Thursday, July 21, 2016

Comics and politics


 I've been waiting to post this one for quite some time. At first I was waiting for Bernie Sanders to officially endorse Hillary Clinton... then some other things got in the way, but now in the midst of the completely insane Republican National Convention, I wanted to make sure I finished this up.

Much of the divide and infighting amongst the comic community has been about Bernie vs. Hillary. Now that doesn't mean every comic creator or member of the community is a liberal or progressive... but the majority arguably are. There are some Trump supporters out there, some conservatives that are "falling in line" and others who are genuinely lost at the hijacking of their political party.

So I'll get this right out of the way. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I am a VERY opinionated political watcher. I'm a liberal, an independent and a close follower of politics. It's more than social media posting for me... I've been legitimately considering running for office for a long time, my mindset just isn't there right now. That's me. I'm not ashamed of it, I don't hide it and I will gladly talk and debate politics in a civil manner any day of the week on all sides of the spectrum.

Anyway, there are a lot of strong personalities in comics. After all, we're all creative types.

There are a few creators who stand out more than others in their political views... namely: Nick Spencer, Billy Tucci, Jamal Igle and Ethan Van Sciver to name a few. There are times that politics influences writing and storytelling, there are also times politics influences and effects interactions with fans. Every now and then, creators get into it with each other.

I've also seen criticism along the lines of: 'keep politics out of comics," often in regards to Marvel in their push for greater inclusion and diversity. Sorry, but politics have been a part of comics since Captain America debuted with a punch to Hitler's face. For someone to suggest that a character named "Captain America" keep politics out of comics is kind of ridiculous. In the case of Steve Rogers, he's certainly not a liberal or conservative by today's standards, he is and always has been a New Deal Democrat. That's part of what make Steve Rogers and Captain America work - the era he comes from. Cap is also a soldier and for the most part can remain apolitical.


A great influence on my social and political views comes from Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams' run on Green Arrow/Green Lantern. That run is the epitome of politics in comics and continues to speak to many of today's issues.

I've been at conventions where I'm tabled close to Billy Tucci on more than one occasion. If you've ever met Billy - he's loud, he's opinionated and he's funny as hell. I've heard plenty of anti-Obama rants coming from him and I generally disagree with most of his views, but that doesn't change my personal feelings that he's a genuinely good guy and obviously extremely talented.

Conversely, Jamal Igle is a good friend of mine and we share MANY similar views. He's also politically active on Facebook. He's also extremely talented. But word of advice, if you ever think about debating politics with Jamal, be prepared because I witness him shut people down with facts and real substance on a daily basis. It's quite admirable.

However, I actually disagree politically with a number of creators and personalities I greatly admire. For example, Chuck Dixon is a staunch conservative and Republican, but he's one of the finest comic book writers out there and a big influence on me. In fact, the greatest influence on my writing is the late Tom Clancy, who wrote some of the finest spy and military novels imaginable. Clancy was also a conservative and another example of someone who politically I don't necessarily agree with, but he was a good man and he is probably the greatest single influence on my writing.

See that's the ultimate difference when it comes to politics and comics - even entertainment in general. You shouldn't judge a person's work on their politics if it doesn't affect the quality of their work. Now, if the politics of said person affect their character in a way that just makes them seem generally nuts, that's a different story.

Politics do influence my writing. "Patriot-1" dabbles in it a bit, but the sequel I'm currently writing? HEAVY influence. "ExtraOrdinary" also has a great deal of social and political influence.

What really drives me nuts is when someone says, "I respect you as a comic creator, but I can't follow you on social media anymore because politics" or "your political views that are different than mine are making it difficult for me to support your work."

Unless I'm directly a jerk to you - either about politics or something else, which is rare - then I really can't wrap my head around that bit of self-righteousness. As I've mentioned, I welcome civilized political debate, but absolutism of such a nature gets us nowhere overall.


If you're going to stop supporting someone's work - especially someone who you claim to respect or previously respected - do it because of their character or because they are directly an ass to you - not because they share different political views. For example, there is a writer whose work I REALLY enjoyed. Lined up with my interests, a hell of a storyteller - his politics didn't match up with mine... but it didn't affect my enjoyment of his work. What has affected it is the fact this creator has been the subject of numerous sexual harassment incidents and is generally flippant towards fans and criticism.

I understand politics can be touchy, especially in today's climate. But when you stop supporting someone's work or someone in general solely based on ideas being different and not because of their character - well, then you're just part of the problem.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

About that Steve Rogers: Captain America thing

 

I was honestly trying to avoid a commentary on this topic. But people keep asking. Because of things I wear in public, my kids wear, things I look at in stores, purchase, etc., it keeps coming up. Because my social media feeds are a cavalcade of comic-related things, it keeps coming up. And people keep asking me. Why do people keep asking ME? If you've been here before, I hold Superman in very high regard. If you didn't know that about me... read this.

That same regard, possibly even higher, is held for Captain America. That title of course belonging to one fictional character, Steve Rogers. I love Cap.

I've also loved Cap for a very long time. At one point my dream was to write (and even star!) in a Captain America movie - something I actually made known in the offices of Marvel Studios when I was just a mere intern making trips to the Coffee Bean on Santa Monica Boulevard. That was 2004. But that kind of admiration for a character was birthed in reading all his comics, all his stories and seeing the type of character I really like - the ultimate good guy. The ultimate pinnacle of what America is and can be.

I've always been fascinated with, but never served in the military. My marquee character, Patriot-1, is modeled after Captain America. A modernized version of Cap. Those ideals of doing the right thing no matter what thrown into the muddiness of today's wars and politics. Politically and ideologically, I'm not a hawk. I'm not conservative. I'm very liberal and I abhor war, but I do quite understand that some things, no matter how disgraceful they may seem, are necessary. This is the world we live in.

What Captain America embodies, what he represents is what America is supposed to be. It's what a lot of people think we are as a nation, but we're really a long way from it.

What is it you ask? It's the perfected image - real or not - of the men and women who literally dropped everything, even in the face of economic ruin, to fight a war. The embodiment of what America was always meant to be - the good guys fighting against tyranny and oppression - after all, there's one thing Cap hates and that's bullies.

Steve Rogers is representative of that generation - the Golden Age of comics, unwavering in their righteousness and ability to do good. Steve Rogers is representative of a different time and a different place in American history. That time we actually did rise up and fight the bad guys, fight evil and liberate the world. It wasn't pretty, we did some things that were necessary but we got the job done. There were men who went and fought simply because it was the right thing to do. The Nazis represented - and still represent -  clear evil unlike the world has ever seen. This is also why whenever we get these stories about Steve Rogers "passing on the shield," and someone else taking up the mantle, they all end the same - with Steve Rogers as Captain America.

It's because Captain America doesn't work without Steve Rogers. Sorry, it's true.

I have read just about every issue of Captain America there is to read dating back to the 1940s. If I don't own them, I've read them in some collected form or online. Back when I used to do reviews for Comics Bulletin, I reviewed almost every issue of Ed Brubaker's incredible run. There's even one of my pull quotes on the back of one of the trades. There are multiple long boxes between my garage and my basement devoted solely to Captain America comics. Cap is also on my "writing bucket list." So I'm not saying I'm some kind of expert on Cap, but I've read a few stories.

