide Squad take CA out. She owes them one from their JLI days, so she’s bought them a couple hours to sort it out before she has to sanction a kill order. Ray Palmer informs them from a screen that at the current rate of destruction, CA will destroy 70% of the city in the next two hours- to say nothing about the potential for destruction if his nuclear containment suit is breached.

They attack him at first willy nilly, with all of them fairly easily beaten back by the superior Captain Atom. The two remote elder heroes, Palmer and Kord, suggest combining their assault, having Elongated Man tie Captain Atom up while the rest keep him occupied on the ground. That works, to a point, getting CA reeling. But it isn’t quite enough. He’s still standing. Booster makes an impassioned plea for him to help them, to fight against the control, as the timer on his watch goes off. That if he doesn’t, Wallers thugs will find a way to kill him. They hear distant thunder, and Mary comes crashing out of the sky, landing on CA. She’s a force of nature, and her presence, and the fact that she’s able to single-handedly knock him on his back foot, rallies them to her side. Working together, they’re able to subdue him. Waller shows, calling it in, with her authorization, stating that Task Force X is recalled, that the situation is in hand. If Margot Robbie’s available, she tells a disappointed Harley Quinn, wielding the world’s largest, most ludicrous sniper rifle, to stand down (we can really use whichever squad member makes sense). Booster uses his forcefield to pick up the black diamond and put it in a briefcase, which Waller takes. He objects, and Harley aims the gun at him. Waller tells him either she can still owe him one, or they can be even and she’ll take it anyway. He shrugs, and lets her leave with it.

JLI have a party, celebrating living to fight another day. They’re running low on chips, and Booster volunteers to get more from the back room. He’s confronted there by OB. “Yeah, yeah, yuck it up, moron.”

“You know I’m you, right? You’re calling yourself a moron.”

“I was a moron. I got over it. I’m still not so certain you will. And yeah, you survived your first test. But that wasn’t the fight for all the marbles, kid. That was just the warm-up act. And I wouldn’t get too cozied up to the idea that Eclipso’s gone for good. You ain’t seen the last of her, not by a long shot.” 

Credits. Cut to black. Close on a candle as it’s lit. “Burning the midnight oil again, Dr. Hoshi?” We pull back, to see Dr. Arthur Lumen entering their lab with two coffees, one with a red X on it. “Is that why they call you Dr. Light?” He’s speaking to Kimiyo Hoshi, who goes back to examining a flattened cloth.

She sighs patiently. “You never get tired of that joke, do you, Arthur?” He seems to be in good spirits, and gives her the red X coffee, but says the one thing he is tired of is waiting. They’ve been on the verge of a scientific breakthrough that could revolutionize communications technology, with implications for space travel, flight, maybe even combat. “If it works,” she says.

“You’re brilliant,” he says, staring at her a little too greedily in the candlelight. “Of course it will work.” She absent-mindedly sets her coffee on the edge of a console, and it teeters before spilling out on the floor. Arthur is noticeably let down by that, but tries to tell her it’s okay. “Ready to run another test?” She bites her lip. She’s been up all night tweaking the photovoltaics. She puts on one of the gloves, and stands on the opposite side of a large room. He fires a big industrial laser at her- which she catches. She’s joyful. He stares at her greedily, his eyes hungrier and hungrier as we zoom in, before cutting back to credits.  

Inside baseball, because it’s an important clarification: I would not white-wash Arthur’s history as a rapist. But I also don’t intend to let him succeed on film. In the sequel, I’d probably have him fail in the big spectacular fight against the JLI, in part as the real Doctor Light (Hoshi) intervenes, then he runs away, intending to assault Sue as he did in the comics… only to be blindsided by her having the stretchy abilities I discussed earlier. I’d probably even soft-sell the nature of the assault; even if this series got an R rating there would be younger people who saw it regardless, but especially since I’d expect a PG-13 I’d probably want it subtle how he planned to take that revenge. Also, DC, why the hell are two of your most prominent Teen Titans villains rapists? That’s kind of messed up.

