Pitchgiving 2020 Bonus: Birds of Prey 2

We open on a mugging/assault in an alley, filmed to remind of the opening of Batman 89, taking place on top of a rooftop. In swoops a younger woman in black, rubber armor, without Bat accoutrements. Underneath it is Cassandra Cain. The rescuer throws the attacker down, and the victim squeals while fleeing, and the camera follows her, revealing Harley, watching from the shadows, whispering, “You got this.”

Cassandra tries to make herself bigger with each word, building dramatically towards the ellipsis, “I am vengeance, I am the night, I am… still working on the name. What do you think of Bian-Fu?” The attacker turns his head, then dives at her, and they both roll over the edge of the roof.

Harley runs to the edge of the roof saying, “Shit shit shit shit shit.” There are two cracks, followed by the sound of zipping rope.

The attacker is suspended just above the concrete, close enough he could lick it, while Cassandra is holding onto a grapnel beside him. She drops down to the concrete. “You okay?” a woman asks from behind her. Cassandra spins to see Batgirl, looking really cool in her costume, but also confident and personable. Cassandra nods, a little starstruck. “I won’t be a hypocrite and tell you not to do this, but I will tell you it takes a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of training. Give me a call some time, if you want some tips, or just somebody to talk to.” She gives her a card with a bat symbol and a phone number on it.

Harley, a freaking wreck, runs up as Batgirl grapnels away, huffing and bent over. “Y’okay?” she wheezes.

“So cool,” Cassandra says, barely aware of Harley’s presence.

Cut to Harley’s car, as they drive away.

“So I’ve been thinking about the name. My whole thing kind of keeps petering out. How about Bat-Woman?”

“I’m not sure the homage comes through if you’re one-upping her in the name. Plus there’s already one of them.”

“Bat… wing?”

“There’s already a guy. Or person.”

“Bat… Rock… the Lepper?

“That is the stupidest name I’ve ever heard. How about Black Bat?”

“But I’m not Black.”

“Aw, honey, it’s not the 60s anymore. Black heroes don’t have to put ‘black’ in their names just so the cops don’t shoot them.” Very quick cut to Bat Wing getting shot by cops (he’ll survive, because of the armor- but it still stings). “Right, Bat Wing got shot by the cops just last Thursday; should have went with Black Bat. But there aren’t a lot of ‘Bat’ names left. Unless you want to be a Bat Hound.”

They sing spontaneously together with an Elvisy twang, “You ain’t nothing but a Bat Hound- you ain’t never caught a Riddler and you ain’t no friend of mine,” and then go back to the conversation as if nothing happened.

Harley: “Or, you could choose to name yourself after another woman who selflessly saved your life.”

“Yeah. I could be Harley’s Hemorrhoid.”

“Turned out that was just Chipotle. I wonder if that counts as product placement?”

“That depends on where you put the Chipotle.”

Harley’s phone alarm goes off. “Oh, we’ve got to meet the girls.” Harley drives out into the Gotham Hills, to a plant sanctuary. They get out of the car, and Poison Ivy descends from an open window of a glass dome atrium, riding atop a magnificent, vicious looking plant, looking both elegant and terrifying (if you’re looking for a casting suggestion Lake Bell is great and voices her on the animated series- a nested suggestion: go watch the Harley Quinn animated series).

“Hey, Harles,” Ivy says.

“Great, she’s babysitting again,” Catwoman says, melting out of the shadows. Cassandra flips her the bird.

Harley leans in to Cass and whispers, “Okay, I see why you didn’t want to go with Cat Girl.”

“That, and the weeaboos would never leave me alone.”

“We ready?” Ivy asks.

Harley: “Joker’s taken so much- from all of us. I think it’s time we show him how loss feels.”

Actiony scene, where Catwoman sneaks in and disables the security alarms, Ivy infiltrates the guard station and subdues them, all while Harley and Cass create a distraction.

They all meet up inside the warehouse, planning to mop up, only for it to turn into a shoot out. See, the warehouse in question is a weapons cache- most of the Joker’s arms storage. So the few remaining goons are able to arm up, and quickly, so we get a high caliber fight scene.

“I thought if we cut off their weapons supplies, the rest would be easier,” Harley says as bullets whiz past her.

“I don’t think we should let her do the thinking anymore,” Catwoman says, whipping her way up into the rafters. She drops behind one of the shooters, taking him out. Ivy uses undercooked broccoli in one of the gunmen’s stomachs to grow, popping out of him like an Alien. Harley fires a novelty gun that shoots a boxing glove wrapped around a brick into the third shooter. There’s a fourth, surprise gunmen that Cass takes out before he can shoot Harley in the back.

Cut to later, the Birds of Prey surveying the damage. “We’re too late,” says the Question (Montoya); and yes, she is wearing the faceless mask. There are burnt crates of weapons and ammo still smoldering.

“What the hell happened here?” Canary asks.

“Arms smuggling seems a given,” a new voice says, as Batgirl lands right behind Huntress. Huntress reacts by spinning, and jabbing with a knife from her belt. Batgirl rolls her, peeling the knife away and dropping her on her back fluidly. “Didn’t mean to surprise you. But these guns have been illegally modified, and there are enough to assume this is more than just a personal stash. It’s enough to arm a small army. Or a gang. Name on the deed is Jack White-”

“The White Stripes guy?” Huntress asks, dusting herself off.

“It’s probably an alias.”

“So we assume these are gang related. Who would trash their weapons? A rival gang would take them for themselves.”

“That is the question, Question; your name is kind of confusing.” I’m suddenly hearing Rachel Brosnahan as Batgirl… and I really like that idea.

I think we stay with the Birds, as they try to figure out where the next strike on Mr. White’s holdings will be, back at Barbara’s Clocktower. It’s here we meet Oracle, Batgirl’s logistics expert (in a wheelchair, and I’ll reiterate my support for casting Kiera Allen from Run because she- and it- are amazing). Babs saved her, once upon a time; for my money, I think it’s more compelling if she was already in the chair. Oracle used her savvy with computers to track her back down to repay her- by saving her life (I think her original attack was designed by Joker to smoke Batgirl out- which Oracle figured out, preventing Joker from shooting her). Since then, she’s been feeding her, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the Bat Family, with leads, intel, research- whatever they need that she can provide remotely.

This includes an extensive web of Jack White’s holdings. She notes that Jack White doesn’t exist (Canary asks who wrote all the White Stripes’ music, then?), but that several of his businesses are definitely fronts for illegal activity. She theorizes that either he himself is dirty, or his anonymity or even his name are being used by someone as a shield. Oracle and Batgirl have figured out the five most likely targets, and each one of them is going to sit on one- not to engage, but to observe, and call in backup if and when anyone of interest shows. The targets are divided into the likeliest attackers: a rival gang would likely look to cripple White’s biggest money maker, a night club, on the assumption that it disrupts his legitimate cash flow, but also disrupts his ability to clean cash from his clandestine enterprises. A vigilante or rogue law enforcement would try to expose him as a criminal, which means hitting his shipping warehouse, likely the point of entry for the guns and also likely any other illicit substances. Anyway, they all take one, with Batgirl handing out assignments. Batgirl takes Ace Chemical, bought by White for pennies on the dollar after Harley Quinn destroyed it. Rumor has it that White uses it as a sort of de facto headquarters. She’s able to listen through the vibrations in an unbroken window to White making plans, but doesn’t see him, and is just about to confront him when Canary calls them in.

She admits she thought about taking Harley herself- until she saw her entourage, and thought maybe she’d need the backup, after all. They arrive after the fighting is done, as the Sirens are torching more of White’s merchandise (I’m going to say it’s a chemical supply company). The Sirens flee when the Birds arrive, and they give chase. The Sirens run into a sewer, and Montoya hopes they won’t have to fight any killer crocs down there, when a sewer plant grows to the size of a person (giving the middle finger), and blocks their entrance. Batgirl calls Oracle for a map of the sewers, but unfortunately they’re right at a junction point- the Sirens could have gone virtually anywhere. Batgirl, conspiratorially, asks Oracle how their tracker is working, and she says they’ve got a clear signal.

