Monday, August 19, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 4

Click here to review Part 3.

So far:
Batman captured Mister Freeze and returned stolen technology to S.T.A.R. Labs.  Once there, he discovered that Freeze's heist was a ploy to distract the police while a second criminal stole the lab's stock of kryptonite.  The lead scientist tells Batman that kryptonite comes from outer space.

Outer Space.

An advanced deep-space observation station hovers in orbit above Earth.  It's manned by a crew of half a dozen or so, led by Commander Blake.  Initially, all we'll know about Blake is that he's kind of shifty, and he has some nefarious goals.  By the end of the first movie, we'll see he is actually an shape-changing alien named Commander Blanx.

Commander Blake/Blanx (Thomas Kretschmann)

Thomas Kretschmann is one of those actors who turns up in tons of movies and TV and looks familiar but you can't really remember where you saw him before.  That makes him perfect for a shape-shifting sleeper agent who becomes the vanguard of an alien invasion.  Also he's German so, y'know, bad guy.

One of the junior crew members reports to Blake about some unidentifiable movement at the fringe of the solar system.  He's convinced there's something out there, but Commander Blake discredits his report.  After the briefing, Blake sequesters himself on a different part of the station.  We see him do some secretive stuff, placing mysterious containers into escape pods, and then entering a password into station's computer.

A few moments later, the station is rocked by a series of catastrophic explosions.  Blake pretends to be  surprised and orders the crew to the escape pods, but the pods have already launched and are heading to the surface.  They crew is cut off, separated, but Blake and a few make it to a secure part of the station as it tumbles out of its orbit and begins to plummet toward Earth.  As the crew brace for atmospheric reentry, convinced they're all going to die, one of them looks out the nearest observation port and sees hope racing up to meet them.

This one's for all the super-foot fetishists out there.

The orbital space station conducts scans of local- and deep-space before transmitting its data back to the surface.  That data is received at the Middleton Space Center, a large complex that looks and feels a lot like the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  (I wish I had a name for the space station/project, but at the moment I can't think of anything like this from the DC Universe that I could repurpose.  If anyone reading this wants to suggest something, leave a comment and I might incorporate your idea.)

As the scenes aboard the space station unfold, both before and during its catastrophic accident, we intercut with scenes at the space center.  Maybe a title card flashes across the corner of the screen, saying: Middleton Space Center, 30 Miles South of Metropolis or something.

Dr. Saul Erdel (Bob Gunton)

The Mission Director for the project is Dr. Erdel.  Erdel's role in DC Comics was very short-lived, but linked intimately with the origin of the Martian Manhunter.  I'm changing that origin, though, so the role of Erdel is a lot more… Well, I won't beat around the bush.  The character is pretty radically altered, so much that I'm basically using his name only as fan-service to the nine Martian Manhunter fans in the world.  I picked Bob Gunton because I like his look for a NASA-type mission controller, but really so many great actors could do this part.  For more diversity, I could also see Miguel Sandoval or Richard Gant in the part.

Erdel and everyone in the control room at the MSC are watching when the space station begins to come apart.  They look on helplessly.  Then one of sensor operators shouts up to Erdel that he's got an unidentified object on an intercept course with the space station.

Cut back to the space station, falling.

Daa-da-da-da-da, DAA-daa-daa!
Like a second son cresting over the curved horizon, Superman (Jon Hamm) races up from Earth to catch the falling space station.  Big action scene as Superman must slow the massive station's descent as parts of it continue to explode and break up in reentry.  Most of the crew is in the command pod/bridge, but one unlucky crewman (the same junior officer who reported movement on the fringe of the system) was caught in a different part of the station.  A wall collapses and the crewman is sucked out into the vacuum.

As Superman struggles to wrangle the space station, he sees the crewman spinning off.  The man is already caught by Earth's gravity, so he's falling and starting to burn up from atmospheric reentry.  Superman grimaces and abandons the space station to its fall.  He flies over and catches the crewman.  As the heat and friction begin to scorch the young man, Superman counteracts the burning with his freeze breath.  I have no idea if this science works out or not, but I'd love to see it.

