Pitchmas 2020, Part 7: Black Panthers

I think the story opens like this: we see Shuri in costume as a female Black Panther, giving a speech through a voice modulator disguising it’s her, at the UN, talking about the need for the world, in the wake of Thanos’ mass-murder of half the population, to join hands and protect and provide for those left behind. She refuses questions, goes right from there to her plane, where Okaye is waiting. She tears off her mask, to reveal she’s crying, for her brother, for her country- it’s too much to suddenly have thrust on her. Okaye gives her a tough love speech, tells her the Avengers have been calling- and she thinks Wakanda should answer the call. Shuri disagrees- saying they’re in this deep because the Avengers failed, but she won’t stop her from helping them if she’s asking for leave. But first, Okaye drops Shuri off; it’s a mission similar to T’Challa’s first in his movie, a quick espionagey thing, impressive and over quick. Afterward, they fly back to Wakanda in silence.

Shuri’s still deep in thought when she returns to the Temple of the Heart Shaped Herb; it’s been emptied out, and houses a table, with several seated figures we see mostly in shadow as she enters, though even in the low-light we might be able to make out that they’re all wearing similar Panther garb with slight hue variations (similar to Killmonger’s gold). Shuri, annoyed, drops into her seat, removes her mask, and says, it’s done, now it’s time for their next move. We pan around the table, and each Panther removes their mask in turn, revealing, in order: T’Chaka, M’Baku, Ramonda (her mother), Storm, Nakia and Killmonger.

We end on a music sting as we get back to Shuri, and drop in the logo from the Black Panther movie. A panther’s growl is heard, and two swipes tear a bloody “s” at the end, making the title plural. We fade to black, and flash some white text informing us it’s “Sometime earlier…”

We see Shuri on whatever a Wakandan version of a television would look like, and as we pull back, we see the chyron at the bottom of the ‘screen’ states that Shuri, presumed next in the Wakandan lineage, is missing, presumed lost in the Snap. We pan across the street, and see some of the damage done to the Golden City, some from Thanos’ troops, some from disasters as half the population vanished. Some of this damage includes a portion of one of its grander buildings being sheered off, collapsing into the street in a shower of glass (presumably they aren’t all made out of vibranium). Sifting through the rubble are trainees with the Dora Milaje- not yet wearing the ceremonial garb, though their training equipment is a lighter, less adorned variant. Specifically, we linger a moment on Ayo, who pauses to wipe sweat from her brow. It’s just at that moment that her trainer, Aneka, walks by, and chides her for lazing about while Wakanda herself bleeds.

We pan down, not too far beneath the rubble, until we find a small pocket of air, and a shredded pipe dribbling water. Beneath it, catching its water in her mouth, is Shuri, positioned like that because she no longer has the strength to move. She made an effort to bandage a wound in her side, but she’s clearly blead through that, and vainly tries to hold pressure to it. Suddenly, there’s more light as one of the larger pieces of debris shifts. Aneka helps Ayo move it, exposing Shuri to the sun. Ayo gasps, trying to cover her mouth.

Okaye is there when Shuri wakes in a hospital, and tells her she’s surprised she didn’t die. Ramonda is there, and asks for time alone with her daughter. She tells Shuri the other clans have agreed to back her claim to the throne for the time being- she’s cynical enough to think no one wants the job of cleaning up this mess. But she’s held off announcing a new Black Panther. Shuri suggests ‘she’ remain dead- that they play up the metaphysical of the Black Panther mantel, instead- that Wakanda is already wounded, and a flesh and blood ruler would make them more vulnerable still. Her mother agrees, and leaves her to convalesce… and she waits until Ramonda is gone to break out of her hospital room.

She finds her labs largely screwed up from the battle. But she finds the information she was looking for- readings from the Mind Stone embedded in vision, and other readings from Thanos using the stones nearby (along with some video from Infinity War). We have a montage of her testing things for days on end; I like the idea that there’s still a hole through her wall where we watch the sun setting/rising as she goes about this. All of her experiments fail, and she throws something past her mother as she enters in frustration. She’s there because Shuri has responsibilities she can no longer shirk; she could hold the wolves at bay while she healed, but now it’s time to put away childish things. An exhausted, emotionally and physically, Shuri collapses against her mother, and admits that she can’t bring him back. Whatever the Stones are- they are beyond even her. Ramonda spares a moment to grieve with her daughter, before telling her that their people need her more than T’Challa, now, and handing her a fitted version of his costume.

She dons it, and follows Ramonda away. We watch the day drag on through the hole in the wall, into night, before Shuri returns. She pulls off her mask, and yawns, stretching, catching her reflection off a piece of partially broken glass. That gives her an idea, and she pulls up the readings she got off of Thanos as he teleported away (using the Space Stone), immediately after the Snap. Her computers analyze the scene from multiple angles, eventually displaying the number, “68%.” She stares at the number steely-eyed.

We cut to later, as the sun rises. She’s redesigned her gauntlets from Black Panther, and uses it to project a different energy, one that opens a portal- for a second, before it explodes outward, throwing her against the wall; luckily, the kinetic energy is absorbed by her suit. She gets up, and checks her calculations, which are sitting at 74%. She pulls on her mask as her mother arrives, and they leave together. We cut to later, as she walks back in. This time she’s dragging more than before. She does another test, this time hiding behind one of the forcefield cloaks, which absorbs most of the dissipating energy. Her figures are at 82% now. And the portal remains for a moment, long enough for her to jab the tip of a Dora Milaje spear into it, before it disappears, sheering the end of the spear off. She sets the computer to start calculating again, and takes a nap. When she wakes the computer is still calculating, but is up to 90%. She’s about to go towards it when her mother walks in. She scolds Shuri, because she doesn’t like having to march her to work every morning. She glances forlornly back at her equipment as it ticks over into 91%.

She returns at night. Her figures are still stuck at 91%. She tries to adjust things, but the computer tells her it doesn’t have sufficient data to extrapolate further- 91% is as good as it gets. She starts up the gauntlet, and the portal seems stable. She puts the spear in, without incident. She starts put in her right arm, before realizing she’s right-handed and decided to test it with her left, and it comes back without incident. She sees the Black Panther mask laying where she put it, and it reminds her of her brother, and she picks it up, and talks to it like it’s him (Yes, we’re alas poor Yoricking this).

She tells him she’s lost without him, that she knows this is a risk- maybe a stupid risk, since she’s already the back-up ruler. But she doesn’t think she can do this without him- and she isn’t willing to try. “I’m not giving up on you, brother,” she says, putting the mask down. She adjusts the gauntlet, and the portal gets wider, wide enough for her to step into.

We play it like it’s a vision, at first, that she’s at that vision tree, speaking to the ghost of her father. She’s disappointed, because she wanted to travel between worlds, but it’s good to see him. He tells her it’s good to see her, before explaining that this is not a vision. He leads her to the hill that overlooks the Golden City, and there is nothing but flattened, burned earth; if you’ve ever seen the aftermath of a volcanic eruption, that’s the level of destruction we’re talking. T’Chaka reveals that the Avengers fought beside him to stop Thanos- that he personally stopped the Mad Titan- but that the cost was terrible- all of Wakanda reduced to ash, including his wife and his beautiful children. He tells her there’s nothing left for him there, and says it’s time to go. She doesn’t understand, and he says, “You’re here to rescue me, aren’t you?”

They return through her portal, and she collapses onto a couch. She’s relieved, to be unburdened of her mantle. He’s confused. He says he’s not going to take this from her- but he can help her carry the load. Just then, Ramonda comes in, and goes through a rainbow of emotions very rapidly. She’s of course thrilled to have her husband (or at least a version of him) back, and at the same time angry at her daughter for taking such a huge risk, and overwhelmed at her dedication to her brother… it’s just a lot, and thank God we’ve got Angela Bassett delivering it. The episode ends with Ramonda demanding this be the end of her interdimensional adventures, and she agrees, but as her mother leaves, her eyes drift back towards her equipment….

Because I have a life, and pets, and am not being remotely paid for this, I’ll broad-strokes it from here. We’ll probably include a version of the World of Wakanda comics, which is why I dragged in Aneka and Ayo. Each episode would likely be recruiting a new Black Panther, and their world, while Shuri gets pulled deeper into her own bureaucratic Hell.

As we build up this bench of Black Panthers, they would begin to clash in interesting ways since they’re all used to getting their way, eventually forming factions, one of which would likely vie for control of the country. I think the B plot masquerading as the A plot is that a version of Klaw, this time in a much sillier, more comics-appropriate costume, slips through in the wake of one of the stolen Black Panthers- still played by Andy Serkis because he was a rollicking good time. He forms a band of white guerrillas, himself adopting some of the costume accoutrements of Man-Ape, and mocking the White Gorilla clan quite a bit (to M’Baku’s deep irritation). He uses his knowledge of his Wakanda to start amassing a stockpile of vibranium, and using that to outfit and grow his army. 

To spice things up, I think most of this council would eventually be against Shuri, except Killmonger (and maybe M’Baku)- frequently making her question her stance because she’s making a deal with the devil (and a jerk). In the end, she holds fast, and is able to defeat the shadow council of Panthers, who, it turns out, weren’t power-mad; they hatched an idea that to be kind, they needed to be cruel- that none of them wanted her throne, so they needed to toughen her up enough to sit on it- or convince her to stand aside for someone else more suited to the role- before she gets herself or others killed.

In the end, the warring panther factions stop Klaw, finding out he’s a vibranium cyborg and very hard to kill (this is when he ends up looking the most like his comics counterpart). I think the subterfuge of the other panthers is too convincing, and Shuri fights her father to the death, with him finally explaining everything as he’s bleeding out, “I do not usually prefer a trial by fire; but the world is aflame. Wakanda needed you tempered, or it needed you to step aside.”

Aside from being a kind of crazy, but worthwhile story, it would also be a potential solution to the Chadwick Boseman-shaped hole in the franchise. Real talk, for a second: this wouldn’t be an issue if Shuri’s actress hadn’t shared some questionable content on social media; she would have been the presumptive inheritor of the mantle, otherwise (her character has taken over for T’Challa before in the books). This would give her a second at-bat- to give her a chance to prove that she can be a team player, and that she can handle the weight of that legacy… and if she can’t, it opens up a lot of other possibilities. My personal preference, if Shuri can’t be rehabilitated, would be Killmonger. You can lean into the righteous anger with him, but have it be a version of him that outgrew the desire for genocide, who had long talks with the spirit of his uncle and realized how hard it was for him to lose his brother like that- to have to choose fealty to his country over his family. He could even recognize that plenty of the white soldiers he served beside were caught in the same cycles of generational poverty and powerlessness he wanted to eliminate- recognizing that colonialism largely exploited the colonists, too- that it and its modern equivalent (capitalism) monetize the rest of us for the benefit of the monied and powerful- which should get him into the same rough ballpark as T’Challa.

Pitchmas 2020, Part 6: Marvel’s Secret History

but really, it’s Marvel Zombies

Covid-19 Note: I know I’m pitching this in the middle of a pandemic. But between how long it would take to write this, then Claymation it, that should put us out 3-5 years. By then I think it wouldn’t be quite as traumatizing (still, better to focus on goofy zombie fun than anything too real-world pandemicky).

Note: About halfway through writing this pitch, I stumbled across the trailer for the “What If…?” animated series (with what feels to me a questionable revision to the title’s punctuation). Looks like there might be a Marvel Zombies episode, possibly, or maybe they’re just doing a “What if Bucky lived instead of Cap” ep and Hydra reanimated Steve to go after him… anyway, that’s a thing, apparently. But this is a different thing.

And to start off, this one’s weirder than usual, namely because to get this even remotely Disney+ friendly, it would need to be stop-motion or claymated (even animated or CG this gets to hard R-rated in a hurry). Like the animated What If series, it would use the actual actors where/whenever possible, or sound-alikes when not. I’d suggest a partnership, either with the studio who did Nightmare Before Christmas or the folks behind Robot Chicken (or buy them both if Disney hasn’t already). I’d base the first season around the first Kirkman book- and especially spreading out the tone of that book to cover all of the zombie sequences- along with a very loose adaptation in the first episode or so of the Mark Millar Ultimate FF run that introduces them, including some of the story from the Army of Darkness crossover, since they blend pretty seamlessly together (if Marvel wants to buy Ash Williams, I’d be happy to have him along for the ride… but I’m assuming he gets replaced in this treatment). I’m assuming the name it’s released under, at the start, is “Marvel’s Secret History,” before at the end of the first episode (probably around the time that Reed gets cornered by all of the zombie Avengers) the actual title is revealed at the end of the episode as “Marvel Zombies.” Of course, since this is going to be a hard, hard PG-13 in the execution, it might make more sense to just forego the surprise, and market it as a more adult-oriented, blackly humorous show from the jump. The pitch is likely to range into R-rated, so if that’s an issue for you. properly warned ye be, says I.

We open on Reed tinkering with the portal-maker that he uses to access the Negative Zone. In his tinkering he ends up looking across at an alternate version of himself- another Reed, younger, but clearly the same guy (he is, for all intents and purposes- and yes, this is a way to backdoor “The Maker” into the MCU, you clever minx, you, but played by a younger actor, so we get snotty Reed- and also so we’re not burning our Reed actor’s contract appearances at twice the rate). That Reed has been scanning alternate universes for a safe space to try and flee to, after an interdimensional contagion ravaged his world. He mentions that so many of the universes aren’t like theirs- a lot of them never managed to undo the Snap, and even those who did, were prime targets for other calamities, like the cancer verse, any of the symbiote-conquered dimensions, dimensions ravaged by Annihilus, the Phalanx, Galactus or any of a thousand different mutants, monsters or madmen. With their world so damaged, they can only intermittently search, and at great personal risk. Reed says he can’t just let them over; they request that he come himself, he can verify what they’re saying, then they can save those who can be saved. Reed accepts, and leaves his portal open, with the caveat that he won’t share the unlock key to it until he’s satisfied.

He’s been had, obviously. As soon as he arrives, the other Reed, and a zombie version of the FF, attack him. The plan is Maker is going to use Reed’s corpse and the unique energy signature it outputs to trace the portal back to his reality, and figures he can brute-force Reed’s encryption. Reed slips through their grasp in an exciting escape through the bowels of the husk of the Baxter Building, only to find still more zombies at street level, including most of the Avengers, who chase him through the streets. He’s webbed up by Spider-Man, only to be ‘rescued’ by the Hulk, who is the “Hungriest one there is.” They bicker comedically (remember, we want the whole thing to match the darkly comic tone of the Kirkman Marvel Zombies series), and Reed makes a break for it, and they give chase. Headpool (who is, yes, the severed head of a zombie Deadpool) asks for a fastball special, and Hulk chucks him at Reed, who narrowly stretches out of his path in a kinetic, slow-motion sequence, with Headpool crashing into a bus side window comically (it’s subtle, but the window moves into his path). Suddenly, all of the cars on the street begin to float, and Colonel America orders a retreat, because Magneto has arrived. Cars rain down towards them, smashing a few of the lesser characters we aren’t going to keep around.

Magneto takes Reed to his subway station lair. Ben Urich is there, and Magneto refers Reed to him to tell the story of the infection since he was there from the beginning, and we watch it in flesh back (pun intended, because it’s that kind of a pitch).

He was embedded with the Avengers, a fluff piece from his editor to try and humanize them, make Americans feel better about the nuclear weapons running around in tights. They’d just returned from a jaunt to the Savage Land, where Ben had almost been eaten by his first dinosaur. I’m having fun narrating as Ben, but probably the narration would fade away and we’d stay in the flashback for several episodes. In fact, to preserve the quirky, dark fun, we’d pretty much have to spend half our time not in Ben’s perspective in the flashback, to give the Zombie Avengers opportunities to be oddball- because this idea lives or days based around whether or not we can make the zombies fun, for reasons you will understand by the end of it. “Seemed like the danger was all behind them. Black Widow was joking about telling him her secret to making the perfect tea back at the Avengers compound, when there was another all points alarm, this one in the middle of New York. They all boarded a Quinjet, in good spirits, because an emergency in NYC meant they’d all be home for dinner.

“It was someone we’d never seen before- or maybe we had- there seemed to be contradictory accounts on that front, but fella named the Sentry, fell out of the sky. The Avengers didn’t know if he was friend or foe, but he was down, in a crater he made when he landed. Hawkeye said he sure was ugly. Sentry tore through them. Snapped Widow’s neck, choked the life out of Captain Marvel, bit Colonel America- all of this faster than I’m describing it.”

“Colonel?” Reed asks quietly to himself. “Hmm. Another difference.”

Ben continues, “He ripped a chunk of out Luke Cage- I didn’t think anything could get through his skin. He flattened Hawkeye- I could see ribs poking through his suit, and I remember thinking they looked like his bow, with strings of flesh and viscera hanging off the ends to complete the macabre homage. I was a deer in headlights, watching this carnage, scribbling like a man possessed. Didn’t realize Sentry had noticed me, was moving towards me, as I tried to get it all down for posterity. Hah.” The laugh is almost a sob, at the idea of there being a posterity to grant the knowledge to. “Widow got back up, twisted her head back around straight. Cap stood up, got his shield, and I thought, okay, this is where they rally- and that I didn’t know Widow was that hardy. Instead, Cap grabs Wasp and bites a chunk out of her wrist, and Widow started blasting pedestrians on the sidewalk.

“I was yanked away- saved, I realized, later, by Spider-Man. But he just had to try his luck. He swings back down amongst the Avengers, grabs some woman under his other arm, and tries to get us both to safety. Only this time the Avengers noticed, and pursued. Luke threw Colonel America- I think Wolverine called it a Fastball Special- and he cannonballed into Spidey, and we both fell a few stories into a dumpster. I’m covered in blood when I come to, which can’t be more than a few seconds later. The Colonel bit deep into Spidey’s shoulder, and he’s trying to negotiate with the other Avengers- there’s plenty of meat to go around- why not let him keep this one morsel; half the Avengers have dragged along pieces of people and don’t stop tearing off pieces and swallowing, barely taking any time to even chew. I never saw what became of the girl- either she landed bad or I figure the Avengers got her. Spidey wrapped his chompers around Hawkeye, threatening to bear down on him if the others wouldn’t let him have me.

“The Colonel said, ‘There’s plenty of meat to go around- it was really you we were chasing- couldn’t let a fine candidate like Spider-Man get away. But you’re an Avenger, now, Brooklyn, and while the mission may have changed, we’re still the Earth’s Mightiest. So once you’ve got your head on straight, I’m sure you’ll see the mission like the rest of us. And leave us Hawkeye; we just might need him before this is out.’

