Storytelling Breakdown Blog Entry 017

Let’s Talk: DC Comics On Film – Elseworlds Part 3 – By Ben Clemmer.

To start this one out, I should mention that I have one more short movie treatment in me before I need to pause this exercise for longer than the break I’ve already taken. As I look ahead, there’s a few films for which I just can’t reach into my mirror universe of DC films and piece together an easy alternative. Some of the ones that are coming up later, like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 would be an opportunity to do the Sinestro Corps War. Others like Black Panther, there’s just no way to come close to matching. It’s a masterpiece. For this blog, I’m going to focus on one mini treatment that will expand the scope of the DC Cinematic Universe, give us a superhero team up film that we haven’t experienced yet, and set up to bring one of our multiple film character arcs to a close.

Let’s start Phase Three.

Justice League: Doom

I’m pulling a title from an animated movie that is pretty close to what I’m shooting for here. The comic books JLA: Tower of Babel by Mark Waid and Justice by Alex Ross are the primary written influences. In terms of what this film is the equivalent of from the MCU, let’s say Captain America: Civil War.

I mentioned this film would give us something we haven’t seen before and that’s our heroes teaming up to fight a team of equally strong villains. Arguably, the reason we haven’t seen this yet is because we have a limited amount of time in a film to establish characters our audience hasn’t met, but if we continue to use heroes and villains we’ve seen before who haven’t been killed off, we have more than enough to pull from by the time we reach Justice League: Doom.

We will open the film with two characters we haven’t seen before, one in voiceover. A man with a melodious yet sinister voice tells us, “when an object falls to earth, your entire world can change.” At first we see a meteorite that we don’t recognize falling to the surface, startling prehistoric men and women. We jump to the future and see the rocket that carried Superman landing outside Smallville, we cut to Abin Sur’s ship arriving, and the Manhunters, and then Brainiac. So many of DC’s best characters come from outer space and we haven’t even used General Zod in our DCCU. The last object we see coming into the atmosphere is an unusual meteorite and as it begins to burn on entry, it glows pink.

We cut to an advanced aircraft flying over the desert. This is a test flight for Ferris Air. Unlike the first Justice League film where Hal likely crashed his jet as he discovered Abin Sur, this plane is being flown by Carol Ferris (Scarlett Johansson) herself and she puts down for a landing near the meteorite. She doesn’t approach it, but as she’s about to report back to her crew, the pink glow from the rock envelopes her and we get our opening credits.

So who is returning for this film? Our Justice League is expanding and we have four villains we’ll see in this movie who have appeared in others. We’ll get Scarecrow (Murphy), Cheetah (Wiig), Black Manta (Abdul-Mateen), and Metallo (Bernthal. Yes, I am casting John Bernthal as Metallo). 

Who are we adding? Well, the voice we heard at the beginning belongs to Vandal Savage, a terrifying DC villain who I envision being played by Jason Isaacs. Speaking of great voices, we’re adding Clayface, who in his default form can be voiced by Ron Pearlman (who played him in Batman: The Animated Series). Our last villainous addition will be Mirror Master, who is a much better fit for Jesse Eisenberg.

Now that most of our pieces are on the board, let’s consider why this movie is our equivalent to Captain America: Civil War. The Justice League isn’t split into two teams, but is instead targeted quite effectively by a team of villains organized by Vandal Savage. Metallo shoots Superman with a Kryptonite bullet and traps Supergirl with a device that exposes her to red sunlight. Flash gets a bomb strapped to his wrist that will explode if he drops his speed below 600 mph. Martian Manhunter is trapped by fire. Hal is fear gassed and led to believe Coast City is destroyed. Cheetah battles Wonder Woman. Black Manta battles Aquaman. Both manage to severely wound their targets. An attempt is made on the Atom’s life that nearly kills him too.