We zoom in on Black Bat’s new cape, black and fringed like Batgirl’s. There’s a tracker attached to it (with a blinking light, if it’s too subtle- but I otherwise want to be subtle with it). The Sirens are triumphant. They’ve not only knocked over two of the Joker’s places, but they managed to get away from Batgirl and ‘those other dorks’ (Harley’s words). They feel on top of the world.

Harley argues they go for the kill, now. If they keep nipping around at the edges, it’s only a matter of time before “Puddin’- I mean, Mistah J, sets us up an ugly surprise. He almost got the Bat a couple of times, with those surprises. He’s got a real knack for hurting people.” Catwoman argues the counter- wanting to be methodical. She wants to take his empire away a piece at a time, so that a broke, disarmed and alone Joker is their prey- and they don’t have to wade through an army of goons with guns. Black Bat sides with Harley, but Catwoman argues she’s a sidekick, and a trainee, and Harley’s Hemorrhoid, so she doesn’t get a say. So it all comes down to Ivy, who sides with Harley, because she knows him, and not just as a gross ex, but as a patient- about as intimately as a person can know someone like him. Catwoman refuses to get killed for their vendettas, and leaves. They ask Black Bat if she can handle Catwoman’s part of the plan; she reminds them she was a pickpocket and a thief.

Cut back to the Clocktower. Batgirl plays back audio for the rest of them of the end of the last line in the previous scene. She tells them she got a tracker on one of them, and Oracle picked up audio with a drone- that they can put an end to these break-ins if they work together. The Birds aren’t sure about her- especially her compartmentalizing, but reluctantly agree. Cut to later, them on an adjacent rooftop outside of Ace. They watch as Harley kicks in the front door, and we follow Harley inside. She doesn’t get far, before she’s picked out by a spotlight.

Jack White emerges, looking human for now, giving her a slow clap. He threatens her, not too subtly, pretty much confirming he’s who we think he is in the subtext, but with just enough gaslighting that we can’t know completely for sure. The lights go off, then all the lights come back up. White’s gone, and Ivy and Black Bat have arrived. They’re attacked by the Birds of Prey, who gain the upper hand until Catwoman emerges from the shadows to even the odds, telling Black Bat “Cats may seem fickle and disloyal- independence and stubbornness are in our nature. But we always come back for those we care about.” And they are very even, with Ivy as the only really super-powered one (Canary’s cry notwithstanding), it’s a very street-level fight; Barbara takes on Ivy, and has a bevy of gadgets Bruce has used on her in the past so she’s able to keep her at a manageable threat level.

Eventually, a disgusted Jack White emerges once more from the shadows on a gang plank. He’s having a good time, even if it’s clear he’s roiling with anger over the damage done to his operations. He tells his henchmen to end the stalemate and kill them all. There’s lots of possibilities, here, but probably I’d throw in Firefly (who I imagine fights Ivy and Batgirl), who’s always a colorful, visually interesting villain, and then some regular hench people for the rest of them to kick. When it looks like he’s winning, a triumphant White removes his mask to reveal that he is in fact the Joker.

Harley and Black Bat are able to break away from the fighting to chase him (because I like the idea that this mirrors the first BoP). He uses several joke shop gag weapons, all of which Harley is able to dodge while pursuing him. He stops, spins around, and says they’ve got him, only to drop into a folding chair, onto a whoopie cushion that fires a bullet in slow-mo into Black Bat. He tells her she can catch him- but her partner will bleed out by the time she gets back. She punches Joker, breaking his jaw (it dangles sickeningly in an exaggerated rictus grin). “That wasn’t funny,” he says overly seriously, standing by a hole in the wall that used to be a door leading to a fire exit. He grabs a life raft off the wall, steps to the ledge, and inflates it. It rips him into the air as it rapidly inflates with ultra light gases, carrying him away. He can’t help himself, laughing as he flees.

Harley attends to Black Bat. She can’t stop the bleeding herself- even her medical training can’t compensate for the fact that she doesn’t have any supplies and they’re in a filthy derelict chemical plant. Until Batgirl arrives. She has an adhesive to stop the bleeding, and one of Oracle’s drones is actually equipped with medical supplies; together they get Black Bat stable enough for transport to the hospital. As an ambulance arrives, Batgirl supplies them with one more item; a pair of surgical scissors. She tells them Cassandra Cain might have to explain a gunshot wound to the ER staff, but Black Bat would almost certainly be arrested on site. Black Bat says, “You knew?”

Batgirl says she knew the whole time, that she recognized her picture from juvenile records. She tells them both her secret is safe with her. Montoya comes in, barking orders at the medics, explaining the GSW. Batgirl swings Harley away from the police, dropping her off on the neighboring rooftop. Harley asks where that leaves them- are they going to fight now? Batgirl tells her she isn’t prepared to judge anyone else who chooses to fight for a better world- at least not while they’re picking worthy targets like the Joker. She says she likes her- and likes the kid even more- so she hopes they’re never going to be on opposite sides of that divide. As she swings away, Harley says she’s all right, for one of the bats. Then she realizes she’s been stranded on a rooftop, and looks over the edge and asks, “Wait, how do I get down?”

Back at the Clocktower, Huntress is annoyed she let them escape. Batgirl clarifies that they let Harley and Black Bat escape from the Funhouse (in the previous movie). Canary adds that they also let Catwoman and Ivy go, too. Batgirl smiles, and says she’s sure they’ll see them around. To black, with the text, “The Birds of Prey will return.”

Credits. Mid-credits scene. Ivy and Harley, in civilian clothes, are dragging a clearly uncomfortable Catwoman into the hospital. Cassandra’s eyes light up at the site of them. Harley’s got an oversized beaver for her, Ivy’s got a potted plant, and Catwoman has a jewel case, which she opens to reveal the Bertinelli Diamond from BoP1. “Helena’s going to be pissed,” Harley says. Things are kind of awkward, and it’s sort of clear Ivy and Catwoman are kind of looking for a reason to exit. Harley brings up their next big score. She says she’s been thinking, and the Penguin’s always been a dick. Last time she ate at the Iceberg Lounge, he pinched her ass- and not over the clothes, either, he got his flipper up her skirt. Prick’s just asking for it.

“The Arctic Bird does have a lot of nice ice,” Catwoman purrs.

“He bulldozed the only natural habitat for the Gotham Lilly to build his tacky little lounge,” Ivy says angrily.   

Camera pans to Cassandra, and the others are waiting for her reply. “Uh, I’m pretty sure he has fish-breath.”

Close on Harley. “Gotham City Sirens,” cut to black, as she says, quieter, “assemble.”

We’re going to play some games with text. First, white text on black: The Gotham City Sirens Will Be Back.

“We’re already here,” Ivy replies.

A red marker rearranges the sentence to, “Will The Gotham City Sirens Be Back?”

Harley: “Then it’s Clobberin’ time.”

“What does that mean?” Catwoman asks.

We do a circle zoom in on Cassandra. “Wait, I think I got it. Stop: Hammer Time.” Back to black. Over the rest of the credits, Harley, with her big mallet, Hammer Dances in Hammer pants to “Can’t Touch This.” You’re welcome.

Pitchgiving 2020, Part 12: Kingdom Come

Starts just a few years in the future, with Superman failing to save Lois from the Joker at the Daily Planet. Superman is frog-marching him into the Metro PD building, when Joker is shot by Magog, essentially a Cable parody, wrapped in some trappings of ancient Egypt/Sumeria. Cut to the future, Clark tending to his farm. Wonder Woman and Batman visit him, trying to get him to rejoin the modern world, that a world without a superman is a lonely place (in the timeline of the story, this is shortly after he first disappears- it’s also a very trailer friendly sequence). This is the superhero movie Zach Snyder always wanted to make, full of epic grandiosity, pretentiousness and a conservative mindset, and would serve as a fitting denouement to his DC Universe, so I’d say let him make it; just give Mark Waid final cut, a cattle prod, and keys to the Snyder residence, to keep some of his worst excesses in check.

A further note: you can get more bang out of your buck with this concept by hiring old Hollywood legends, folks usually thought of as past their prime. Imagine doing what Tarrantino’s been able to do for a handful of older stars for a whole Justice League.  