Pitchgiving 2020 Part 2: Green Arrow and the Outsiders

Green Arrow & the Outsiders (Green Arrow fronted team, gathering together a lot of legacy characters like Kyle Rayner, otherwise a generally more street-level team); Black Canary will end up in this orbit, eventually, though maybe she splits her time with the Birds of Prey. Nightwing. We can add more, depending on exactly how big we want the fireworks at the end of this movie to be, but we might be better off adding them in the sequels, instead: Tempest. Donna Troy. Wally West. Plastic Man. Kyle Rayner. Black Lightning.

Opening montage, Oliver Queen partying hard as a wealthy d-bag as he narrates, with a Bruce Wayne cameo, spilling drinks on Oliver. “I grew up with more money than I knew what to do with. Literally. I burned through money so fast even Bruce Wayne once told me to slow up; he was four martinis deep- so he was one to talk. The only thing I ever earned for myself was this.” Cut to a young Ollie, hitting a target with a bow. Cut again, he’s at the Olympics as a young man, drawing back. “My parents paid to have me taught self-defense; if they’d been as interested in self-preservation they’d have gone into rehab- instead of into the Pacific Ocean.” Quicker cuts, as Oliver spars in a martial arts outfit, and we see his parents’ car go over a cliff, tumbling towards the Ocean. “I slid seamlessly into their lives,” we see him in a suit attending meetings, drinking too much at social gatherings, generally being a feckless socialite.

“Then my life changed.” He gets mugged by a teen, obviously living on the street. She’s going to be his Speedy, eventually. He reacts on instinct, bloodying her and getting the knife away, knocking her into the light enough to realize, “She was a kid, so desperate for a meal that she attacked someone bigger, stronger, better connected. I gave her my wallet. I gave her my keys. She offered to give me a ride home.”

Back at his apartment. “I won’t sleep with you,” she says, anxious.

“I think you misunderstand me.”

“I have HIV.”

“God,” he whispers, and moves to comfort her. Narrating again: “I got her the help she needed. Meds. A place of her own. And a job.” We cut to his work, where she’s interning (paid). But he can’t focus- he’s daydreaming. (insert statistics on homelessness, poverty, etc.). “I left Queen Industries shortly thereafter. I couldn’t keep trying to amass more wealth, when I knew how many people were struggling just to put food on their tables, or afford the meds they need to survive. I plowed most of my fortune into charity, only to find that a lot of charities are run like a business- by which I mean corrupt. Half the ‘charities’ the wealthy ran were just glorified slush funds to buy politicians to advance their interests, the worst run by a real estate developer with mob connections named Mandragora.” I haven’t figured out the mechanism, but Mandragora’s ‘charity’ stands in the way of some work Queen wants to do, or maybe steals money from one of his charities, something that puts them on a collision course. 

This version of Mandragora is going to riff on Trump, while also giving us a logical reason to loop in both Huntress and Black Canary (accompanying an out of her depth Huntress); Question has discovered that he was the power behind the hit on her family- or maybe he was their inside man who set her family up to take the fall, whatever fits. Ollie confronts Mandragora, assuming he can talk sense to him, man to man. Instead Mandragora kicks the crap out of him, and throws him out on the street, where he’s found by Black Canary and Huntress. “You should see the other guy,” he says, as they help him to his feet.

“From the look of you, I’d say the other guy was 97 flights of stairs,” Canary says.

“No such luck, I’m afraid. Would you ladies be so kind as to help me to my” he sighs, “right, I didn’t drive here.”

“How about we help you to a seat, and you can wait for a car, there?” Canary asks, gesturing to a diner down the street.

They eat, and talk, with Canary subtly interrogating him (and Huntress not-so-subtly interrogating him because she is adorably socially awkward). Ollie is entranced by Canary, and I think I want to set up a pattern of him asking her to go out with him, and her rebuffing him, because at a glance he’s a soft, entitled oligarch. “You should get a bite to eat with me, sometime.”

“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” Huntress asks.

Suddenly Dick Grayson slides into the booth beside him, and flashes a wide grin. He’s friendly, breezy, effortless. “Don’t worry about introductions. We all have a stake in dealing with Mandragora.”

Canary responds: “I don’t know what you’re”

The camera pans around the table on Ollie, Huntress and finally Canary. “He defrauded your charity. Betrayed your family, which lead to their execution, and I don’t know if you know this yet, but he sold the information that got your mother, the first Black Canary, killed.”