When they're low enough that the crewman isn't in danger of burning up, Superman throws the man on his back and tells him to hold on tight.  Then Superman races back to the still-plummeting space station.  With the man on his back, arms wrapped tight around his neck, Superman grabs what's left of the space station and begins to halt its fall.  The remaining crew inside the bridge might be able to see him through the observation port.  They're equal parts panicked and awestruck at the circumstances, all except Commander Blake.

"Thank the stars my Pa wasn't ashamed of my powers
or you'd all be dead!"
With a healthy dollop of explosive debris and wreckage strewn across the landscape, Superman manages to bring the space station's control pod safely to the surface near the Middleton Space Center.  The crew is hurt but alive.  Emergency Rescue vehicles are visible in the distance rushing toward the survivors.

What might be cool, as long as it doesn't detract from the action, is to intercut the above rescue scene with a flurry of shots of Lois Lane typing an article on the rescue.  This isn't to give the impression that she's writing the article as the event is happening, but pretty soon after, to show how quick the media in general and Lois in particular are at reporting Superman's exploits.  Quick shots of Lois' fingers assaulting the keyboard with the ratatatat of a machine gun; quick shots of words scrolling across the computer screen, describing the action of the scene; quick shots of her fierce, beautiful eyes; and finally, as Superman scans the wreckage and ensures that everyone is safe, even as emergency vehicles swarm on the crash site, we get a shot of The Daily Planet front page, the headline: SUPERMAN SAVES SPACE STATION CREW (something like that).

Lois Lane (Jennifer Carpenter)

Why did Superman fall in love with Lois Lane?  She's beautiful but she's not the most beautiful woman in the world--that honor goes to Wonder Woman.  Now granting the premise that if Superman wanted Wonder Woman he could have her (personally, I think she could do better) what makes Lois so special?  More than anything, it's a case of brains being sexy.

Lois has Pulitzer Prize-winning brains.  She didn't need to follow her father into the Army to command a heavy armored division, she could do that by the time she was in high school.  She writes with the fire and poetry of an Aaron Sorkin monologue and the direct conviction of a Rachel Maddow monologue.  She has more talent than any journalist Clark Kent has ever met and more confidence than any villain Superman ever fought.

Superman loves Lois Lane because while he may be bulletproof, she's the one who's fearless.  If she were a superhero, she would have a Green Lantern ring.  Superman loves Lois for the same reason she loves him: anything less than the Man of Steel wouldn't be good enough for her.

Watching Dexter, the first thing I notice about Jennifer Carpenter isn't her beauty but her attitude and her toughness.  Her beauty is third.  That's the order I want audiences notice Lois Lane's characteristics.  The biggest hurdle for playing Lois Lane, I think, is making her assertive and dominant without coming off like a bitch.  The character debuted in 1938 when women journalists weren't so commonplace.  She had to talk fast and spar with her editor in order to be taken seriously and justify her place in a man's job.  But that's not world of today, so she has to play slightly tomboyish without being masculine.  Carpenter can be rowdy and acerbic, but she can be vulnerable and feminine, too.  She can't drop any F-bombs in Justice League, but I want to believe she can start a bar fight and then glow when Superman kicks down the door to defend her.

Perry White (Tim Matheson)

Perry White suffers the unfortunate distinction of not being J. Jonah Jameson.  I'm probably wasting an actor like Tim Matheson on a thankless role.  Perry won't have much of a presence in the Justice League movies, much like Commissioner Gordon.  He might have a short dialogue scene or two, mostly serving as a sounding board for Lois and Clark.  Then he'd have some reaction shots as the world goes to Hell in the second and third films.  I really enjoy Tim Matheson, though, and want to use him.  And who knows, he could probably throw some of Lois' smart-ass quips back at her.

To Be Continued…

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