We tweak the story to cut out the preacher man, and instead keep an aged Wesley Dodds around as our viewpoint character. The reason is this: we’re going to have our cake in this movie, and in subsequent JSA movies, older Dodds is going to get a message to his younger self to try and get him to eat this cake before so many people have to die unnecessarily. And here you thought I was pitching a JSA movie just to exploit Power Girl’s cleavage window. We see one of Dodd’s visions, mostly impressionistic but terrifying, before zooming out to see Dodds talks to Norman, who I won’t cut out entirely, who views the superhuman conflict- and the nuclear detonation in Kansas- through a very human lens. But he’s got a sermon to get to, and doesn’t know how he can find the hope he’s supposed to give to his congregation. Norman leaves, and Wesley is confronted by the Spectre. He tells Dodds that the dreams he’s having, of superhuman annihilation, are visions, that there is a coming calamity- that they must bear witness.

Dodds is curmudgeonly about it- his heroic side refusing to accept that there’s nothing to be done to change things. He and the Spectre talk, about the new breed of metahumans, who lack the discipline, care and empathy that made their forebears heroes- they are a collective menace, and their danger grows daily, to the degree that it will boil over in time, burning the world.

Wonder Woman returns to Superman’s ‘farm,’ and we discover it’s a hologram in his Fortress of Solitude. She tells him that Kansas is gone- and he flies through the wall. His parent’s farm is gone, the home flattened by the compression wave, the untended fields scorched by the fire that followed. He picks up a headstone, knocked over by the blast, and repositions it in the earth, and we see that it’s his mother’s headstone. His eyes are full of emotion as Diana lands behind him. “How many?” he asks without turning to face her.

“Early estimates are 2 million dead. There’s another million suffering from severe burns radiation sickness… best guess is half of those die soon, the rest have a greatly increased chance of cancers.”

“Lana?” he asks, this time turning to her.

“Her family were away at the time, staying in Metropolis.”

“How did it happen?”

She shares footage of the fight, as recorded by a news crew. We watch a pitiful, shrunken parasite pleading for mercy. Magog’s team grants none. In his flailing, Parasite manages to tear Captain Atom’s containment suit, then sucks the nuclear energy out of him, growing immensely, unstably. He screams that he can’t contain it, and an explosion tears through the gathered heroes before hitting the camera.

“Magog,” Clark whispers, angrily. We cut back to the Joker’s still smoking corpse. Superman takes Magog’s weapon from him, and marches him into the MPD building instead. Cut to a courtroom, where a judge is summing up. “I concur with the Jury’s verdict, but feel I must go a step further. In light of the Joker’s crimes, the thousands of deaths and the tens of thousands of lives mutilated in his wake, you did not just protect innocents, but you did what our system of justice is designed to be incapable of. We may never be able to fully thank you for what you’ve done today, but I hope your acquittal is a start.” Magog, a free man, stands and smiles.

Cut to the blackness of space, as we watch the Earth spin placidly beneath us. We see a red streak across it, again, and again. Suddenly, there’s a second, criss-crossing in the opposite direction, on a collusion course. We cut in, to see Superman flying, rage and anguish playing across his face. He’s struck by Wonder Woman, the force of her blow knocking him into a mountain. He emerges an instant later. “Clark,” she says.

“No,” he answers. “Everything that Clark was is gone. The world he lived in is dead. I’m not him anymore.”

“Wait,” she puts up her hand, but he’s gone.

Cut back to the present, the pair of them standing in the ruins of his family’s farm. “Cla-” she stops herself, “Kal.”

“I could have stopped this,” he says. Her eyes are full of empathy; inasmuch as you can get across the words “this wasn’t your fault” with a look, she does. “I should have tried.”

“That doesn’t matter. It’s too late to stop what happened here. But there are more fights like this one coming. The world has been too long without a Superman.” His eyes flash, filled with anger, or purpose, we don’t quite know.

We cut to the Statue of Liberty, where a group of fascist ‘heroes’ have decided that there isn’t enough space in America for immigrants, and are attacking boatloads of them. Superman’s new league, including most of our key players, like Diana, Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, Power Woman, descend and save the day.

“They look familiar,” Dodds says, scratching his head. Spectre tells him he knows some of them, but they have all changed profoundly since he was last active, and we do the montage of character introductions from the book, that Green Lantern has a floating emerald satellite where he monitors for extraterrestrial threats, that Flash isn’t so much a person as an unseen force righting even minor wrongs in his city. Dodds asks about Batman, and we find out Bruce has a swarm of robotic Bat sentries that keep Gotham safe. Superman flies over the ruins of Wayne Manor, and finds the Batcave beneath. Superman asks what happened, and he says that when he was outed as Batman, Two Face and Bane destroyed the mansion. Batman wears an exoskeleton over his suits that lets him move about despite years of injuries. Bruce is stand-offish, though I’m not thrilled with how that works in the book. See, I think Batman needs a better reason for it- that he’s seen the statistics, that metahuman accidents are on the rise, even though they’ve ostensibly eliminated all of the villains. That they’re on this path, where eventually either humanity or metahumanity is going to go extinct- likely the one at the hands of the other.

“I don’t believe that,” Superman says.

“Doesn’t change the math one bit. Right now you’re asking me to side with the few at the cost to the many, Clark.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Isn’t that what Martha named you?”

“Don’t say her name.”

“Isn’t that who Lois married?”

“Don’t say her name!” he booms.

“Or what, Clark? Either you’re Jonathan Kent’s boy, or your Magog’s father.”

“I had nothing to do with-”

“I’m not interested in your denial. You had as much of a hand in creating him, as the Kents had in creating you. I notice you haven’t tracked him down, yet. Would it help if I told you where he is?” He turns, and Superman is gone.

Superman arrives in front of the UN, where Wonder Woman is standing at the podium. She smiles graciously, before stepping down. “You’re late,” she says. “And Bruce?”

“Playing his own games.” Superman gives a speech, about how the superhumans were wrong to step away, to leave the newer generation unheeled, that it’s their job to correct them- that these are but the first.

Cut to Superman’s Fortress. They set up their captured fascists in cells, but it’s already a problem, with alien animals from his menagerie displaced. Superman is perturbed. “I hadn’t wanted to be anyone’s jailer,” he says.

“This never occurred to you?” Wonder Woman asks, wielding the second largest lantern in this story, after Alan Scott. “We’re fighting a war, Kal. There are going to be prisoners- unless we decide to give no further quarer.”

“Don’t even joke-”

“I wasn’t. Paradise Island didn’t become a paradise because we spared the rod. Our justice is firm, and severe. Very few people infract, and none infract again.”

“No,” he says, and she shrugs.

“That’s what I thought,” she says. “I’ve also thought about some possibilities. I want you to go to Apokalips. I’ll see if we can make a deal with Arthur in Atlantis.”

Cut to Atlantis, an aging Arthur and Mera on the thrones. “The answer’s ‘No,’ Diana.”

“But it wouldn’t even need to be near your subjects.”

“The ocean is already home to far too much of the surface’s refuse.”

“Then at least lend us your strength.”

He chuckles at that. “You have 30% of the planet, and 99% of its metahumans. I rule the other 70%, just myself and Mera beside me. You even have my children fighting in your war, Diana. Atlantis has already given enough.”

Superman Boom Tubes to Apokalips. He floats overhead, his senses drinking in the hellscape of the world. Then he flies into the throne room, where a dark figure sits, mostly in shadow. Menace radiates off of him, and those who know should be permitted a moment to quake at the thought that this is Darkseid. He leans forward, and we see that he is Orion, looking more like his father every day.

Superman starts, “I came to ask-”

“I know what you would ask-”

“What happened to you?”

“We won. Overthrew Darkseid. Freed Apokalips- only to find there was no true way to do either. The people, if you would stretch the term to cover these wretches, refuse freedom- refuse anything but the yolk of Darkseid. Even dead, this world remains his slave. I may look its ruler, but I am just another prisoner here.”

“Then why not leave?”

“Because the only thing crueler than leaving this Hell in place, would be abandoning it. So yes, if you ask me to house your wretched refuse- what, I would ask, are a few more damned souls in Hell? But I would ask, as a friend, if your soul could handle damning them so… and I suspect we both know the answer. But if you are interested in constructing a better, more humane mouse trap, the best possible engineer is nearby.”

