Click here to review Part 19.
A joint project by Wayne Enterprises and LexCorp to create robotic construction drones was weaponized and released on Metropolis by the Martian shape changer, Bel Juz. Though Superman and Batman kept the casualties to a minimum, the public blames both companies, including Batman's alter-ego Bruce Wayne for the disaster. Also, Lucius Fox was infected by the alien Starro, but Superman managed to remove the starfish-looking creature from Fox.
After the prologue which introduces us to some of our new heroes, we return to familiar faces from the first movie. The media is blasting Wayne Enterprises and LexCorp for their culpability in the death and destruction at Metropolis. Different news outlets cover the fallout of this event and its worldwide effects--plummeting stocks, federal investigations, protests outside corporate offices.
Batman/Bruce Wayne (Richard Armitage)
(I've already covered my reason for casting Richard Armitage as Batman waaay back in the first part of this epic.)
Bruce Wayne rides in the back of his limousine watching the news unfold, flipping through channels, most of which are blasting him. He hovers for a second on the roundtable discussion show, You're All Wrong, hosted by Jack Ryder.
The Creeper/Jack Ryder (Colin Morgan)
I chose Merlin star Colin Morgan because I think he has the wild gangliness of the Creeper, even though he won't ever play that role in this movie. For The Brave and the Bold, Morgan really just needs to play a douche bag TV show host.
Bruce changes the channel to local Gotham City news. Vicki Vale is one of many reporters doing a standup outside the luxury apartment of Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox. We segue from the back of Bruce's limo to the street where Vicki reports that Lucius Fox has been released from the hospital after sustaining a "mysterious injury in Metropolis just prior to the rogue drone attack".
Vicki Vale (Sarah Chalke)
For the purpose of this movie, I went with the on-camera reporter Vicki Vale from the video game, Batman: Arkham City. For this tiny cameo, the role doesn't require much more than a pleasing face, but if expanded to further appearances, Sarah Chalke is an actress I've always liked.
Vale observes Bruce Wayne's limousine arrive. Police usher the car past reporters and down into an underground garage so Bruce doesn't have to face them or take questions.
Cut to: Upstairs, in the penthouse apartment of Lucius Fox.
Lucius recovers in his own bed. His wife, along with Bruce's butler, Alfred Pennyworth take a tray of food and medication out of the room, leaving Lucius alone with Bruce.
Alfred Pennyworth (Ian McElhinney)
Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson)
Lucius says his wife won't let him watch TV or read the news. He asks Bruce how bad their stock got hit. Bruce tries to deflect, but Lucius knows it's bad. Bruce asks him about the effect of being possessed by the alien.
Lucius: "It felt like my body was hijacked, like I was shoved in the backseat while it drove. It wasn't just my body, though, it got in my mind… every thought, every memory… It knows you're Batman."
Bruce: "I know."
Lucius: "The cave, the company, your whole life is compromised."
Bruce: "That's why I need to find Mercy Graves, or whatever she really is. When she was in your mind, were you able to…look back?"
Lucius: "I saw…"
Rapid fire shots of Mars, different aliens, and a giant humanoid in shadow.
"There's something… bigger than her," Lucius says, "something worse."
Images of countless little starros flying through space, they begin to descend on a world that is dominated by one giant Starro wrapping its tentacles around the planet.
"All those creatures," Lucius continues, gazing out at nothing, "they're one… one massive and horrible mind… Starro!"
Cut to Bruce standing on the veranda outside the penthouse, playing with a smartphone/tablet. It's day but fairly overcast--never sunny in Gotham City.
There's a sudden gust of wind behind Bruce. Without looking up from his phone, he asks, "How do you like Gotham?" Clark Kent, standing behind him on what had just been an otherwise empty veranda, tells him it's nice. Bruce almost rolls his eyes. "I'll bet my salary against yours that you're the first person in a hundred years to describe it that way," he says.
Superman/Clark Kent (Jon Hamm)
(Once again, go back to the first post in this series for my reasons why Jon Hamm should play Superman.)
Bruce shows Clark something on his phone. It's a very high-tech mapping software that shows a line from the sea to an island/coast in Southeast Asia. Udon Khai, he identifies the place, and goes on to describe how one of the escape pods was picked up by a ship, and after Superman retrieved the pod, the ship made an unscheduled detour to Udon Khai, where the crew abandoned the ship and disappeared into the city. The crew was brainwashed by this "starro" thing. Bruce also explains how Udon Khai's government is a joke, completely bought out by cartels that traffic in women and child slavery.
"I'm going to Udon Khai to pick up the trail," Bruce says.
Clark points out the sizable drop in his company's stock. "Without Lucius, who else can run Wayne Enterprises? Clark asks. "You need to be here right now. People depend on you." They argue.
Bruce: "Who am I speaking to at the moment?"
Bruce: "Am I talking to the Man from Krypton or am I talking to the reporter who's under deadline to file a story about me?"
Clark: "A reporter whose newspaper you bought four days ago--hang on…"
Clark looks off at the city. Close up shot on his ear, and we hear, faintly, the ringing of an old-fashioned alarm. "Jewelry store robbery," Clark says. Bruce tells him to go ahead.
Clark jumps off the veranda. Bruce just stands there, unaffected.
In a different part of Gotham, a man runs out of a jewelry store with a bag of loot. As he's running, he is clotheslined by Superman. The Man of Steel walks into the jewelry store where two more robbers are shocked to see him. Superman quips, "Unless you're planning to marry every single lady in Gotham, I'd put the diamonds back, fellas."
Clark Kent pops back onto the veranda, back in his mild mannered reporter look. He's cinching his necktie. "Mercy got what she wanted," he tells Bruce. "Your company is discredited. If you want to beat her, you need to fix your good name."
"I'm going to beat her by beating her," Bruce says. "At first she wanted me under control, but when she couldn't do that, she decided to ruin my reputation. Because she knows I can stop her. So she wants my attention elsewhere. That's not going to happen."
Clark is going to respond, but he hears something else in the distance. He bolts.
On a street corner, two rival gangs are shooting each other with semiautomatic guns. Superman lands in between them. A teenage banger comes out of hiding and unloads on Superman. Superman melts the bullets with heat vision so they boil and liquify even as they're coming out of the barrel. Then the gun overheats and the kid drops it.
Back on the veranda, Clark says, "Listen… no, hang on." Then he's off again.
In a city park, Superman has already taken out several goons dressed like Alice in Wonderland characters. The Mad Hatter curses at him. Superman claps his hands and the shockwave knocks Mad Hatter down, blowing his hat off. Superman picks it up, pulls out the mind control band, and crushes it while Hatter whimpers on the ground like a child.
Mad Hatter/Jervis Tetch (Michael Sheen)
Michael Sheen made the short list for a lot of villains in my DC fan-casting. Perhaps unfortunately for him, most of them were unattractive oddballs, like Scarecrow, Toyman, Mr. Mxyzptlyk, even the Joker. Eventually, I settled on him playing the Mad Hatter in this briefest of cameos.
Back on the roof, Clark looks somewhat disheveled--shirt unbuttoned, tie loose.
Bruce: "Still think it's a nice city?"
Clark: "I'm not used to teenagers shooting at me with machine guns."
Bruce: "They're not afraid of you."
Clark: "I hear screams every minute, gun shots on the hour. How do you fight crime here when it feels like everyone wants to kill everyone else?"
Bruce stares at Clark, wondering if the irony of his question has dawned on him. "I prioritize," he says very measuredly. "I can't move faster than a speeding bullet, so I have to pick my battles very carefully."
Translation: Wayne Enterprises will endure. I'm going to Asia.