And yes, I LOVE the movies. First Avenger is a very special movie to me because it's the love child of what I consider the greatest film ever made - Raiders of the Lost Ark - and the phenomenal film adaptation of a comic that has had great influence on me - The Rocketeer. The Winter Soldier and Civil War are also "top shelf" films. The Winter Soldier ranks near Raiders on my top films of all-time, and they perfectly represent who Steve Rogers is. On that same token, Chris Evans is PERFECT as Cap. He is to Cap what Christopher Reeve is to Superman, and it will be hard for someone to eventually fill those boots.


This of course, isn't about that stupid "make Cap and Bucky lovers" nonsense. Want to know why they are close pals? Watch or read Band of Brothers.

What this is about is that twist in Steve Rogers: Captain America #1. You know, the one where he says "Hail Hydra" at the end, and the book possibly reveals that he's been always secretly been a Hydra agent?

So this book has caused quite an uproar. Writers and editors have received death threats (seriously), some weirdo burned his copy (could've donated it to a library), the final page became a really funny meme and some people have been shouting that it's anti-semitism (it's not).


You now know how I feel about Captain America. This was my honest to Zeus reaction to the reveal: "Well, this is interesting."

As far as first issues go, this was phenomenal. It gave readers a solid recap of how we got to this point, it featured Captain America in action, his supporting cast in their roles, the artwork was jaw-dropping (seriously, just buy this issue and look at the pretty pictures) and the shock was exactly that - the shock.

For some ridiculous reason, people feel betrayed. Like this is Hulk Hogan is the third man, nWo-style betrayal. Hulkamania is dead! I'm using a pro-wrestling reference not because of my day job, but because the parallels here are pretty obvious. What is the most shocking thing that can be done to drum up interest in our product? Take our paragon of righteousness and make him go bad!

But here's what people missed. This issue was so brilliantly crafted by a very talented and smart writer in Nick Spencer, that about halfway through I realized something was amiss. I went in with no spoilers other than "there's a big twist," and by the end of it I was hooked. I've read a lot Captain America, I know how these stories end, what I want to know is how we get there. What has caused this sudden change.

And let's be clear, this isn't a "status quo" change. This is a storyline. Just like Operation Rebirth, just like Death of Captain America, just like The Iron Nail de-aging him and making him old. All of these things were touted as permanent. Why? Because that's the job of creators, editors, publishers... to tell stories, to keep you buying their books. Relax.

As a lifelong reader, a retailer and a creator, I see something a little different surrounding the outrage. People are really upset because suddenly their T-shirt or Funko Pop means something different in their mind... when in reality it doesn't. Why would I say that? Because people who are upset aren't real comic book readers, they are "comic book fans" in trend only, collecting the latest trinkets but ignoring the comics and not reading them. They are the movie fans who occasionally buy a comic or a collected edition of a popular or adapted storyline. What's my proof? It's all in the sales numbers, kids. Real readers wouldn't be (and aren't) outraged because it's one issue. The first issue of a storyline. They keep reading, knowing how these stories go.

Nick Spencer is a very good writer. He's also a very smart guy and he gets some flak for his politically-charged Twitter. Many of my views align with his, so I really enjoy following and interacting with him. He's also a very layered storyteller and that was on display in the first issue of Steve Rogers: Captain America. It's blatantly stated in the dialogue that something isn't right. It's blatantly stated that the Red Skull and Baron Zemo are at war with each other within Hydra, trying to get an edge up on each other. It's clear as day, both in the story and in interviews with Thunderbolts writer Jim Zub (who has said the Cap book and Thunderbolts are connected), that the sentient cosmic cube in the form of little girl Kobik - who gave Steve Rogers his age back - is far from finished with this storyline. The evidence is all in front of you. My analysis may be wrong, but the point is that there is enough evidence and foreshadowing that this story can go six different ways before reaching the outcome. That's what's so great about it.

As a seasoned Cap reader - and I could be wrong - but it seems as though Kobik (the cosmic cube) has altered reality and Steve's past to implant these Hydra memories - this idea he's always been Hydra. This is likely manipulated by Skull of Zemo... the best weapon is your greatest enemy. What's the tell? Elsa Sinclar, the Hydra recruiter in the flashbacks. The red she wears is the only real color in the muted flashbacks. In fact, the only prominent color in the flashbacks is red. It's a tell. That's your first clue.

What do I think happens? Steve Rogers - or one of his supporting cast members - eventually figures out that something is wrong and Rogers pulls through - his true identity, that stalwart, unwavering pinnacle of hope we know and love, and he never was a member of Hydra. Because these types of stories are meant to challenge his resolve, to prove he is incorruptible. And what of the young hero he supposedly kills in the first issue? 1) we don't see him actually die and 2) again, cosmic cube, reality-altering.

Could that actually be the endgame here? Maybe? Not just sales and publicity, but an actual story that strengthens Steve Rogers' resolve? That even in the face of reality being altered, he cuts through the shit and stands tall, shield raised high in the air? You know, I think that may be exactly what's happening here. Why doesn't he have is original shield right now? What's with the new outfit? It's because he's not himself and subconsciously he knows it. Now his resolve is to be tested in a new and different way. I read these books religiously, these are the best kind of Captain America stories, the ones where even the cosmic cube can't win in the end.

If the cosmic cube sounds too crazy and far-fetched to you, clearly you've never read a Captain America comic. And trust me, your childhood isn't ruined. Shut up.

Cap comics are also often classified in the spy genre and as political thrillers. That's exactly what Nick Spencer has established in this first issue. I mean really, the twist is shocking - sure - but this isn't that far off from some of Cap's most classic stories.

The uproar over the issue - again, literally the first issue - is insane. Like really insane. I can understand some people not liking the twist or criticizing it for being nothing but a publicity stunt - especially to off-set the buzz surrounding DC Comics Rebirth. Hell, I don't like every Cap story. I wasn't a huge fan of Rick Remender's run. Cap in overly science-fiction settings just isn't my thing. And that's fine.

Though if every single person expressing outrage over this issue actually bought it - it would be one of the best-selling books of all-time. But half of the people outraged have no idea what's really going on. They use social media - Twitter, specifically - to attack creators, say horrible things they likely wouldn't say in person, and generally hide behind a firewall of anonymity. Seriously, if you have Twitter and there is something in the news or something like this Cap storyline, odds are you're going to hate it. Social media can be exceptionally negative and really bring out the worst in people without fear of consequence, and that plays a role in things like this. 

All of this for the first 30 pages of a serialized comic book. I mean, seriously. The outrage is honestly overblown and petulant. And that goes for ALL OF IT. And the death threats... anyone who threatened anyone's life over this is a complete ass.



Of course Marvel is going to hit the media circuits and tout this as some big change. They do it all the time. When Cap died, when Sam Wilson "took over" as Cap... etc. That's the purpose of publicity and PR - to sell the product. That's all they want to do is sell their product and drum up interest.

As for anti-semitism... no. Let's clear up one bit of fiction. Hydra were not outright heavily associated with the Nazis until the first Captain America movie. In the movies, Hydra is the Nazis' deep science division. This was an adaptation and a decision made to tell a larger story that didn't have to rely on Nazis. And even then, Hydra is bigger than the Nazis were, that was the point of contention between Hitler and The Red Skull... Skull took the occult belief structure further than Hitler did in the movie.