Superman arrives at Barda and Mr. Miracle’s place. “I need your help,” he says.

The smile conspiratorially to each other, before saying in unison, “We’re in.”

“Don’t you want to know what I need?”

“In due time. But we know you. We trust you. We’re in.”

We cut to a board room, where an older, bald Luthor sits at the head of the table. Luthor is attended at all times by a body man he calls Bill. “We’ve all worked together before, on various enterprises. We’ve called them various silly things, like an Injustice League, or a Legion of Doom. But I believe, at our core, that we have always operated on the same core value, that humanity was not meant to bow and scrape at the heels of gods, but to be master of his own fate. Allow me to make introductions. To my left is Damian Al Ghul, perhaps better known as Ibn Al Xu’Ffasch, head of the League of Assassins as well as the rest of The Demon’s vast empire. To his left is Lord Naga, head of Kobra. To my right is the King of the Royal Flush Gang- now King of… well, some island nation in the Atlantic. His companion is Vandal Savage, who makes up for his lack of tact with millenia of experience. The return of a certain Kryptonian has accelerated our plans- though not significantly altered them. Metahuman events continue to escalate- even before our… encouragement. Through various channels, we have warned them that they’re playing with explosives. Their response has been to gather them together in a single powder keg. It’s not surprising that self-styled heroes are victims of their own hubris. It might surprise some of you, then, the newest member of our enclave. Some of you know him; other perhaps fear him. Bruce, would you like to introduce yourself?”

Bruce Wayne clears his throat before dramatically stating, “I’m Batman.” We pull back, and can see that Batman has his own entourage of heroes, mostly second-generation leaguers.

We cut back to the superhuman prison. Superman and Wonder Woman are on a platform that lets them look down at the gathered inmates. Its designed to look as little like a prison as possible. She tells him, “Nearly every metahuman is accounted for, either joined our side, or housed below. Nearly.”


“It’s time, Clark- Kal. He began this. You’ve known where he is; you had to. He’s practically living in the shadow of this place. It’s past time you deal with him.”

Clark flies to a hovel, assembled from materials clearly scavenged from the fallout. It’s dark inside, lit by candles. There’s simple furniture, three chair, a coffee table, and a cot. Magog is sitting farthest away from the door, watching as Superman enters. We circle around the room as he talks. “I grew up here. Did you ever know that? Kansas, born and raised. Like you- except you not being born here. Maybe that’s why, when I got word Parasite was in Kansas I thought, ‘Not in my backyard,’ and formed a posse. We weren’t even all that green; between us we had fifty years under our belts. I ever introduce you to my folks? This is my dad; he don’t say much; and opposite him is mom. She never shuts up.” We finish panning over the occupants of the two chairs, skeletons, burnt badly in the explosion, tattered rags and baked flesh all that keeps them upright in their chairs. “I grew up thinking you were a pussy. That if you just took things seriously, put a hand through the Joker and every other psycho, that the world would be a Norman Rockwell painting. I thought I was doing what you didn’t have the strength to do. I learned it’s easier to break things, than it is to fix them, with maybe one exception.” Magog holds out his gun. “Can you fix me?”

“Not like that I can’t,” Superman says, and pushes the gun towards the ground. “But I’d like a chance to try me way.”

“We need to talk, Luthor.”

“Lex, please. Bruce.”

“You got your coup. Now we need to talk strategy.”

“And you don’t want to share with the rest of the class?”

“The rest of your board might have organizations behind them, wealth, power, but no vision. Without a plan to deal with Superman, none of our plans will come to fruition.”

“I have a Marvelous anti-Superman strategy.”

“So you’ve said. But he can tear through my robobats like tissue. He’ll make short work of all of our countermeasures, unless we neutralize him.”

“I’m sure your stock of kryptonite has decayed just like mine; doesn’t have the same punch as it used to. Meanwhile, Kent has spent years soaking up solar radiation. I tinkered with a kryptonite atomic weapon; all the test device did was give Power Woman bronchitis.”

“Stop telling me things I already know.”

No. You’ll forgive me, if your convenient last-minute conversion isn’t entirely taken on faith. Or you won’t. I don’t see as you have an alternative.”

“Alfred, my coat.”

“My god. Pennyworth is still alive? Did you drop him in a Lazarus Pit? There really is no escaping the Batman, is there? Not even in death.” He leans into Bruce, eyeing him, before menacing, “I’m afraid you’ll find me equally inescapable,” before he exits.

“John?” Bruce asks ‘Alfred.’ Alfred transforms into a feeble-looking version of the Martian Manhunter. He is all but completely broken, and stammers out his replies.

“I know what you want, but I can’t,” John says. “I can’t stand the thoughts. I can’t let anyone in. You don’t understand what it was like.”

“I know what it did to you,” Bruce soothes. “And I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. I need to know if Bill is Marvel.”

“There’s so much noise. So many voices. Too much.” He gasps, collapsing into Bruce’s arms. “Too much,” he whimpers.

“Is Bill Marvel?” Bruce asks. John nods.

“What now?”

“Now you rest. This was already almost too much.”

“I can help.”

“You have. Every time you’re asked. I’m trying not to ask too much. Rest now. If it comes to the worst, I’ll call you again. But only as a last resort.”

Cut to Green Lantern’s satellite base, which has become the headquarters of the new Justice League. We’re following Red Robin as he runs through the various halls to get to the main hall, where Superman is watching earth below through a window. “It’s happened!” Dick yells. “The prisoners are rioting.”

Superman hesitates, and Wonder Woman leaps to fill the void. “Flash, Green Lantern, Power Woman, subdue the rioters.”

“With reasonable force,” Superman tries to assert.

“By whatever means necessary,” Wonder Woman barks over him.

“Everyone else, form up in your battle groups, and prepare in case you’re called to join the fray.” Everyone scrambles, quickly clearing the room. Wonder Woman and Superman retreat to a side chamber. “You undermined my authority.”

“I acted when you hesitated,” she corrects him. “Now control yourself. We’re overdue at the UN. I’m sure by now they know about our prison.”

His eyes narrow. Match cut, to a room at the UN. Superman and Wonder Woman are being upbraided by the US Ambassador to the UN, furious that they’ve built a superhuman prison in the middle of a US state. “We tried to find another way- another place,” Superman says.

“Most of these prisoners are Americans,” Wonder Woman says. “Americans you let run roughshod for years.”

“To be clear, Princess,” the US Ambassador starts, “am I talking with the Ambassador from the Amazons, a woman whose dedication to peace and diplomacy most at this table have admired for years, or am I listening to the general of an alien warlord whose set up his own Gitmo in the ruins of the state of Kansas without so much as asking Uncle Sam what he thinks about it?”

“We’re trying to solve a problem,” Superman says. “I hear you; we should have spoken with you about this sooner.”

“You mean before your little prison had its inaugural riot?”

“You two are hanging by a thread,” the UN Secretary says, stepping in. “If you want to work with us, first you’ll put down that riot. Then you’ll come back here and we’ll figure out next steps, as equals. But know this: both of you are subject to justice at the International Criminal Court, both of you on a trajectory for a long stay at the Hague. Measure your next steps accordingly.”

Superman and Wonder Woman fly away. He’s angry. “You didn’t think they’d wait forever for us to solve this, did you? Like it or not, you’re a public figure- a world leader. They need you to take decisive action- we need you to. Before things get so bad there’s no coming back from them.”

We cut back to Luthor’s shindig. He’s popping champagne, thrilled at his good fortune. “The riot is bubbling over. The UN has been made aware, and are furious. Our moment of maximal leverage is at hand. One little push- and we can rid the world of these tyrannical Ubermensch once and for all. And for that, it’s time we finally loose or secret weapon.” Luthor strokes Captain Marvel’s cheek. “Tear the walls of their prison down. Start the last battle of this war, so we can finally finish it.” He says he’s scared, and Luthor tells him that he has faith in him- that he’s humanity’s last hope for peace- but that he’s secure in that fact.