Canary gets up, fast, angry, ready to belt him. He stands, too, his body language saying nonconfrontational, but subtly preparing to handle a fight as he puts up his hands. “Just the messenger. Please, sit.” They do. “Mandragora is not what he seems. If he were just some two-bit hood, even one with some degree of superhuman ability, then any one of us could take him. Except Ollie.”

“Hey,” Olliver protests, before realizing that the protest hurts his bruised face.

“I would have given you the benefit of the doubt, but you can’t even protest without pain. But the reason Mandragora’s been successful is two-fold. One, he’s been using low-level supercriminals as enforcers. That’s not that uncommon, but where he’s innovated, is he doesn’t leave any evidence behind. No witnesses, nothing. You three are, sadly, just some of his latest victims. I’d like to make sure you’re some of his last.”

“Then you just have to get me close enough to take a shot,” Huntress says, her hand tightening around her crossbow.

Nightwing puts up a finger. “No killing.”

“Why not?” Canary asks.

“On the one hand, it’s a slippery slope, where vigilantes justify to themselves increasingly extreme methods of execution, until inevitably they become as bad as the villains they sought to counter.”

“And on the other,” Ollie interrupts, “he knows where all the money’s gone. He’s been preying on charities for decades. We can get that money back, and to the people who really need it.”

Nightwing points a thumb towards him in agreement. “He also knows where the bodies are. I don’t think I have to tell anyone at this table what that kind of closure is worth.”

They arrive at Nightwing’s lair, where he introduces the other member of the team. “Some of us have personal reasons to be in this fight, Black Lightning’s neighborhood was decimated by the gentrification Mangragora pushed with bribes,” he squeezes Black Lightning’s shoulder. “I trust all of you with my life. And that’s what this is. Mandragora doesn’t take prisoners. He doesn’t leave witnesses. We win, or they never find the beautiful corpses we leave behind. If anyone has any reservations, now’s the time to sort them out.”

Nightwing heads for the door. “Where are you going?” Huntress asks, grabbing his arm.

“I want to give people some time to think, without me pressuring them. I want to swing by Mandragora’s safe house one last time, make sure he hasn’t made any last-minute changes to his security. I’ll be right back. Don’t worry.” He exits. She waits a moment, before slipping off after him.

We follow Nightwing, swinging across the rooftops. The city is his trapeze. Subtly, Huntress is following from below, maybe on her bike. NIghtwing lands gracefully on a rooftop opposite Mandragora’s place, and checks it out through binoculars. He hears noise behind him, and Huntress steps out of the shadow. “You followed me. You shouldn’t have.” She doesn’t speak, doesn’t make eye contact, but continues towards him. “Look, I know I have magnetic charisma, but I haven’t showered in about 36 hours, and could really use the personal space.” Huntress’ face is wrong, shifting subtly as she closes in on him. “You aren’t Helena,” he says, as she turns to a puddle of clay crashing against him like a wave. The real Huntress, watching from a neighboring rooftop, flees.

She’s winded by the time she gets back to the safehouse. “They caught Nightwing. If we have any hope of saving him, we have to go. Now.”

“I don’t think the plan was just to rush them,” Black Lightning complains.

“Yeah, all due respect to Night Wing, was it, but I didn’t sign up for a suicide mission,” Canary says.

The merry band is disbanding, until Oliver says, “Wait. We’re all Outsiders, which isn’t a position that comes naturally to me. But I gave up most of my wealth, most of my access, and a lot of my privilege. People like Mandragora corrupt the system, so that change and reform aren’t just difficult- they’re impossible. If we want to fix things- and we’re here because we’ve all seen what happens with a system this broken and corrupt- we have to do it from the outside. This is our chance to fix something broken- maybe even some of the things broken inside of us. I’m going to help Nightwing. I don’t think I can do it alone, but I’m going.”

“Yeah,” Huntress says. “Us medieval weapon users have to stick together.”

“You’re my ride,” Canary says, annoyed. “She’s my ride,” she repeats, to Black Lightning, sighing heavily. “Guess I’m coming with.”

“Hell,” Black Lightning says, “compared to the rest of you I’m Superman. Can’t exactly chicken out, now.”