In the comics, Hydra is not a Nazi organization. There are former Nazis in their ranks, and Red Skull and Baron Zemo are often closely associated with them (especially in Steve Rogers: Captain America #1), but they are not Nazis. They are a terrorist organization hell-bent on order and ruling the world, yes - Nazis, no. They were formed in 1965 as a rival spy organization to S.H.I.E.L.D. So you can take that ridiculous "this is anti-semitism" argument and throw it out the window. Seriously, it's a thin argument and a load of bullshit.


While thinking about this post, I saw two friends post on Facebook in regards to Captain America. One of them was referring to the "No, you move" speech that has been floating around political memes as of late. My friend - an Army Vet and all-around good dude - said this: 

"I've seen the comic book pages from which this came shared frequently of late. There are times in our history when this sentiment would have been very patriotic, unfortunately now isn't one of them. With politics so radicalized these days, I feel this sends completely the wrong message. Apply these words to racists and homophobes; should they stand by these words right now? Religious extremists who want no Muslims in America: should they stand by these words? People who prefer Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton: should they stand by these words right now? We've tipped so far out of wack with any kind of balance in this country, these words are the worst possible words we could use to inspire us right now. Just because they came from the mouth of Captain America doesn't mean they are right."

And then another friend - a Navy Vet I greatly respect - posted his distaste for the Cap twist, saying:

"I get the story idea and what they want to explore, but this was the wrong character at the wrong time.

With the bitterness of this election year and our extraordinary lack of faith in our political leaders, to turn a character which is to many the symbol of what is great in America into a villain is a poor choice.

America has always had its symbols, and Captain America has been an almost unwavering constant of American values. Even to his "detriment" at times. 

While he has feigned changes to go undercover in the past, we all knew he was faking. But these announcements from Marvel staff are telling us otherwise - and it makes me sad. Even more so on Memorial Day."

But maybe that's what Nick Spencer is trying to tell us - that we as Americans aren't who we pretend to be. With all the political vitriol, the madness of the election cycle, the racism and disrespect toward the President, Donald Trump being a Presidential candidate - that America has lost it's way. Somewhere along the line our history was altered and the end product is the social, cultural and political divides that clearly exist today. How do we pull through this? How do we find our way back to being like those men and women who stood up to evil by storming beaches and just generally doing the right thing?

Maybe we should all pay closer attention to this Steve Rogers: Captain America storyline. Either everything you've ever known was a lie and a gross distortion of reality, or you step back, re-center yourself and who you are, and throw your shield in the air.

At the end of the day, this is a comic book. It's a storyline and believe me, Marvel - and more importantly, Disney - is not going to suddenly change the status quo of one of it's most popular characters in such a manner. So buy the books, enjoy the storyline and see where it goes. Remember, nothing in comics is absolute - not death, not de-aging, not the timeline and certainly not reality.

If you're really upset and want a good story with a good guy doing the right thing... I don't know... buy Patriot-1 here.

Oh, and Hail Hydra.



Friday, May 27, 2016

Idea for a CW DC TV "Rebirth"


It's true. I've documented my general distaste of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice on this space a couple times - mostly for the portrayal of Superman. This doesn't mean I'm anti-DC, or a "Marvel fanboy"... quite the opposite. I love them both equally and passionately. While I do indeed love the Marvel movies and have yet to be disappointed by any of the 13, I also really love DC TV. Specifically, the Greg Berlanti/Marc Guggenheim/Andrew Kriesberg form of DC TV.

I am of course referring to primarily the CW shows or the "Arrow-verse." I watched most of Gotham season one but just couldn't get into it. I've caught a few episodes this season, but I'm still not totally into it. What I'm really focused on here is Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. Supergirl is moving to the CW for season two and is technically part of the CW universe, and I would suspect, will have much stronger ties to Flash and Arrow following it's big move. I waited until after each respective season finale to pontificate, mostly because I wanted to see how they ended and hoooboy did they end spectacularly.

Quick preface: Green Arrow ranks among my favorite comic book characters and one of the few I've ever really identified with. I grew up on Mark Waid's Flash (Return of Barry Allen is one of my all-time favorite stories) which eventually led to the Geoff Johns' Flash and I have a deep love for the Flash mythos. I also have a special place in my heart for obscure and "second tier" characters, the likes of which make up Legends of Tomorrow. Finally, my love for Superman is well documented, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Supergirl moving to the CW makes me happy. Obviously, the DC TV shows on the CW really speak to me and I find them really enjoyable.

So why am I writing this? Simple. I love these shows, I think they have wonderful potential and well, because why not? This is a bit of fantasy booking... I have a tremendous amount of respect for the writers and producers juggling the creative on these shows and I'm definitely not telling them how to do their job (I'd love to join them though), I'm just tossing out some ideas. Places I think these shows could go.


I guess I have to start with The Flash, mostly because of that phenomenal season finale. I had a feeling early on that the man in the iron mask was the real Jay Garrick and I thought that it's plausible that it could be John Wesley Shipp. This was confirmed for me in the second to last episode when Henry revealed is mother's maiden name was "Garrick." There was something spectacular about seeing the first live-action Flash don the suit of the original comic book Flash. It was really a special moment.

Barry - who went through hell this season - grieving over the loss of his father and irked by the betrayal of his friends (they imprisoned him so he wouldn't race Zoom), decided to go back in time and save his mother from the Reverse Flash. Comic fans know this as the Flashpoint Paradox, when Barry Allen altered the timeline creating Flashpoint and then the New 52. Of course, DC Rebirth has changed that, but that's neither here nor there. The bottom line is Barry's actions are going to have serious ramifications.

It's unclear how Barry's actions will affect Arrow, and it's possible that his actions have already affected Legends of Tomorrow with the arrival of Hourman and the impending arrival of the Justice Society (of which I think the John Wesley Shipp Jay Garrick is a member). I do think where his actions have the greatest affect is Supergirl.

We could see a full-on Flashpoint-like adaptation for a few episodes. They could do some really neat things - depowered Barry having everything he's ever wanted, Robert Queen taking the Thomas Wayne role from the comics and even Supergirl taking the Superman role. There is lots of opportunity, but I think the end game ultimately is that the timeline will be altered in a way that we don't necessarily lose everything that's come before, but we get the JSA and Supergirl existing on the same Earth and timeline as The Flash.

It's also possible Barry's actions trigger the Crisis. The endgame of season three of The Flash being the merging of Earths. Specifically, Earth-1, 2, 3 and Supergirl's Earth. One way or another, through timeline manipulation or Earth-merging, Supergirl, the metas of Earth-2 and the JSA of Earth-3 all end up on Earth-1. I think it's also safe to assume we'll see Wally and Jessie develop their powers.

Of course, that begs the question: who is the villain of season three? Zoom was a great villain and his journey isn't over. For those not well-versed in the Flash mythos, when the Speed Force wraiths abduct him in the season two finale, he becomes The Black Flash. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him, but there has to be a threat large enough to bring Jay Garrick and Harrison Wells back to Earth-1. I'm sure we'll see more of Gorilla Grodd, the Reverse Flash will likely be back in some fashion, but as for the big bad? It's possible we will see the Anti-Monitor. I'm not certain the villain will be another speedster - though there are plenty of choices.

The possibilities for The Flash are endless and that's probably the most exciting aspect about it all.


How does Legends of Tomorrow fit into the grander plan? This all depends on the route they go. If Legends remains focused on the timeline, then it's safe to assume that the Justice Society has been erased from the timestream and that's why they recruit Rip Hunter. But I also don't see the JSA existing without John Wesley Shipp's Jay Garrick, which brings Earth-3 into play. Could the JSA have been removed from the timeline and placed on Earth-3? Could Earth-3 have been formed because of a deviated timeline? Shipp has already teased that Garrick will be part of the JSA and it really wouldn't feel like the JSA if he wasn't.