Suddenly, Batman punches Marvel. “Hello, Billy.” He tries to speak, but Batman crushes down on his windpipe with his shoe. “Billy Batson’s been missing for ten years- as has Captain Marvel. You’ve kept him that entire time, twisting his young mind, terrifying the hell out of him. I suspected it, and John confirmed it.”

“But our goals,” Luthor stammers.

“My goal was figuring out your secret weapon. Marvel was a wild card- and I hate wild cards. So I’m taking him off the table.” Green Arrow asks if that’s the signal? Bruce smiles, and says, “Strike,” and the members of his second generation Justice League attack Luthor’s goons.

Billy manages to twist out from under Bruce’s foot, and he gives chase. “Billy, wait! I understand better than most what happened. This dark, new reality, it’s been hard to adjust to. Captain Marvel was the best of us; fools saw it as naivete, but he was an inspiration, and an aspiration. But all the death, all the pain, and horror, and hate… one day it gets to be too much. I hid in my cave. He hid inside a scared little boy. But it’s time we both stopped running.”

He runs down a different hall. “I know Luthor found you. Took fear and turned it into something worse, guilt, paranoia, and paralysis. And it only got worse, because with each passing day, you felt more responsible for not doing more- and more terrified of what the other part of you would do if you let him out. Luthor’s lost. We can still fix things. We just have to-” Billy crashes into a tank filled with mind controlling caterpillars. He’s buried under a wriggling pile of them, more traumatized than we’ve seen.

“The worms secrete chemicals that eat away at you. What Luthor did to you was torture. And I know you’re scared. But if you stay calm, we can-” Stuttering, Billy eventually gets out the magic word, “Shazam,” and is gone, leaving Batman alone with a hole in the wall. Green Arrow catches up to Batman. “Marvel’s no longer a wild card,” he says, as they both stare out of the hole in the wall. “God help us.”

Cut to the orbital HQ, where Wonder Woman, dressed in her metal bird armor, unsheaths a sword. “I can’t sanction lethal force,” Superman protests.

“We don’t all have heat vision.”

“We’re better than this. We have lines we don’t cross- because human life is too precious.”

“No,” she says. “You have lines. And because you’re invulnerable, you can afford to. But your rules won’t save our friends here. And they won’t prevent the next Kansas if we fail. You’re welcome to join us, and save as many as you can. But I’m don’t fighting with an arm behind my back, and I’m through asking anyone else to.”

The silence for an instant is deafening, before we hear a transmission from Green Lantern, pleading for help. He tells them the walls are breached, that Captain Comet is dead. Wonder Woman smashes the table they’re gathered around, and walks out. The rest of the League follow her, leaving Superman alone.

He flies down to Earth, smashing through the Earth’s crust and emerging in the Batcave. He pleads for help, which Batman refuses. He explains that the League has the prison surrounded, ready to bring it down on the prisoners’ heads.

“Did you ever consider this might be the optimal outcome?” Batman asks. “That perhaps humanity’s only chance is for the superhumans to swallow each other up?”

“I know you don’t believe that. We don’t always see eye to eye, Bruce, but when you scratch everything else away from Batman, you’re left with someone who doesn’t want to see anybody die. Please, tell me you’ll help me.”

“I don’t know that I can. Captain Marvel’s back. Luthor had him, spent ten years turning him inside out. He’s header for the prison, to break it wide open. You don’t need Batman, you need a m-” he turns, realizing Superman’s gone. “So that’s what that feels like,” he says with a smile on his face.

We cut back and forth between Wonder Woman, as the horror of Marvel’s intervention dawns on her, and Superman, flying faster than he ever has in an attempt to stop what he knows he can’t. From over Superman’s shoulder we see the prison, but also a red and gold streak that’s going to get there faster, and it does, blasting the prison open.

From here on out it’s a lot of punching. Superman vs. Shazam (he’s pretty vulnerable to magic so Superman doesn’t really stand a chance), the League vs. the new breed of heroes.

Cut to the Oval Office. The US Ambassador to the UN delivers the news, that the General Secretary agrees with his assessment- that if they let the Superhuman threat outside of Kansas, the human race is lost. The Defense Secretary tells him that the bombs and bombers are hardened against superhuman powers- that one ought to do the trick, but three guarantees success. The President is tentative, and wants to be sure the world will stand with him, and aren’t going to leave America holding the bag. “They’re behind us, 100%. It’s the only way for the human race to survive.” The President asks for his speech, says he needs to be talking at the UN when it happens. They need as united a front as they can have.

Fight fight fight, going badly for Superman and the League. In fact, they’re losing, perhaps definitively. Until Batman and his young league arrive, him in his mechanical Batsuit. This might be harder to get across on film, but Batman’s forces in particular try to stem the loss of life, intervening to stop both Leaguers and bad guys from killing.

Batman stops Wonder Woman from running through Von Bach, subduing him instead, and then they get into it. He pokes at her over the inconsistencies in the Amazonian philosophy (peace through strength); she’s mostly just got her blood up and angry, perhaps fighting more with Superman than with Bruce when she screams that she won’t be judged by him (it’s subtle, but in the fight she damages his communications). Their fight takes them above the fray, above the clouds- and they see the incoming bombers, and realize what’s about to happen. They break off the fight immediately to deal with the bombers.

We cut to the ground, Superman pleading with Captain Marvel to remember that they’re friends, to remember their shared goals of helping people. When that doesn’t work, he asks him to say something, to which he says, “Shazam,” hitting him with magic lightning. We pan around and see the rest of the fighting as we hear the thunder again, again, and again.

Batman and Wonder Woman each take out one of the bombers, (Batman trying but failing to raise help via his comms), but one remains, dropping its payload.   

Back to Superman and Marvel, but this time Superman springs forward, picking him up and putting him in front of the lightning while covering his mouth, and Marvel is transformed back into Billy. Superman sees the bomb, and tries to use heat vision on it, but it glances off. Superman is full of rage, but he catches sight of Billy’s eyes, full of fear, tears welling up. “I don’t know what to do, Billy,” he tells him. He holds Billy so he can see the fight raging around them. “Every decision I’ve made, everything I’ve done, has been wrong, has brought us here. Bruce says if we survive this fight, we’ll unleash this Hell on every corner of the globe. If the bomb drops, almost every good person I’ve ever known dies in an instant. I can stop the bomb- but I don’t know if I should be allowed to. Lois used to say I too often put the man before the super; I know lately I’ve put the super over the man. But of all of us, you were always the best of both. I’m sorry to put the weight of this whole world on your shoulders- especially given how many times I’ve buckled under the same. But I’m not fit to choose. You have to.” Superman lets him go, and flies up towards the bomb.

We close in on Billy’s face, a tear sliding down his cheek as he says, “Shazam.” Marvel rockets out of a cloud of smoke and lightning, grabbing Superman by the ankle and hurling him at the ground. Marvel continues upward, grabbing the bomb and screams, “Shazam!” and both he and the bomb disappear in a cloud of smoke and lightning, that becomes a blinding white light.

Superman, kneeling in the fallout, screams silently.  We pan over the battlefield, covered in bleached skeletons. Superman struggles to his feet, his eyes glowing, a being of pure, incandescent rage. He flies off.

We linger on the smoke and stillness a moment, and start to see signs of life. Green Lantern has preserved a small bubble of people, and there are others who survived, as well.

We cut to the UN, with the President speaking at the front. “It was with a heavy heart that humanity severed the bonds between our community and superhumanity.”

Superman bursts through the wall, spraying chunks of rock into the assembly. He flies to the ceiling, and presses against it, spiderweb cracks forming out away from him as diplomats scatter. We see Wesley Dodds and the Spectre, witnessing the scene as Wonder Woman flies in through the hole Superman made. “Clark,” she says, “Don’t.”

“I know anger, Clark,” Batman says, flying in. “And you have every right to be. But you’re forgetting what it feels like to be a human in the presence of a Superman.” Bruce nods towards the people below, continuing to scatter, or staring up at him in awe.

“You’re not real. You’re not here. You both died.”

“Not all of us,” Green Lantern says, as a whole slew of those who survived, filing in.

