Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 5

Click here to review Part 4.

So far:
Someone stole a sample of kryptonite from the S.T.A.R. Labs in Gotham City.  22,000 miles above Earth, an orbiting space station monitors movement at the edge of the solar system.  Commander Blake secretly sabotages the station, ejecting its escape pods, which each carry a mysterious cargo.  Superman catches the falling space station and saves the crew.

Pics of Kanye and Kim's daughter
in a solid gold onesie on page 4.
The rescue is intercut with shots of Lois Lane (Jennifer Carpenter) writing the story and the headline popping up on The Daily Planet's website.  We see it picked up by television news, and a montage of footage showing Superman (Jon Hamm) shaking hands with the Middleton Space Center's mission director, Dr. Saul Erdel.  We see Commander Blake interviewed.  We see the space station wreckage.  We also see reactions of people watching the new.  Lois Lane, Perry White, and other reporters at The Daily Planet.  Lex Luthor watching from his office in LexCorp Tower in Metropolis.  And John Jones watching the footage somewhere on the street as the news is broadcast on a large screen outside a building, like in Times Square.

(I'll get to who plays Lex Luthor and John Jones later when they are officially introduced.  The problem with this montage is when and how to establish our change of setting.  Lois, Lex, and Jones are in Metropolis, when before this we've spent all our time in Gotham or in space.  A nifty title card identifying the city would be useful, but equally confusing since we're jumping right back to Gotham now.)

The news montage concludes with Bruce Wayne (Richard Armitage) and Lucius Fox watching the news in a Fox's office or a conference room in the Wayne Enterprises building in Gotham.*

Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson)

Following Morgan Freeman is a tall order for anyone, but Ernie Hudson has the most critical quality in taking up the role of Lucius Fox: affability.  Hudson is likable, and you want to watch what he's doing.  Since the days of Ghostbusters (1984) and The Crow (1994), he has consistently popped up in big and small screen projects, but for the life of me, I haven't seen many of them.  This was mostly a nostalgic choice.

Lucius Fox is the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, managing the business so Bruce Wayne can bounce around the globe, cultivating his playboy facade.  Fox knows the truth about Bruce, though, and he also functions as a weapon smith and tech guru for Batman.  Because, y'know, running a billion dollar corporation affords him a lot of free time to design Bat-planes!

So Lucius and Bruce are watching the coverage of Superman saving the space station in Lucius' office. They trade idle speculation on the source of Superman's powers; Lucius "modestly" acknowledges his own mechanical genius, while admitting he couldn't replicate those powers for Bruce without putting him in an exo-suit the size of a car.

They talk of Lucius' upcoming business trip to Metropolis.  Wayne Enterprises is involved in a joint venture with LexCorp to produce automated drones for construction and excavation.  Lucius is going to the factory in Metropolis to survey the product.  Bruce tells him to watch Lex Luthor and the numbers very closely.  He doesn't trust Luthor; he knows Lex wants to militarize the drones and sell them to the Army.  (Maybe Lucius plays the Devil's advocate and asks Bruce to consider what an army of Bat-drones could do for protecting Gotham.  Bruce shuts that idea down hard.)

As they leave the office, Lucius asks Bruce why he doesn't join him on the trip.  Bruce says he doesn't like Metropolis.  "Everyone likes Metropolis," Lucius says.
Bruce: "It's too…"
Lucius: "Clean?"
Bruce: "No."
Lucius: "Bright?"
Bruce: "Lucius."
Lucius: "Happy?"
Bruce (pause): "Antiseptic."
They get into the elevator and Lucius asks about Bruce's plans.
Bruce: "I'm meeting someone tonight."
Lucius: "Business or personal?"
Bruce: "With this one… I've never been sure."
The elevator door closes and we--

Cut To: Catwoman sneaking into a penthouse apartment that night.

Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Katie McGrath)

I wasn't a big fan of BBC's Merlin series, but I could watch every episode for Katie McGrath.  The actress who plays Catwoman needs that power.  She needs to steal the show for all five minutes she's on screen.