The ultimate question then becomes who is the villain? That answer is actually pretty simple - Extant. The antagonist of Zero Hour in the 90s, Extant was once Hank Hall aka Hawk. Here he could be a former JSAer who was betrayed by the JSA - or feels he was - and erases them from time. Extant could potentially be traveling through multiple timelines erasing the JSA and other heroes. The science in Legends of Tomorrow is clearly pseudo, so all of that could play to an advantage. In terms of characters we could see? I think the floodgates are wide open to hit corners of the DCU that are both prominent and obscure.


Supergirl remains a bit of a variable. The show's move to the CW is the right one. They can change their tone a bit as they won't have to directly pander to a broader, broadcast audience. They can still pick up where they left off, but play in the sandbox of the broader CW universe. I'm mostly interested to see how they bring Supergirl into that universe. The Flash will most certainly have something to do with it, but I'm really curious as to how. As I mentioned, there could be some timeline altering or Earth-merging, or maybe they all just stay separate and Cisco allows for an open jumping from Earth to Earth. That's certainly an interesting idea, keeping the Earth's separate but allowing for easy team-ups through Vibe's abilities.

This also brings up the BIG question... Superman. My hope is that with the fallout from Batman v. Superman, Geoff Johns loosens up the policy of different versions of characters appearing in movies and TV. This would allow for a number of things - Barry altering the timeline could allow the return of Amanda Waller on Arrow. It could also herald return of the Arrow version of the Suicide Squad. Though most importantly, we (as viewers) have earned Superman. Make it Tom Welling - I don't care - but Superman could play a HUGE role on Supergirl and in the CW-verse going forward. He doesn't have to be a regular anywhere, he's there to inspire all the characters. Could you imagine Supergirl introducing Superman to Grant Gustin's Flash? The potential for shaping and further molding Barry as a hero is there. Same with Green Arrow. Oliver knowing there are superhumans out there like this would allow him to focus on the street (more on that soon). The revelation of Supergirl and even Martian Manhunter would, could and should fundamentally change the perspective of the already established characters in the CW-verse.


Now on to the show that started it all... Arrow. To say season four has divided fans of the show would be accurate. Overall, I enjoyed the season and I commend the team for the risks they took trying to keep what they've built fresh and new. For the record, I think seasons one and two of Arrow are top notch. Season three I really enjoyed because it was playing for the long game - much like season four did.

What I won't do is compare Arrow and Daredevil. They are two completely separate beasts.

The season four finale seems to have really divided opinion on the show. I think they made good choices for the show's future. All signs point to season five returning the show to it's non-powered roots (something star Stephen Amell has hinted at recently), and it is heavily rumored that we're going to get the DC TV version of Vigilante.

For those who don't know, Vigilante is Adrian Chase, a former district attorney whose family is murdered by the mob and essentially becomes a Punisher-like figure. He originally resorts to non-lethal tactics but increasingly becomes more and more violent. With Arrow looking to show Oliver's connection to the Russian mob in the flashbacks... the idea of bringing in Vigilante fits perfectly.

It sounds like Kovar will be the big bad for season five, making Vigilante more of an antagonist. Kovar in the DCU is a superhero called the Red Star, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Vigilante/Russian mob connection makes sense. Plus with Oliver now mayor of Star City, the Russian mob has more of an onus to emerge. They become targets of Vigilante and we get a Daredevil/Punisher dynamic between Green Arrow and Vigilante. It'd be an strong dynamic considering that Oliver will kill when he has to, and given his position as mayor, it puts him in a brand new place of balancing his dual lives.

At this point, Arrow really can go back to it's roots, but with a new twist. Oliver is now a politician. The Arrow writing and production team can take a new risk for season five - one that is very much in line with Oliver's character - and have a running theme of Green Arrow vs. Vigilante be politics. What are the politics of the vigilantism? Of the killing? Green Arrow takes a more liberal stance - a necessary evil - whereas Vigilante takes the shoot first approach. There can be a really interesting commentary in season five that could really elevate the show.

Star City could also thrive under Oliver's leadership, which would again offer new dynamics to the show and the character. With his actions really starting to be effective, it could indeed pave the  way for that snarkiness that has always set Green Arrow apart. Remember, in the DC Universe, Oliver Queen is a man amongst gods and it's becoming that on the CW too. With new heroes emerging and the addition of Supergirl, it's absoultely possible that Oliver focuses less on larger, global threats and gets back to the streets, where he should be. This is especially the case if Superman's presence is felt.

Oliver's real conflict should be about whether or not the Green Arrow is needed, especially if the city does well under his leadership. For the months leading up the season's main storyline, everything comes easy to Oliver and Green Arrow. The mission is still protecting the city but the focus of the show shouldn't be on saving Star City for a change, it should be on Oliver and should really let Amell shine.


While I know there exists fan divisivness over Felicity, I do think the romance has run its course, but she can still be what keeps him in line. Amell and Emily Bett Rickards are at their best when they are bantering back and forth and turning that up a notch could provide Oliver with the snarkiness many fans have been yearning for. I mean, let's face it, at this point the people of Star City are behind him, he's seen some really wild things, he's lost some friends and the one thing that can keep him from "the darkness" is if he stops taking everything so seriously. That could also be another dynamic between Vigilante and Green Arrow. Oliver sees so much of his old self in Adrian Chase, and Chase is angry Green Arrow plays his own version of judge, jury and executioner.

Who does one cast as Adrian Chase/Vigilante? My vote goes to former WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes/Stardust. He's got the look, the physique and can pull off the duality needed for a character like Chase. Plus he and Amell are friends and have wrestled a match against one another that is a highly-regarded celebrity match among WWE fans. They had great chemisty in the ring and whenevr they get together in character. Seriously, Cody could pull it off.


The rest of Team Arrow can be out of the picture for the time-being, and that's the right move. It's been a whirlwind four years for all of them and focusing more on Oliver's further evolution into Green Arrow is more important right now. But as Vigilante pushes and pushes, Oliver can start to resort back to his old self, forcing the team back together.

Back to Star City for a second. Star City has now faced four terrorist attacks in as many years. At this point, the U.S. Government should move in. A.R.G.U.S. should have more influence - or if not A.R.G.U.S., bring in Spyral or Checkmate - some kind of government agency that is overseeing Star City's defense. If a timeline shift doesn't bring back Amanda Waller, then a new figure should be brought in. Who could it be? Easy, Tom Tresser a.k.a. Nemesis. With this in mind, I would go so far as to have Diggle working for Tresser, creating conflict between Diggle's sense of duty and his sense of brotherhood with Oliver. This also gives Lyla (who honestly, is an awesome character) a solid arc as well as she juggles A.R.G.U.S., Tresser in command and her husband's loyalties.


Going one step further, Tresser could factor into the flashbacks as well. As a spy and master of disguise, in the flashbacks he could be an infiltrator into the Russian mob. It would add a new level of tension and richness to Oliver's past. The connection between Tresser, Chase and Oliver is the Russian mob and how each of them handle it, and for once, you could not have Star City in the balance.

With the addition of Tom Tresser (who has Suicide Squad connections), it would also be easy to bring in Victor Sage - especially with the establishment of Hub City in season four. Could we get The Question? It's definitely possible, though I think Hub City will serve as Vigilante's base of operations before he moves to Star City.