The Outsiders take on a handful of second string henchers, and Clayface. Oliver sneaks away and finds Nightwing in Mandragora’s room, a little beaten up, but on his feet.  We’ll be cutting back and forth between both fights for the climax, with Canary’s cry and BL’s L enough to make Clayface run away. Ollie gets his bow knocked away at the start of the fight.

“I half expected to find you here chained up in a Leia bikini,” Oliver says.

“Expected, or hoped?” Nightwing asks.

“I knew I should have left you here to die.”

The pair of them, already beaten pretty badly, take on Mandragora together, eventually overcoming him in a brutal, Old Boy-esque battle of attrition, with Ollie finally getting his bow back. This is when Mandragora starts monologuing. Obviously, Mandragora had a hand in killing the Queens, too, after defrauding their charity. This comes out at a pivotal moment, as Mandragora, looking to extract a small victory, goads Ollie. Who shoots him off screen. And again. And again.

“Jesus!” Nightwing yells.

“He’ll live,” Ollie says. We show enough to see that he’s been sticking arrows in limbs, but nothing vital yet. “If we get him to a doctor fast enough. Might walk with a limp. And those injuries are going to hurt. All but guaranteed to lead to arthritis.”


“Shut up, boy scout. He’s hurt a lot of people. Justice means he doesn’t walk away from that without hurting himself.”

“I wasn’t going to lecture you, just… we should hurry, so he doesn’t bleed out.”

“Right.” Ollie spins, firing another arrow. This one slices through the string on Huntress’ crossbow.

“Oh, come on, man,” she says. “You have any idea how hard it is to restring a crossbow?” She drops the bow, running towards Mandragora while producing a knife. Olliver intercepts her. “He took everything from me,” she rages, trying to break free.

“No,” he says, rolling her onto her back. “He didn’t. He can’t. Because you still get to decide who you’re going to be- whether or not you let him turn you into someone monstrous.”

“Yeah, well, I decide to stab him in his heart,” she says, standing with the knife. He rolls her onto her back again.

“Not today. Today is about more than your vengeance.” She stands up again, shoulder checking him, and throws the knife into the his boot, sticking him to the floor, before leaving angrily.

“Miss the toes?” Nightwing asks.

“Mostly? My sock is wet, so not a clean miss.”

“That was a brave, if stupid thing,” Canary says. “Ask me again.”

“You want to get dinner sometime?”

“Maybe,” she says, and slinks out.

“I hate to interrupt,” Nightwing says. “But you do realize we have to carry him out of here, right?”

“We can barely stand,” he protests.

“Don’t tell me. I wasn’t the guy who chose to shoot him in the legs.”

“I have more arrows. We could put one in each eye. Then we wouldn’t have to carry him anywhere.”

“Huntress would be so angry with you. Remember, lift with your legs.” They get him up, and Mandragora removes the arrow from his arm and tries to stab Nightwing with it. He drops Mandragora on Oliver while he wrestles for control off the arrow, eventually plunging it into Mandragora’s last uninjured limb, which goes limp.

“Little help?” Oliver asks from beneath Mandragora.

“Jeez… I think I’m going to have to wait for the paramedics.”

Credits. Mid-credits scene: A beaten Oliver is taking off his costume in his secret Arrow Lair. His intern walks in. Played a bit comedically, it seems like she’s now interested in sleeping with him- but what she’s actually interested in, which we find out when she gets hold of his bow and bullseyes his target, is learning from him.

 More credits, and then a post-credits scene: Wally West and Donna Troy are talking with Nightwing.

“So like the Titans?” Donna asks. For the uninitiated, this is Wonder Woman’s one-time sidekick.

“But we’re not teenagers,” Wally says, devouring his food and whipping through to the buffet for seconds.

“We’re not calling ourselves Titans, either. I think the kids are doing something with the name.”

Wally burns through another plate, and gets thirds.

“Ah. That’s cute,” Donna says. Then she turns to Wally. “We all know you just keep getting more so you can blow that poor girl’s skirt up.”

“Hey, I burn calories same as you- I just do it several hundred times faster. If a Flash doesn’t carbo-load pretty much constantly we waste away. It isn’t pretty.”

“I’m pretty sure she was just teasing you,” Nightwing says.