Catwoman is all sexuality.  Whether she's playfully drawing the Dark Knight out of his armor with just a whip and her eyes, or vamping in a skintight leather bodysuit, every move Selina Kyle makes is part of a game.  McGrath can play cunning, deceitful, wanton--the smartest person in the room who's crazy-sexy and she knows it.

We meet Catwoman breaking into a lavish suite that occupies the entire top floor of a skyscraper.  She effortlessly sidesteps the security alarms, laser motion sensors, etc. and finds the wall safe.  Without much trouble, she opens the safe and withdraws a handful of jewels.

Batman's shadow falls over her.  She's surprised to see him, but won't show it for more than a fraction of a second.  She attempts to justify her thievery that the rich man who bought these jewels for his mistress is a bad guy.  Maybe they're blood diamonds or whatever.  Batman calls her on it, asking if she plans to fence the jewelry and give the money to children in need or something.

"I'm getting mixed signals from this chick."
After a bit of flirting and fighting and flirting whilst fighting, which may involve fleeing the penthouse after tripping the alarms and chasing across rooftops, Batman tells her he needs to know the name of the thief who broke into S.T.A.R. Labs the night before.  Catwoman tells him to give her a week.  Batman wants the name tonight.

Cut to Catwoman strutting through a loud night club.  This should be as racy as it can be without making the movie inappropriate for kids.  So instead of strippers, women might be dancing in cages (perfectly appropriate for all ages).  Catwoman walks in like she owns the place, making a direct line for a guy in the back.  People notice her.  Musclemen and bodyguards get her in way.  She disarms and immobilizes them all without breaking stride.

(I hear Roxette's "The Look" playing loudly in the club during this scene.)

Catwoman finds her target, a shifty-looking snitch, wraps her whip around his neck and drags him into the manager's office, again without ever losing momentum.  She kicks the door shut.

Back to Batman and Catwoman on a rooftop.  She shows him the file of the man he's looking for on a tablet or smartphone.  She reveals he's an ex-military mercenary named John Corben.**

John Corben/Metallo (Michael Biehn)

Metallo is my favorite Superman villain, and failure of imagination is the only explanation I can think of why he hasn't appeared in any of the six Superman films to date.  He's a cyborg with the brain of a killer named John Corben, and his cold mechanical body is coated with synthetic skin.  Sound familiar?  (Before you accuse me or DC of ripping off the King of the World, understand that Corben's story predates James Cameron's film by a couple decades.)  Now take all the good stuff you know about the Terminator and give him a heart of kryptonite: that's Metallo!

For the purposes of this story, John Corben is former Special Forces turned mercenary, and perfectly human.  For now.  I'll get into the Metallo-ness of his persona when that part of the story presents itself.

Did you catch those references to The Terminator and James Cameron before?  Totally intentional, as was the decision to cast  Michael Biehn as Corben.  Biehn is a veteran of three Cameron films, he's played a soldier in those and other movies, but mostly it's the Terminator connection that tickles me.  Ah, the sweet reversal of the all-too-human hero of the first Terminator becoming a very Terminator-like villain so many years later.

On the roof, as Batman reviews the file on Corben, Catwoman points out that his presumed base of operations is Metropolis.  Catwoman asks Batman if he's leaving town will he bring her back something shiny to play with.  Batman says, "Behave yourself, Selina," leaps from the roof with cape spread like wings, and glides away.

To Be Continued…

* The scene with Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox is presumably the only scene in Gotham City set during the day up to this point.  Depending on the windows and natural lighting in the office, though, I would want the outside to appear overcast or even rainy.  We're in Gotham for most of the first half hour of the movie and I want to clearly define it as the Dark City in contrast to Metropolis that we'll spend most of our time in for the rest of the film.  Metropolis will have lots of daytime scenes, and even at night, it's brightly lit and flashy--something Batman will hate.

** At one point, I thought of making the thief Carl Sands, also known as Shadow Thief, but I chose Metallo because I wanted moviegoers to know Superman has more enemies than Lex Luthor and General Zod.

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