Of course, the big question also is what did Laurel say to Oliver before she died? Even bigger than that, is Laurel actually dead?


My honest answer? I don't know. Look, I get fans being upset about a Green Arrow show killing Black Canary. She's one of my favorite comic characters. I felt Laurel actually had one of the strongest character arcs on the show in her journey to becoming Black Canary. But if it's not some swerve and she turns out to be fine, you don't know what goes on behind the scenes. Maybe Katie Cassidy was just ready to move on  - maybe she needed a break. When stuff like this happens, you have to take into account the real-life implications. Colton Haynes recently revealed why he left the show and you just can't fault a guy - or a show - for that decision.

If it is some kind of swerve, I don't think it cheapens the actual death in season four. In fact, Laurel could easily be brought back if Barry affects the timeline. If she is indeed dead as the producers and stars have stated, there's still a wide range of possibilities.


First, something could happen in Legends where Sara decides to become Black Canary (or Canary as she was) again. Or she sees the new, more hopeful Oliver and just wants to be around him because she feels it makes him a better person. They feed off of each other and are two people still very much in love. Suddenly, we're back to into the Green Arrow/Black Canary dynamic - one that already has a strong history in this universe. 

But I think there's a very strong story available if Kate Cassidy is indeed not permanently done with the show. This would involve the Laurel of Earth-1 being dead, but the Laurel of Earth-2 developing as a character. There's a lot of potential here. 

Distraught over the destruction she caused under Zoom's influence, the Earth-2 Laurel could go on a journey of redemption and assume the role of Earth-1 Laurel as Black Canary. There's no need for a secret identity and we get the new Laurel - maybe now calling herself Dinah - on a journey from viillain to hero. This is just another layer that could play directly into a rivalry between Vigilante and Green Arrow.


There's also the romance angle. On Earth-2, Oliver is dead. On Earth-1, he's the love of Laurel's life. What's not to say it wouldn't be the same? Different Earths, still in love. It basically writes itself. Oliver and Earth-2 Laurel wouldn't be able to keep their hands off each other. We get a brand new dynamic between them - one that draw more similarities to their respective character journies and ultimately the classic Green Arrow/Black Canary dynamic.

I know the Olicity fans are screaming and vigorously typing at that opinion, but I think Oliver and Felicity have run their course. That's not to say Felicity can't have a romantic interest... in fact she should... and his name is Adrian Chase. That's right, Felicity should fall in love with Vigilante. I'd even go as far as have her figure out who he is and work for him the way she does Green Arrow.

Suddenly, we have a season five that is heavily layered, focused on Oliver's journey - his schism - and one that can really elevate the show politically and socially.

Barry's timeline futzing will certainly have an affect on Arrow, as it should, but it doesn't have to be huge. It can be used as a means to bring back characters like (maybe) Laurel and, if WB ends their policy on the movie and TV characters (which they should), Waller, Ra's Al Ghul and Deadshot. The changes to Arrow can be subtle and that's fine.

For the record, I am also totally onboard with Kevin Smith taking a role on the show and season five building to season six's main villain - Onomatopoeia.

Regardless, season five of Arrow has so much potential it's not even funny.I will also continue to hold out hope that Bruce Wayne will eventually be introduced.

Oh, one more thing... more Vixen. Much, much more Vixen.


Phew, this was a bit longer than I anticipated, but these shows are exciting and the possibilities are endless, so I just felt like adding in my two cents. If I had the opportunity, I would seriously consider picking up and moving to work on one of these shows, but it's always fun to speculate.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On adapting... and adaptations. And screenwriting.

Adaptation. It's a philosophy I try to live by. Adapt to things. Find solutions.

I recently adapted Patriot-1 for the screen.


I shouldn't say recently, I've been working on it for years, and really intensely over the past year and a half or so. It's a very meta experience, honestly, to adapt your own work.

So why did I do it? Simple, because I truly believe that Patriot-1 is a marketable property that could do well at the box office and beyond. Really.

I'm also really possessive of the character and world I've created, so if anyone was going to ever do it, I wanted to make sure I was going to be the first.

Now first and foremost, I'm trained as a screenwriter. My bachelor's degree from Ithaca College is in Cinema & Photography with a Screenwriting Concentration. Mind you, that was nearly 10 years ago, but I still write cinematically in all my scripts, whether comics or not. My two main screenwriting professors, my advisor Professor Elisabeth Nonas and Ithaca's resident Los Angeles screenwriting guru Steve Ginsberg, both had a profound effect on my love of storytelling. I've also been told by a couple of artists that my writing is "cinematic," so I guess that's some credibility to the argument.

I've written about a dozen screenplays, many more treatments and jotted down even more ideas. Some of the screenplays are being molded into comic form, some aren't that great and some are just for me. But Patriot-1 is my signature character, and one I feel has a great deal of marketability in various mediums.

I also don't work in Hollywood. I live in Connecticut in the New York City Metro area and I work for an entertainment company doing mostly digital content. That's my own choice, I spent some him in LA during college, I didn't go back for a myriad of reasons, mostly because those just weren't the cards dealt. That doesn't mean the goal changed - it never changed - I just don't think I'd be the writer and creator I am today had I taken a different path. It's possible, but I’ve long said that I felt I needed to do things “my way.”

In 2008, I was two years out of college and I was doing reviews for a comic book website. There was an issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" that I reviewed and it really struck a chord with me. I reached out to the issue's writer - Marc Guggenheim - to tell him how much I enjoyed the issue and asked him for advice. What he told me was simple... "break the rules" and to have “innate understanding of my own story.” This wisdom is what REALLY made me want to focus on Patriot-1... it was the story I needed and wanted to tell.


So with the book completed, my focus now -  at the very least- is that I'm really determined to at least try and get a Patriot-1 movie made. I know who I'd cast in the lead male and female roles and everything!

Anyways, the real reason I wanted to write this is simple: I wanted to talk about the experience of adapting my own book. It was a very interesting experience that I feel made me both a better comic writer and screen writer.

The current version of the script, and the one I am legitimately "shopping" is the fifth or sixth draft. I do feel it's the strongest version, but of course, I could be wrong.

To preface briefly, I initially came up with the Patriot-1 concept in 2007. It was an amalgamation of some previous concepts and characters, yet I finally had the mold I wanted. He was meant to be both a modern, powerless, "real-world" hero and a throwback to the olden days of patriotic heroes. But I didn't want him to be a chest-beating jingoist. In fact, I didn't want that at all. I wanted a character that was stalwart in what he believed in and doing the right thing, the purest form of American ideals not muddied by politics or what not... a Captain America for today's world.

After having the artwork completed, I ran a successful Kickstarter to raise money to print the book and I finally published Patriot-1 in 2014 and 2015 (there were two editions). It was picked up by Diamond Distibutors, won a bronze IPPY Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel - Drama/Documentary, I'm working on expanding into larger retail stores like Barnes & Noble and overall, I'm really happy with how the book turned out.

I am currently working on the sequel, hoping to have the script finished this summer and (hopefully) production to start right away. This is where things get interesting.

The original draft of Patriot-1 the book was called "U.S.Avenger." It featured a very colorful cast of characters and it was a little bit over-the-top. When I made the decision to do the story as a self-contained graphic novel as opposed to a serialized monthly, it became a much more mature and I think better.

