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.