Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Superman Returns, Again

Because I have some spare time right now, and lack of anywhere else to focus my imagination, and because sequels and superhero movies make money, I give you my thoughts as to how I would write the next Superman movie.

Ideally I would be able to start from scratch, leaving the 1978 Richard Donner Superman movie and 2007 Bryan Singer sequel/remake mythology out of it completely.

But as this is far from an ideal world (just ask Plato) for the sake of this pointless exercise, let's assume that I'd have to make it directly connected to the most recent incarnation (see Bryan Singer's sequel/remake link above).

I'm also going to assume that any reader of this entry has seen the most recent Superman movie. If you haven't, this is going to be something of a spoiler.

If you haven't seen it and are still reading because you are so completely fascinated with me, or just don't care if it's a bit ruined, here is a recap of the ending of the previous film. Superman ripped a man-made island composed entirly of kryptonite (built by one Lex Luthor) out of the Atlantic and hurled it into outer space. He nearly dies, but recovers only once he finds that he, not Richard White (Lois's fiancé) is the biological father of Lois's son Jason. Lex Luthor loses all his henchmen save Kitty and is stranded on a teeny tiny island in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but his girl Kitty, a small Pomeranian dog, a palm tree with six coconuts, and a helicopter without any fuel. The End.

And without any further ado, my thoughts for a sequel. This is only a rambling treatment, which of course would need a few polishes and revisions, but as it stands in my head right now:

We start on a boat anchored many miles off the coast of Metropolis. Here we have treasure hunters deep sea diving looking for any remnants of the Kryptonite Island that Lex Luthor built. They have no desire to kill Superman, but know that Kryptonite is an alien mineral, and have been hired by a private research firm for a tremendous amount of money to bring the mineral back for further study. Their motive is purely for profit, not for evil. Low and Behold they find a few small chunks of Kryptonite that fell off the Island as it was flung to outer space. One the way back from their successful search, coincidence of coincidences, they notice a helicopter stranded on a teeny tiny island and decide to investigate. Bum, bum, bummmmmm.

Now cut to Superman doing superman type stuff. Saving kittens from trees, Rescuing people from earthquakes, putting out fires, foiling bank robbers. That sort of thing. All the while, between each mission, flies by Lois and Richard's house checking up on his baby and baby momma so to speak. Richard, though a genuinely nice guy, starts getting a little pissed and a little jealous. He realizes very early on who Jason's real father is, as, since the first movie, Jason's Kryptonian powers start kicking in randomly, and kicking out equally as randomly. Of course Lois tries hiding it from Richard, which only puts that much more of a strain on their relationship. Jason has no idea what's going on and none of his parents, biological or in Richard's case, adoptive, tell him. Thus he's pretty freaked out.

Clark is sent by Perry to cover the newest press conference of one Professer Emmet Vale. Vale is on the forefront of robotics and is discussing his newest invention. A human like robot covered in artificial skin (think like Arnold Schwarzenegger in T1 through T3) to be sent into space and deep-sea expeditions in lieu of humans. The key is that the robots containing no intelligence of their own would be directly controlled by a human operator via some sort of remote control that was linked to their thoughts - sort of like a virtual reality machine. Using only one's brain one would control said robot over thousands of miles of distance ( yes I know that sort of radio control is impossible as instantiations transmission is physically impossible without breaking the speed of light, but if we can believe a man can fly, hopefully we can believe this sort of remote control is also possible). The only drawback to his design is the simple fact that the robot eats up a tremendous amount of energy and they haven't designed a small enough energy source capable of powering the robot for extended periods of time. Vale in the course of the press conference hints that a solution for the problem is forthcoming, and the final prototype will be unveiled by the end of the fiscal year.

Lois, crack reporter that she is, is doing research for a new story on Intergang. A shady organization focused on exploiting new technology for all its criminal needs. They don't focus on drugs, prostitution, gambling, or other protection rackets like regular organized crime. They focus on high-end weapons, computer programs, and what not in order to hack banks and government organizations, as well as break into banks and so forth. Superman is back and regular bullets and the like don't work. These guys are the 21st century of organized crime. She tracks down one of Intergang's main enforcers John Corben to try and get him to talk, but he brushes her off and threatens her that if she keeps on digging bad things may start happening to her loved ones.