Wonder Woman strokes his cheek. “This won’t solve anything. Because you aren’t angry with them. You’re angry with yourself. You’re angry it came to this. But you have to let that go. Right now, the world doesn’t need a Superman, it needs Clark Kent.” He lets go of the roof.

Clark lands, collapsing even under his own weight. “How?”

Wonder Woman: “Marvel detonated the bomb above ground zero. Green Lantern and others were able to shield some of us.”

“How many?”

Batman: “Enough that we have the same problem as before. The same impasse. The same dangers. Distrust. Everything.”

“Then it’s time we tried a new solution.” Superman walks towards the President and the UN General Secretary. “Years ago, we let those we protected drive us away. We saw ourselves as… superior, above it all. We were wrong. But I’m tired of dwelling on past wrongs. What we need- what we all– human and superhuman- need, is to come together, to build a better tomorrow. So many of our mistakes come from trying to solve problems for you. I realize now, we need to solve them with you. As partners. As equals.”

Superman hands Captain Marvel’s cape to the General Secretary. “I asked Captain Marvel to choose between humanity and superhumanity. It was the wrong question, but still he found the right answer. Which is life. We’d like to join you, formally, with his cape as our flag.”

Cut to Superman, in Kansas, building a memorial with rows of tombstones spanning as far as the eye can see (remember, we’re talking 3 million dead in Kansas). Superman is putting the finishing touches on the nearest one. Wonder Woman flies in. “Quite the memorial.”

“As it should be. Not just to those who lost their lives to the bomb, or to Magog, but in memory of all those who lost their lives to our mistakes.”

“I hope it helps you let them rest in piece, Clark. Remember what they taught you, but don’t let their loss haunt you. Speaking of which…” she hands him a hand-carved wooden box. “A gift,” she tells him, handing it to him. “To help you see more clearly.” They’re a pair a spectacles. He puts them on, and smiles. His hand brushes hers, and he pulls her in for a kiss.

It’s the present day, and a younger Wesley Dodds wakes up, a little freaked out. “That was a messed up dream,” he says, yawning. Then he sees the reflection of the Spectre in a portrait, and nearly jumps out of his skin. “Oh, crap,” he says, and we cut to black, and roll credits.

Mid-credits scene. At the Planet Krypton restaurant. Clark and Diana are seated, Clark rolling his eyes at the cheesiness, and Diana soaking in the adoration, as she puts it, “accustomed to seeing mortals pay tribute to the gods.” They speak conspiratorially. Bruce sneaks up on them, surprising Clark. Clark asks him about his kids, and Bruce asks how much time he has, mentioning Dick is making a swift recovery Damian just might clear the fog of his brainwashing, Tim’s well, Barbara’s still not speaking to him but otherwise healthy…

A man at the table behind taps Bruce, and asks if he… is using the ketchup, because they’re out. Bruce smiles and hands it to him. Depending on how much epilogue we want we can get into lots of the little world-building, but the important point is this. Diana’s about to make an announcement, but Bruce, not bothering to even look up from his steak, says, “You’re pregnant.”

“Always the detective,” she says. “So I’ll test your escape artistry. I want a commitment from you. I want you to be the godfather.”

“My record as a parent is hardly spotless,” he replies.

“There are things Batman can teach our child that Clark or I couldn’t. Some we would never even think of.”

“Our child more than any other will need the leavening influence of a mortal man,” Clark offers, “a moral man. One we can count on. And despite our differences, I’ve always counted on you.”

“So have I,” Diana says. Bruce is touched. And shocked. And shocked he’s touched. “So it’s settled, then?”

Bruce rubs his chin. “The child of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. Almost makes you pity the villains of the future.”

“Really?” Clark asks.

“No. Not really.”

And resume credits.

Pitchgiving 2020, Part 11: Justice League: Interplanetary

Lobo has been hired by Darkseid to snatch up Kryptonians. He manages to get Superboy in the prologue, listening to a voicemail from Clark in San Francisco. “I know we haven’t known each other long, and I know you don’t always feel Kryptonian, but you’re family. Whether you’re living in Kansas with mom, or if you decide to stay in Titans Tower in California, if there’s anything I can help with, let me know.”

He makes quick work of it, sticking mostly to the shadows (I suspect his has a kryptonite hook on his chain to help). Cut to Martha Kent, calling Clark. She hasn’t heard from Connor and is getting concerned. Clark is fighting Metallo, talking on a Bluetooth headset. He suggests Martha send Kara (Supergirl) to try and find him, and tells her to call if she finds anything strange, and he’ll be there in the blink of an eye. We dissolve to Kara, landing in San Francisco, touching a footprint where Connor stood, noticing the brick where his heat vision scorched it. We notice Lobo’s silhouette in the alley behind her, punctuated by a pair of red eyes, then he leaps out and we cut.

Superman flies through the air as a message from Martha plays in the background. “Clark. Kara still hasn’t checked in, and I checked her phone. She made a call to you that didn’t go through. I’m getting worried.” Superman lands in the alleyway. We see red eyes behind him as a dramatic sting plays. Out of the alley steps the Martian Manhunter. “Power Girl was taken from her home, following a struggle. I followed the energy signature of an alien craft here. I think someone has been collecting Kryptonians.”

“Manhunter. Good to have you along.” A chunk of the first act is a hard-boiled mystery being investigated by Clark, an investigative reporter, and John, a detective. Things get worse with the arrival of a Green Lantern (I’d go with Hal, personally, as I think he fits most into this scene, but Stewart could work, too- either way playing the part of more an official policeman). He’s tracking a New God, who he believes has violated treaties not to interfere with the Earth that both they and Apokalips have signed. Really, Scott Free is there because intelligence pointed to a plot to kidnap and turn Kryptonians into an asset for Darkseid, who he believes has taken Barda, as well. The Hawks show up, largely because they view themselves as a rival influence to the Lanterns, and don’t want to give the Corps too much sway over Earth affairs. I imagine Blackfire shows up, frustrated that Tamaran is being excluded from this now intergalactic meeting. Essentially, there are supposed to be non-interference treaties they’ve all signed, which they all think the others are violating. There’s a big old brawl, mostly destroying Clark’s orbital Fortress of Solitude. Lobo returns, fights Superman basically to a standstill; the fight is bombastic enough the others stop fighting, and start watching. Superman eventually asks for help, and Lobo gets walloped by the rest of the assembly.

Lobo puts in a call to his boss, and a Boom Tube opens up, dropping Granny Goodness (it all but has to be Kathy Bates, right? Offer her all of the Aquaman money, it will be worth it) and a selection of Furies, including Supergirl, Power Girl and Big Barda (Superboy is acting as Granny’s personal protection). Superman and Mr. Miracle plead with them not to hurt their friends, and try to talk down the Furies. They fail, and a new fight ensues. They’re pretty evenly matched, but Lobo, fighting the Martian Manhunter, overhears Superman trying to reason with Connor (Lobo buys himself a moment spitting a liquor fireball lit on his cigar at John, who recoils in horror at the flame). Connor’s trying to fight his programming, but it’s clear he’s terrified, that he didn’t fit before, and now, after all this, there’s no way he won’t be an outcast. “You’re family, Connor. You have a home, with us. People who care about you, and who know that it doesn’t matter if you screw up- what matters is that you try to do better, to be better, every day. We want you back, but you have to want to be back.”   

“Ah, what the frag,” Lobo says, shrugging, and face turns, smacking Superboy from behind with his hook. He and Superman share a moment. With Lobo on their side, the fight turns, and Granny’s forced to crawl off, humiliated. But obviously there’s a huge, looming threat from off-world that none of them can ignore. The New Gods argue that they should all join war against Apokalips, but the rest largely argue for containment; they need to be able to protect themselves against Apokalips, and form an alliance to that affect, but aren’t ready to declare an interplanetary war (I’m sure you all see where this is going, though). If there’s too much overlap between this and DuVerne’s New Gods, you can swap in Mongul and War World with relatively little fuss (we’d just have to increase his power levels accordingly).

There’s a tense moment at the end, where no one is sure what to do about Lobo. He’s kind of stand offish, before asking, quietly, if Superman meant what he said. “Bout having a home. The main man hasn’t had a home since Czarnia.” Superman puts out his hand, and Lobo shakes it.