“That was the first time I realized the zombies were thinking– Colonel America was strategizing. They were prioritizing the superhumans, and if they were allowed to, humanity was finished. Spidey threw me on his back, and I’d never felt more like a fly in my life. But while we were swinging, he took off the mask, to show me his face- that he was still human. The bite was effecting him, but his healing was fighting it. I tried to get him to take me to the Fantastic Four, to Reed, with the Avengers out of commission the First Family were the next best thing. But the thought of them brought Spider-Man back to his family, and he took me home- his home, instead. He put me down just outside of his apartment; he wasn’t thinking straight- I mean I watched him go in, watched his family greet him watched… but something in him changed. He attacked them. It was gruesome, even compared to what happened to the Avengers.”

At the mention of them, we cut away, as a handful of stragglers show up to the Sentry fight, the Avengers attack their allies. I’m going to say this group includes She-Hulk, Black Panther, and Giant Man (Hank Pym), Scott Lang, and Wasp II (Hope). The Avengers we saw earlier are playing possum, with Hank violently shaking Janet trying to wake her. “Thank God,” Colonel America says, walking towards them with his shield raised. He moves closer, saying, “Avengers,” before lowering the shield enough they can see his partially desiccated face, “bite to wound.” Quickly the heroes are overwhelmed, not really understanding what they’re up against. We see several Avengers fall before cutting away (though we don’t see Hank and Black Panther injured in this fight).

Back to Ben, and our scene with Spider-Man, “Nova showed up and flew in through his window; they both flew out a second later, the Spider attacking the Nova. Daredevil showed up, too, and tried to convince the Nova to kill Spider-Man, but he couldn’t. They were friends; ‘chums,’ I think he called them. Daredevil tried to do it himself, but he couldn’t outmaneuver the Spider, and got chomped for his efforts. Nova was freaking out; I wasn’t going to wait and see if he wised up or if Spider-Man remembered he’d left a snack on the adjoining roof, so I climbed down.

“New Yorkers get jaded. We see celebrities, super heroes. Every real New Yorker has a story. Not meeting them professionally, or getting rescued. But seeing them in their day to day lives. I bumped into Hank Pym once getting a hot dog. He wasn’t still wearing the suit, those days, was just a down on his luck inventor. Wild hair. Smirk. That glint in his eyes. But I heard him, walking down the street, and recognized his voice; elephants made less noise than he did, stomping down the street. And I thought, I’m saved. But the reporter in me, it told me to wait. Listen. Observe. Cause he was talking to somebody, the Black Panther, come to find out.

“He said his scientists in Wakanda could handle the infection. Pym thought he could handle it back at his lab- but was just glad to have run into T’Challa when he did. Only the Panther was side-eyeing him, like he knew something I didn’t. Then I saw it; Pym’s uniform was dark, reds and blacks, so I didn’t notice at first, but his side, it was bloody. He’d been hurt. Panther knew it, too, said so; Hank was fast, grew tall enough even the Panther couldn’t get away.”

We hear Pym muttering about squirreling him away for a snack later as he drags him into an underground stairwell, then we’re back in Ben’s POV: “I felt a gun pressed into my head, and thought at least that’s a reasonable way to die, instead of getting eaten alive or torn into jerky strips. The Punisher had me turn around, and was surprised I wasn’t one of them. He asked if I could hold a gun, and didn’t wait for me to respond before thrusting a shotgun into my hands. He led me to Fisk Tower, one of the board rooms in the basement level. The Kingpin himself was there, with every superpowered Mafioso in the Five Burroughs. He welcomed Frank inside, said the rules had changed, it was humanity against something else. Frank didn’t even let him finish the thought before mowing them all down. I wasn’t sure I was going to have any better luck with that monster than with the others, and my legs were carrying me even before I registered dropping the shotgun, which was probably a mistake.

“I ran the rest of the way to Four Freedoms Plaza; I don’t remember breathing the entire way. Alarms were blaring off; the lobby was empty, no security, half the windows shattered. I found a keycard slicked with blood, and it got me to the penthouse. The place had been trashed, and I could hear screaming. There’d been a rampage, but I couldn’t just leave; I felt like I had to know, like… that same observer in me, from before, had to know who’d lived, who’d died. God, I don’t know how I managed to survive so long with such awful instincts.

“Reed and Sue’s kids were dead. She-Hulk filled in for the Thing for a while, after a fight with the Wolverine, even wore one of their blue suits. So she had access, cards, codes, the works. Why the hell she used it to attack the Fantastic Four’s kids, I’ll never know. She was raging the way her cousin was known to, but Ben had her, and Sue executed her; pretty sure this green stain here is the part I got hit with.

“I screamed, and the Human Torch nearly burned me alive. Richards listened, though I’m pretty sure I only made sense every hundredth word or so. And then they got the call, from Fury. He had a decommissioned Helicarrier floating above Manhattan.”

Elsewhere… Giant Man returns to the Avengers compound. The Avengers are snacking on one of their support staff. They offer him a bite. Colonel America breaks away from the rest of them to speak with Hank. “I got a plan. When I’m fed, I can still strategize. But I need your big brain to help with some subterfuge.”

“Sounds fun,” Hank says with a truly grotesque smile. “But first I’m going to need,” the Wasp (Janet) throws him a leg, and he takes a bite out of it, and he follows the Colonel.

We’re back with Ben. “The Four took me with them to Fury, along the way rescuing Nova and Thor from the Thunderbolts.” Because we’re in the MCU, I’m assuming these Thunderbolts would be the ones from last year’s pitch, so Red Hulk, a symbiote, Elektra, maybe Ghost Rider. Headpool and Punisher are not with them.  

We switch narrators, briefly, to Magneto, “I worried over Charles, when the plague hit. I was too late to save him, but I was able to save his charges from Alpha Flight, the Canadian mutant team. They had turned. We received communication from Fury, as well, and rendezvoused with the carrier.”

Back to Ben: “Guy like that can really get you to hate the sound of your own voice. Anyway, everyone who wasn’t one of them showed up. Scarlet Witch was the only Avenger there; apparently Colonel America called an all-points alarm.”

Inside the Avengers compound. The lights are all off, and the zombies are trying to hide. Hawkeye snickers, loudly. “If you can’t cram it, Barton, I’m breaking your jaw,” Colonel America barks quietly.

“I ate the women I loved most in the world. Why?” Spider-Man moans, his voice breaking.

“Shut up, Parker,” Colonel America says. 

Several Avengers burst into the room, slowing when they see it’s dark and seemingly empty. The lights come on, and Hawkeye yells, “Surprise!”

Colonel America groans, then stands and says, “Avengers, assimilate!”

“Oh, like the Borg on that old Star Trek show.” Spider-Man says.

“Shut up, Parker,” Colonel America says through a mouthful of Jack of Hearts.

We’re back on the carrier, where Scarlet Witch is giving a tearful rendition of what came next. “Every Avenger showed up, and everyone who did, they took a bite out of. I called out to Pietro to escape, but he didn’t come. As I was fleeing, I saw him scoop up what looked like me, but it was Mystique. She bit him, and my heart broke.”

“Your Quicksilver survived the fight with Ultron,” Reed remarks.

We cut back to the Helicarrier, where Fury takes over the briefing. “Early reports put Quicksilver all over the planet, stopping us from just dropping a nuke on New York, this is now a global contagion.”

Ben summarizes: “Fury’s plan was pretty simple: the eggheads would work on a cure, while everyone else tried to beat back the tide- rescue what humans we could, stem the loss of life where we couldn’t. After, I managed to shove my way to Fury, and told him what the Colonel was planning- it wasn’t an accident that the world’s heroes were targeted first- that we had to get to superhumans first.

“Son of a bitch already knew, already had a hundred point plan in place, assignments going out to strike teams. He dispatched Sue Storm to Atlantis, on the hopes of using her rapport with Namor to use it as a safe zone; but the infection had already spread there. They sent Johnny to Attilan, to try and secure that; Black Bolt was the last man standing- the Inhumans were overrun and the only thing he could do was destroy it all with a scream. Fury went himself to Latveria, to try and reason with Doom, but there was never any ship there to sail. The X-Men went to the Savage Land, Magneto to Mount Wundagore, Strange to Kamar-Taj, Iron Fist to K’un-Lun. Everywhere they went there was either no room at the inn, or no survivors.

“Reed hand-picked a strike team. Their primary goal was capturing Hank Pym, with a secondary goal of discovering the whereabouts of T’Challa; he didn’t believe the King of Wakanda would fall as easily as the rest. It included the best man-hunters available, including Wolverine, Jessica Jones, Madrox, Misty Knight, Hellcat, Blade, and Deadpool.” We pop out of Ben’s POV, to show them stalking through the streets. They find Hank’s lab, and Pym, and the bloodied tatters of Black Panther’s costume. They capture Pym, but as they’re exiting, they’re ambushed by the Avengers. Not all of them make it back, but presumably Madrox, Deadpool and Wolverine do.

We have a scene of Reed and Hank talking. Hank is almost evangelizing the benefits of being a Zombie, that they’re still able to move, but require far less energy, and can still think; in a way it’s an incredible evolution, if only the negative side effects could be tempered. Reed is not repulsed by Hank’s twisted sense of humor. Sue walks in on them, and is disgusted, and says so before storming out.

“I was assisting Fury, since I was good at tracking multiple trains of thought. Banner was making the most progress, Tony seemed to have abandoned the idea in its entirety, and Reed was getting stranger and stranger. Fury confronted Stark, who admitted that his simulations showed the Earth was a lost cause the moment Quicksilver became infected, so he’d spent his time building out a portal and looking for other worlds. He’d found a handful of suitable life preservers, but that with only the helicarrier’s power they couldn’t use it until everyone was assembled- and even then, they probably couldn’t save everyone. They knew Hank McCoy was among the infected, and couldn’t trust broadcasting this information, knowing he could likely decrypt it.

“Like I said, Colonel America had been planning all this time, building his army.” We pop out of Ben’s POV, in Central Park, where the Colonel gives a demented version of one of his speeches.

“When I was first bitten, all I could think was about eating. But after gorging myself on tourists, which, by the way, taste like hot dogs, I could think again. For a few minutes. And I realized, damnit, people, we’re Avengers. We needed to tackle this problem like Avengers. And that meant getting organized. Because unless we were fed well enough to plan, there was no way we were going to be able to beat this. Now, I know the price of eating is high- Parker can’t stop blubbering about his aunt and stupid girlfriend-“

“Why!” Spidey exclaims, collapsing melodramatically to his knees.

“Shut up, Parker. I know I’m asking a lot. The price of eating is high, but it always has been. It’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, then so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.” Relative silence, mild golf-clapping. “You think this ‘A’ on my head stands for vegetarian?” he asks dramatically, pointing to his forehead which does not have an A on it.

“Uh,” Spidey says, cocking his head to the side.

“Now let’s go eat some super heroes!”

And we’re back in Ben’s POV narrating. “The only reason we stood half a chance at all was the Avengers attacked when most of our side were back from globe-trotting. They gathered beneath the Helicarrier, and attacked. The returning heroes saw them, and without hesitation counter-attacked.”

This is the clay/silicone equivalent of End Game, a massive fight. For the first few minutes, it looks like the good guys are winning, like they’ve got a chance.

We cut back up to the Helicarrier. Reed is laughing with Hank, as the Fantastic Four show up. Ben is antsy to get out to the fighting; Sue is angry, because their friends are dying while they talk. Reed insists that what they’re doing is more important; their friends are dying so the four of them can ensure they preserve everything they care about. First he mentions his colleagues’ work. “Stark is paranoid; wouldn’t even let me into his labs. But I know his models predict us losing, just like mine, and he’ll have abandoned his original project, and substitute it with some kind of life raft or escape hatch solution instead. Pity; his original solution might have worked best, if he could have ramped up production on armor quickly enough to coat us all in unbitable skin. But then he wouldn’t have been special, and I think Stark would rather die than go back to being a face in the crowd.

“Banner’s been sharing notes with Hank and I; radiation doesn’t seem to effect the infection, and biology was always a distant second specialty, so he welcomed our… expertise. He likely would have missed the deadline- if you’ll pardon the pun- anyway, even without them steering his work in a more fruitful direction. But what neither Stark nor Banner understood, was this isn’t an aberration to be stamped out, this is evil-lution (yes, pronounced like that), a unifying life form that could end poverty, disease, want, racism, xenophobia. There are kinks, to be sure; the hunger will need to be curbed, an infection 2.0. I’ve been steering Banner’s research in that direction, even if he isn’t savvy enough to understand the modifications I’ve made.”

“We,” Pym barks from his place clamped to a table.

“Too right, Dr. Pym.”

“You’re insane. You’re both insane,” Sue yells.

Maker sighs. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to see this from my side, Susan. But I suspect you’ll be able to from Dr. Pym’s. You might have noticed a small scratch, while I was speaking. All it takes is the slightest abrasion of the skin, at the microscopic level. Hank’s ants have already infected you- in fact, you’ll be turning in 3, 2, 1.” The other members of the Fantastic Four vomit, and their faces contort.

“Why?” Sue gargles in agony.

Maker strokes her cheek. “Because I love you. I want us to be able to be a family in this new world, and to arrive intact. Our friends, below, many will not be so fortunate. But make no mistake, this was always humanity’s last stand. But with my, Bruce and Hank’s research, perhaps some sliver of humanity might remain.”

“You’re insane,” she says, convulsing on the ground.

“You’re not professionally qualified to make that judgment, and it’s petty of you to use it as an insult to describe a difference of opinion. In less than a half a minute you’ll be in complete agreement with me; we’ll be a family again.”

We cut back to the battle below, only the tide starts turning. And just as things are darkest, the Sentry arrives- and the battle is well and truly lost. Heroes we know and have managed to survive to this point are being bitten, including Wolverine and the X-Men.

Reed and his Frightful Four break down the door into Stark’s lab. “I didn’t want to believe it. I know you’ve been troubled by your failures surrounding this plague, but I thought better of you, Reed.” Tony’s mask slides shut. “Avengers!” he says through a modified voice. Thor and Hulk step into the room. The three Avengers take on the four of them. They’re being overpowered, even before Tony reacts to an injury inside his suit. We go super small, and see Giant Man has bit stark inside his armor. “Pym?” Tony yells. “I’m compromised.” Thor is flung across the room by Invisible Woman. Hulk, trying valiantly to hold back the other three, but Thing bites his eyeball. Tony yells back to Thor, “You have to destroy my teleporter, before they try to use it to escape to fresh worlds.” Thor nods solemnly, and brings his hammer, crackling with lightning, down on the teleporter.

As still more heroes are bitten, Magneto yells for them to retreat to the Hellicarrier, it’s their best hope. They can make their last stand there. From outside, we see the thunder strike cleave the carrier, fatally wounding it, and sending it crashing down into buildings.

Finally we’re back with Ben, who’s with Fury on the Helicarrier. He asks what’s going on, and Fury tells him it’s their roll coming up snake eyes. He gives Ben a flash drive, tells him to take it to Strange. He’s going to try and sneak himself to Latveria, see if maybe Doom can be talked off the sidelines now. Only Fury’s cut down by a Repulsor Ray through the chest.

“Fury always has another scheme,” Iron Man says as we pan away from Ben, who gets into an escape pod and ejects. Iron Man is left standing with Reed and Hank, who are distracted by Fury, who’s still moving. Iron Man remarks that it smells like bacon, and Hank assures him that it tastes even better.

Urich’s escape pod lands him at the edge of the battle, as it’s getting dark. The field is an orgy of blood and violence. He sneaks his way past/through it, trying to remember the way to Strange’s Sanctum (depending on budget/difficulty, this could be a hell of a ride through the battle as he’s trying more than anything not to be noticed amid the chaos). He sees it through an alleyway, and is attacked by a zombie Howard the Duck, and is saved by the Scarlet Witch. They enter the Sanctum (she’s able to bypass the lock magically), to find Mordo has eaten Wong. Mordo is remorseful, feeling he did not want to become this pitiable creature. Strange emerges from a portal, and puts Mordo out of his misery. He tells them that Kamar-Taj had fallen, that he stayed there, working with its mystics to try and find a magical solution, but as one by one they succumbed to their infections, he was forced to face the truth: magic has failed. Strange opens a portal to Latveria, on the hopes that a man of both science and magic might be able to succeed in its stead.

We see the exterior of Castle Doom, under assault by various zombified European heroes like Captain Britain and, for some reason, Goliath. Inside, Doom doesn’t great them happily- he takes issue with anyone teleporting inside his forcefield. Strange tries to reason with him, and Doom says he has plans. He arrogantly tells them he neither needs their help, nor will he accept it. As always, Doom will provide for the people of Latveria, as the rest of the world could not provide for their own.

We cut back to the Avengers Compound, where all of the assembled zombie heroes are planning (we can cut it back to the more strategically oriented among them, so Colonel America, Iron Man, Maker, Hank Pym, Cyclops) to make the scene more manageable. Hulk is there, not because he’s strategic, but because he’s a fun foil to have in the room. Stark’s scans show that infection rates are close to 90% most of the world over- thanks to Quicksilver’s overactive metabolism they’re running out of food faster than even their most pessimistic models. There’s one exception: Latveria. Doom’s forcefield has so far kept the infection out, and he’s kept his population safe. There are a handful of European enhanciles trying to break through, but Doom should be able to handle them. And combined, the Avengers should be able to topple Doom’s castle, and feast. Reed tries to be a voice of reason, to get them to ration the humans- that they don’t actually digest, or even really eat; their hunger makes them gorge themselves, but the Latverian population could last them for years, during which time they could either fix Stark’s portal or move to the stars. “Hulk always wondered what Skrullburger taste like.”

Back at Doomstadt, Doom unleashes an army of Doombots. They kill or chase off the zombies, save for Goliath. He swats them away- their ordinance isn’t enough to really harm him at his size. So Doom launches missiles, which jab into him then explode. Doom is pompously triumphant, as the rest of the Avengers show and lay siege to the castle. Their big guns lay into the force field, which begins to flicker.