How were these attacks and death traps executed with such brutal efficiency? Their architect is a master strategist and someone who no longer trusts metahumans, Bruce Wayne. Bruce himself is visited by Vandal Savage who finds Bruce living in a basement below a free clinic operated by Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Savage thanks Bruce for providing the blueprints that have led to the destruction of the Justice League. Though that assessment is premature, Savage boasts that Mirror Master hacked a Wayne Enterprise facility and used it to access files Bruce created after the events of Superman: Solitude. Savage explains that while the Wanye legacy may make it impossible for Bruce to hide, true immortality is rare. Savage kidnaps Bruce and buries him alive in the same graveyard as his parents.

In Star City, Oliver and Dinah are attacked in their apartment. Clayface approaches Oliver in their bedroom disguised as Dinah. He realizes it’s not her, attacks Clayface and makes a beeline for his bow and arrow as Clayface closes in. Dinah returns and discovers Oliver sprawled out on the bed, apparently dead. Dinah collapses with a mixture of grief and rage before unleashing a sonic scream that blows open the wall of their building.

Down in an alley, Clayface has been splattered into pieces after taking the hit of the sonic call. Oliver’s ears are bleeding, indicating they both just got blasted by Dinah’s attack. Oliver goes back into the building through the front. Sirens approach as cops are coming to investigate the disturbance. Oliver opens a kitchen cabinet and then slides a panel open that reveals some vials. He takes one with a device to administer an antidote we haven’t seen since Batman Begins. Oliver, as the one other non-metahuman in the Justice League, was the only one Bruce trusted enough to give antidote to fear toxin to, just like he gave him Barry Allen’s information in the last Justice League. Dinah realizes Oliver is alive as the antidote takes effect. The two embrace, safe, traumatized, and Oliver tells her everything will be okay.

What follows is the heroes helping one another escape death traps and bad situations before they are gathered together and Bruce reveals the truth. He analyzed their weaknesses and created scenarios that could be put in place if anyone in the Justice League needed to be stopped. The reactions have a range. Superman and Green Lantern appear more angry. Wonder Woman and Flash are disappointed. All struggle to understand, but know they have a more pressing threat to deal with, Vandal Savage and his army of supervillains.

The final battle’s world ending stakes are the part of this I haven’t envisioned too much and there’s so many moving parts that again, I can see why a movie like this doesn’t exist yet. Some of the villains are captured or incapicated. Others maybe don’t survive the final confrontation and maybe at least one (probably Star Sapphire) turns against Vandal Savage when they realize his plans likely include a destruction of humanity that leaves him as the only survivor. 

In the end, Bruce knows he’ll never have any part in the Justice League again. Hal decides to leave for outer space for a little while given he’s been betrayed by both Bruce and Carol in recent days. The members of the Justice League go their separate ways. The members of the team survived, but it’s uncertain if the team itself has.

It could be fun to spend more time thinking of the ways the DC Cinematic Universe could expand to cover equivalents for the MCU as we know it today, but Marvel and DC have so many nuances and differences that this seems like a good place to pause. I started to think of a Justice League: Dark film that could introduce more magical elements and reset some of the events of past movies so no one remembers Bruce Wayne is Batman. There’s still Shazam! to get to, but it was fun to envision a movie that features Zatanna (Elizabeth Olsen), John Constantine (Karl Urban), Jason Blood (Benedict Cumberbatch), Circe (Carla Gugino) and Hades (Mads Mikkelsen). The first Wonder Woman film established the pantheon of Greek gods were destroyed, so it makes sense they’d end up in the underworld with the one god who was already there. Circe, an evil sorceress, plans to resurrect them all and unleash their power on the world. Again, this is a fun concept, but that’s as far as I got.

That brings me to the end of my third DC Elseworlds blog. It’s been a while since I did the first two, so I’ll be sure to link to them here and here. Maybe this concept will lead to a podcast episode now that our second season is underway. Either way, thank you for reading this far.

Until next time,

Ben and the Storytelling Breakdown team

One last thing, today marks one year that John Dawkins has been operating Wayneshout Productions. Check out more of his amazing work here.

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