The graphic novel was released, response was positive, it's still out there and readily available. Before I started the real work on the sequel I took roughly a year and moved to the next step - the screenplay.

Some of the best advice I ever received was from Marvel's Craig Kyle. I've said it tons of times before, but I'll never forget sitting in Marvel's old office and Craig breaking down his philosophy about storytelling. "It doesn't matter how you tell the story - comics, TV, movies, video games - what matters is the quality of the story." That bit of advice always stuck with me.

Considering the response, the IPPY Award and many other accolades I received for the book, I directly adapted the book. I've adapted stuff before, I  have a Superman "treatment" of sorts on this blog, I adapted Green Lantern in college and I'm always coming up with adaptation ideas for my favorite comic characters. My philosophy for those characters is something I learned as an intern at Marvel Studios (before it was the powerhouse it is today) - take the best elements of those characters, the strongest storylines and make a product where story and character come first.

Of course, at first I didn't follow my own advice. With such a positive response to the book, I made the first draft of the 2015 version of the Patriot-1 screenplay a bloated direct adaptation. It was both a mistake (and I totally knew it) and it was also the best thing I did. Rule of thumb and one of the first things you learn about screenwriting is that the cardinal rule is a screenplay should NEVER be more than 120 pages, especially for a spec script - and even 120 is pushing it.

I put the first draft on The Black List as opposed to looking for traditional notes because the feedback provided by The Black List not only was critical of the script itself but also provided insight into a script's marketability.

The initial feedback wasn't great from a critical standpoint - again, this screenplay was FAR too long and WAY over 120 pages, though from a content and "ability" perspective there was solid material.

Knowing it was far too long I started cutting. When adapting comics, you can't really go direct panel to screen, it just doesn't always work. There are also moments in the book that work very well for the book, but they just wouldn't work on the screen. With that in mind, I cut down significantly to 120 pages and put it on The Black List again.


This time I received much better feedback on the pacing, the action and the tighter writing. But this is when new notes started to pour in focused on the characters. They needed more development. I completely agreed. In the comic, I could get away with not focusing a lot on backstories for each character because the action and the protagonist's actions moved the plot along. That and the fact that I have extensive character files for just about every character that plays a major role in the book. I can't get away with that in a screenplay.

There are relationships and character points in the book that are implied and can be ascertained through the reading and the artwork. But some of these relationships needed stronger development for screen. Some motivations needed a extra kick.

I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture, looked at the history and developed world for each character and new elements came into play. Motivations changed, relationships were altered and I did away with some cliched tropes of the action genre and added a few twists and morally ambiguous plot points. The core of each character remained and ultimately after two more drafts, I ended at 118 pages that I am really happy with.

The most intriguing aspect of this endeavor was the way that the screenplay has now heavily influenced the comic sequel. There are some new character beats, backstory elements, plot points and twists that I wish I had incorporated into the book. On the same token though, there are things I cut out of the screenplay from the book that I wish could be left in. Some of these decision, alluded to in the book but fleshed out in the screenplay, are directly influencing the sequel.

It's also really neat to see my own progression as a writer, transitioning between comic writer and screenwriter on a whim and the decisions that need to be made in order to tell the story in the best possible way for each respective medium.

And honestly? I think it's really good. I think it's strong enough that I submitted it to a reputable screenwriting competition, I truly believe that with the right eyes on it, it could be green-lit and pushed forward.

No matter how the competition goes, I'm going to keep pushing this screenplay and property because I really believe in it.

My biggest takeaway from adapting my own graphic novel into screenplay form has been that it was one of the single greatest exercises I've ever undertaken as a writer. I think I came out a better writer with new ways to explore my story and characters. I really believe my future comics and screenplays will greatly benefit from doing this and I hope the overall success of Patriot-1 presses onward and upward.

Oh, and most importantly... never, ever give up.

You can grab a copy of Patriot-1 on Amazon or my online store.
You can also read Patriot-1 in webcomic form at Patriot1Comic.com 


Friday, April 22, 2016

Let's talk about the comic book industry...


Let's talk about comics. I get away from the point of this blog regularly, so tonight let's get down to it.

I love comics. I read a ton of comics. I create comics. I love doing it. It fuels me. It drives me. I've made it a primary point of my life and I've made a lot of great friends and associates in person, on the internets etc., through this craft. We may not always agree on politics, but we find a common ground in the art of comic booking. And that's what matters.

I'm what can be classified as an "independent" creator or a "indie/small press" publisher. I don't like the term "self-publisher" because my books still get published, I just decided to do it my way.

Anyways, I've been officially making comics under the TJ Comics banner for almost seven years. It started with a small book called "Mack Turner: Slayer of the Dead" that stalled out after three issues (but will be back eventually, rebooted!) and continues with Patriot-1 and ExtraOrdinary today. I also publish The Argonauts by Keith Dallas, and if you're out there looking for a partner to help package and publish your book for the sole purpose of helping each other out, contact me through TJ Comics.

That's what we do in the comics community. Or at least what we're supposed to do. Help each other out. Be good to each other. Fight the fight in an industry that's kind of ridiculous, disproportionate and often times, completely ignored by the mass audiences that consume the industry-related content put out by the bigger publisher and corporate entities.

We're relatively poor, we sometimes work "real" jobs we can't stand and we just want to tell our stories. Comics are like a drug and once you're hooked, it's very, very hard to turn away. Sometimes what we do to put out our stories is mind-boggling... we have to be directors, managers, writers, artists, publishers, cashiers, tax accountants, web developers, social media experts and of course, salespeople.

For me personally, I want to do my own books like Patriot-1 and ExtraOrdinary, but I also want to contribute to the mythos of characters I love. Be it well known characters from Marvel or DC, or lesser popular ones like The Phantom or The Rocketeer, for example. And let me tell you, it's an uphill battle.

I've run two successful Kickstarter campaigns, Patriot-1 won an IPPY Award in 2015 - a particular point of pride for me - and I've spent thousands of dollars to make my comics happen even with lower-than-hoped sales and I keep going.

I do have a solid day job, I'm also married with three young children - making up the four people who mean the word to me. I've been with my wife for 11 years (married for 5), she's my best friend, my kids are awesome and exhausting and I just try to be a decent human being, a good father and a good husband. As I get older, I've become very interested in charity campaigns and helping others. Sure, I got in trouble and didn't always have the best judgement when I was young and stupid - but that's part of growing up. Why is all this personal stuff important? Because I like to think I'm an OK human being or at least try to be and that's key to my view on comics and the industry.

MANY people I've met and befriended in comics are the same way. Many people I follow on the social medias are good people, committed to their passion, fighting an uphill battle just trying to tell stories about their characters, characters they love and trying to make a few bucks in the process.

For some of my friends, they've been influential and work/worked for Marvel and DC and when they do cons and such, they sometimes don't have to worry about table or hotel costs and that's awesome, they've earned it. But for guys like me, I have to carefully pick and choose shows, limit travel and essentially go into each con with the prospect of losing money.