Doom is taken aback, about ready to give up. His scientists say they still need time. Dr. Strange and Scarlet Witch offer to help him, and all three go outside, lending their magic to the force field, and keeping it up for a few minutes. They open a tiny portion of the forcefield to allow a squadron of Doombots out to attack the zombie heroes. But this is the next big battle, with the magic wielders doing a lot of damage to the zombies when the field comes down- just not enough. They’re outnumbered horrifically, and one after another get turned. Doom, the last to fall, stumbles back inside the Castle, and orders his guard to “Die for Doom!” Ben follows him into his labs, where a steady stream of Latverians are being led through a portal. Doom admits the tragedy: he’d been spying on the Helicarrier- that was why he didn’t need the intel Ben brought from Fury. But they weren’t able to completely recreate Stark’s device- they could only move the Latverians. He offers to send Ben with them- he’s proven resourceful, and might be able to help his people reactivate Stark’s teleporter and make it off world. He’s been watching Reed, and knows he moved the teleporter to his building. “Or, you can stay here, and I can eat you. I would really enjoy doing so. The hunger is becoming unbearable.” Ben runs through the portal, and Doom smashes it.

He’s immediately surrounded by zombie heroes. “Hah!” he laughs. “Doom has won! You have lost your prize, and I’ve already been bitten. There is nothing you can do to Doom!”

“I can still clobber ya,” Thing says.

He punches him, and we pan towards the other zombies, as we hear Doom yell, “Ah, my beautiful face!” and the sounds of further clobberin’.

They bicker, about their lost food, how they’re already starving. Spider-Man collapses to his knees. “MJ, why?”

“Shut up, Parker,” Colonel America says.

We cut to Ben, arriving through the portal. They’re in Four Freedoms Tower; it looks largely like it did when Ben was last there, including flecks of She-Hulk all over the place. The teleporter, however, is still just as smashed as when Thor whacked it with Mjolnir. They’re stuck. Ben tries to convince them to split apart, that the Avengers will be less likely to hunt them down if they’re in smaller groups. But the Latverians don’t want to separate, and decided to flee north.

Ben, feeling like he’d failed, wanders off alone. He’s found by several zombie Avengers and attacked. Magneto saves him, and brings him to this lair.

And just like that, we’re back to our framing story. Reed asks what his counterpart wants. If he hadn’t fixed the teleporter, maybe he had reservations about spreading the disease between worlds. He theorizes he may still be collecting data, to decide the best ways to spread it, or whether it makes more sense to spread it to other planets within this dimension, first, before venturing between them. Either way, he needs to get them back to his home dimension, and away from these zombies, and then ensure they can’t be followed. Though clearly his counterpart repaired it enough since for them to speak across dimensions and lure him there.

But first, Reed insists they track down the Latverians. His plan is to lead them back to the teleporter and safety. They don’t have to go far, unfortunately, and find that the Avengers caught up with them as they tried to trek outside of the city. Their hunger led them to, yet again, gorge on the Latverians, and they’re hungry by the time Reed, Magneto and Ben arrive. They flee, attempting to hide again in the underground lair, but are tracked there by Wolverine and Daredevil. They flee again, this time to the tower. Magneto has the sickening realization that he can’t go with them, that he has to stay, and destroy the machine from this side after them, to ensure the infected can never use it. Reed tells him that it’s paramount that he focus his attack on the intellectual zombies, his counterpart, Doom, Stark, Pym. Magneto understands. Hawkeye looses and arrow at Reed, and Ben jumps in the way, sacrificing himself for Reed, who uses the teleporter; they both make it through, to be able to have a tearful goodbye.

We linger on the teleporter after Reed leaves in the proper MCU, having locked it down with his security code, and turns down the lights. The Maker and the Frightful Four suddenly appear there, having teleported invisible along with Reed. “Come along, my Frightful Four. We have so much to do to remake this world in our glorious image.” We zoom past the Frightful Four, and into the last crackling bit of energy as the portal dissipates.

We see Magneto, standing triumphantly over the machine, crushing it. Then he blasts his way out of the building, and crushes the building, too, for good measure. The assembled zombie Avengers attack Magneto. He drops the surrounding buildings on their heads, then assembles a cocoon of metal that flies into the sky. The flying Avengers chase after it, as Magneto slinks away on foot, with Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer, too. Magneto gets a call, staticky radio transmission. It’s from Asteroid M, his satellite base. There are survivors there, and they want to rendezvous with him. He gives them coordinates to Pym’s hideout, figuring he can secure himself there for a time.

He tries to escape, but is spotted. A fight ensues, and he severely wounds several of them, including putting a girder through Daredevil’s chest and lopping off the top of Colonel America’s head with his shield. He also prevents Spider-Man’s web-shooter from functioning, leading Spider-Man to fall several stories and break his leg (it’s hanging by a thread for a while, literally). He’s shot by Hawkeye with an arrow, and decapitates him with the Colonel’s shield, then puts the arrow through Thor’s throat. They literally rip him into pieces, with Hulk, proclaiming himself the hungriest there is, ending up with a leg to himself.

They eat Magneto, and discuss the nature of their grotesque transformation. Banner, in particular, distends disturbingly from the leg in his now tiny, human stomach. Over the coarse of the scene, he can feel it slowly pushing out of him as it tears his insides apart, all while Spider-Man mewls about the monster they’ve become, and that he ate the two most important people in his life. Pym insists that they can think straight, temporarily, since eating Magneto, and they mustn’t waste this precious time on self-recriminations.

Banner, fearing the damage Magento’s leg bone will do when it ruptures through his stomach , asks one of them to hit him, because he doesn’t want a hole in him. Thor obliges, whacking him with his makeshift cinderblock hammer in the face (since he’s no longer worthy to lift Mjolnir). “Id’s nod worging, I feel no bain, I’m nod durning,” says a still human Banner. He narrates as the bone tears out of his stomach, bursting out of him like the chest-burster in Alien (if a bit lower). You see now why this had to be Claymation? Thor leans over to eat some of the Magneto chunks that fell out of Banner. Done right, this is all darkly comical, I promise.

They discuss the fact that they’re biologically dead- they clearly aren’t digesting, with his heart gone, Daredevil’s blood is all pooling in his legs thanks to gravity. Wolverine sums it up best- they’re dead, but not dying. Cage sees something in the sky, then they all see it: the Silver Surfer.

He’s gone before they can follow. Hank breaks off from the rest, saying he has to find Janet. We follow him, and he goes into his underground lab, where he was captured earlier. He has a secret compartment, and inside, an undisturbed lab, as well as an unconscious Black Panther. He’s missing an arm, and chemically sedated. Hank goes to work sawing off one of his legs as he talks about the fact that with another piece of him he can think things through, maybe come up with a way to finish Banner’s serum to help quell the hunger. He’s full of rationalizations, about how this is all a for the greater good, that if he were conscious T’Challa would probably even agree- not that he’s going to let him wake to ask him, which is why on some level he knows he’s a monster.

Janet, who followed him shrunk down, confronts him, demanding he share Black Panther. He reckons he’s going to need every scrap of meat to figure out a cure for the hunger. They argue, come to blows, and he grows and bites her head off, spitting it out because they taste terrible.

The rest of the Avengers return to Iron Man, who figures out pretty quickly that there was enough of Magneto to eat, because Hulk is Banner and Spider-Man is weepy, both of which happen after feeding. He and Colonel America discuss a plan to take a handful of their strongest and smartest and disappear to look for better food sources, with fewer mouths to feed. Daredevil, due to his super hearing, eavesdrops enough to suggest they take a Quinjet; if people think it’s an Avengers rescue mission they’ll run out to greet them.

Just then, the Silver Surfer arrives again. This time he stops overhead, and tells them their world is to be used to sate the hunger of Galactus, that their time is short, and they should prepare for their end. Stark orders the Avengers (really at this point every remaining super being) to get him. Iron Man is cut in half by the Surfer’s blast. Stark manages to grab onto his board and pull himself up to chomp on his leg; however, his teeth shatter on Surfer’s tough skin.

As the Surfer is swarmed, it is eventually Thor who manages to shatter his makeshift hammer on the Surfer, knocking him off his board. Several zombies attack, only for the Surfer to dispatch them. Wolverine pounces, slashing Surfer; his blood is corrosive, and burns away the flesh on Wolverine’s arm (and without the tendons holding his unbreakable bones together, they fall to the ground). Iron Halfman grabs Wolverine’s knee, and tells him to fling him into the fray, so Wolverine fastball specials him. As the fighting heats up, Pym skulks in the shadows of an alley, deciding discretion is the better part of valor, and leaves.

Spider-Man decides to just tear the stupid limb off, rather than leave it dangling, and Banner’s hunger finally wins out and he rehulks. Hulk smashes his way through the fight and snatches Silver Surfer. He gets blasted with the Power Cosmic in the face for his troubles, but Hulk chomps off the Surfer’s head. The rest swarm on Surfer’s body. Giant Man scoops up Spidey and Iron Man and helps them get some torso. Hercules tries to steal the Surfer’s head from Hulk’s mouth, only to get smashed. Beast complains some of them didn’t get any, and Colonel America thrusts out his hand to tell him to quit whining- and blasts his face off with the Power Cosmic.

Cut away to an empty city street. We hear the sound of a walking device, then Black Panther wobbles into view, using a makeshift crutch on the stub of one arm, carrying Wasp’s head under the other. She’s begging for just a taste, for him to cut off a piece of a finger, she’s so hungry. He’s her friend, but the entire thing is morbid, and he lectures her over that fact.

Magneto’s Acolytes confront Black Panther, thinking he’s a zombie, and ask him where Magneto is. They’re shocked he’s human, and alive. But some of the Acolytes want to kill him, anyway, so he flings Wasp’s head at one, and fights long enough for Cortez to tell them to back off, and they all scurry back to the Asteroid together.  

Glactus arrives, and the zombies attack him. Galactus mows through those who weren’t Power Cosmiced up, and the remaining heroes retreat to Pym’s lab. He was planning to use Black Panther’s body to keep them all smart enough to build a machine to help them beat Galactus. Instead, they come up with a grotesque solution- re-eating chunks of meat, then surgically removing them from their stomachs to eat them again. Their bodies are acidic enough the meat gets smaller each time, but it’s helped. Colonel America arrives with the last item on their list- Wakandan Vibranium. They also have McGuffins from all over they’ve been assembling (we can play these runs out, depending on pacing needs). They finish their device, and prepare to take on Galactus, but are met by Red Skull and his own band of zombie villains.

On Asteroid M, Black Panther settles in, and meets Forge, who offers to build him some prosthetic limbs.

Back in the city, the Avengers blast Galactus with the machine meant to amplify their cosmic powers, downing him. Red Skull’s band try to join in the meal- and a fight ensues. It really is a who’s who of Marvel versus, with everybody getting a grudge match or two. But the Cosmic Avengers really do outclass their former villains, and tear through them-the exception being poor Colonel America, whose exposed brain is a fairly easy weakness for Red Skull to exploit (in the book he tears a chunk out; personally, I’d put a grenade in there, but there are clearly a lot of black comedy options). Galactus, however, has rallied, and is ticked off. But he’s vulnerable, and the Avengers tear into their meal.

We fade to black, and we do a five years later, not because I’m reviving that gag again, but because that’s what happened in the book.

A ship lands on Earth. Black Panther, with robot limbs, Wasp, in a shiny new robot body, the Acolytes among them a new Mrs. Black Panther and their new cub, venture out. They say there haven’t been scans of lifesigns for years. They’ve been watching the planet, nothing moving, no zombies, nothing. They mention that Galactus’ attack killed most undead life on Earth, but some of the sturdier heroes and villains survived, for a time. But they haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since. They don’t know where they could have gone.

Title card: Another world. A peaceful alien race is bedding down for the evening. We linger on them long enough to start to empathize, when they’re attacked by the Marvel Zombies, inexplicably now wearing Galactus armor (he always was a trendsetter). Captain Marvel, at the head of a force including the Shiar Imperial Guard, and an Armada that’s a who’s who of Marvel alien races, is at her back. She says something to the effect that their eating tour of the galaxy is at an end. Iron Man remarks, “Oh, good, she brought dessert,” and leaps at camera, and we’re swallowed down, then back out the hole at the end of his esophagus (because he’s only half an Iron Man, remember). Hulk tears intestines out of a super skrull, and they fly into camera in the shape of the logo for “Marvel Zombies.” He eats messily as that slides off the camera, only for more viscera to hit with, “The end?”   

On second thought, (or really, on revisiting the books this is based off) maybe this should be R rated and just go to Hulu, instead. Don’t want to give all the children nightmares. Because who are we kidding, kids and adults are going to see the style and assume this is for kids. And actually, on that note… the show should begin with zombie Colonel America, sitting in a chair, to give one of the recorded messages used in Spider-Man: Homecoming. “So, you think this is appropriate for kids? Just because I’m animated using silicone dolls, doesn’t mean we aren’t going to show a ton of graphic violence, really twisted humor, and scenes so adult most of our voice actors probably shouldn’t have been exposed to them. Look, parenting is tough, and I don’t want to tell you how to raise your kids, but if the thought of watching Spider-Man eat Mary Jane and Aunt May sounds like it might be too much, I’m telling you, we linger on it. By the end of that scene you’ll think Disney’s going to open up a Spider-Man’s Finger-Licking Girlfriend stand at Disneyland, and the scene is just an elaborate commercial for it. But hell, if you want to raise a generation of little psychopaths, what do I care? I eat a bunch of people in this show, some of them friends. You think this ‘A’ stands for approved for all audiences?” he asks, pointing at his forehead, which does not have an A on it.

“You’re not wearing the one with the A, Steve,” the cameraman interrupts.

He kicks his chair over, which is good because it knocks over the camera and cuts him off as he says, “Aw, f-“

If we are still going to try to put this on Disney + (which I think could work- there’s other PG-13 stuff on there), I’d even follow that with some white text on a black banner. “We’re not kidding. This is a pretty adult show. Marvel heroes get turned into zombies and eat people. We play it for laughs, but for impressionable kids, this could really screw them up. If you wouldn’t let your kids watch Day of the Dead, Army of Darkness or all eight Herbie the Lovebug movies in a single sitting, we really can’t in good conscience suggest you watch with your children. Then again, we were also bit by Colonel America, and so we don’t have a good conscience anymore- just the bad one, and we can feel the hunger overtaking us even now…”

Pitchmas 2020, Part 5: Marvels

Because I’m a big fan of biting off more than I can chew, this would expand upon the concept of the Marvels story from Busiek and Ross. It would parallel the rise of Marvel Comics, but be set in the MCU, showing the reactions of regular human beings to the emergence of superhumans. It would also follow, as our POV characters, famous contributors to Marvel Comics, here recast as reporters and photographers; it’s also a great back-door way for Marvel to provide them and their heirs with a big dumptruck of money for their life/likeness rights. It would use processing similar to Loving Vincent, so the entire series would look and feel like a living painting. It’s spread across 10 episodes, each covering a significant, impactful moment from a decade of the MCU.

1. We open on Carl Burgos, a 23-year-old reporter for the newly formed Timely News. “That’s a good name for a paper,” is the response he’s used to getting (I think that may be a running gag throughout the series, not just to Carl, but for all of our cast). He’s sitting in a crowd, mostly other newspapermen, who are heckling Phineas Horton, as he tries to describe his marvelous mechanical man, and the strange side effect it has, of catching fire when exposed to the air. Horton tells people not to be alarmed as he opens the valve into the vacuum-sealed chamber, and the android catches fire. Burgos captures pictures of it, and hands them in to Mr. Goodman, the publisher, who demands the editor, one John Jonah Jameson, Sr.,  get them and Carl’s story onto the front page. We see a young Stanley Leiber selling that edition on the street later that day. Burgos narrates, “It was an age of monsters, of mutants, of madmen. It was an age of Marvels.” We cut to black, then fade in a processed to look like it’s been painted version of the Marvel Studios logo with the music fading in as well.

Burgos and Bill Everett, a reporter one year his junior, discuss Horton. His miraculous invention was to be buried, because it reminded people how small, how fragile- how human– they were. Being newspapermen, they run towards a commotion, to find the Human Torch escaping, leaping over their heads as people around them panic.

We follow Bill and his current sweetheart (he’ll meet his wife in the Army, so she won’t be recurring) walking along the waterfront. To the chagrin of his sweetie, he follows the sounds of shouting to find Namor, the Sub-Mariner, standing on the dock over a woman. The police seem to think he kidnapped her, but to Bill that doesn’t add up- why would a fish man kidnap a woman onto land? The cops shoot at him, but the bullets ricochet off; Bill sketches the man’s feats of strength as he throws their car, then leaps back into the water.

Bill wants to write the story as he saw it, with a critical eye for detail. Jameson demands a menace angle- he argues they don’t know enough about Namor to know whether or not he’s safe, and there’s no percentage in giving him the benefit of the doubt. But a warning- that will sell papers. So they write the story fabulizing Namor’s travails. It isn’t long before the cops are treating him as the menace the papers declare him to be, and the chief of police desperately pleads with the Human Torch to help them bring Namor to heel. 

They have a clash over the skies. We see it mostly through Stanley’s eyes, as he watches from Timely’s offices. Everyone else is huddled around a radio, because something else is happening, something that is going to change the face of the world forever: the United States has been attacked, and is entering the second world war.

2. The second episode would follow our main cast into the Army, as they were all drafted. Jack and Joe train alongside Captain America, and the war department lets them provide coverage of the new hero as part of a morale boost to the troops. Soon, Captain America, Bucky, Namor and the Human Torch have formed the Invaders, and help turn the tide for the Allies, fighting alongside our leads. Captain America, and the fact that the Invaders are with the Allies, means an end to the antagonism and antipathy they showed previously to these emerging Marvels. The episode ends on a down note, as the sacrifice of Captain America, after the loss of Bucky, leads to an abrupt end for the age of heroes. After the war, Namor retreats into the ocean, and the Torch and the rest of the heroes fade away; losing Cap felt like an end to the Marvels.  

3. The third episode is a strange beast, indeed. In the MCU timeline, nothing really happens here, except maybe some of the Peggy Carter stuff- and while I loved the show, it’s not the big, bombastic heroism this show’s designed for. Thankfully, one of our heroes has a time travel rock for a spell, so he’ll end up in this time period. He’s discovered by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. They want to do an expose, about him, about the future he hails from. He implores them not to print anything, because his knowledge of the future could destroy their entire reality. What’s worse, when he landed there, he accidentally disrupted Senator McCarthy, whose Code Authority regulations, while heinous, need to pass, or the shock to the timeline could also destroy reality. He’s also accidentally called Shuma-Gorath’s attention to the planet by bringing a largely unprotected Infinity Stone to that time period (he is, sadly, no Ancient One at this point, having only just gotten the stone). Also throwing a spanner in the works is one of the earlier Black Widows- not Natasha- but one of her forebears. In the end, Ditko and Lee promise not to cover him until his proper introduction, but demand an exclusive when that day comes.