“You know, for one of the fastest men alive, Wally, you really are slow,” she teases.

“But there is one thing you should know. There’s this guy. Who seems to think he’s in charge. Dresses like Robin Hood. Uses a bow. It’s adorable.”

“And you want us to humor him?” Donna surmises.

“He is fronting the money for the team. Well, most of it.”

“What is it with you and soothing the ego of underachieving billionaires?” she asks.

“Wait. What rich dude do you humor? Does Dick know somebody famous?”

She sighs. “You really are slow, Wally.”

Pitchgiving 2020, Part 1: Teen Titans

Okay, I had a lot of fun last year doing the 12 Days of Pitchmas, pitching 12 films set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So this year I’m doing Pitchgiving for movies set in the DC Extended Universe. My plan at the moment is to do one pitch a week for twelve weeks, posted on Friday. Depending on how this goes, I might also do a Pitchmas, too, but given that that’s 3 months from now I’m not making any promises.

The rules are basically:

No sequels to already established movies/teams

No stories I’m already aware of (it’s possible I’ve missed reporting of a thing, but I’m the one holding me accountable for this)- I may pitch a movie that’s only been titled but that I know nothing about (as I did with Blade last year).

Hopefully you have as much fun with this as I do.

Teen Titans

I’m assuming we’d go with an arc featuring Deathstroke as their big-bad, setting up Terra to get recruited in the first one, then betray the team in the second, for a third-part finale. I’d shoot for a combo of the Johns era team, and the classic team (Robin, Beast Boy, Raven, Starfire and Cyborg); for this one probably add in Superboy and Wonder Girl, reserve Impulse and Aquagirl for the sequel, maybe pull in Speedy and Ms. Martian for the third. I think Batman convinces Robin to attend/run a ‘camp’ for young heroes on the West Coast, one part Heroing 101, one part getting them out of their mentors’ hair while they deal with something big and dangerous. Robin is, at first, a controlling, entitled dick, assuming he’s the only one who knows what he’s doing (to be fair, he is the most experienced- though if we keep JL Cyborg that might be a point of contention- which could be fun). His co-leader is Wonder Girl, who runs the women’s side of things. Yeah, this basically starts as a summer camp thing.

“This is dumb,” Robin says, throwing his tights into a suitcase.

“It’s an opportunity,” Batman says. “To build your own community.”

“A redundant web of superhumans independent of yours, in case the Justice League is ever incapacitated.”

Batman smiles, ever so slightly. “It isn’t just that. The work we do is… unique. There aren’t a lot of people who can understand it- or us. Being understood for who and what we are can make the difficult choices we have to make worthwhile.”

“It’s summer camp.”

“It’s a team building exercise.”

“Two problems with that: we aren’t a team, and I’m not a team player.”

“You’re already an excellent partner; being on a team is just being a good partner to multiple people at once.”

“You’d never have made Dick join a team,” he pouts.

“The Titans were Dick’s team. They helped him become a man- it helped him become his own man.”

“So you’re trying to get rid of me.”

“I didn’t want to get rid of Dick.” Batman sighs. “One of the hardest things about being a father is letting your children go. It was hard, with Dick; we fought, a lot, and there’s still a strain there. I hope I’ve learned from it. But you’re always welcome here, and you’re always welcome as a partner. I want you to have the freedom to be the man you choose- whoever that ends up being.”

I think we do similar scenes, at least with the big 3, setting up that Wonder Girl (Cass) is uncertain about taking on a leadership role, since she’s pretty green. Diana reminds her that she trained with the Amazons, so she knows how to support people, build them up, and strengthen them as a group.

Superboy is worried about getting pushed around by Robin as he and Superman fly to San Francisco. “Tim’s, the current one, is the third Robin. Dick was the first.”

“No, I said a.”


“Jerk, then. Why is everyone in Batman’s entourage a jerk? Is that their organizing principal? An overdeveloped jerk gene?”

“Our ‘family’ are lucky, Connor. We were blessed with extraordinary abilities, and the responsibility to use them to help people. Batman’s people… come from tragedy. They’re trying to put the world right, so what happened to them doesn’t happen to anyone else. Sometimes that makes them tightly wound. But they are good people.”

