Pitchmas 2019, Part 8, Heroes for Hire (aka the Iron Fix)

This is, for all intents and purposes, a soft reboot of the Netflix shows, but structure-wise it’s Ghostbusters for superheroes. I’d keep most of the good (the casts are fairly strong, with the possible exception of Danny), but view it a chance to fix the things that didn’t work (not to pick on Iron Fist, but basically that, and the ninjas). It is a fall from grace story- or, rather, a combo of them. An ascendant Kingpin has his convictions overturned thanks to Big Ben Donovan, linking Misty Knight to bad chains of evidence related to our heroes. But he wasn’t content to clear his name- no, Kingpin is tearing our heroes down at the same time as he pulls himself back up, and yeah, this is, if nothing else, a chance to get Vincent D’s Kingpin into the movies where he belongs.

Luke loses his club, Danny loses his company, Daredevil loses his secret identity (and subsequently his law license), Jessica loses her agency and maybe PI license, “It was only interfering with my drinking, anyway,” she slurs over a drink. Black Cat loses Spider-Man & her rep as a heroine (someone anonymously sends him proof she’s been stealing while working with him/seeing him- provided Sony will play ball), Colleen loses her dojo and Misty loses her job. We find that out in a series of quick cuts, before cutting to five months later with titles stating that over black.

Luke has been reduced to working as a bouncer at the club he used to own, squirreling away his pennies to buy Pops’ old barbershop as a base of operations for his new business venture. Misty and Jessica work under Hellcat’s PI license (she only gets a cameo this time, but she gets her blue and yellow costume as part of the end credits sequence, or at least a tease of it), when Jess isn’t too drunk to show up for work. Danny and Colleen are volunteering their time to teach underprivileged children martial arts at the city’s shelters. Black Cat is, for all intents and purposes, working as a thief for supervillains, trying to keep her profile low so she doesn’t run into Spider-Man. Daredevil is continuing to work as a superhero, but without any pretense of keeping up a real, normal life; he steals pocket change from muggers, and when that fails, he dumpster dives for his dinner. She-Hulk is pursuing him to help fight for reinstatement, and help her detangle the legal shenanigans that saw all of them so far stripped of their various positions and privileges- but he’s given up being Matt Murdock; mostly, his Catholic guilt is eating him alive, as he blames himself for Kingpin going after all of those in his life (if there’s space, he’s seen to it that Foggy loses his gig with Hogarth, and Karen gets bounced from the paper when she’s linked to the disappearance of one of Kingpin’s henchmen).

Luke gathers everyone (he has to trick Daredevil using a subsonic terrorist threat only he can hear), to announce his business idea: heroes for hire, bodyguards, investigators, restealers, with legal help from Daredevil and She-Hulk to keep them from doing anything too dangerous, legally speaking. Daredevil balks, uncomfortable with the idea of charging for what he does. “But we can work on a sliding scale. Someone like the old Danny Rand shows up, pockets heavy with corporate coin? You charge him the corporate rate. Jess brings you one of her hardcases, not a penny to their name, but in some serious need of justice? For them we work pro bono. Imagine how many jobs for your average New Yorker we could bankroll off one job from Stark, or Rand.” “That’s cold, man,” Iron Fist complains. “This is what we do. We’ve got these- gifts- and we weren’t meant to use them to hold down day jobs. We’re supposed to help people. This will let us do that again.”

Most everybody’s in, but Daredevil’s got itchy feet (likely from uncomfortably-sewn booties). “We do this, we can pay to finally get that fish-mask redesigned,” Luke teases. She-Hulk squeezes Matt’s arm. “With this, if we set up a legal fund, we could work to get your license back- to get back everything all of you have lost.”

This is the most Ghostbusters aspect of the entire movie, similar montage as they hero for hire, doing sometimes random (but always amusing) things around town for people, possibly cutting a similarly awkward and low-fi commercial.

I think around the midpoint there’s a big municipal contract- they work security/press the flesh at a Policeman’s Ball type affair, where they’ve been hired as a favor to She-Hulk (or somebody else with pull with the Avengers). Daredevil and the other costumes (Iron Fist and possibly Luke if we can get him a costume that isn’t just tight yellow shirt) are on stage while the commissioner talks about community outreach. Daredevil walks off stage, initially to boos, as he literally sniffs out a bomb; Jessica and Misty use their skills to find the bomber. Danny and Colleen handle the bomber’s hired protection, while Luke throws himself on top of the bomb to absorb the bulk of the explosion. This gets the police back on their collective side, which gets the rest of the city government on their side (fun idea: Luke and Jessica fill in when a ladder truck malfunctions, throwing firefighters into a third story window, and she says, “Throwing them’s the easy part; it’s catching them when they’re flailing around a big fire ax and a chihuahua with poor bladder control that’s less fun.”)