4. By this point Lee and Kirby have pretty much solidified as our leads, Lee now working as Editor in Chief, and Kirby as the paper’s premiere photojournalist (always a little hacked off at the way Lee changes his headlines, bylines and well, everything), with Lee continuing to write, as well. The Fantastic Four parallel the rise of JFK’s Camelot; the families are even friendly with one another, and Reed’s insights are the only reason Kennedy is confident the Americans can win the space race. The Four are also a new breed of Marvels, these ones everymen, a girl next door, her dorky, obnoxious brother, a cranky uncle; even Reed is a hometown boy done good, especially in New York. They’re as American as apple pie, and equally beloved. Their existence brings a new kind of prestige, and even glamour, to heroism, and as part of that the pair are profiling them, to bring the public even deeper into their world, because Reed knows it’s the tip of the iceberg, more miracles and marvels are coming in their wake. The story, however, ends in the tragedy of their ‘sacrifice’ in saving the world, shocking everyone. It’s a somber note everything ends on, as the Four disappear (this follows the continuity of my pitch from last year, where the FF get shot into the future during the 60s).

5. We pick up with civil unrest. The fall of Camelot, the assassination of JFK, the disappearance of the Fantastic Four, the rise of Cold War paranoia and the likelihood of nuclear annihilation make civil rights conflicts burn with even greater intensity. And while there really was no good reason to fight Martin Luther King, mutants are inherently dangerous- at least, so the story goes. The loss of both MLK and Malcom X has made the two newest civil rights leaders, Magneto and Professor Xavier, both more guarded and at the same time more endangered. Magneto’s speech is met with violence; his followers respond in kind, threatening to overwhelm the human authorities gathered, until the arrival of Xavier and his X-Men. They stand between those who hate and fear them and the mutants who might give them cause to. I imagine both Lee and Kirby make at least references to how analogous the plight of their people has recently been to these X-Men, who didn’t choose the circumstances of their birth, but are trying to make their world safer.

6. We scoot forward further in time, this time into the 80s; a fueding Stan and Jack are both working parallel stories, the “good” scientists, the ones playing ball with the authorities and working with SHIELD- Janet & Hank Pym- vs. the rogue scientist, Bruce Banner pursuing gamma research without sanction. What they and the audience soon discover is Hank & Janet’s final mission is interrelated after all- Banner tells them as part of his research he’s been monitoring gamma releases the world over, and slips that intel to SHIELD, who send their best operatives to stop the missiles the gamma warheads have been loaded onto. At the same time, the Hydra science division screws with Banner’s test, and he’s forced to endanger himself to try and put things right- accidentally unleashing the Hulk- a WMD he aims at the Hydra gamma science division, destroying it so utterly they are never able to attempt another gamma weapon. But as one last screw you, Hydra release security footage of the Hulk rampaging through their base to the public (via Lee and Kirby’s reporting)- ensuring he is hated and feared for years to come.

7. This story runs parallel to the first Captain Marvel movie. We see it through the eyes of Stan Lee, now the editor, as well as two of his newer reporters, Gene Colan and Roy Thomas, as they work to uncover the truth of the strange woman who fell from the stars, and whether or not she’s working with the shapeshifting green men or if she’s going to save humanity from them- only to be shocked to discover they’re sympathetic and they’re going to ban together and protected humanity from the Kree.

8. This one’s pretty easy, just giving us a man on the street reaction to the introduction of Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Thor. It’s really a rebirth of the marvels to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Don Heck is the photojournalist they send out to get most of the scoop, while the two old pros/part-time nemeses go head to head about what it all means. I’d also subtly add in Kevin Feige as a security guard working at Timely, who Lee sometimes bounces ideas off of.

9. Finally, we get to the Avengers, and how nuts the invasion in that first movie is to reporters based in New York. I might, to both give Jack Kirby his due but also not pretend like he lived twenty years longer than we did, reveal in this episode that Jack’s been dead a while, by having Kevin interrupt Stan and Jack talking about the end of the world, and the end of their storied and sometimes rocky partnership. “Talking to Jack again?” Kevin asks, as Jack gives a wistful smile, before fading away.

“I always did my best work with Jack,” Stan says, as Kevin closes his office door. “Still do,” he says sadly, looking out the window at his wounded, smoking city.

10. Ten is as much an epilogue as another episode. After the Battle of New York, the Age of Marvels is no longer a contested idea. Stan publishes a memoir, fittingly titled Marvels, largely covering the series we’ve just seen, with accompanying paintings by Alex Ross, with scripting assistance from Kurt Busiek. The end of the book is Stan and Steve Ditko covering Spider-Man. He represents the new generation coming up after him, with new ideas, new styles- a whole new world, one just as marvelous as they’ve been lucky enough to live through.

At the end of the episode, on his death bed, an ill Stan speaks to Kevin, watching the MCU out of his window. “I used to think that they were the Marvels- the men in tights, the women in armor.” He turns, to pictures on his nightstand, of all of the reporters, photographers and others who he worked with at the paper, the characters we’ve followed over the course of this series. “But after decades spent with the extraordinary men and women covering them, telling their stories- we were Marvels, too; I was privileged to know them, elevated by collaborating with them, honored to have walked among them.”

He asks Kevin for a moment, to say goodbye to his family. Kevin, now in a suit and tie, nods, and closes the door behind himself. And that’s the end.

Pitchmas 2020, Part 4: The Replacement Four

The  Fantastic  Replacement Four

Set during the Blip. This pitch makes some guesses about when/where the Fantastic Four actually enter the story of the MCU- the timing of this series necessitates that they appear in the MCU pre-snap, and then all four of them get snapped, and have to deal with something else instead of Thanos’ return in Endgame. It also, at least at this moment, requires one mutant to have found his way into the MCU by that point.

We have the classic Fantastic Four in their uniforms. Sue is watching the destruction on television anxiously, trying to convince Reed that they should have answered Tony’s call- that the fate of half of all life may have been decided without them. Reed, barely looking up from his work, says that if he fails, the fate of all life might be at stake. He looks up, to see Sue dusted, and gets out a “Damn,” as his outstretched finger dusts, the effect traveling down his elongated arm as he’s dusted. Ben and Johnny enter, eating corn-dogs. Ben talking about how stretch wouldn’t use the emergency beacon if it wasn’t- he’s stopped when he dusts, and Johnny manages to call his name before dusting himself. We slowly zoom in on the beacon.

And zoom out on an identical beacon in a messy laboratory. It’s clear it was a mess even before, but someone has clearly been rampaging through it. We hear a raging growl, as a table is flipped past camera, and Bruce Banner stalks into frame. He’s upset, upset that the Hulk is still in hiding, upset that he failed to save everyone, upset that he was left behind when so many people better than him are gone. He’s angry, angrier than he’s ever been. But he can’t Hulk out, either, so it’s an impotent rage, and eventually he collapses to the floor, utterly defeated.

He finally notices the beacon, and when he touches it, we hear Reed’s voice (maybe see a hologram of him, too, if that’s not asking too much); it can also be a robot voice if we can’t get this much voice work out of Reed. “Bruce, we’ve never formally met, but I’ve admired your work and your mind for quite some time. If you’re hearing this, it means I can’t complete the work, and I need you to take it up. There aren’t many people on the planet who could even understand what I’m going to tell you, let alone be able to continue to adapt my designs for the task at hand. Tony’s never been much of a joiner, and if he got involved, I’d lay even odds he’d find a way to make the problem worse rather than better. And Hank is too old and stubborn. I’m sorry to lay this on you. But right now, you’re the smartest man who can actually make a difference, and the world- no, the universe, needs you. Right now.”

The task at hand is that the Negative Zone, long used as a prison by highly evolved societies across several dimensions, has found a weak spot. It was never guarded, exile being the idea, more than containment. They’ve been testing for weaknesses, probing it; Reed is certain within a matter of months they’ll break through unimpeded into their world. So yeah, the big concern here is preventing Annihilus from leading an army of several universes’ worst into NYC. Reed tells him he’s going to need partners- and not just his large partner, and has some suggestions. He calculates the odds of his first string of suggestions all surviving in the event that Thanos succeeds are slim, but he’s offered a handful of back-ups. His original suggestion is Spider-Man, a gifted technician in his own right, capable of acting as a suitable lab assistant, good for bouncing ideas off of, and less mentally rigid than his mentor, Stark. The image of Peter is blocked by a red “Blipped” across his face. Black Panther & Shuri are the next suggestions, both brilliant in their own fields and formidable combatants, also “Blipped.” Finally, the recording suggests Stephen Strange, a brilliant physician but also a mysticist- and magic is simply science that hasn’t been quantified, making him one of the world’s best resources on protoscience. Bruce, seeing the pattern, here, rubs his eyes under his glasses.

We dissolve to later in the night, as Reed describes the Ghost Rider. We continue the narration, as we cut to an action scene involving him fighting a demon in a biker bar in the guise of a human, handling the one pretty handily, only to turn, and the entire bar is full of possessed/werewolf/vampire/etc. bikers. Ghost Rider drags his quarry out of the bar, moving slower, clearly having been roughed up a bit. One of the bikers stumbles after him, collapsing in exhaustion. Ghost Rider’s quarry is pleading, that he didn’t believe, he thought it was all bullshit. Ghost Rider extinguishes his flame, and it’s Johnny Blaze, looking apologetic. He sighs, and explains that he can’t help him; he’s just the repo man. If he’s got a contractual dispute, he’ll have to take it up with management. A honky tonk cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” plays subtle from the bar jukebox inside, as a man in a crimson suit appears, and tells him he can take it from there, and disappears with the biker.

Back with Banner, the recording tells him Ghost Rider is a lower level magical practitioner, but might still hold the key to being able to lock away the Negative Zone inhabitants- since obviously the infernal realms are kept under lock and key, and as one of its primary guards- and one of a handful persuadable to assist humanity- he should still have some useful information.

Reed’s next suggestion is a man who’s been pulling the levers of various governments for more than a century undetected- he knows the ins and outs of special ops and the inner workings of secret government programs like the back of his hand. “If you tell me it’s Nick Fury I’m defenestrating you,” Bruce says, as, at the mention of the name, Fury’s pictured with the word “Blipped” appears onscreen. A picture of Patch pops up on the screen. That’s right, Wolverine has been on this Earth for a century, fighting in dozens of wars, working clandestinely for virtually every government at some point, all while maintaining his anonymity. Well… near-anonymity. Bruce peers at Wolverine, and flashes back to a fight they had in the Canadian wilderness, Wolverine slicing into him with his big old claws. “Huh,” Bruce says, continuing to stare.

What breaks him out of his reverie is the recording moving on to the next contestant… “And finally…” he sighs, “there is no finally. We’re past the dregs, here. There’s a lot of talented operators remaining, don’t get me wrong. But no one of them can fill the voids left by those who are gone, so if you’re this far down the list… I’d probably suggest that you just rotate people in as you need them. Mission-specific. I have some thoughts… but ultimately, this is going to be your team, and you need to be free to run it as you see fit.”

We cut to a bar in the Canadian frontier. Wolverine is wearing a cowboy hat, and says, “No,” before Banner can even sit down. He’s taken aback. “I remember the smell of you. And I remembered the look of you when you started traipsing around with the Avengers. I don’t want any Hulk Scout cookies, and I’m not much of a joiner.” Hulk explains the whole mess, that they were hand-picked by the greatest mind on the planet to face a life-on-all-worlds threat.

He replies, “From what I remember you’re a cockroach, so you might still manage to survive the onslaught, but the folks in this bar won’t, beer won’t, cigars won’t- what I can only assume is your body weight in mousse won’t.”

Wolverine kicks out his stool, and we think we’re going to have a fight. “You had me at beer. And maybe cigars. So I’ll let the mousse crack slide this one time, on account a not wanting to brawl in the middle of Clay’s place.”

We’re back at the nighttime bar scene with Ghost Rider, moments after Mephisto and the mark disappeared. The rest of the bikers empty out of the bar, and line up for round 2. “He’s gone,” Blaze says, reigniting his skull. “You can’t get him back by making me bloody you all again.”

Wolverine and Hulk arrive, Wolverine getting between Blaze and the crowd, as Banner gets close and explains that he needs him for a team. Blaze initially says no, until Banner asks, “You hunt souls, right? And what happens to that gig when all life as we know it in the universe is gone?”

“Mephisto probably starts making deals with whatever killed all life as we know it. But I take your point. I’m in, at least as far as my contract allows. Could… I get a little help here.”

“I’m not… currently Hulking…” Banner says sheepishly. “More of the brains than brawn, at the moment.”

“Remind me to kick the hell out of you,” Wolverine says, unsheathing his claws.

Banner considers a moment, before saying, “No.” Wolverine and Ghost Rider do most of the ass-kicking, but Banner tries. He even gets pretty mad when someone hits him from behind with a pool cue, and starts to green a little bit, before it putters out, and he yells, “Come on!”

After the fight, they all arrive at Four Freedoms Plaza. They’re snazzy digs, and they’re all suitably impressed. “I know I’m the product of the Canadian education system, so maybe there’s a metric conversion issue, here, but I only count 3. Sign on the door says 4.”

In the classic arc this is based on, Spider-Man is the last of the Replacement 4. Obviously, he’s been blipped… but, since I’ve suggested bringing in at least one Spidey clone before, I’m going to do so again now. If Sony are willing, I’d bring in Ben Reilly. I’d probably make it the one from my Sinister Six pitch last year, with the messed up face, explaining why he always keeps his spider-suit on (which is actually Peter’s first hooded suit, with maybe some minor tweaks). I don’t assume that’s a possibility, and certainly not for more than a handful of episodes at best, but failing that, I’d probably make it a rotating position. It’s hard to replace Spider-Man, frankly, but it might be more fun, anyway, as a special skills guest-spot that lets a different character shine based on what they need.

Probably the ones who best fill the Spider-Man role, if we were trying for a longer-term fill-in would be either:

  1. Deadpool, who wisecracks, has a similar costume, and ties to Wolverine.
  2. She-Hulk, who wisecracks, can heavy-hit when Hulk can’t and has ties to him and can navigate legalities for them.
  3. Daredevil, who has a similar street-level focus and kind of fits in the same milieu, plus can legalese, too.

Either way, I’d suggest roping in all 3 for at least a guest spot (imagine the fun you could have forcing Deadpool to do a Disney + episode while he kept trying to act up, only to find that his copious swearing is bleeped, his violence gets cut away from, and his repeated attempts to expose himself are black-barred). I’d probably then do Daredevil, maybe as a result of legal wrangling related to Deadpool’s behavior- only it’s too nuts around here and he can’t hack it with these lunatics. Then do a Punisher guest, because he fits in with the gritty anti-heroism of the team, only to be fired by Hulk as too bloodthirsty (“And that’s saying something, because I’m keeping the clawed lunatic in the rotation.”), finally settling on She-Hulk as kind of combining the best of all 3. Wolverine, skeptical, asks what she brings to the table the Punisher did. She puts on Ghost Rider’s jacket, that was hanging over a chair, and says she looks good in black. Ghost Rider says he has to give that to her.

Regardless of what you do with the fourth slot on the team, which could come down to contractual wrangling and schedules as much as anything (or Moon Knight might make for an interesting permanent addition, and God knows Oscar Isaacs makes anything better just by sauntering on set), I think it would have four seasons, roughly covering the four(ish) year gap.

Obviously, over the course of the show one of the bigger subplots would be Banner trying to fix his relationship with Hulk. I’d suggest bringing in Leonard Sampson from Incredible Hulk, because Ty Burrell is a lot of fun, and seeing Bruce deal with his anger issues but also all of the loss and anguish related to Thanos… it could actually make for some really compelling television. Over this time we’d get Gray Hulk/Mr. Fixit, because that’s too cool/weird an idea to leave on the table, before eventually ending up with him making peace with himself and getting Professor Hulk as we find him in Endgame.

Aside from that, I’d probably suggest having this team fill in the rest of the gap left by the original four, so doing a lot of the everyday heroics; that would, I think, help explain how we get to Endgame and Hulk is suddenly a beloved and well-liked hero- because he’s been filling in for beloved and well-liked heroes, and keeping his smashing to acceptable outlets. Maybe a part of that is becoming more publicly open about his struggles with mental health and loss- so that Professor Hulk isn’t just a personal triumph, but a symbolic defeat of depression and tragedy that a lot of those who remained could relate to.

Pitchmas 2020, Part 3: Bloodstone

Note: While looking up Elsa, I discovered she was apparently going to get a show at one point. Which I obviously think is still a good idea. I’m not rehashing, though we’re drawing from the same relatively shallow pool of issues surrounding her.

To start, though, I’d bring in both an aging Ulysses as a background character, and her brother Cullen. It is, in some respects, Supernatural, but not candy-coating the pain and abuse involved in a monster-hunting father trying to pass the family business on to his children. Before the Marvel logo, we have a cold open on a dungeon. There’s a werewolf pup, cowering and whimpering in the corner. A child Elsa is pushed into the room, with the door abruptly shut behind her. She’s terrified, and startled as the door opens again, and a dull, silver spoon, probably a baby spoon at that, is thrust into her hand. We reverse, and see an aging man with a red stone jutting out of his chest. He smiles, but there’s something not quite right about it, before he says, “Make daddy proud,” and closes and locks the door. She turns back towards the werewolf pup. She tries to reason with him, tells him he’s just a little boy, just like she’s a little girl. There’s no reason for them to fight, or even be frightened of one another. They can be friends. She can help him, and he can help her. She reaches out with her non-spoon-filled hand towards him. The pup spins, snarling, before leaping at the camera and engulfing our view, the sounds of his viciousness drowned out by the young girl’s scream. We cut to a darkened stone staircase, lit only by flickering candlelight. We hear a kachunk, as the door’s lock is picked, and the girl emerges from the room, too dark to see what’s occurred. She walks up the steps, the now bloodied spoon hanging limply in her arm as she passes camera, and we fade to black, as the Marvel logo and music play.

Match cut to what we saw before the logo, adult Elsa climbing the steps to the mansion, blood dripping from the knife in her hand and the werewolf head in her other. She kicks in the front door, dropping head and knife on a silver platter that has a little handwritten note requesting you “Please restrict viscera to the platter,” in fancy script.