Now, the boat we saw in the beginning comes into dock (yes I know it's been a long time, but this is a movie, stuff like that happens all out of order). Now, instead of the treasure hunters we met in the beginning Lex Luthor and Kitty walk ashore disguised as the treasure hunters. Lex is happy and confident. He's back in Metropolis and has the Kryptonite he needs to get his revenge. Before he can get anywhere he is confronted by Vale. Vale was the one who hired the treasure hunters in the first place, and assumes (due to the disguise) that Lex is a member of the team. Lex takes advantage of the mistake and follows Vale back to Vale's Lab (Lex is a fugitive and has no where else to go at the moment). At the lab Vale reveals that the kryptonite is intended to be used as a power source for his new robot, which he calls Metallo. There is a cavity in the Robots chest that has been retrofitted to house the kryptonite and convert the k-radiation into energy. It's not quite finished yet, however, he needed the actual kryptonite in order to finish it to the correct specification needed. Until then, the robot is actually powered by Uranium, which is not only incredibly expensive, but due to the robots power usage, goes through the uranium far to quickly to make it practical or ecologically sound.

Re-enter John Corben. He breaks into Vale's Lab in order to steal his invention, as is intergangs modus operandi. There is a struggle, Corben kills Vale, but Lex gets the drop on Corben and mortally injures him. As Corben lays dying, Lex steps over to finish him off, looks at Metallo, then at Corben, and smiles a diabolical smile. Bum, bum, bummmmm (once again).

Richard finally confronts Lois about Jason, and the frequent flyby's by the Man of Steel, but Lois won't have any of it. He earnestly wants to try talking it out, working through the hardship, but Lois plays a game of avoidance and denial, saying she can't talk now, she's too busy with her Intergang story. She's close to breaking it wide open.

At the same time Superman, due to his frequent flybys knows Jason is starting to exhibit his powers, and begins to secretly train his son. Not so much to fight crime, but to control the powers that are freaking Jason out so much. Jason, being a pretty bright kid, has very strong suspicions that Richard is not his father as he previously thought.

Lois manages to track down the head of intergang Bruno "Ugly" Mannhiem. Because in the movies Lois is impetuous (and kinda stupid) she decides to confront Mannhiem herself for her story. The exchange is heated, and Mannhiem realizes he can't let her live. He sends some of his goons after her. A bit of a chase scene, and right when everything looks the bleakest a figure from the sky crashes down and saves her from the goons. She turns and is about to say something like "thank you Superman" but realizes it's an entirely different man of steel (jeepers, am I clever!). It's Metallo who just saved her life. "I told you to stay away." Metallo says with John Corben's disembodied voice, but as he reaches to kill her he stops suddenly and voilently, as if he is not in control of his own movements. Then he grumbles something like "fine, I'll let her live, for now." before he knocks her out and bounds off for the bossman Ugly Mannheim. Metallo easily dispatches Mannheim and there is a new boss of Intergang now.

It's only then that Superman swoops in and now we have our first real super battle. It's quick, it's brutal, but Metallo is quickly running out of energy, so he uses Lois as a decoy and quickly escapes as Superman rushes to save her.

Metallo returns to Vale's Lab. There he argues with his master, Lex Luthor. He tries to attack Luthor but freezes up. Luthor has an override for his metallic assassin. It is at that time we learn that Luthor saved Corben Removing his brain and attaching it to the virtual reality device that controls the robot. Luthor used Corben because he wanted Corben's inside knowledge of Intergang. It's Luthor who's really in control.