“Is that why you let Batman push you around?”

“There isn’t anyone I couldn’t push around. But you know what takes more strength? Not letting what you can do overtake what you should do. The world is better off when I work with Batman, so I do.”

“He’s still a jerk. I am not ready to deal with all these jerks.”

Cass and Robin meet first. They share an intellectual connection- both type As who are organized and competent and used to carrying others on their shoulders. Connor bumbles in and he’s a bull in their China shop, but he also sparks Cass’s curiosity. I don’t want a full-blown love triangle, but Robin getting miffed at Connor for being the easy heart-throb of the team can spark the larger conflict between them, that Tim doesn’t see him as serious, and Connor sees him as overly serious.

We meet the rest of the campers: Starfire, Raven, Terra and Beast Boy. Starfire is an aloof but passionate weirdo warrior princess from beyond the stars. Raven is a haunted, sardonic witch who likes people more than she’s figured out how to articulate. Terra is a bubbly, girl next door with a smile that melts hearts. Beast Boy is the youngest, or at least the youngest at heart, he’s everybody’s goobery little brother who can’t stop making animal/fart jokes. The dynamics are roughly that Raven is jealous of the easy charisma/fitting in of Cass, and Starfire is both the biggest outcast and the least aware of that fact. Terra’s a bit of a tomboy, and she and Beast Boy get along swimmingly. I think Cyborg is there as support personnel, utilizing his tech to cook their meals. He’s also quasi there to keep an eye on them, too, though his instructions were to let them make their own mistakes. We also meet the camp site, a series of small cabins, and a central meeting hall where they dine. There’s also a lake for them to swim at.

I’d probably play most of the story as a coming of age/campground flick, but as things progress, the place goes from spooky to downright malevolent, with an escalating series of ‘accidents’ that nearly hurt them. Robin narrowly prevents Beast Boy from dying in a freak accident as a support beam collapses, nearly hitting him. The beam doesn’t look tampered with- but the odds that the beam fell when it did, that naturally occurring damage eroded it in just the way it did are infinitesimal. He tells Beast Boy that if they’re under siege, the skill, talent and caution of their attacker rivals Batman’s, which of course makes them immediately assume it’s a test. Robin calls Bruce, who is in the middle of a fight with criminals but doesn’t stop talking (or punching) while denying involvement.

So Tim and Cass set up a trap, maybe revolving around them doing a dance. That gives us a chance to pair our characters off, at least in the short term. Cass asks Connor. Starfire asks Tim. Terra asks Beast Boy. And the set up works, and they end up ensnaring Deathstroke in their trap. He monologs, and the Titans get cocky- only for Rose to shoot Deathstroke loose, and provide covering fire. Connor stands in the path of the gunfire, amused. Tim gets hit. At first Connor is flip, while Starfire rushes to his side. “He’s a bat person. They play 9th degree chess and have armor built into their Underoos.” When he doesn’t hear more, his voice trembles when he glances back, “Right?” Tim’s bleeding.

Connor wants to fly him to a hospital, but Tim says he’ll bleed out if they don’t stabilize him first. Tim barks orders, essentially overseeing his own emergency surgery. Cass uses her lasso to tourniquet the leg. He has Connor use x-ray vision to tell him about the shape of the bullet, which pancaked and continues to slice at his femoral artery. He has Raven clamp down on the artery so he doesn’t pass out, then Beast Boy shrinks down and becomes a small creature to block the artery. Wonder Girl goes in after the bullet with her fingers, and manages to pluck it out. “I need a ride to the hospital.” Superboy steps forward. “Not you.” Wonder Girl picks him up. “We aren’t all bulletproof,” Tim says through bloodied teeth as he strips away his mask. Wonder Girl flies off with Tim.

We cut back to the dark dining hall, where Superboy is standing alone. Cyborg enters.

“I screwed up,” Cyborg admits.

“Really? Cause I’m pretty sure I’m the one who let Robin get shot.”

“Batman asked me to come here. Keep an eye on you kids.”

“Us kids?”

“It was on me to keep you safe.”

“I assume you don’t have kids,” Connor says. “Even normal kids get hurt. Put them in tights and tell them to charge a super villain with a gun and- you weren’t here to keep us safe. You were here to make sure we didn’t get each other killed. And I nearly did.”