Elsa stalks through the home, past Adam (Frankenstein’s Monster) in a French maid uniform dusting in the front room. “Father’s got you doing the Time Warp again,” she mutters to herself. He spins, having a wonderful time of it. His frivolity bothers Elsa, and she scowls. “You don’t have to wear that to dust,” she says.

“Shut up, he likes it,” Cullen says, running past her. He’s younger by a few years, probably high school age, a little bit bratty.

“Oh, what I wouldn’t do to be an only child again,” she mutters, wandering into the study/library, walled with books, with a fireplace to one side and two wingback chairs at the center.

“You didn’t track blood inside, did you?” Ulysses asks from one of the chairs. “You know how Adam gets, when you drip blood on the wood floors.”

She sighs heavily, massaging her temple. “What I wouldn’t give to be an orphan,” she mutters.

“I heard that,” he says stiffly.

“You were meant to,” she says irritably.

“You’re far too old to be this petulant,” he says, going back to his paper. “The werewolf pack?”

“Removed. I took the alpha’s head to mount.”

“Oh, Adam will love that. He has been practicing on his sewing.”

“We hunt monsters, correct? I don’t understand why we keep one on staff.”

“Oh, it’s not his fault he’s an abomination; he’s more human than not.”

“Weren’t you the man who said creatures are either all human or not at all? Or is it just he’s the only maid you’ve found who will iron your underthings?”

“Adam was a treasured member of this household before his brain was spliced into that homunculus. Least I think he was; his brain was certainly taken by that nasty Frankenstein fellow.”

“My immortal soul for an aneurysm,” she mutters.

“Someone’s in a mood tonight,” he says, and folds his paper loudly. “Fine. What has your knickers twisted?”

“I’m meant to be at school.”

“You’re meant to be hunting. You’re a Bloodstone.”

“I said I’d help over the summer holiday. I didn’t tell you I’d take the entire bloody enterprise off your hands. And we’re still playing hide the sausage with whatever ghoul is daft enough to land in the papers.”

A sinister grin spreads over his lips. “You’re right,” he says. “Too right. Sit.” She does, and he regales her with a tale of a monster town, where every man, woman and child is evil, where they treat their tap water with human flesh. To protect it, they send out roving bands of monsters into the surrounding countries, never within a hundred kilometers of the town, to capture humans for meat, so disappearances are never linked back to them. I’ve spent my entire life hunting this town…” she’s unimpressed, having heard this fairy tale her entire life, “and I finally have a lead.” That makes her sit up.

He describes one such roving band, and as he does so we begin to see it, on a rain-slicked night, a wagon covered and hidden (maybe to make it more modern, it’s the kind of military truck with a cloth back), in a caravan, on an old dirt road. Cullen and Ulysses, from perches on either side of the road, fire, taking out the monsters on motorcycles riding in a support formation for the truck. Elsa leaps from her own motorbike and climbs the rear of the truck, steeling herself before peeling back the curtain, expecting butchered bodies to be used as food stacked to the ceiling, and instead finding huddled masses, including a woman holding a swaddled child. The child notices her, and it’s face contorts; it’s a banshee babe, and it’s mouth opens wide to scream, knocking Elsa off the back of the truck. She lands on the follow car, spider-webbing the windshield. Cullen, excitable and scared, shouts over the radio that he’s lost track of his sister. Ulysses watches as Elsa is crammed in the back of the truck, which drives off as he grunts, “Bugger.”

Cullen is freaking out, trying to get Ulysses to do something. Ulysses barks at him that he is doing something, he’s following them in their truck, and trying to think over his mewling. They follow the caravan all the way to a toll bridge. The guard lets the caravan through without incident, but raises the metal pole barrier for them. “Scheduled bridge lift,” he says, when they inquire. Ulysses says he doesn’t see a boat anywhere. “Along any minute,” he replies, not looking up from his dog-eared paperback. Ulysses sniffs, then says something in trollish, which gets the guard to cock his head menacingly. He starts growing, his skin greying as he expands out of his shirt. He’s a bridge troll. Maybe throw in a billy goats gruff quote.

Cut to a few minutes later, Ulysses kicks the dead troll’s body off the bridge and it splashes in the water below. They lower the barrier and cross the bridge. There’s any number of ways the caravan could have gone, and the rain has washed away all tracks.

We cut to an interior location. A groggy Elsa stirs. A sympathetic sounding woman tries to reassure her, that she took a nasty spill, but she’s been examined, and aside from a nasty concussion, the doctor doesn’t think she’ll suffer any longer term impacts. As her vision clears, she realizes her nurse is a monster. The man walking through the halls with a bouquet of dying daisies is also a monster. The doctor who walks in, she’s a monster. She’s in a monster hospital. We fade to black, and show the title card again, for the full title reveal, “Bloodstone, and the Legion of Monsters.”

But all, of course, is not as it may initially seem. The monsters are, largely, normal folk, just trying to get by with some truly unusual health challenges. She’s more disgusted to find that her family, her father in particular, is the thing that goes bump in their nights- the sound of the Bloodstone name makes a small child quake in fear.

She meets the denizens of this strange Monster Metropolis, including N’Kantu the Living Mummy, Werewolf by Night (and other werewolves), more Frankenstein monsters, vampires, succubi, aquatic creatures from dark bodies of water… pretty much any kind of monster you can imagine is represented here (you might be able to entice Guillermo Del Toro to work on this project, since it’s another bite at the apple he so relished working on in Hellboy 2). The deeper Elsa gets into this society and its problems, the more she questions her upbringing and what she’s been told.

At first she stays because she wants to understand how she could have been so wrong. Eventually, she opts to stay to undo some of the harm she’s done. But she’s also not a prisoner. She’s able to leave, and meet with her father, and tell him what’s happened, and what she’s learned. He reacts violently to the revelation, and assumes she’s been ensorcelled, hypnotized or worse. He vows to Cullen he’ll burn down the Monster Metropolis and tear her from its rotten corpse.

It might, if it can be figured out, be cool to have Blade show up for a cameo towards the end- contrast his kind of compassionate, thoughtful “cull the herd” hunting to Ulysses- that he’s naturally skeptical of the idea of a Monster Metropolis, but so long as they aren’t acting like a terrorist training ground he could give a crap. But what sets the season on the collision course it’s on is how Ulysses reacts. Elsa reacts to the pain of knowing she’s caused hurt and fear by saying, “I don’t want to do that anymore.” Her father reacts by saying, “No, I was right all along. Genocide is the better answer.” He wages a war against the Metropolis, against its food supply, and the surrounding human communities that have always given it aid and protection. At first Cullen is torn, between his loyalty to his father and to his sister, but eventually he leaves his father’s side. Ulysses shoots him, and Cullen is saved by monster doctors. The season comes to a head when Elsa is forced to fight her father. He tells her that so long as the Bloodstone is in his chest, so long as its mystic energies keep him alive, he will not rest until the Monster Metropolis is destroyed, and his children are restored to his side. She beats him, and tears the stone out of him.

“What have you done?” he asks, as without the Bloodstone he begins to wither away.

“What my father raised me to do. Killing monsters.”

The second season would be more a new show that Elsa graduates to, called NextWave, bringing on Monica Rambeau, Boom-Boom from New Mutants, Robot Man from… Fin Fang Foom’s butt (actually… that might be appropriate to the tone of Nextwave…). I’d probably throw in Namor, rather than the Captain, because you get similar attitude off him, similar powers, too, while having an actual character around. I like the idea of bringing back Agent Coulson, but as a clone of his original self, this time the deranged head of H.A.T.E., Dirk Anger. It’s possible he’d need a mountain of cocaine to get the character right… I say give it to him. Alternately, we might want to find an actor who can give that level of manic performance without the need for chemical alteration, just because I’d feel bad if we accidentally killed Clark Gregg.

Pitchmas 2020, Part 2: Marvel Team-Ups

That’s all the work I’m doing for this week. Bye.

No, I know that’s a cheap answer. So I’m going to outline the whole first season, to showcase the idea. It would be basically a marathon, where you start with one character and the person they team up with, that team-mate gets paired with someone else, that team-mate gets paired with someone else… until eventually you end up with the last character teaming up with the first to put the story to bed.

The roughest aspect, of course, is that it’s tough to know who would actually be game to do this kind of thing. As a one-off, maybe most of them, honestly, but I’ll stick to the middle-tier of characters/actors, those without their own solo-franchises, particularly; it also makes it more of a challenge.

1. Captain America (Falcon): Everybody thought Hydra was pretty much taken care of after the events of Age of Ultron. Even Cap stopped hunting them. But Bucky goes missing. Falcon America interrupts a white supremacist meeting, planning the kidnapping of a governor. At first they assume it’s this plot that’s gotten his attention, but he instead asks about Bucky. A gunshot rings out, and the man he was interrogating dies. “Hell.”

One of the men Falcon knocked down gets back up, winding a balaclava off his face. It’s Tim Roth! And he’s becoming green, transforming into Abomination (looking more frog-like, and more reminiscent to his comics design than the one from Incredible). “Oh f-” Sam manages to raise his wings and the shield, and it buys him just enough protection that he survives the punch that knocks him out of the building and into a tree. Sam struggles to his feet then tries to spread his wings, but they’re destroyed.

Zoom in on Captain Falcon, barely able to move, trying to hail help over the radio, as the Abomination moves closer. Cap is in and out, blacking out several times as Abomination moves closer. Abomination lifts him up, and things are looking bad. We start to hear a high-pitched whistle, and suddenly Abomination is flattened by a big green foot on his face. Sam falls to the ground, and is again, in and out as the fighting happens behind him. He’s helped off the ground, by a woman who, it turns out, is taller than he is, and he realizes she’s steadying him with 1 green hand: She-Hulk. She asks if he can stand; he says he can, and tries to, only to start to fall; she catches him, then steadies him against the tree, and tells him she should only be a moment.

She-Hulk and Hulk tag-team the Abomination; realizing he’s outgunned, he runs. They take Sam back to his headquarters, and explain they just happened to be in town. He asks if he can have some back-up, in case he needs the help; if they’re hiding a hulk, who knows what else they might have up their sleeve. Hulk has another obligation, but Jen offers to stick around. Sam passes back out.

She-Hulk is there, with Night Nurse (I’m happy to have the Netflix version back, but I’m also okay to recast- in fact, that might be my preference, because Rosario Dawson is too cool to use as just Night Nurse, if we can convince her to take on a meatier character). She’s been keeping tabs on Sam.

And She-Hulk has made progress, using the law to track the safehouse Sam busted into to the organization that was paying the rent through several shell corporations. She offers to go it alone, since Sam is still laid up. He refuses, and forces himself, albeit a bit wobbly, to his feet.

This facility is more modern and expensive, concrete bunkers and sci fi garbage. They fight their way inside. At one point, they’re separated, and one of the soldiers Sam dispatches stands back up, glowing, because he’s been injected with Extremis. “This dude’s glowing. I don’t think he’s supposed to be-” the Extremis soldier explodes.

Sam is in a coma at the end of the episode.

Which we fix in the opening scene of the second, as his eyes open. Yelena Bolova, the new Black Widow, is standing over Sam’s hospital bed. Given her mercenary history, we should wait a beat, let the audience think she’s there to finish the job, until we reveal she’s drinking a mug of cocoa. 

She-Hulk reached out to Sam’s and Steve’s contacts, and Yelena was the first to respond. She’s also got a PI investigating leads from the crater formerly known as the Hydra base they infiltrated. At that moment, Jessica Jones pops in to give her the lowdown (Kristen Ritter was great in the role, so I’m happy to keep her for the cameo; bonus points if she’s got Hellcat in tow).

Anyway, we continue in this fashion, characters handing off the baton when their partner is better qualified to carry on with someone new; it turns out, telling everyone that Cap got hurt brings basically the entire MCU running, so they have their pick of partners, hence the revolving door. The partners, generally, having some kind of fish-out-of-water/odd couple contrast. I’ll rundown the episode pairings, and generally what would make them fun to watch:

  1. Captain America (Falcon)/She-Hulk: This one is fun because She-Hulk is irreverent, and Sam is walking around with two sticks up his butt- the first because he was a military guy and always at least a little serious, and the second because he’s still settling in as Captain America, so he’s still trying to out-Cap Cap, and not let on how out of his depth he is on this one.
  2. She-Hulk/Black Widow: Yelena is the less cuddly version of Black Widow, so her partnered with She-Hulk, the cuddlier Hulk, is kind of like a bizarro version of the relationship of their related characters from Age of Ultron. She-Hulk is also very moral, in a very legalistic way, whereas Yelena is all about shades of gray, and doing whatever the hell works. She also feels like Natasha would want her to do whatever she could for Cap, so she’s extra driven, both to prove herself and to prove she can fill her sister’s shoes.
  3. Black Widow/Photon: Photon is a by-the-books, above-board military operator raised in a military family. Yelena is a sneak up and knife them in the middle of the night spy. One is reasonably sunny and superpowered, the other relies on guile and Russian severity to survive. Because they are the least well-equipped to handle it, experience-wise, I’d have them discover M.O.D.O.K., having corrupted one of the Hydra cells and using it to create his A.I.M. offshoot, and being utterly, utterly horrified. I’d still have him played by Patton Oswalt, because he’s kind of perfect, just mo-cap him into a CG monstrosity and let him run.
  4. Photon/Human Torch: Photon takes the information they get from M.O.D.O.K. and takes it to Four Freedoms Plaza, hoping her friend Reed Richards can help with things. But Reed and the rest of the FF have all gone off to save the world. Except for Johnny. He’s a goofball and a kid, and she has discipline coming out of her butt (which is a medical condition in nonmilitary families). Johnny stayed behind to do something kind of silly and frivolous, like watch the Oscars or the Superbowl or something. So when presented with an opportunity to superhero, instead, he abandons it (maybe also hitting on Photon, a little, because Johnny). They attempt to use Reed’s equipment to figure out the intel, only to make things worse, stranding Photon in the Negative Zone.
  5. Human Torch/Hawkeye (Kate): A panicked Johnny goes through his rolodex trying to find a young, unconnected hero to help him; he can’t risk going to any one of the brains, or things might get back to Reed, and he’ll never hear the end of it. Kate Bishop, making it clear it’s not the first time he’s called her and she’s not amused, responds when she finds out it’s an emergency. They provide an interesting contrast because he’s kind of goofy new money, instafamous but also a gullible doof, where she’s from older money, aloof, cool and collected. And also doesn’t have time for his boyish attempts at being suave. She doesn’t do tech things, but she knows someone in Brooklyn who might be able to help; he’s smart, but also, he’s young, and not connected to the other big heads- though he used to be Tony Stark’s protégé.
  6. Hawkeye/Ms. Marvel/*: This is the place where we’d have a Spidey cameo. I don’t know what the Marvel/Sony contracts are like; I suspect Marvel could force the issue since they own the TV rights, but might not be able to have Tom Holland in the suit (if this ever becomes viable- Spidey Team-Up is the obvious spin-off). But that would likely be the end of MCU Spidey being in movies. If an episode could be agreed upon, it would be a coup and a few. But assuming not, he isn’t home. Hawkeye says he’s probably swinging around someplace. They hear a car accident, and respond, to find Ms. Marvel jaws-of-lifing someone out of a mangled wreck. They’re about to assist when Johnny gets a call. Reed wants to know why the Negative Zone was opened, and more importantly, why Ms. Rambeau was stranded on the other side of it, and proceeds to lecture him about how that’s not an appropriate way to end a date. Johnny flies off to deal with it, but we stay with Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel. Next episode, they put their heads together, and figure out a way to use the M.O.D.O.K. intel, involving a cameo from America Chavez. This one is honestly less about contrast, more about starting to play around with pairings for either a Champions series or possible recruits for the Young Avengers, or maybe both. It’s also just a nice mission statement about the future of the MCU being light, breezy, feminine and diverse.
  7. Ms. Marvel/Moon Knight: The trio get in over their heads, though, and run afoul of the Moon Knight and his Moon Knighting. Hawkeye (and maybe America) draw away the pursuit, leaving Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel to take up the slack. This is an amazing pairing because he’s dark, gritty, and full of half-psychotic pathos, while she is the definition of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (okay, that would be Squirrel Girl… but wait for it…). I would even push him to be even more over the top, almost a parody of whatever his series ends up being- and I’d love to see Oscar Isaacs play truly over-the-top. Using his resources and gifts, they’re able to track M.O.D.O.K.’s intel to a new Hydra facility, this one housing a prisoner- or, rather, they’re housing a teleporter to a prison on the moon holding him. At the last second, Marc jettisons Ms. Marvel, thinking he’s saving her from a dead end and an ignominious death, only to discover the prisoner is Loki.
  8. Moon Knight/Loki: Loki and Marc are able to dispatch the death squad together; Loki, from the jump, tries to convince Moon Knight that he’s actually Khonshu, the one who gave him his powers, and he should definitely listen to him. Loki is still a little worse for wear- they were keeping him on a drip-feed of alcohol, since alcohol seems to impact Asgardians. Not only does that mean Loki spends most of the episode drunk, but he’s been suffering from alcohol poisoning for most of his capture so he isn’t at full power. Worse, Hydra turned off the teleporter, so they don’t have a way to get home. Still worse, the teleporter was also an umbilical cord, feeding the facility power and oxygen, without which they will die shortly. In a desperate attempt at rescue, they selectively set fire to certain portions of the base to spell out “Help.”
  9. Loki/Kingo: Help arrives, in the form of Eternal Kingo. He helps Moon Knight teleport back to Earth, but recognizes in Loki a larger threat. He’s also intrigued by the Hydra mystery he’s seen the human heroes contending with. I’ll be honest, this is entirely here because Kumail Nanjiani is a great comedian, and I suspect that will make his character a fun one to bounce off of. Loki, for his part, is stymied by a being just as far beyond humanity as he is. Kingo toys with him a little bit, before their ride arrives. Kingo called the Guardians, believing Thor was still with them. Instead, they’re picked up by half the usual crew; they were taking Howard the Duck to Earth and happened to be in the system, anyhow. So we get a cameo from Rocket & Groot (I’m assuming getting a full episode with them is too big an ask this season- or I would absolutely ask).
  10. Kingo/Howard the Duck: Howard, apparently, has come to the Earth because of a love of Raymond Chandler and all things noir. He wants to hang out a shingle and try living the life of a private eye. Rocket and Groot are sticking around because they have a bet as to how long (and if) he’ll last, and the duck’s agreed to pay them double for the return accommodations. So we get a lot of black and white scenes, with Seth Green narrating overly purple prose in a noir style about this oddball conspiracy involving floating head monsters, exploding soldiers, green abominations and murdered flying black men (Kingo interrupts to correct him, that Captain America is still alive). A dame comes in, maybe Madame Hydra or similar, a lead they can sink their teeth into, and they investigate. At the end of the episode, Kingo looks around the room, at the duck, the raccoon, the tree, and the chained Asgardian, asks, “What am I doing here?” and leaves. Basically walking past each other in the doorway, Squirrel Girl enters. Apparently her friend told her a mangled joke, “Why was the chicken a private eye? Because he was a duck.” She didn’t get it, and came up to understand it. I’d suggest keeping the cast of Milana Vayntrub- she’s adorable and funny (although Anna Kendrick is another strong choice).
  11. Howard the Duck/Squirrel Girl: This episode would likely draw from the fun Chip Zdarsky run on Howard the Duck. But it’s Squirrel Girl, mostly just being an eager beaver, trying to help him through his detective fantasy. He gives it up, however, when they’re met with a hail of Hydra bullets, and calls for his ride. Squirrel Girl pops her head inside, and she and Rocket have a moment, where they both say the other one looks “familiar,” before going their separate ways.
  12. Squirrel Girl/Punisher: Squirrel Girl hears the sound of more gunfire from where they left the Hydra agents a moment before. Punisher is there, standing on top of a pile of dead Hydra. He has it on good authority they’ve been paying local hoods to smuggle in science junk for their lasers- paying them in trade, meaning laser weapons are ending up on the street. His job’s hard enough without having to worry about laser-proofing his armor, so he’s there to cut them off at the source. She quips about there being a saying about cutting Hydra that she doesn’t finish. She’s perturbed by his use of force, and tries to convince him to use less lethal means. He’s confused by the request. She decides, over his protests, that she’s going to accompany him, to show him there are nonfatal ways to deal with villains. They have… mixed results, but they finally get the last piece of the puzzle, right before Frank shoots the Hydra agent who gave it to him. Squirrel Girl boxers his ears- yes, literally, before taking away all of his bullets. He tries re-arming with Hydra guns, only to find she’s disabled all of those, too. A pissed-off, but utterly disarmed Frank hails a cab (she also disabled his murder wagon, leaving a note saying he’ll have a long walk home to think about what she’s tried to teach him).   
  13. Punisher/Captain America: Punisher, with the crucial piece of intel, shows up at Captain America’s hospital room. Frank says he’s not Captain America. Sam asks if it’s a race thing. Frank says no, and he says that makes him feel better sarcastically. Frank tells him Cap was half the reason he signed up. Sam asks if he means to kill people. Frank says for the Army (they exchange a meaningful look, both men agreeing that does not). Frank says he fought in wars, then fought domestic crime. Cap was the ideal, scrubs like them aren’t fit to hold his shield, let alone wear it. Sam says he’s trying to be, that Cap wouldn’t have given him the shield if he didn’t want it held up- want his ideals held up. Frank doesn’t reply, but he hands over the intel. Sam feels like he has to respond, that he can’t lead from behind, that he’s tired of people putting him back in bed, even as he struggles to stand. Frank gets under his arm to help him. Together they fight their way into a Hydra research facility. They find Bucky; Hydra have been trying to break him down again. They unleash the newly brainwashed Bucky to attack them, and instead he squares with Sam and Frank. The scientists run. The guards run. All except one- who starts to unwind his balaclava. “Aw, crap,” Sam says, as Blonsky’s face starts to turn green as he unwraps it. Sam tosses Bucky the shield, and he uses his robot arm to help protect him from Abomination’s punch, a punch that still sends him flying through several walls, landing out on the city street. Abomination leaps through the hole Bucky tore, widening it, landing over the stunned Winter Soldier. It’s eerily quiet. Whichever cameoing/guest-starring character would make the biggest impact (for my money right now, probably Hulk) says, “We heard Cap could use a hand.” Camera pans up from the Winter Soldier at Abomination’s feet (and eclipsed by his shadow) to pan across all of the assembled guest stars, as Avengers music swells. I think we should be able to composite them from when they’re on set, and won’t need them all gathered at the same time- so this can be done on the TV budget (though I wouldn’t swear to it). Cut to the Raft, where a purpled Blonsky is tossed into a cell roughly. He’s got an IV in his arm, keeping him unconscious. We do a polite wrap-up, Bucky and Sam bonding. I’d contemplate having Punisher take a shot at Bucky, one blocked by Cap, and accepting that he’s not going to get another, and walking away. But reasonable folk could disagree with that idea.  

