Friday, August 23, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 7

Click here to review Part 6.

So far:
Batman captured Mister Freeze after he broke into S.T.A.R. Labs, but Freeze was merely a distraction while mercenary John Corben stole the labs' sample of kryptonite.  Aboard an orbiting space station, Commander Blake placed alien star-seeds in the the station's escape pods and sent them to the surface before sabotaging the space station.  Superman saved the crew, as the star-seeds began to spread, possessing the people who found the escape pods.  Batman learns that John Corben is bringing the stolen kryptonite back to Metropolis.

Act II: Metropolis (mostly)

The North Atlantic Ocean.  Calm seas are suddenly interrupted as an object shoots up from under the waves.  Superman (Jon Hamm) is carrying one of the space station's escape pods on his shoulders.  He lifts it up, up, and away, turning and flying the pod back to the coast.

Pictured: symbolism!!!
At the Middleton Space Center, a group has gathered just outside a massive hangar.  The group is composed of engineers and technicians in coveralls, a few lab techs in white coats, and some uniformed security guards.  Doctor Saul Erdel (Bob Gunton) is in charge.  There's a flatbed truck parked next to the crowd.  The driver is looking up at the sky.  In fact, all of them are looking up at the sky.  One of the security guards gets a call over his shoulder-mounted radio: "Big Red is inbound."  Another second and one of the engineers points up at the sky.

Superman descends from the clouds with the escape pod on his back.  The crowd applauds as he settles the pod as carefully as possible on the back of the truck.  Superman confirms with Dr. Erdel that that is the last of the missing escape pods.  We get a look inside the hangar and it's full of the other escape pods that were launched from the crashing station, all recovered and brought back to MSC.

Superman says he scanned for lifeforms inside just like all the others, but it wouldn't have mattered because by the time they found this one it had sunk to the bottom of the ocean.  Erdel has had a busy couple of days answering questions about the crash, and this latest detail is more troubling still.  Why did the pod sink?  They're designed not to do that.  Superman shows Erdel the reason: a small hole, apparently burned through the side of the escape pod, which allowed it to take on water after it landed in the ocean.

As Superman points out the damage, we here the click of a camera, and a voice asking Superman if he knows what caused the damage.  Elbowing their way through the crowd of technicians are Lois Lane (Jennifer Carpenter) and Jimmy Olsen.

Jimmy Olsen (Kevin McHale)

For The Daily Planet's ace photographer, I wanted a young actor who could plant one foot in the realm of Geek and one in the land of Punk.  Someone not conventionally handsome, but who has a great big gee-golly smile.  A power nerd, essentially, from the Zach Braff School of Trying Too Hard To Be Likable.  I think Glee's Kevin McHale has that part nailed once he gets out of the wheelchair.

Lois identifies herself to Erdel and fires off a bunch of questions about what brought the space station down, what happened happened to the escape pods, etc. while Erdel orders security to escort her and Jimmy from the base.  Resisting the guards, she asks Superman what he thinks brought down the station.

Superman: "Doctor Erdel's team is looking into it, and when they find out the cause, I'm sure I'll read it your newspaper."
Lois Lane: "Any other comments for the record?"
Superman: "Your hair looks nice today, Miss Lane."

And boom! Superman is off.

A pair of security guards walk Lois and Jimmy to the gate and watch them leave.  When they get to the parking lot they find mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent leaning against Lois' car.  Clark tells Lois that he's here to steal Jimmy away for photos of the Wayne/LexCorp meeting he's covering.

Lois: "You think you'll get a quote from Lex after the last three pieces you've wrote about him?"
Clark: "Maybe I'll get something from Lucius Fox."
Lois: "Another Lex Luthor story.  You're obsessed with him."
Clark: "If Superman didn't exist, the people would worship Lex Luthor."
Lois: "But Superman does exist."
Clark: "And how do you think Lex feels about that?"

Cut To: Metropolis

Where Gotham City is dirty streets, Metropolis is sterling silver.  Gotham's old, gothic buildings crowd each other, closing in, like a canopy enveloping its citizens in its own darkness.  Metropolis' glistening cityscape reaches up like hands trying to pull down the sun.  Gotham is Old World.  Metropolis is the City of Tomorrow.

At the center of Metropolis is LexCorp Tower, corporate headquarters of LexCorp.

Bruce Wayne (Richard Armitage) and Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson) walk through a grand foyer in one of the upper floors of LexCorp Tower.  They're flanked by a couple of young, unimportant staffers from both corporations.  The foyer is luxurious, borderline ostentatious, with statues/busts and homages to the man himself.

A pair of attendants open the massive double doors to Lex Luthor's office.  Standing before Bruce and Lucius is Lex Luthor.  He says, "Welcome to the future," and whether he's referring to the city, the office, or himself is open to interpretation.

Lex Luthor (James Nesbitt)

Lex Luthor is egotism in a suit.  He might be the smartest man on the planet, but Lex sees himself as the only genius in a world of six billion Cro-Magnon men.  He cannot even gloat about his latest scientific breakthrough because the world is too stupid to understand, and in the time it would take him to dumb down his language to make you comprehend, he could invent something newer and better.

Lex Luthor could cure cancer today but he doesn't care.  He's not invested in saving anyone he can't use, and the vast resources of his intelligence must be focused on his unshakable goal: the death of Superman.

Lex Luthor will tell you the reason he hates Superman is that Superman can't be trusted.  He'll tell you the alien's presence is a danger in the same way any invasive species ultimately wreaks havoc on an ecosystem.  He'll tell you humankind will never achieve the next level of evolutionary success as long as we depends on something like superman to protect us.  Those are just rationalizations, really.  The truth is Lex Luthor hates Superman because he's jealous.  Because Lex Luthor has achieved all a man may achieve in this life… and people still look up in the sky for inspiration.

When I started thinking of actors I would want playing villains of the DC Universe, James Nesbitt was one of the first actors who came to mind.  I thought he was terrific in Jekyll, even when the show's quality wavered as schizophrenically as the character Nesbitt portrayed.  His dual performance shows me he has all the qualities needed for Lex Luthor.

To Be Continued…

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