For the climax Kingpin hires them directly, offering to give them their lives back (he has a dossier of exonerating evidence Daredevil looks through), on top of paying double their fee. They don’t like it, and several of them voice concerns. Luke is about to lead all of them off when Daredevil, who had been silent to that point, breaks in, “We’ll do it.”

Cut back to their HQ, where Daredevil explains his thinking. “Fisk is up to something. Likely, he knows we’ll undo his handiwork, get all our lives back, then come at him- and this is a chance to dirty our hands for real, while making sure his original frame holds. So we figure out what he’s doing, and we undo it.” “What about our lives?” Danny asks. “What about our fee?” Luke asks. “We keep telling people we’re heroes. This is where we prove it.”

The ending is basically an Oceans 11 riff, with Kingpin planning an elaborate heist that our heroes pull off, while our heroes pull of their own elaborate heist on top of his. Kingpin’s plan makes use of each of their skillsets, but in obvious ways, so that there will be clear breadcrumbs leading back to them after the heist. Kingpin doesn’t tell them where they’re going, or what they’re stealing, and keeps them in the dark, literally, in the back of the van until they reach the destination. They only find out what they’re stealing when they get the vault open, a vault containing Iron Man’s armors. It’s then that their communications devices light up with a message from Kingpin; he doesn’t just want any armor, he wants the Hulkbuster, and he wants it unlocked so anyone can use it (he says something about everyone being able to get into the vault, the Latverians, Hydra, AIM, the Russians- but being able to use the tech they steal is usually the sticking point). If we’re trying to make Danny more fun, he can snark about that being the only armor that will fit Kingpin- because it’s obvious he’s planning to use it himself- which could form the basis of a running joke of Kingpin never wanting to confirm, but not really denying, either. 

They’re able to figure out enough about Pepper, the current CEO and only person with unlock keys for the armors, to log into her terminal and grant themselves access to the armor, likely using Jessica’s skills, with maybe an assist from Daredevil’s senses. They arrive, one of them wearing the Hulkbuster, to the meet with Kingpin. When they refuse to hand over the armor, he has police, who were standing by, come in to arrest them for stealing Stark property. That’s when Danny plays his ace: Pepper Pots, in a smart business suit, storms in with She-Hulk, presenting an agreement to temporarily lease select Iron Man tech during the conduction of a test of Stark’s security procedures by the Heroes for Hire. Kingpin’s upset, because they shouldn’t have been able to contact anyone- his henchmen were blocking cell and radio frequencies, even blocking them from using the internet inside Stark.  

It’s after he storms off that the final piece falls into place, and Ant-Man grows to normal human size. “If they needed a heist, they called the wrong hero.” We find out Danny didn’t just call Pepper, he called every billionaire in the city with rare/exotic tech who might be hit. It was when he called Hank that Hank offered them Scott, who was able to get a message out through his ants to She-Hulk, who got Pepper. Pepper is steely-eyed, staring down She-Hulk, who doesn’t give an inch, either. “This time, we played ball, because Fisk is a monster. But next time your clients break into one of Tony’s-” she pauses, hurting for an instant at the thought that it’s no longer Tony’s, before continuing apace, “a Stark facility, we will press charges to the fullest extent of the law.” Pepper then glares at whoever is in the Hulkbuster. “That’s my ride your sitting in.” They get out of it, and she gets in, and flies off.

Daredevil plays back audio of Kingpin trying to extort the armor off them, before cutting it off abruptly. “Fisk took his best shot at us, and failed. We don’t have our lives back, yet, but he knows that even vulnerable, we’re a force to be reckoned with. That he took this shot at all proves he’s scared of us. Good. We’re going to give him reason to be.”

Mid-credits scene: Close on artist’s concept sketch showing the “Iron King,” along with that title hand-written beside it. It’s basically the Hulkbuster suit repainted to look a lot like comic book Kingpin in a white suit with a purple vest and purple pants and ridiculous jeweled cane for no reason, which he hides when someone comes into the room.

End credits sequence: Several packages are delivered. The eagle-eyed will recognize a few of the recipients, in particular Hellcat, Punisher and Spider-Man (but all of them heroes/characters who might or have historically had a bone to pick with Kingpin). Punisher, wearing the red skull from his Thunderbolts stint, opens the package to find a phone that starts to buzz as it receives a text. “Invite from Heroes for Hire to join Operation: Kingfall.”