Hell, last weekend I attended a show with some solid names in comics like Mark Waid, my pal Jamal Igle, my friend Steve Orlando and many other titans of past and present. The show was attended decently, but the table I paid extra for was relegated to a far corner, a ways away from the big name creators, and next to a concession stand and bathroom that was all to the far right of the entrance. A forgotten area of indie and small press publishers waiting and waiting for the crowds to swing over. The best kind of cons mix the small press with the big names, or make fans have to go through the small press to get to the big names,


But the attendees never really came, I sold a couple books, but I barely even pitched the books because no one came by, which is highly unusual. With about 4 hours left in the show I was getting frustrated, I spent extra money for a "corner" table and believe me, "corner" was quite literal. The con was an hour away from my house, just across the George Washington Bridge... so it wasn't far and I was paying for the table, gas and tolls. Usually, I'm satisfied if I make my table costs back, but as the first day of the show came to a close, I had little to show... nor did those around me. So I made the decision to cut my losses and just stay home the next day with my wife and kids. Worked out too, it was 75 degrees outside and we got new sand for the kids' sandbox.

That's the first time I left a con like that. It's getting tougher out there for indie and small press. Cons were once our time to shine, but we've been overshadowed in recent years by numerous things like cosplayers, celebrities and "media guests" taking precedence over comics, people really into comic culture but not comics and of course, the sheer fact that there are so many damn cons.

My point is, there are a lot of good, honest people out there trying to do what they love. Deserving to be noticed. Working hard to create fan bases and maybe, MAYBE, get a shot with the big publishers.

Not all indie and small press comics are created equal. Let's just be honest, I personally pride my books on quality. Art, story, printing... I want to put out the best and most professional-looking product possible. While I'm never going to discourage anyone from pursuing what they love, there are a lot of "amateur" books out there.

But what's my end goal? A lot of things actually. I've got a Patriot-1 screenplay that I think is really, really good... and what I'd love is the chance to pitch some of the ideas I have for Marvel, DC, whomever. See if those ideas fit into their editorial plans. I mean... that's what we want to do right? Tell some stories? Make some money?


It should be that simple. At the end of the day we're in a business, a capitalist business. With that in mind, controversy was stirred up by the ousting of Shelly Bond as Vertigo's executive editor. I don't know Shelly, I know the phenomenal books she's stewarded and I know many of the people I know and follow have nothing but great things to say about her. She was let go for whatever reason, be it business or what not... that's neither here nor there. But what her ousting unleashed was something far darker about comics. The "open secret" about DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza... which leads to another problem, which leads to another problem and so on.

The ugly, dark side of comics....  I'm not going to recap here... because you can read it at Bleeding Cool and at Comics Beat...

In a nutshell, we're talking about sexual harassment, blacklisting, gender inequality in comics and general bullshit that shouldn't be happening in a business that is frankly, dying.

The worst part about the whole thing is that there are stories just as bad out there with high profile creators and editors, the DC one just brings up some additional questions. But these issues aren't relegated to just DC. Conventions have signage that say "cosplay is not consent" because people have little dignity or respect for their fellow fans. There are stories of creators, big and small, being shunned or "blacklisted" because they speak out against injustices... much like the superheroes they write or want to write.

The "blacklist." This is a list of pros that publishers allegedly keep if you speak ill of them, or if you don't fall in line or if, in some cases you report sexual harassment or other awful things that shouldn't be happening. Because even if you have a massive and passionate fan base and could team up with a publisher and make some money, if you're blacklisted for some infraction in the past, you're shit out of luck.

Here's an industry trying it's damnedest to make inroads for diversity - diversity in characters, diversity in creators - all that good stuff... but yet there exists an environment where people and specifically women feel they have to remain silent on serious issues for fear of not being able to pursue what they love. I mean, come on.

How can an industry become more diverse, more inclusive and attract new readers to survive when there are horror stories like this out there?

The comics industry and REAL comics culture is burning, while the comics pop culture thrives. Sales are down, readership is down, many talented and creative people are shunned, overlooked, not given a fair chance and it's more evident than ever thanks to social media. Conventions, once boons for small press and indie comics and artists to develop fan bases and find work are afterthoughts to the latest Funko POPs or cheap, unlicensed print vendors.


While good people struggle to create something new, unique or impassioned in an effort to tell stories and make a buck, there are those that are making comics unsafe, exclusive and generally the opposite of what comics should be. That's what gets me the most here. Many of us in the comic persuasion have been bullied at one point or another. Often times that's what turns us to comics. Many of us have been told to grow up or "chase real dreams" and yet, here we are still doing it. But the industry is becoming rife with bullies and people getting in the way of your dreams.

As a whole, comics suffers because of this. There's a darker culture on the rise. One that embraces many old stereotypes and it becomes increasingly difficult to see whether or not the future for comics is bright or if it's just spiraling to the bottom of the ocean floor.

Whether it's harassment, black listing, forced silence or just general sexism. Women are a minority in comics and often treated like second class citizens and that's being polite in some cases. But there's also ageism and the "removal" of now legendary creators who are perfectly capable of creating modern stories.

I'm a "bottom-rung" on the comics ladder. But as I'm trying to climb up, I can't help but look around and see people, ideas and money falling from the top.

There's a rampant problem of really questionable people in the industry, whether it's people in editorial positions or bloggers-turned-creators with a history of being really shitty to people and using their fan bases and following to spread negativity and being generally shitty. For what? It's obviously not helping the business. It's not helping small press and indie creators thrive. And it sure as hell isn't breeding a welcoming environment for new people to spend their dollars and grow the industry.

Comics are dying. The pop culture aspects prevail thanks to the movies and what not - that's all great - but at the ground level, comics are struggling to survive. Not just the books themselves, but the creators, the positivity, escapism and optimism that comics should provide from stories, to creators to relationships. Who are we?

I like to consider myself a decent human being and person, constantly striving to be better while taking care of myself and my family. When you're like me and you hear of these horror stories of the industry, you become frustrated and you start to wonder why the hell you're even trying in the first place.

We all need to be better.

You can directly support me by checking out TJ Comics and/or ordering Patriot-1 or ExtraOrdinary or my other books directly from my online store. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Man of Tomorrow: My vision for a Superman movie


This is the completion of my "trilogy" of Superman posts. Rather than another thinkpiece on Superman, I've decided to share something I've had notes on since "Superman Returns." When I was young, one of the things I always wanted to do was write a Superman movie. That has never changed, though realistically it would likely never happen. With that in mind, I've decided to share the detailed - and a bit rough - treatment for what I would do with Superman in the movies. (Fair warning, this was a labor of love, you may find some typos). I don't think Superman is a difficult character and I do believe he can stand for his classic ideals in the modern world. If you have some time, please feel free to read, comment and even reach out to me. 

I started putting this together after "Superman Returns" and it does draw heavy influence from Geoff Johns' phenomenal "Superman: Brainiac" storyline. Posting this now is more therapeutic than anything else, and just an opportunity to tell a Superman story I may not otherwise ever be able to tell.

It's long, but I hope it engages you and you enjoy this vision of Superman.

So here it is... "Superman: The Man of Tomorrow"




SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF TOMORROW
                Treatment by Kevin Powers

“What if they’re afraid of me, Pa?”

“People will always be afraid, son. But with your gifts, you can give them every reason not to be afraid.” 

“How?”

“By being you, Clark. You can use these abilities to help others. You can give them hope for a better tomorrow… give them a reason to look up.”

OPENING CREDITS
A montage of Superman's exploits since his public debut through news clippings, broadcasts and interviews with witnesses, people rescued and Superman himself.

18 months ago, SUPERMAN made his public debut preventing a commercial airliner from crashing in Metropolis.  Making the city his base of operations, he helps where he can around the world - saving people from natural disasters, terror attacks and the occasional super-villain. Although he does not involve himself in regional conflicts, his presence is felt. Feared by many at first, Superman makes himself available to the media and has held meetings with various governments and the United Nations, including “controversial” nations like Iran and Russia. Superman makes an effort to becomes a very public figure from the get-go.