“It’s a big universe. If you want to help us keep it safe, you’ll always be welcome here.” Lobo walks into the living room and drops onto the couch, putting big, gross boots up on the coffee table, and drinking the rest of his bottle of booze. A subplot going forward will be an Odd Couple dynamic between Clark and Lobo at the Fortress, because that should be funny.

Bonus: In part 2, Mongul is used by Darkseid to start a proxy war with Earth’s heroes, scooping most of the Interplanetary League up to join his games. They free Battleworld and end Mongul’s reign, in the process recruiting Adam Strange and freeing the planet Rann, and discover Darkseid’s influence, teeing up part 3. In 3, we feint towards Brainiac, but he’s really just working with Darkseid (as he has since the destruction of Krypton), and weakens our heroes in preparation for Darkseid’s invasion. The movie ends with Superman shoving Darkseid through a Boom Tube, and being swallowed up with him, lost, presumably on Apokalips. Part 4 would be an invasion of Apokalips to liberate the planet, as well as rescue Superman; I would expect this to be an Avengers 3/4  style crossover with the New Gods, likely bringing in even more of Earth’s heroes for at least cameos for part 4.

Pitchgiving 2020, Part 10: Justice League Dark

I’m just proceeding on the assumption that there likely won’t be a Swamp Thing sequel, and we’re just following it all up here- which works just fine for me, since my concept was to adapt the epic Alan Moore Swamp Thing story that draws in Zatara and a huge chunk of DC’s magical world, maybe mix in some of the Gaiman Books of Magic. Now, I’m going to acknowledge the Harry Potter elephant in the room and propose a drastic revision, namely, to make Tim Hunter a girl. I know Tim existed first, I know he’s not a knock-off, but he’s still going to feel like one if it’s a spectacled brunette boy. Even the name, Tim Hunter, seems like the slightly cooler but still everyman name you’d give to a character like that. I’d probably go a radical step further and make it a black girl; in a way, it would be kind of like finally doing Hermione justice, and at the same time, thoroughly differentiate them. But I know it’s a tough sell, so I’ll call them Tim for the duration.

We start where the post-credits scene in Swamp Thing ended. Abigail rushes Swamp Thing and kisses him. To not be too weird about it, she sees him as he ‘really’ is, Alec Holland, and sees herself kissing Alec. She runs her hand over his face, and then we cut back, and see her running her hand over Swamp Thing’s face. “Oh, Alec, what happened?”

“I died. But I came back as this, as a plant elemental.”

“Who knows Batman.” He nods.

“I’m working to save the world in a different kind of way. And as happy as I am to see you-

“We can all see the vine- we know,” Batman says. “Remind me to buy you some pants.”

“Constantine asked me to ask about your father. We might need his help.”


“A magician. A mystery.”

“A smart-ass in a trenchcoat,” Batman adds.

“He’s the one who told me what I am, and what I need to do.”

“Then, if this mission is so important, where the hell is he?” she asks.

Abby,” he takes her hand, “we’re here because I needed to see you. It was only after I said I was coming, that Constantine asked after your father.”

“You wouldn’t lie in front of Batman, would you? Also, I feel weird that we’re doing any of this in front of Batman.”

“He likes to watch.”

“Hey!” Batman protests.

“Sorry, ‘detect.’ And Constantine said he had somewhere else he had to be.”

Constantine is in London, walking the streets, on the phone with his artist hookup from the previous film. I know there’s a time difference of I think 8 hours, but it’s mid morning in London. “And you’re sure that’s where I’ll find him?” John asks into his phone. She says that’s what she painted. He calls her a life saver, and they end the call. She notices a noise, and tells John pretending to hang up then breathing heavily into the phone is juvenile, even for him. But the call did end, and she traces the sound to her closet, where the creature she painted last time (which is hanging on her wall), lays in wait. It lunges at her, and we cut back to John.

Or rather, we cut back to Tim, skateboarding through a smaller, more claustrophobic part of London.

Tim is essentially our POV character, which we’ll likely need, since things are going to get weirder before anything else, and making someone explain that will be a help. The world is on the brink of madness. The skies run red, storms and other cataclysms ravage the world. The recent rampage of the Swamp Thing through Gotham has further tilted the balance, and the events of whatever DCEU movies have further destabilized the world. You wouldn’t know it, to look at London. It looks ordinary. That’s the world where we discover Tim Hunter skateboarding. As he goes, we notice the shadows start to peel away from their positions and follow him; he’s unaware of the gathering tsunami of darknessdarkness until he all but runs into the Phantom Stranger and the rest of the Trenchcoat Brigade. Behind Tim, Constantine dispels the malevolent shadows with a flick of a match used to light a cigarette without a sound.

They discuss Tim as the most powerful magician of the age- potentially, and how they’re here to give him a choice. A nervous Tim fiddles with his yo-yo before dropping it; one of them, (probably Constantine), picks it up, and transforms it into a snowy owl, before handing it back to Tim.

Constantine says he has to go off and handle logistics, they walk Tim through some magical realms- it’s a truncated version of Books of Magic, with the three of them not splitting up. They’re pursued by more and more persistent shadows, assassins or kidnappers from the Cult of the Cold Flame. In desperation, E takes them to the future, where they bear witness to Tim potentially leading the Cult in its destruction of everything. E decides the risks are too great, and tries to kill Tim. The other two are able to handle him long enough to escape into a magical realm where time moves backwards in the form of a river- they just have to float backwards to the proper time.

Meanwhile, the rest of the conflict continues to escalate. Constantine introduces Swamp Thing to his inside man, Dead Man- who knows whatever the dead know and the Cult have been leaving behind a lot of bodies to ask questions of. Then he calls Zatanna, to see if the ‘tights set’ have responded. ‘And then some’ is her reply; not only have all of the magical heroes agreed to help, but most of the magically inclined normals, too- that everyone is meeting at Dr. Fate’s Tower. She notes she hasn’t heard from her father, though- and is angry Constantine kept his part in this from her. Constantine says it was Zatara’s plan- a race with the devil that could maybe put an end to all of this- though neither man expected it to succeed. We cut to the streets of an exotic location, at night. Zatara is running as if his life depended on it- as if all life depended on it. He spots a raven with a black pearl in its mouth, and sprints hard for it. The creature from before leaps from the shadows at him, so fast he doesn’t even get out a scream. He’s dead before his body hits the pavement.

We watch as the bird arrives at the Citadel of the Cold Flame, and deposits its pearl in a magical object, setting off a chain reaction that sees a portal open up, and something horrible start to crawl out of it.

“Damnit,” Constantine says, as he walks in the door. Others murmur words to the effect of, ‘He’s dead,’ as the psychic reverberations of the murder shudder through them. “I’m so, so sorry, Zee.” She’s angry, but at the same time, she knows the stakes are too high for her to kick the hell out of him like she wants to do- she’ll save that for later. Constantine asks after the man he wanted her to find. She still doesn’t understand.

 Constantine explains that a lot of the heaviest hitters there are a signal flare- the Cult can sense them in the heart of the sun. But he wants to take the fight to them- to infiltrate their headquarters and cripple their plans. To do that he needs the smallest, most subtle guns who can still get the job accomplished possible. Dead Man doesn’t have all that much earthly power; the Swamp Thing registers as an interesting house plant despite the deep wells of power from the green he can call upon. And Jason Blood is just a man. He’s going because he can’t ask anyone to stick their head in the lion’s mouth if he won’t- and he’s still trying to make amends for Newcastle. They should all be able to sneak right under the radar. She insists he should be back in Ravenscar if he thinks he’s leaving her behind- and he says she’s a clever combat witch, but her skills come from experience, not raw power- he expected she’d 6demand to come and the cloaking spell should be able to accommodate her. Might be cool if Batman sticks around to join the infiltration, but that may be down to contract shenanigans more than anything.