Pitchmas 2020, Part 1: New Mutants

Next year, presuming I do this again, I’ll start earlier, so Pitchmas can at least start in the right year.

I like a challenge, so I’m biting off more than I can likely chew, here. It’s going to be 12 Marvel Series for Disney+. I’m going to give myself some leeway, I can spin a show out of the existing movies, shows, or one of last year’s pitches. What I can’t do is just say, Movie: The Series, or recreate a show that already existed on another platform (so no Daredevil, Defenders, etc.). Rules clear to everyone? I don’t care. Because they’re my rules, and if I decide I want to break them later, none of you can stop me. At least not without hacking my site and spoiling all the fun for everyone (Note: please don’t do that.)

Paradoxically, this might actually be a simpler assignment, since pitching a season of a TV show doesn’t actually mean plotting the whole monster out, necessarily, but instead involves a concept for the first few episodes.

New Mutants

Note: I have not seen the “New Mutants” movie, and this is not that, and not based on the same concept; I also really don’t expect that to remain cannon.

I want this to be where all of the “New Mutants” start out. So any time Marvel wants a fresh team of X-Men recruits, they logically come through here. Probably what this means is it starts off with a team composed of a B-list of legacy mutants- say the X-Factor squad of Polaris, Havok, characters like that, running the Xavier Institute’s educational wing while Scott and the original team (plus whoever else makes sense) run around saving the mutant race. Apparently the first decade of characters were thin, but I’d suggest bringing in Morph/Changeling, because he can be a lot of fun and the group could use a cut-up. Mimic’s both overpowered and kind of bland, but fun things can be done with him, if we’re clever. I’d fill out the rest of the team with whoever isn’t being used immediately in the X-Men movies from the Giant Size X-Men team, with an eye towards diversity as much as possible, so I’d snap up Thunderbird and Sunfire first, then Nightcrawler, Storm, Banshee… the teachers would sort of rotate in a Hogwarts sort of fashion, where a teacher would be teaching the students a specific lesson or ideal, then rotate out, so potentially there’s room for some of the marquee characters to do a special episode here and there, too.

The students would be the first round of New Mutants, those who eventually mostly went on to be X-Force, because this show could literally spin out a dozen X-Men teams over as many seasons. For the record that class was: Cannonball, Mirage, Magma, Karma, Sunspot, Magik, Cypher, & Wolfsbane. I’d probably throw in Kitty Pryde, too, because she’s too good a character to let slip through the cracks- which between her and his sister Magik probably means Colossus is a lock for a turn as a teacher; I’d especially like an episode post-Inferno where he teaches a painting class, trying to help them all through the nightmare they’ve been through- as the students go from hating the class to realizing they need to find their own outlets.  

Because I’m spinning this out of last year’s X-Men pitch, I’m assuming we go with some version of that origin- the mutants cross over from a similar universe, and are part of a refugee crisis. So the school also works as a refugee resettlement program, as well.

The first season, weirdly, would probably focus on as much bizarreness as possible, because by the end I’d do a version of Inferno as well as an origin for Warlock, which is probably where I’d start. It’s a starry night. Shooting stars flash overhead. Suddenly a ship, bright red from entry into the atmosphere, burns past camera. It’s followed by two sci-fi fighter jets emblazoned with the logo of SWORD. They fire on the ship, and believe they’ve destroyed it. We cut to the wreckage of the alien ship, in a wooded area, and see a techno-organic (think sentient, shape-shifting robot) hand move before we cut away.

Several students are sneaking out of the Xavier Institute to go to a club. Some of them are clearly more excited than others, others have been peer-pressured, you get the idea. As they hop the fence, one of them laments that they couldn’t invite Kitty. Another mentions that she’s too much of a teacher’s pet. One of them snickers, and says, “Kitty’s a pet.” We cut back to the Mansion, Kitty discovering their beds are empty.

We cut back out to the gate, as a car picks them up. As it’s driving away, Kitty phases inside, landing on someone’s lap. They don’t get far, before the car hits someone. The driver is freaked out, and tries to flee. The kids demand he let them out, and they go back to see what they hit.

It’s Warlock, a frightened little shape-shifting alien; think ET meets Transformers. He doesn’t speak any language they can decipher, but Kitty, the student who’s been there the longest, knows about a recruit with a talent for languages: Cypher. He’s able to communicate enough with Warlock to get the gist- he ran from a world where son is expected to kill his father (or vice versa); he wanted no part in the generational murder-spree. They agree to help him, or at least get him someplace safe, since he can’t go home again. The camera pans back up towards the stars.

Another ship flies past, burning red from the atmosphere. Another pair of SWORD jets chase this one, too. Only this jet transforms in mid-air, suddenly facing them with cannons nearly as big as it is, and fires two energy blasts, knocking the fighters out of the sky. The alien craft then goes back to flying, before landing at the edge of an airfield. Turns out, it’s a military airfield. An MP in a truck drives over to it, mumbling about jerks landing their drones on the base because they think it’s funny. The ship transforms into a humanoid like Warlock, but much more brutal and militant-looking, and larger. It shifts again, into a carbon copy of the MP. “What the hell?“ he asks, before the Magus (Warlock’s father), touches a finger to his head, loosing a blinding white light that blots out the screen. As the light fades, we see that the soldier has been reduced to a small pile of ashes that blows away in the wind.

The next morning, Cypher asks Warlock whether or not he can hide. The concept confuses him. “Blend in.” Warlock turns his head quizzically, before shifting into a facsimile of Doug, who jumps. “Um, not me,” he says. “Humans are unique. So you have to look… different.” Warlock’s POV, as he scans every person in the dormitory, glowing boxes over features, then we cut to stock news footage as he flips through the channels, web pages, all manner of information, speeding by at an accelerated rate until we see he’s become human. Back outside his POV, he’s become an attractive person of color. “Now we just have to come up with a name for you.”

Cut away while this dialog is going, and we see the pair of them in thermal vision; Warlock isn’t cold, but he doesn’t heat up the way a human does, either, and there’s some kind of a ping drawing attention to him (or her, casting depending). The visualization shifts to a normal camera from a drone flying overhead, except the drone pauses in midair, and transforms into the Magus, landing with an impact in the lawn. He looks up, and sees the power line for the school, and enters it in a quasi-liquid form.

We cut back inside the school, specifically inside the Danger Room. This is going to be a more classical approach to it, more a gymnasium, but with robots and buzz-saws on extending arms and lasers. Havok is giving them an introduction to the Danger Room, and explains it’s just a chance for them to show what they can do now. They should be careful, for themselves and their fellow students, because the safety protocols are set to new students, so the only potential harm will come from one another. Havok signals Multiple Man up in the control room to start, and he puts in his password and initiates the program. On the monitor on the console, we see a digitized version of Magus, before the console electrocutes Madrox- the attack having the effect of creating a duplicate of him that stands over the first version. He snaps his fingers to create a third, and they bicker over the proper aid response; one wants to rush in and check his vitals, while the other is concerned that if there’s an environmental hazard they could join him on the floor. “Stop being such a weenie; we literally have extra lives,” the one says, and drags the groaning original away from the console.

Cut to the inside of the Danger Room. The training session begins as normal. One by one, the students take turns walking through the room, displaying their powers and prowess. And then we get to Warlock. Havok’s confused because he doesn’t know them, but Cypher says that Warlock’s new. Before Havok can protest, the Danger Room become far, far angrier, attacking with lethal force. Havok gathers the kids behind him, and tells Kitty to stop the machine; she phases through the wall, runs through one of Multiple Man’s dupes running in the opposite direction. Warlock, with his shifting, holds his own for a bit as the Danger Room becomes infected with the Techno-Organic (or Transmode) virus that gives Warlock his shape-shifting, making it increasingly more dangerous. The New Mutants, as a team, are holding it off as best they can, but the zone they control is decreasing, the threats encroaching. Time is running out… and then the machines stop.

We cut to the control room, where Kitty is standing with her arm phased through the computer. Cut to later, panning over an army of Multiple Men who have taken apart the Danger Room computers. The original, still showing signs of injury from the electrocution, is talking to Havok. “I don’t know. We’re kind of in ‘Thousand Monkeys with a Keyboard’ territory. There’s enough of me to crawl through the code and recognize there’s things here there shouldn’t be. But I don’t speak nerd enough to know what. Until we can get Beast or Forge or another computer dork to look at it, all I can say is something that wasn’t supposed to happen did.”

“Self-help,” Warlock says, and touches the console. He flashes imagery, including the Magus’ face, and stumbles back, saying, “Magus.” Warlock tries to run. The New Mutants subdue him before he makes it over the fence. A panicking Warlock tries to explain that it isn’t safe for him to stay, that he’s putting them all in danger, that the Magus came for him. Kitty corrects him- that the Magus came for all of them, and there’s no way they’re letting him face that kind of threat alone. There’s a moment, where we don’t know if the rest will join Kitty’s sentiment, since up to this point they’ve been stand-offish with her; but this is the moment they really accept her, and that’s the note we end the first episode on.

I think from there the Magus uses the MP identity he absorbed to gather military power, essentially creating a conspiracy about a mutant insurrection that will need to be put down with military might, leading to the base he landed on invading the school. So this arc would take up the front half of the season, essentially being a movie paced out to be 4-5 episodes. Along the way, the teachers grow more suspicious about Warlock, and as some of them start to twig what he is, have mixed feelings about taking on a non-mutant refugee that puts mutants in harm’s way. Warlock ultimately wins them over by repeatedly putting himself in harm’s way for the students- he earns his place among them even to the most skeptical of eyes. Ends in a pretty spectacular New Mutants vs military scene; the military are taken apart with kid gloves, at which point the Magus reveals himself and attacks. At first the military are perplexed, not understanding what’s going on, before one of their commanders realizes they’ve been duped and join the fray on the side of the mutants (or, perhaps more simply, realizes this is an attack on US soil, and at least some of the students are American).   

The back half of the season would probably be a take on Inferno, so the first half we’d be seeding that Magik’s teleporting takes her through an infernal dimension, one where she feels safe, one where she feels like she can do anything. Originally, she thought the dimension was metaphorical- that it was the encapsulation of her inner demons. It’s only been working with Professor Xavier (who has training at least as a counselor, if not a full-on psychiatrist) that she discovered the truth- it’s a real place. The Magus hitches a ride with her at one point, probably taking the place of her phone or her music player. Once there, he foments a rebellion amongst the local populace as a way of attacking the team, to weaken them, to open up his path to Warlock.

Since this is a show, we’d probably opt for something lower-key than a demonic romp down Main Street. So I’d go for something subtler, even horror-focused. As the demons are able to sneak out with help from the Magus, until the school reaches a critical mass. Then it becomes psychological horror for our leads, as they’re all forced to deal with their own inner demons, fears, and regrets. What they realize, however, is that the stakes are very real- if the team can’t come together and save Magik, her Inferno is going to use her as a portal to open up in the middle of New York, and from there, likely destroy the world. Magik, at the conclusion, is able to teleport the Magus back to his homeworld; as part of his defeat, Warlock takes over his body and forces him to de-age back to a baby. He explains that doesn’t end his threat, but delays it until the Magus grows back into an adult.

Season 2 would bring in Rogue, presumably fresh from gaining an interesting power set/mental health problems off of Captain Marvel, and at least some new faces. I think, as the show went on, characters would change, grow, some would leave, some would graduate to other teams, decide their real passion was in activism away from the Institute, or become teachers in subsequent seasons. We’d also be filling out the rest of the X-Force roster with Rictor, Boom-Boom, maybe Warpath and Shatterstar. I think that season would also bring in Mystique, Emma Frost and the Hellions as a counter-weight, with the New Mutants mounting a rescue attempt to save what remained of the Hellions after a failed mission, leading directly into…

Season 3: Emma Frost and Banshee bring in a new class of recruits, Gen X! That means Jubilee, Skin, Synch, Husk, Chamber, M. I’d probably do a version of the Phalanx Covenant.

Season 4: Excalibur?

Pitchmas 2019, Part 12: Young Avengers

Okay, so there’s a degree of supposition and guesswork with this one, given that Kate Bishop is getting created for the Disney+ Hawkeye show. I’m going to presume it roughly follows the Fraction Hawkeye series, that she’s more ancillary and it’s about him trying to handle being a regular dude (though possibly with a big bankroll to let him get into deeper doodoo). But her back-story in the books is, roughly, a socialite who wants to make good- that she wanted to make the world a better place so she put on a purple suit and picked up a bow to fill in for the recently exploded Hawkeye.  

Patriot narrates over clips from Captain America: The First Avenger, then a new montage. “After Captain America went into the ice, the US Army tried to recreate the Super Soldier Serum without Dr. Erskine.” Show a military graveyard. “They tested the serum on one of the Army’s black companies. Only one soldier survived: Isiah Bradley.” Show Isiah in in his makeshift uniform, then cut to him, elderly, in a nursing home, “My grandfather. The serum left him with brain damage, but it let him be a hero. My hero.” We have a sweet scene of Elijah (Patriot) spending time with his grandfather, maybe reading him the paper.

I’m operating under the assumption that we’re fighting not to let this become a 3 hour monster, so more quick cuts as Patriot narrates. “Lately, heroes have been in short supply. Iron Man, Black Widow, Vision and Captain America died stopping Thanos. Thor and Hawkeye haven’t been seen in months; with his injuries, Hulk might never fight again. But the world needs Avengers.” Cut to Elijah, climbing out of his bedroom window into a tree, wearing his Patriot uniform (which should harken more to Isaiah’s costume than Cap’s.). “That’s a good costume. Sew it yourself?” Patriot nearly falls out of the tree, spooked by the conversation. Iron Lad is behind him; it’s basically a sleek Iron Man armor tailored to a 16 year old. “I ask because there aren’t a lot of places to get that kind of custom work done.” Patriot does a back flip, landing gracefully beside him. “You make yours?” “More or less,” Iron Lad says.