Lois and Richard learn of Jason's secret training and they are not happy. This puts a strain on Superman and Lois's relationship. It also puts a strain on Richard and Lois's relationship. Lois and Jason become a bit emotionally distant because he knows that she lied to him about his biological father. Jason and Superman become distant again, as Lois forbids the training. The only relationship that grows stronger is the bond between Jason and Richard. Richard loves Jason just like a father (biological or adoptive) should, and Jason's love for his adoptive father only grows in admiration of Richards continual support.

Lois forbids Jason from using his powers, and Superman then agrees. Jason then becomes estranged from his biological father.

Clark does a follow up to the Vale story only to find that Vale is dead. Doing a bit of research, he finds out that the death of Vale is directly related to Intergang, and Perry assigns Lois and Clark to team up on the story. Lois is consumed with the story using it to avoid her personal life. Clark becomes the only real stable thing in her life and for the first time she starts to really appreciate him. He is safe as compared to her son, her fiancé or even her love with Superman. The love triangle gets more complicated.

Using Intergang and Metallo, Luthor starts taking over the entire Metropolis underworld. Superman begins fighting back, saving people and such, slowly catching on that it's all organized. Not realizing that Luthor is setting him up for the kill. Luthor finally is able to assemble the kryptonite energy converter to the proper specifications and carefully removes the uranium and replaces it with the kryptonite as Vale originally intended.

We're closing towards the end.

Lois, the crack investigative journalist that she is, discovers Luthor is behind the new wave of crime hitting metropolis.

She of course is taken hostage, as was Luthor's plan all along. It's up to Superman and Richard to save her.

Superman swoops in as he tends to do but is confronted again by Metallo, this time far more powerful as the Kryptonite proves to be a much stronger power source. The two men of steel duke it out. The full on sort of action that we wanted so much in the first one. Big special effects, big explosion, big hits, ect. When it looks like Superman is on top Metallo rips open his chest, exposing Superman to the deadly kryptonite held within. Richard tries to help and shield Superman from the K-radiation, but is put in mortal danger as well. Lex gets to watch it all through the monitors back in Vale's lab seeing through Metallo's eyes. He forces Lois to watch what appears to be the end for both of her lovers.

Back at the scene of the fight, Jason rushes forward wanting to help, torn between his two father figures. His powers are acting up and he can only save one of them, the other is going to die. Richard tells him to save Superman while Superman is too weak to do anything. Jason zooms forward and saves.... bum, bum, bummmm his step father Richard.

Superman remains slowly dying.

Back in the lab Lois, fearing for Superman’s life, struggles once again and manages to get free, running to the controls and remotely shutting Metallo's chest.

Superman gets up, beats back Metallo, and uses his heat vision to seal the chest cavity shut. And puts down Metallo.

The ending I'm a little unsure of. Somehow we need to get all of our characters in the same place. Superman, Richard, Lois, Jason, and Lex. Lex still has a little Kryptonite left, and for the first time, now that his powers are starting to kick in the Kryptonite affects Jason.

Of course there is a struggle, Kitty (you haven't forgotten about her have you, she was around the entire time, mostly to provide witty repartee with Luthor) lets her conscious get the better of her just like the first one, and helps save our heroes. Luthor escapes (because Luthor always escapes) and in the confusion, the machine that hooks Corben's brain the the Metallo machine is destroyed, and traps Corben's consciousness forever inside Metallo.

We end with Lois publishing the story of it all, how it was Luthor behind it all. Her relationship with Richard is almost at an end, her relationship with superman is just as strange as it always is, but now her relationship with Clark is stronger than it ever was. And on that odd note, perhaps leading the two of them to a romance in the third movie, we end leaving everything back to the status quo (with Lois of course realizing that for Jason's own safety she has to let Superman continue to train him).

Epilogue: Luthor on the lamb has a lot of cool tech and files he raided from Intergang and Professor Vale. On one such file is named: "Codename: Brianiac", and thus we end giving us a straightforward segue to the next picture.

The end.

Not the best, perhaps, but just some thoughts as to how I would do it if I was forced to work with the established source material. How I would do it from scratch is a completely different story that I suppose I'll save for another time, if anyone is actually intersted.

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