“Kind of sounds like we both screwed up,” Cyborg says.

“Yeah,” Connor says. “So what are we going to do to make it right?”

The answer is, they track down Deathstroke, using Cyborg’s sensors and Connors senses. They find the cabin at the lake he was staging his attacks out of, and then track him to a base on the edge of the city. Cyborg wants to charge in, to get some payback. “No,” Connor says. “I screwed up last time by not thinking. We need a plan. And we should get backup.”

Back at the hospital, Robin waits until the nurse is done checking his vitals, then hobbles out of his room. The rest of the Titans are in the waiting room, dressed in their civilian clothes; Terra is missing, but don’t draw attention to it. “You shouldn’t be walking,” Starfire says, moving to support him.

“You don’t honestly think that’s the first time I’ve been shot, do you?”

“I kind of want to shoot him right now,” Connor says, before realizing it’s probably too soon. Pan around the room, everyone else looking horrified. “Uh,” Connor’s flailing.

Stop at Tim, and we linger a moment before he bursts out laughing, and slaps Connor on the back. “I’m actually starting to like you. Now lets get out of here before the cops show up.”

We cut to Deathstroke’s base. Cyborg is there, monitoring, until he’s hit from behind by a chunk of rock. Terra enters. She’s shaken up. Whatever the plan was, watching Robin get shot really messed her up. I think I would tweak the Deathstroke/Terra relationship. She’s desperate for a familial connection. She wants a family, and to feel loved. She gets the former from Deathstroke and Rose, but he’s also essentially grooming her at the same time. To my mind, it’s not because he wants her, personally, but because he knows that he needs his hooks in her deep for the betrayal that is to come. I’m sure even this idea is controversial- even for a villain, and I wouldn’t be surprised if DC balked at getting anywhere close to that topic (I mean, I’m not the one who made Deathstroke a statutory rapist- this is, if anything else, a slight modernization of the concept). But the key takeaway is Rose and Deathstroke love-bomb her to make her feel appreciated and cared for, with just enough withholding to keep her seeking approval.

The Titans arrive, with Cyborg rubbing his head. Terra flees, so as not to ruin her cover, getting out just in time. This fight goes differently, with Deathstroke having set traps specific to the Titans all over his base. The traps whittle down the Titans, until it’s just Robin fighting Deathstroke- which might have been a good fight, if he weren’t recently gunshot. Robin’s losing, trying to buy time and keep Deathstroke talking. Deathstroke claims they’re a job- nothing more. Robin’s horrified that the job might be from Batman, and trying to pull that information out of Deathstroke while losing… he doesn’t get confirmation. But he does buy enough time for his team to rally, and take Deathstroke down. At the last minute Rose arrives with a helicopter, dropping a ladder for Deathstroke.

“Flip a coin for who gets to rip it out of the sky?” Superboy asks Cass. The chopper fires a volley of missiles across the bay at San Francisco.

“Shoot them down,” Robin barks, and anyone capable of firing (Cyborg, Starfire, Raven) shoot down as many as they can. It’s not enough. “Flyers!” he yells. Everyone takes flight, with Starfire looping back and picking up Robin. She drops him on a missile that he disables and flips off of, and she catches him after destroying a missile herself. The rest take out missiles, too.

They meet atop a giant T shaped tower. “Deathstroke?” Robin asks. Cyborg scans, Superboy too.

“Must be some high end tech if we can’t find it.”

“Yeah,” Robin says, his eyes narrowing.

Cut to an underground base. Deathstroke is having a video call with Lex Luthor. “And he thinks it was Batman?”

Deathstroke is a little worse for wear, maybe in a sling. “The seed was there without my having to plant it. All I did was give it space to grow.”

Back to the rooftop, Terra lands behind them. “Where were you?” Robin asks, coldly, even for him.

“Sorry,” she says. “Seeing you get shot, I needed to clear my head. I went for a run. Then I saw the fighting,” she drops the remains of a missile, smashed between a pair of rocks, “so I came to help.”

“I’m just glad you’re okay,” Beast Boy says, nuzzling her. “Yeah,” Robin says, as we zoom in on his face, clearly suspicious, “me, too.”