“Should I be concerned you know who I am, behind all this?” Patriot gestures to his mask. “Where I’m from, everyone knows who you are, Elijah. And your grandfather. You do him quite proud.” “Now I really am concerned.” “Yeah, time travel will make you nuts.” “So you’re from the future, then?” “Makes more sense than me being from the past, though in a way, aren’t we all?” “How about you cut to the point, before I report you to Tony Stark’s intellectual property lawyer?” “There’s trouble, an Avengers-level threat, only, most of the Avengers are dead, retired, or hiding- and those that aren’t have already been caught by Kang.” “Okay, the reject Star Trek villain name has me thinking you’re just a crank in your Iron Man cosplay.” “Lad. It’s Iron Lad.” “And I’m Captain America’s Chum.” “Too retro? I was going for like a classic kind of feel, timeless.” “We can workshop it. Now who’s Kang?”

“Kang is to the timestream what Alexander the Great was to the known world in his day. He doesn’t just conquer tomorrow, but yesterday, today, and every day in between. He’s a bad man, and I know that because… one day I’m going to become him.” “I’m back around to being concerned, but also really confused.” “Yep. Time travel will make you nuts. But I’m also the only chance you have of stopping Kang.” “So I just snap your neck, right?” “If only it were that easy. No. Kang doesn’t just travel backwards and forwards in time. So the Kang you’re worried about, he isn’t me me. He’s a parallel me. So, while you could try to snap my neck, it wouldn’t do any good. In fact, it would make it a lot harder for you to beat him. Probably impossible.” “Then what’s the plan?” “Same reason I came here for you. We’re going to need help. And I’ve got some ideas about that.”

We cut to older Cassie (Stature), wearing something close to the original Wasp costume shown at the end of Ant Man 1, combing through strands of carpet with an army of ants. She’s barking orders at them, panicked, because she hasn’t seen her father; he’s disappeared, without a trace. Iron Lad calls out to her, telling her he’d appreciate if she could grow and speak to him. She grows, bringing a pair of ants with her to act as guard dogs. She sicks them on Patriot, while Iron Lad exposes his face and explains that they can help her find her father, which makes her still more suspicious, but in the end she’s curious enough to go along to find out what they know.

Hawkeye, who has befriended Viv since the end of West Coast Avengers, is their next stop. She’s upset because the rest of the West Coast Avengers are missing. They all stop, and demand Iron Lad explain what the hell is going on, why all of the older heroes are disappearing. He explains that there’s a brief window where there aren’t records of new heroes, where Iron Lad was able to delete records of all heroes past a certain point, letting the Young Avengers exist in a blind spot for Kang, who is eliminating all of the threats to him throughout time.

The final set is the Scarlet Witch’s twins, and Wiccan’s boyfriend, Teddy (Hulkling). They’ve been looking for their mother, their sort-of father (Vision) and Wonder Man (kind of a surrogate father), with no luck; they actually run into them as they’re both trying to track down Scarlet Witch’s whereabouts, and briefly fight while the boys believe they might be responsible for her disappearance.

They proceed to Avengers’ Tower, where Kang portals in. Iron Lad confronts him with what he’s doing, and Kang, bemused, confirms it all. He doesn’t understand why he can’t see them, and Iron Lad tells him that when he stole his armor, he deleted the existence of the Young Avengers from Kang’s files. Kang tries to flee to recon and fix what Iron Lad broke, but at Iron Lad’s direction they damage his time travel interface to strand him there temporarily. They proceed to fight, and while Kang is formidable, the element of surprise in someone who previously couldn’t be surprised at all, is difficult to overcome. At a crucial point in the fight, when Kang is close to having learned enough of them to turn the tide, Kate gets off a shot that goes through his heart, killing him instantly.

Iron Lad is stricken. “I thought you said that wasn’t you,” Patriot says. “I did. And it was the truth. But what I maybe should have said, too, is that Kang can’t die. One of his alter egos ruled over parts of Egypt for hundreds of years. Another becomes a hero, to prevent a different end of the world a thousand years in the future; he lives a hundred lives, some of them indispensable to history. Kang dying now… it dooms the past, the present, and the future. Unless…” “Unless what?” Patriot asks. “Unless I take his place. I guess… I guess the answer was always staring me in the face. Reforming Kang? Impossible. Stopping him, even temporarily? Doable, but his present circumstance notwithstanding, Kang is a temporal cockroach.” Stature: “It’s weird that he keeps referring to Kang in the third person, rather than saying ‘I.’” “That’s because I spent my whole life trying not to be him. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe I was always meant to be- maybe I always had to be. But maybe I can be a version of Kang that’s the good without all the bad.” He opens a temporal portal. “Wait, will we ever see you again?” He retracts his helmet. “If things go to plan, no. You might see some other Kang, but if I do this right… then I’ll be busy living a better version of his life.”

Iron Lad walks through the portal, and a moment later, to swirling music, other Avengers emerge. Whichever Avengers have some extra space on their contracts, but also Captain Marvel, lay down the law, telling the Young Avengers they need training, and to wait until they’re older, to fight crime. Thematically it’s probably best if it’s Captain America, also, original flavor, but it can work with just about anybody. The young Avengers are defiant, without stating as much.

Mid-Credits Scene: Captain Marvel floats in the same spot: “You kids did a great thing. And I agree with the other Avengers that you’re too young and untrained to keep doing it. Unlike the others, I’m not naïve enough to think that will make you quit. So I’d like you to take on someone who’s been learning from me, training with me. Someone I trust implicitly. I’d like you to meet Ms. Marvel.” Her protégé steps out of the shadows.

End Credits Scene: An unseen person opens a personnel file written in Russian, showing shots of a blonde, teenaged Black Widow. The same woman is sitting in a relatively dark and sparse cell, obviously a prisoner. The POV person speaks with a thick Russian accent. “Yelena Bolova, are you prepared to redeem yourself?” They turn the page, and there’s a blurry photo of the Young Avengers. “We have a new group we’d like you to infiltrate.” They close the folder, which has the name “Black Widow, mk 2” written on the tab. Cut to black. 

Pitchmas 2019, Part 11: Deadpool 3

Deadpool 3: No More Mutants r. Nice Guy

I’m assuming this one maintains the series R rating, and the pitch will reflect this, so properly warned ye be, says I.

Starts with slow-motion of Scarlet Witch using her powers; she’s wearing a more comics accurate costume, and it might even be better if it doesn’t actually work, as we get Deadpool narrating. “Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Ultrapowerful, reality-warping witch says three little magic words. No, not ‘I love you,’ this isn’t that kind of story, unless you find genocide romantic.” Cut to an image of Thanos, with silence, before slowly panning out to reveal he has dad bod. “Aw, I can’t stay mad at the dad bod mad Titan. But no, this chick.” Back to Scarlet Witch. “Where I come from, mutants and humans had been locked in a love-hate relationship since at least the Carter administration, until this red head said,” close on her lips as they both say, “’No More Mutants.’” And like that, poof, we were dropped in something called a Marvel Cinematic Universe. I miss the 616, my old gang of street toughs in Ontario. But here? You people don’t like immigrants who walk across your borders, let alone ones who portal directly into New York. You put us in cages, forced us to have a failed reality show host as President. And you only got back Popeye’s chicken sandwiches like a week ago; you sad bastards had been eating Chick-Fil-A. This was easily the worst parallel Earth I’d ever been marooned in- and I can’t count how many that is on all my fingers, including all the ones I severed that week I tried to learn how to make home-made sushi. And then we found out- your world had a Scarlet Witch, too. Only this one wasn’t a mutant. Can you imagine? The last one hated her own kind enough to try to kill us off en masse. What about one who didn’t even have a mutant brother and father?”

“Worried if I went to the future, I’d come back with an alt-right hairstyle myself, I sent our already fashionately victimized Cable.”

Deadpool and Cable are on a tarmac, recreating the scene from Casablanca, with Deadpool doing his best Bogart. “Last night, last night we agreed on so many things, and that I’d do the thinking for both of us. And you’re going.”

“Wade, we already decided I’m going.”

“But if you need me, dollface, just whistle.”

“You’re not in the same movie, anymore, or even the same actor.”

“You know how to whistle, don’t ya?” Deadpool asks, before putting a finger to Cable’s lips. “Put your unchapped lips together and blow.”

Vanessa (Copycat) wraps her arm around Deadpool to scoot him away, “Okay, you’re going to have to talk to Disney HR again if you keep touching people’s lips without their permission.”

“I don’t think we’re supposed to acknowledge that isneyDay oughtbay oxFay.” (his Pig Latin is captioned as, “We Welcome Our New Mousey Overlords”). Deadpool thinks, and he gets a literal thought balloon, with a Mickey insignia, a plus sign and the Deadpool logo, which equals a crayon drawing of Deadpool impaled on his own and various other swords from Disney lore, include a keyblade and the sword from the stone).

“How long are we waiting for him?” Vanessa asks, her skin shifting slightly.

“You know enigmatic Cable,” (now we get a Cable impression), “’I only have the one eye, and time pieces are for pussies. Real men arrive when they get there.” For some reason he grabs his crotch and spits, to punctuate it, realizing too late he didn’t lift his mask, “Gah, it’s all over in my mask. I knew this is what working with Disney would be like, but somehow, thought I’d enjoy it more.”

“Cable said he’d meet us 30 seconds after he left,” Domino interjects.

“Yes,” Deadpool ramps, “if you mean to take the man literally; but Nathan and I have a special bond, one where words have exotic meanings.”

Cable portals back. “He stop being an idiot at all while I was gone?” Cable asks.

“He was too busy choking on his own spit inside his mask to talk for a second, if that counts,” Domino offers. “Probably doesn’t count. But the future? Scale of one to ten, how bad does it look?”

Close in on Cable, looking steely. “We’re fucked.”

Cut back to the X-Force bunker (where they held their tryouts in Deadpool 2: Oops I Fridged Her Again). There’s a large, empty chair, and we flashback, to when it was filled, the flashback denoted by a really cheesy wavy line effect. “Nyet!” Colossus, animated, yells. “What you are discussing, is not right, Wade. It is profiling, it is assuming based on who you think someone is, that they will do something bad. It is what happens to mutants every day, and as an X-Man, I cannot do it to someone else- especially someone who has saved the world, been a hero, not just one day, but many, through many trials. I cannot do, what you ask me to.”

“Peter,” Deadpool says, emotion swelling in his voice, “don’t let the door hit you where the blacksmith split you,” he emphasizes the point by slapping Colossus’ ass, then cradling the crack.

“Is not a joke, Wade.”

“Putter, for once, I ain’t laughing.” Fade back, Colossus disappearing from the doorway.

Cable starts his briefing. “I couldn’t pinpoint a locus for when she says it, but within a few years, Scarlet Witch tries to banish us all over again. Half of us blink out of existence, maybe sent someplace else, maybe just dropped in the sun, but we’re never heard from again. Most of the rest of us lose what makes us mutants, but we rise up, anyway, try to take the fight to her. It’s a bloodbath; we take out the Avengers, they take out the X-Men. Eventually, it’s just her band of loyalists sticking by her: her brother, her lover, and her twins; I heard rumors Magneto stuck his neck out for her, a time or two. The fight came down to them, against those of us remaining with combat training- including those in this room. I fought, side by side with my counterpart. But we still lost.”

“Vanessa?” Deadpool says, emotion echoing in his voice; we hold on this a moment, because it’s the emotional crux of the movie.

“She died, Wade. We all died.” We see an explosion, with alternate Cable shielding our Cable, saving his life. Cut to an ER, Cable laid up watching TV. “I was still healing from the fight when the villains took over- Doom, Loki, Kingpin, Osborn- a whole, secret Cabal of supervillains. And there weren’t enough of us left to turn them back. They won- not just a battle, but the whole damn war.”

“Thank you, ghost of grumpy Christmas future,” Deadpool begins. “Would it kill you, just once, to come back with good news? They open a new Pinkberry just down the street from our headquarters.”

“I checked, like you asked, and they don’t.”

“Am I the only one who hears that story and thinks maybe we shouldn’t try to fight the Scarlet Witch, then?” Domino asks. “Nobody? Okay. I guess, maybe if I’m there, with my powers, everything will fall into place. Or maybe you all die, and I walk away.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Cable says. “The one thing I’ve seen cancels out your lucky streak was the Witch.”

“You at least come back with anything actionable?” Copycat asks. “Like an explanation for how you can suddenly change shape and dupe powers?” Cable growls. Deadpool intercedes: “We play don’t ask don’t tell in le boudoir le Deadpool.”

“I don’t trust new faces, and hers is new every time I see it,” Cable says. “But yeah. The Witch’s brother is Quicksilver. Fastest man alive. Second fastest is the Witch’s kid, goes by Speed; the other one, name of Wiccan. Between the pair of them, they’re the Witch and her brother, but with less experience. I’d start there.”

“And I say we start there,” Deadpool says, bumping Cable.

“Did you just bump dicks with me?” Domino’s eyebrow goes up. “I’m asking because I couldn’t be sure,” Cable continues. “Thought maybe it was a button, baby aspirin, Necco wafer.”

“Aw, you like old lady candy,” Deadpool says preciously.

“Wade, focus,” Copycat says.

“Right. We start with the children. Women and children first was always my go to.”

“The Witch is the most powerful of them all. Our best bet is to work our way through her entourage, hope we can throw her off her game, maybe one of us can pick her off with a rifle before she knows we’re there,” Cable says.

She’s the most powerful? I thought you said Magneto might show,” Domino says.

“He might. And if he does, he’ll be a close second- but not that close. And Vision’s no slouch. He single-handedly took down half of the X-Men. Quicksilver can move ten times the speed of sound, and he’s going to be the second easiest one to bag.”

“Bag?” Deadpool asks. “I thought we got the R rating so the only thing I had to bag was corpses- teabagging them, that is,” he does a few squats for emphasis- onto the camera, I would say.

“Quicksilver’s a mutant,” Cable says. “The twins might be, too. And if it comes to a fight between man and mutant, we could need every soldier. You want to shoot the droid”

“Please don’t sue us, Lucasfilm,” Deadpool says. Vanessa whispers something into his ear, “Our parent owns them, too? Hah. Suck it, hemdroid.”

“You want to shoot the robot or the Witch, I won’t stand in your way.”   

“I have a plan,” Deadpool says.

“I have a bad feeling,” Domino replies.

Deadpool pulls a tube out of his utility belt and says, “Try Deadpool brand medicated crotch powder. Because we all have bad feelings, sometimes, but that’s no reason not to put chili powder in your underpants.” Without skipping a beat he launches into his plan, “Now, Wanda’s kids are right around that age where I started getting kicked out of every library and getting a lot of papercuts.”

“I think he means puberty,” Vanessa says, “though it’s hard to know for sure.”

“Hard, right,” he claps her enthusiastically on the back. “There’s nothing dumber than a teenager with an erection.”

“You, with or without an erection,” Domino says.

“I imagine this hostility is because you’ve guessed the next phase of my totally feminist plan.”

POV, Deadpool watches Vanessa through binoculars. “Could you stop ogling your woman long enough to check the field?” Cable complains. I don’t imagine you have to tart up Domino or Vanessa much- their usual costumes are probably enough, but they stand a little more provocatively, bat their eyes. We pull back to reveal Speed and Wiccan noticing them. Back to close on the ladies, where suddenly Speed is zipping around them, talking at an increased pace and from several different directions. “Hey, ladies, tell me if I’m moving too fast for you.”

“Not at all,” Vanessa says, strokes her fingers down his cheek. There’s a spark, and she says, “Got it,” before at rapid speed she produces a taser and electrocutes Speed, who flops to the ground.

“Guess I’ve got the slowpoke,” Domino says, running at Wiccan. He whispers an incantation, and she floats into the air.

“Actually, it’s Wiccan,” he says.


“They’re in trouble. To me, my X-Farce.” Deadpool runs at Wiccan, who is busy fending off attempts by Domino’s powers to get her down, everything from birds crapping at him in rapid succession to a telephone pole falling very close by, while also trying to deal with an approaching Copycat (I’m assuming his first impulse was to slow her down- which makes her somewhat more manageable). Deadpool draws his swords, then there’s movement out of the corner of his eye, and suddenly there’s a Hulk(ling) landing on Deadpool with a crack. Hulkling kicks Deadpool in the crotch on the ground.

“Wrong bait, numbnuts,” he says. Deadpool, an octave higher than usual.

“What kind of a Hulk calls a man numbnuts?”

“A totally awesome one,” he says with a smile (please, no letters, I know Teddy isn’t the Totally Awesome Hulk; Amadeus Cho requires significantly more back-story and setup before he gets to be green- but the banter’s still a fun nod). “Kidding. I prefer Hulkling. Kind of a riff on- you know, I can tell you’re dealing with more important- shit!” He curses, as Negasonic hits him from behind.

“Hi, Yukio,” Deadpool says, and waves.

“Hi, Wade,” she replies, smiling and waving back.

Wiccan turns, unleashing a blast of magical energies that downs all of them. Cable takes a shot from cover, putting Wiccan down, before entering frame. Copycat is released from Wiccan’s slowing spell, and Domino lands gracefully from midair. “Everybody okay?” Cable asks, helping Yukio and Negasonic up first.

“It’s okay, it’s fine, nobody help me,” Deadpool complains as he rises. The shot is framed in such a way that as Deadpool stands, the camera is looking between his legs at the rest of them look on, horrified as blood drips from his tights. “Are you bleeding from the dick?” Negasonic asks, disgusted. “Nobody said anything about a Hulk kicking me in the nuts, or I’d have worn a cup.”

“I’m assuming you mean a shot glass,” she replies.

“You’d be wearing it on the inside, after a kick like that,” Cable replies.

“He seems like he’s been the butt of the joke a lot today,” Domino observes.

“And the dick and the balls,” Vanessa adds.

“Too soon,” Deadpool moans. We cut away.

“Teddy,” Wiccan says, reaching for Hulking’s hand where they’ve fallen. Deadpool gasps.

“Holy representation, Batman! My movie has two gay couples. That’s like ten times as many as Singer, and we didn’t even get all preachy about it. We did just clobber one of them, but someday they might have helped a genocide. We’re mostly the good guys, right?” Negasonic gives kind of a shrug.

We cut to them filming a hostage video, with Speed and Wiccan tied back to back, with Teddy panned over to slightly off to the side. “And if you want to see your sons and one of your son’s lovers again-”

Domino pulls up her balaclava. “Why are you disguising your voice? You aren’t even wearing a different mask.”

Deadpool ignores her. “I guess we didn’t really get details. Maybe they’re taking it slow. Or maybe there’s a love triangle still developing- and I don’t want to put anyone in a box- Back to one. We have your sons and their green acquaintance. Send yourself, your robot chum, your estranged interdimensional sibling and possibly your also estranged interdimensional father to the address at the bottom of your screen, or prepare to take delivery of them piecemeal over the course of the next several seasons.”