Just then Dr. Occult and the Phantom Stranger arrive with Tim, saying they ran the cult a merry chase but couldn’t keep away any longer, and mention how they lost E. John expected as much would happen- even if he hoped for more time. Tim asks why he’s there, and Constantine says he’s the whole ball game- if the Cult get their paws on him, that’s checkmate. Constantine and Zatanna arrange all of the other magic types, including Occult and the Stranger, to concentrate on a barrier keeping their location safe. At a precise moment, they’re going to open it up, and let Justice League Dark out the back door. John gives a speech about how this one is for all of sentient life, in this realm and all the others. Some of them will die, he has no doubt, but if they fail- then surely they all will. John has a word with the Spectre before leaving, and then goes. They leave Tim with Occult and the Stranger, in the center of a chanting circle- the magicians in it can’t break contact without leaving holes in the barrier. The Lovecraftian horror, now building-sized, exits from a portal and attacks the tower; it is held at bay for the moment by the barrier.

We cut to the Citadel of the Cold Flame with Justice League Dark. I’m assuming it exists kind of on the cusp of a parallel realm- so not just in Calcutta, but basically the precipice of the abyss from beyond which the creature assaulting their base came. They’re attacked by some gargoyle-like creatures, and Swamp Thing is able to use the vines growing up the Citadel to defend them long enough for everyone else to get inside. Zatanna is last, and bids them to “Nruter ot enots,” and they turn back into stone, and break after falling out of the sky.

They’re caught by a cultist with what looks like a big, scary magical weapon. He shudders, and then we hear Dead Man’s voice coming out of him. “Now I wouldn’t do this to an upstanding fella, but even on top of the evil death cult, he sucks. He beats his wife. And his neighbor’s wife.” The cultist balls his fist and punches himself across the face. “That’s gonna hurt when he wakes up.” Dead Man explains where the central chamber housing the Cult leadership is, and wears the cultist the whole way, advising them about traps and the like.

They find the central chamber, and Constantine tells them the plan was always a Hail Mary, and takes out a gold lighter. He sets it on the floor, and it grows into Tim. We cut back to the base, and the ‘Tim’ there shrinks down to Tim’s yo-yo. Constantine tells Tim he’s the only one among them capable of closing the opening through which the creature is projecting itself. Constantine tells Jason it’s time, and we get his rhyme, “Gone, gone, the form of man, Rise the demon Etrigan!” and he becomes the Demon. He and Swamp Thing launch upon the cultists that attack.

As the barrier is assaulted again and again, the strain is showing on the magic users. One bursts into flames, and another faints. As the barrier is failing, the Spectre asks them to open it, and leaves, growing in size so he can attack the monstrous creature on its level. The barrier strengthens, again.

Dead Man makes a sacrifice play to draw most of the cultists away, and buy Constantine and Zatanna more time. They fight their way to the McGuffin with Tim. We cut back to see the Spectre, defeated, tossed aside by the horror, which continues towards the Tower. The climax is Zatanna and Constantine defending Tim as they’re being closed in on by cultists, while the other members are all fighting elsewhere or neutralized. Constantine tells Tim to take the black pearl from the magical device beside them that is keeping the portal open. Zatanna asks Constantine if he’s sure- that if he’s wrong he will be catastrophically wrong. The Cult’s leader tells him he can also take its power for himself. Tim says he doesn’t want it, and manages to close the portal. The cultists continue to advance, and it’s clear that Zatanna and Constantine are about to be overwhelmed when Dr. Fate opens a portal for them, and he and the Spectre step out.

Constantine says they can stay- if the Cult demand it- and fight- or they can agree the day’s been a costly draw. They collapse on the other side of the portal, with Zatanna surprised they didn’t know he was bluffing. He’s not sure he was, in that moment. They take their wounded back to their stronghold.

Mister E arrives from the end of time. He says he’s pleased to see he was wrong about Tim, but that he should understand he never really had a choice. From the moment Constantine told him about magic- he was in. There was no going back for him. Tim, upset, turns to Constantine, who takes his time lighting a cigarette and taking a long drag before responding. He tells him he did what he had to, to protect Tim and the whole rest of the universe- there wasn’t any other way that let Tim stay above the fray. Dead Man, inhabiting whatever person is handy, tells Tim that might be the closest he’s ever heard to an apology out of Constantine- and anyone else in earshot agrees. “That doesn’t make any of it right,” Tim says.

“No. It doesn’t,” Constantine agrees; and because this is the year of Pedro Pascal playing flawed father figures, I’m going to suggest he play Constantine, because that could be fun. “The thing they don’t tell you about magic, or doing the right thing, is there’s always a cost to bear. And you bear it, because someone has to, and you hope it doesn’t break you. But sometimes, just for moments, it’s worth it.” Constantine picks up Tim’s yo-yo, and transforms it back into his bird. Tim’s delighted to see it, even if he now understand a bit about the cost Constantine’s talking about. Tim asks if he can go home- if it’s safe. Constantine promises that he’ll be under their protection, from now on. That anyone here who wants out of protecting Tim can speak now about it. No one does.

Later, in a bar, Zatanna and Constantine are drinking together. She’s still uncertain why it had to be Tim at the end, why she or he couldn’t have removed the pearl. “I’ve seen magic half as strong as that corrupt men ten times stronger than me- two times stronger than you. He could reject power like that because he’s young, and idealistic, and naïve. I don’t know if he’d do it again- I know I’m not fool enough to ask him to.”

“He would,” she says confidently. “Do you think we did the right thing?”

“Would you give up magic? For anything?”

“Save the world, maybe.”

“But only maybe, right?” he asks with a smile.

“Save my dad,” she says bitterly.

They hear the bartender, speaking with a Louisianan accent, telling someone they don’t serve his kind here, before stopping abruptly, and in Dead Man’s accent welcoming him inside. We pan over to see that Swamp Thing is entering the otherwise empty bar. As Constantine turns back to their table, he notices Jason Blood sitting in the corner.

“Jason. I didn’t see you come in.”

“You’ve been having difficulty seeing anything but Zatanna since before I came in.”

“What’s your poison?” Dead Man asks Swamp Thing.


I kind of hope we could have Batman along for the assault team, just because it would be great to bring him back here, haunted by the world he’s just been exposed to- but also, knowing it’s there, recognizing the need for people like them to try to get these kinds of genies back in the bottle. He offers to pay to keep them on retainer, for the things that go bump in the night.

“I thought you were one of those,” Constantine says with a smirk.

“There are worse things in the dark than me.” Constantine tells him to stop being so melodramatic, of course they’re in. Because if something sinister threatens to destroy all life, of course they’ll help stop it- everyone but Dead Man being rather attached to being alive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You don’t have to be this,” he says.

“Be what?” she asks angrily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Talking to yourself?” she asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who do you need an introduction for?”

“The one in Gotham.”

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

“That a problem?”

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

“Oh, um…”

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

“But no proper magic.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And less flippant about their humanity?”

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you need?” Batman asks.

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

“And if you can’t?”

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

“We’re definitely going to need to.”

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

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

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

“Pamela’s dead,” she says.

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

“Jason Woodrue,” she says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You mean to say the world is threatened.”

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s macabre.”

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

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

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

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

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

“And what about you?”

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

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

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

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

“But I can talk to the green.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He has a name- Alec.” Ivy says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pitchgiving 2020, Part 8: Batmen

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Proud. Stubborn.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pitchgiving Part 7, Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes

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

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

“When am I?” she asks breathlessly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Forget I asked,” she says.

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

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

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

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

Pitchgiving 2020, Part 6: Justice Society of America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We flash text that says “fifty years later.”  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pitchgiving Part 5: Plastic Man

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

Plastic Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you even call for backup before shooting?”

“If I had, I’d still be waiting.”

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

“You can’t mean-”

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

“Will that be everything Ms. Ticman?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hot dogs?”

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

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

“Fibbing isn’t nice,” Woozy says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Uh,” Woozy says.

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

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

“Like Batman, but mannier.”

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

Pitchgiving Part 4: Red Hood & The Outlaws

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know. I built it.”

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

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

“Uncle John? You okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So what’s your point?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Me?” he asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You don’t sound too… condoling.”

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

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

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

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

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

“You don’t look it.”

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

“And what do I call you? Old Robin?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I got to the name before he did.”

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

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

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

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

“Nope. That’s Jesse.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Mr. Law and Order?” Arsenal asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roll credits. Mid-credits Sequel Set Up:

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

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


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

“I think that’s called a bruise.”

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

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

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

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