“This is a stupid idea,” Cable says. “We nearly had our clocks cleaned by three kids. Now you want to tangle with the adult versions, plus a homicidal android and her father, a man who is not exaggerating when he calls himself the Master of Magnetism?”

“I know you’re concerned. But I looked at the script, and unless we were going to fit in an intermission or at least an Infinity Gauntlet, there was no way that running time was going to fly. So we’re simplifying. Get them all here for one quick dust up for all the marbles.”

“And if they do to your marbles what the kids did?”

“You’re right,” Deadpool says gravely, squeezing Cable’s shoulder, “I should grab my cup.” 

There is a fade to black, with slow titles “Five Minutes Later,” with Deadpool making jokes about it being a sequence they shot in real time, but he always uses it to go to the bathroom- he’s got a tiny bladder and the suit really pushes in on it- but it’s basically an intermission, so feel free to stretch your legs, freshen up your popcorn, play a little Canadian Tonsil Hockey- where it’s not a real game unless everybody loses tooth! All accompanied by the sounds of him unzipping and removing his costume, sliding on a cup, possibly narrating some of it, then zipping back up.

From there, it’s just Deadpool doing an a capela version of a Wam! song’s instrumentation until we fade back in on the action, which, fittingly, is a close-up of him adjusting his cup beneath his suit. “For some reason, I feel more confident, now.” We pan out, and can see that he’s not just wearing a cup, but the most oversized cup we can find.

Negasonic raises an eyebrow at Vanessa. “His overcompensation is one of his charms,” Vanessa says.

“What are the others?” she deadpans, and Vanessa smirks.

Many close up shots in a montage of a heist, cut together in overlapping frames like the action scenes from the Ang Lee Hulk, which were meant to look like comic panels but mostly just became visual noise, as Deadpool narrates “All right, I’m going to level with you. There was a whole second act story about us breaking into the labs of an Essex Genetic Laboratory, stealing some sort of Legacy Virus McGuffin, but we couldn’t get it to cut together in an interesting way; we even brought in Ang Lee to help us capture that comic book feel, but the editing made me,” he heaves, as we switch to an atmospheric sneaker commercial, smoke, a spotlight over red and black shoes, “nauseous, and I love you all too much to make you vomit on your new Nike Deadpools. $100 sneakers, made with almost 30% less child labor, and at only 300% of the price.” Deadpool continues, in a lawyer-commercial voice, “Nike’s lawyers would like you to know that it, like virtually every corporation, sub-contracts labor and cannot be held responsible for working conditions it pays pennies on the dollar for in countries with histories of poor labor protections.”

We zoom out, revealing that the foot inside the Deadpools belongs to Firefist. We go to slow-mo, him blasting a ball of fire at Scarlet Witch as Quicksilver circles around it, knocking Firefist out of his sneakers, before going back to normal speed. Domino fires at Witch, who turns the bullets into doves with her magic, and Quicksilver runs at Domino. Slow-mo again, as Quicksilver, now wearing Firefist’s Deadpools, has them come unlaced. He trips on the laces, and goes bouncing down the street, past Domino, pinballing off one car and denting it halfway in and hitting another on the opposite side of the street, continuing until flattening in a very Wile E. Coyote way against a brick wall. “Speedster’s down,” Cable says, over comms.

Vision and Viv phase up out of the concrete. “Nobody said a thing about a second, girly Vision,” Deadpool says, “And since when has the original had such long, luxurious hair?”

“I hate alternate timelines,” Cable says, and starts firing. Viv phases through the bullets, Vision hardens himself so the bullets bounce off him. “Deadpool, distraction,” Cable says.

“Was this a worm situation? Thanos tore Vision apart, and the half that didn’t have the twig and berries became Ms. Vision, while the dick-side grew a whole new dick.”

“The Vision you knew was a prototype,” Vision replies. “We are an… evolution of the concept.”

“Evolution,” Cable snorts, slapping a metal doohickey onto one of the Visions. Electricity arcs from the device to both Visions. “My toilet has a more advanced AI.”

“Why would a toilet need advanced AI?” Deadpool asks. “To sweetly sing to you to help your old man prostate make water? To coax big boom booms out of your tight bum-bum?” Cable turns and gut-shoots Deadpool.


“You’ll heal.”

“Stay away from them,” Scarlet Witch yells, blasting all of them off their feet.

“Copycat,” Cable says. Quicksilver hobbles to the Witch’s side, before punching her. Quicksilver shifts back to Copycat, standing over her. Witch tries to magic her, but Copycat is able to fend her off using her own stolen abilities, at least for a moment. “We need to end this,” Cable says.

“Love to,” Deadpool replies,” I just can’t seem to raise my gun. Or move.”

“Heal faster,” Cable barks. “Says the man who gut-shot me.”

We hear a commanding voice over their comms. “There’s just enough iron in the blood to immobilize a person, magnetically. Tapping into your comms, is a subtler manipulation, though both are child’s play, to the Master of Magnetism.” Magneto tears his way through something metal for a dramatic entrance, say a jack-knifed semi-track acting as a backdrop for the fight. Scarlet Witch blasts the immobilized Copycat off her feet. Magneto helps the Witch back to her feet. “Are you certain about this course?” he asks her. “I could tear the blood from their veins and finish this.”

“There’s been enough violence. Too much,” she says.

“Very well.”

“Wade,” we recognize the voice as a large figure descends from the heavens; Deadpool can’t see them at first, but imagines them in a Venus tableau, including the figure riding in a clam shell.

“Why am I getting a Peter tingle?” Deadpool asks.

Magneto sets Colossus down in front of Deadpool. “End this madness. The Maximoffs, the Visions, even Magneto, do not want this conflict. You are fighting on the wrong side, for the wrong reasons. But it’s not too late.”

“I’d say the same to you, Petey, but my Russian accent always comes out sound like Natasha- from Rocky and Bulwinkle, not the Black Widow- which gives me an erection, but I’m wearing a cup and there’s no place for it to go.”

Negasonic blasts Colossus from behind. “That’s not what Vanessa told me,” she says.

“Hi, Yukio,” Deadpool says.

“Hi, Wade.”

“Enough!” The Scarlet Witch bellows, blasting them all off their feet again.

“Oh, right, the life or death struggle doesn’t stop just because we’re making dick jokes,” Deadpool says, starting to get up off the ground. He’s suddenly lifted up by the Witch’s magic.

“I’ve done outreach, among the mutants,” she starts. “I asked about you. Many of your kind have unkind words for you, but most agree, grudgingly, that your heart is usually in the right place- even if your head is-”

“In the gutter,” Vanessa offers.

“Not screwed on tight enough,” Cable offers.

“Up his ass,” Negasonic adds.

“Your compatriots make excellent points,” the Witch replies. “While I may not be a mutant, I know what it is to be hated and feared; I could never do that to anyone else. I am not the monster you fought.”

“No, you’re New Coke her- hipper, edgier, and you make me want to punch my way through a Kindergarten class.”

“Are you insane?” Witch asks.

“That’s debatable,” Negasonic says.

“I don’t want to destroy mutants,” Witch continues. “I don’t even want to destroy you. I just want my sons back, and to be left alone.”

“That’s not what the future says,” Cable barks.

“Ah. So your entire team are insane. At least there’s some organizing principle. Go, then, back to your future, tell me what you see now.”

“Bodyslide, by one.” Cable disappears, before reappearing. “It’s all gone, the slaughter, the Cabal. The future changed. Wade, we don’t have to do this.”

Close up of a Claymore mine, hidden behind the car Quicksilver bounded off of earlier. Deadpool hits the trigger clipped to his belt, and it goes off, shredding the car and hitting everyone, Wade most of all, but he’s still the first back on his feet. Magneto and the Witch are able to deflect some of the damage, but basically everyone is wounded. “Vanessa?” he yells.

“Could have warned me,” she says, moaning from the ground with a flesh wound.

“If the future changed, it can change back,” Deadpool says, limping forward. He pulls his sidearm, and advances towards the Scarlet Witch.

“Wade, please,” Colossus says struggling to stand, revealing that the back part of his uniform was blasted off by Negasonic, leaving him with an open butt flap like on an old-timey set of long-johns. “You are a good man. I know it. The only man you must truly prove it to is you.”

“Damnit, I can’t stay mad at that bare, metal ass,” Deadpool says, cupping Colossus’ butt.

“Is that something I need to be worried about?” Vanessa asks.

“Beginning to think this story has three gay couples,” Cable says gruffly.

“You can’t stop me,” Deadpool says.

“No,” Colossus says, stepping out of the way. “Only you can.”

Deadpool groans, and helps Scarlet Witch to her feet, holding his gun in her guts. “Swear to me you aren’t going to go genocidal monster on us.” She realizes, after a moment, that he is holding out his pinky solemnly. She wraps her pinky around his.

“I swear it.”

“Good,” Deadpool says, and holsters his pistol. “Cause if you break a sacred pinky promise, I’ll kill you. And I don’t care how many alternate dimension relatives of yours I have to shoot to get to you.”

“Wade,” Copycat touches his shoulder, and he collapses into her arms, trembling. “It’s okay,” she says, holding him.

“I couldn’t lose you again,” he says.

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily,” she says, and kisses him.

Mid-Credits Scene: Darkness. We can hear Deadpool outside, going on about wrapping things up in a neat little bow. Cable reminds him, as they open the door, that he’s forgetting one thing- the virus we showed them heisting in quick-cuts earlier. “What do you do with a virus that can target anyone?” Cable asks. 

“Use it on Nazis?” Deadpool offers. 

“Wade,” Colossus groans.

“What? Who’s going to miss Nazis?”

“Barbers who can only do that fascist hairstyle?” Vanessa guesses.

“Other racists who get kind of a pass when there are actual Nazis around,” Domino says.

“Their racist grandmothers?” Negasonic asks.

Deadpool sighs dramatically, “Fine, we won’t impulsively unleash a genocidal bioweapon. Moms.”

End Credits Scene: Deadpool comes out: “You’re still here? There isn’t a teaser for the next one because we’re not doing a next one. I did three. I’m done. They didn’t ask Chris Evans to do Cap 4, or RDJ to do IM4 (pronounced “Ridge and “Imfur” respectively).” (someone offscreen starts talking to him, probably the director, cause it’s funner). “Hemsworth did what? Damnit. Now they’ll never stop asking for more sequels. That beautiful, blonde, delectable, son of lickable-

Cut to Black, with white text: Deadpool Might Be Back in X-Force, because Ryan Reynolds needs two more pools, one for peeps and one for poops

Pitchmas 2019, Part 10: X-Men

X-Men: Cages of Grief

In a pitched battle between every Marvel movie villain and every member ever of Magneto’s brotherhood of mutants, the combined forces of the Avengers and the X-Men are losing (if we want to be timelier about it, they’re the tip of the spear of Thanos’ army). We watch a few Avengers take a dirt nap, before Scarlet Witch, with her dying breath, utters, “No More Mutants.” Suddenly, both the Brotherhood and the X-Men are gone in a blinding scarlet flash. Deadpool (it’s unclear which side he’s on), runs into the middle of the now mostly deserted battlefield and asks, “Wait, what’d I miss?” before being caught by one last spark of the red magic and disappearing, too. Cut to black, white text slowly appears, “Five… years…” Deadpool interrupts. “No, no, no. Do you have any idea how much havok five years can wreak on the glutes? I will find Thanos and have him snap every screenwriter in LA.” Years changes to weeks, and Deadpool says, “That’s much more reasonable.” (And yes, I either have the one joke I will wear into the ground… or I have cleverly fulfilled the promise of the rule of threes- okay, it was the third when originally written).  

Cut to a news broadcast, of kids in cages, one of whom has purple skin, another has glowing eyes. A reporter narrates, “What authorities initially believed was a second Blip, we now know to be an invasion of powered beings from an alternate Earth. Viewing them as a potential threat to American sovereignty as well as a potential carrier of otherworldly infections, the United States Government is now asking that all of these so-called Homo Superior race surrender themselves for decontamination, registration and monitoring.” Cut to another broadcast, far more Foxy, over phone footage of Magneto lifting and throwing cars at police. “Some of these so-called mutants refuse to recognize any human authority. They hate us, and will stop at nothing less than the utter destruction of the white- I mean human- race.” Another commentator, a Bill O’Reilly type: “Especially the mutant terrorist who calls himself Magneto. He’s struck ICE detention facilities in 3 states in as many days, killing all personnel and recruiting the captured mutants to his cause.”

Cyclops, Storm, Xavier (still walking) and Deadpool are hiding in New York. The rest of the X-Men are scattered, some captured (behind them is a board similar to the infamous cover to the first Days of Future Past issue (think it’s 141, showing which mutants are believed captured or at large). On another board, we see Xs for every ICE facility Magneto has hit, circling around Washington, D.C. They discuss the mutants they’ve seen Magneto has with him, and needing a force tailored to striking at Magneto quickly; without him his insurrection ends. As they’re selecting their team, it’s kind of like a heist movie, going over strengths and weaknesses. One thing they decide is that they need an international team- if this is going to be the face of mutant-kind standing up to tyrants like Magneto, it can’t just be Americans.

Xavier uses telepathy to get access to a secret government spy plane. Then they go for Wolverine first, mostly because he and Deadpool are bullet sponges, being held at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant. Storm gives them cover with a tropical storm, and Cyclops blasts his way in. “Aren’t you the best there is at what you do, even though it isn’t very nice. How’d you get caught?” “They dropped a MOAB on me.”  

Mostly fairly quick cuts as we assemble the rest of the team, Wolverine tracking down Sunfire in Japan where he’s gone to ground, Deadpool reuniting with Colossus in Russia (and hugging him with a little butt grab). Quick stop in Germany for Nightcrawler, who quips, “It would have been faster for me to come to you.”

Deadpool finds Vanessa on Muir Island, where an identical Moira McTaggert is quickly boning up on mutant genetics with Hank McCoy, where they pick up Banshee. Vanessa throws Deadpool down the rolling hill they’re standing on, and he yells, “As you wish!” as he tumbles down. She meets him at the bottom, twisting his head back on straight. He says, “You never told me you were a-” he wiggles his index finger. “A lifesize replica of your erection?” she asks, and he puts his index finger to his nose behind the mask, and she jumps on him and kisses him. Still at the top of the hill, the other X-Men are uncomfortable. “Should we wait for Wade?” Colossus asks. Cyclops shrugs. “It is quieter without him,” Kurt says. “And we’ve already got a Canadian, and one of them spreads mighty far,” Banshee says, and Wolverine growls.

Lastly, they stop off near Washington, where Wolverine tracks down Warpath (or Thunderbird, if you’re a stickler), operating an underground railroad smuggling mutants up into Canada. They served together, and he calls him Proudstar. (so we aren’t completely neglecting Latinos, we could have Xavier telepathically call out to Sunspot in Brazil and tell him to meet them in Washington).

Cut to the Oval Office in siege mode. We see the exterior, Magneto and his legions flanked by American protestors. Inside, Henry Peter Guyrich hangs up the phone, “Captain Rogers said, and I quote, ‘I don’t think I will.'” “Sir,” Bollivar Trask leans forward, “you still have our failsafe.” “But once the surprise is out of the box, will it still function as a deterrent?” asks President Kelly. “They asked the same about the atom bomb, sir. The world needs a demonstration.”

Sentinels, clearly based on Hammer tech from Iron Man 2, tear their way up out of the White House lawn. For a moment, they are immune to Magneto’s control, and blast the crowd, peaceful demonstrators and agitators alike. Magneto rips pipes out of the lawn and surrounding street, and uses them to puppeteer the Sentinels, and uses one to tear Robert Kelly out of the White House and throw him onto the White House lawn, amidst the gathered crowd.

Fog rolls in, obscuring Kelly, as the X-Men’s stolen plane lands between the crowd and the White House. They first deal with Magneto’s Sentinels, then fight to get to Magneto. He’s too much for them, and when it looks like they’re beaten, Xavier controls a mutant behind Magneto to attack him (I’m thinking Rahne Sinclair or Feral) and he goes down. 

Kelly, meanwhile, is back on his feet, not distinguishing between friend or foe in the crowd. Xavier produces a mutant version of his daughter. “That’s not my Anika.” “But she is, Mr. President. No different from the one you raised.” Xavier joins their minds, and we see flashbacks of the alter Kelly with his daughter. Kelly collapses to his knees. “My, God, what have I done?” “It matters less what we’ve done,” Xavier soothes, “the future belongs to what we’ll do. It is within everyone, human or mutant, to be better; all we ask is that we try to teach each other how.”

Magneto throws a metal rod at Kelly. Xavier pushes him out of the way, and is impaled through the spine, on live television. Wolverine growls, and guts Magneto. For his trouble, he’s flung across the White House lawn, and Magneto flees. 

For the epilogue we cut to the Xavier Institute, owned by Cain Marko, but due to his negligence, operated by a nonprofit in the family’s stead. Marko has been pissing away his inheritance on various schemes to become more powerful, running for office, starting then abandoning companies. Virtually the only remaining part of the family legacy is the charity started to posthumously honor first Charles and then their parents, most prominently running a school for troubled but gifted youngsters. The charity head says that he can’t think of a better use for it than housing refugees, including an alternate version of their son. He leans in closer, whispers that he knew their Charles, grew up with him, that they were, “Closer than brothers, to borrow a phrase.” 

Most people in the room are glued to the TV. The calm newscaster returns. “With the mutant threat abated for the time being, repurposed ICE facilities are returning to their mission of housing separated families.” The Bill O’Reilly type returns. “I for one, am not convinced that Magneto and this Xavier didn’t plot it out together, and I’m not going to sleep soundly until we manage to round all of them up and send them back where they came from.”

Xavier steps away from the charity head. “Part of this world may always hate and fear us, but we mustn’t despair. Humanity is better than the worst of us. It’s up to us to prove it to them.” Mid-credits scene: Cain, who we recognize from the gaudy portrait at the Institute, is running through some Tomb Raider-esque ruins. The music swells, and for an instant as he defies deadly traps we forget who he is, until he grabs his guide and uses him as a human shield to survive the final trap. He approaches the Crimson Gem of Cytorrak, reaching out for it. Close on the guide, his dying words, “You don’t deserve the power of Cytorrak,” as the room is bathed in Crimson light, and we hear him changing, as we see his shadow grow from a normal man to that of the Juggernaut.