Superman’s presence has resulted in other people with powers to emerge throughout the world. Dubbed “metahumans,” some of them are good, some are misunderstood and some are plain evil. Superman has battled the likes of the Parasite, Livewire and The Prankster – each featured in Daily Planet stories by Lois Lane and Clark Kent. 

The final news clippings show LEX LUTHOR and Superman having a good relationship and considered friends. Lex also discovered Kryptonite, a rare metal that can weaken Superman and strip him of his powers. A second story shows Lex destroying the Kryptonite and then in an interview, Lex goes as far as to call Superman “a friend.” The Man of Steel has worked with LexCorp and Wayne Enterprises to allow the study and reverse engineering of the Kryptonian engine that brought his rocketship to Earth. The two companies have created the quantum drive - an engine capable of lightspeed – and are preparing to test it on LX-01, a rocket ship powered by nuclear fusion and the special engine.

LX-01 LAUNCH
Open on LexCorp Launch Station Alpha, a rocket launch station off the coast of Metropolis. At a press area near the launch pad, VICKI VALE explains BRUCE WAYNE's involvement in the development of the rocket but acknowledges Wayne is not present at the event, but in his stead is LUCIUS FOX. SNAPPER CARR delivers a report discussing the importance of the rocket and what it could mean for humanity’s future. Finally, LOIS LANE discusses the history of the quantum engine and how it relates back to Superman and his desire to help humanity achieve greater things.

When the broadcasts end, Vicki and Lois exchange verbal jabs commenting on each other's respective relationships with Batman and Superman. Lois makes it clear that Vicki has never actually seen "The Batman" and that he's just an urban legend in Gotham City. She quips, “maybe one of these days I’ll head over to Gotham and get the exclusive.”  When security tells them to leave, Lois tries to convince one of the security guards to let her inside launch control, citing she is General Sam Lane's daughter. After a moment of trying to charm her way to an exclusive, the security guard pushes her towards the elevator. As the door opens, a man - JOHN CORBEN - walks out and bumps into Lois. They are momentarily flustered and she looks at his nametag to see the name "Jim Lee" and the photo of an Asian-American man. When she looks at Corben, he is not Asian-American. Just as she's about to question him, she's whisked away into the elevator.

At the observation platform away from the launch station, JIMMY OLSEN is trying to set up the perfect shot in hopes that Daily Planet editor PERRY WHITE will use a photo from him, at least on the website. CLARK KENT is trying to calm Jimmy's nerves by talking about the potential of the LX-01 and discovery what could be out beyond the stars. Clark tells a story about how he used to look at the stars late at night, wondering who else could be out there looking back. Jimmy wonders if Superman will be present for the launch. Clark smiles, assuring Jimmy that Superman probably isn't far.



Outside of the launch station, Lois calls Clark and tells him something is wrong. When he tells her to alert security, she explains that they thought she was crazy and that she's going to find Lex to tell him to call off the launch. Clark tries to convince her otherwise, but she hangs up.

Inside the launch control center, Lex is observing the room as the launch countdown begins. He's distracted when he hears "get your hands off me!" and security escorts Lois into the control room. She explains what she saw and although Lex doesn't believe her at first, he asks for Jim Lee's information and is informed that Lee called out sick. The launch sequence begins as Lex scans security systems and spots Corben exiting a restricted area that houses the rocket’s booster and navigation controls. No one recognizes Corben and Lex tries to call of the launch, but it's too late. The launch starts and the control center panics trying to override the system sounding alarms and yelling for an abort.

At the observation deck, Jimmy excitedly starts taking pictures when he notices red alarm lights going off through his zoom lens. He tells Clark that it looks like something is happening. Using his super-hearing, Clark listens to the sounds coming from the control center and the alarms going off at the launch pad as the rocket begins to lift off. Jimmy snaps a few pictures as the rocket takes off and turns to talk to Clark, but Clark is gone.

The rocket continues to ascend when the boosters explode causing it to spin out of control as it rises. Inside the control center, Lex is angry that no one can override the controls and fears the worst. One of the mission controllers informs Lex that if the quantum drive goes off inside Earth's atmosphere it could theoretically open a wormhole or a black hole. 


Superman flies past the control center and towards the rocket. He floats outside the crew pod, using his heat vision to detach it from the rest of the shuttle. The crew pod descends to Earth as Superman tries to cool the rocket boosters with his freeze breath, but to no avail. He then diverts his attention to the crew pod and makes sure they safely make it to the ground. 

Superman opens the pod and one of the astronauts tells him that the quantum drive is active and if it explodes it could be catastrophic. Superman takes off again racing towards the rocket booster and breaking the sound barrier. He flies through the rocket, ripping the quantum drive out of the shuttle's engine bay just as the rocket boosters and shuttle explode. Superman flies the quantum drive safely back to the ground to the cheers of the crowd. As he lands, Superman manages to shut down the drive but hears automatic gunfire and cars screeching and flies towards the sky as crew members run to the drive.

In orbit above Earth, a satellite detects the quantum drive's signature and then launches itself into deep space.

Back on Earth, Corben is in a high speed chase with police driving erratically and firing a weapon at the same time. Superman flies overhead and Corben is distracted as he hears the sonic boom. When he looks back at the road, he tries to swerve as he slams into the back of a car, going airborne and rolling violently off the road. Superman stops the car from falling into a ravine, but Corben is severely injured in the crash.

In deep space, the mysterious satellite flies towards a space craft lifelessly floating among the stars.  The satellite docks with the ship and a computer is activated, scanning the satellite for information. It discovers the recorded data of the quantum drive's signature. Suddenly, the entire ship powers on and a mysterious being at the center of the ship - BRAINIAC - awakens.

DAILY PLANET
The next day at the Daily Planet, Perry White orders Jimmy to get him black coffee and calls a meeting with Clark and Lois. They discuss the rocket incident and Perry asks what information they've found on Corben. Lois explains she hasn't found much other than Corben being a decorated soldier in the Army and was also a mercenary who has recently been on the payroll of both LexCorp and mega-corporation Omega Worldwide. Lois says she dug deeper and found some questionable transactions between LexCorp and Omega subsidiaries and notes that Wayne Industries refuses to work with Omega. Clark mentions he put in a call to Wayne Industries and they do not know where the quantum drive is. 


Perry wants them to investigate; Lois informs them she already has a meeting with Omega CEO Bruno Manheim. Perry tells her to take Olsen and Clark and get answers.

LEXCORP ROOF
Lex waits on the roof of his building as a medical helicopter lands, delivering John Corben. Lex instructs his people to take Corben to his private lab.

LOIS AND CLARK AT OMEGA WORLDWIDE
Lois, Clark and Jimmy arrive at Omega Worldwide. They enter the lobby and Lois started doling out orders, telling Jimmy to stay quiet and for Clark to follow her lead and ask basic questions "like a good, naive farmboy," to throw Manheim off. Manheim's assistant arrives to escort them when police cars and fire trucks race by the building. The assistant asks for identification as Clark turns and tries to filter his super-hearing to exactly what is happening. He focuses on police band radio and listens as there are reports of a woman threatening to jump and commit suicide three blocks away. Clark feels around his pockets and looks at Lois. "Oh my gosh, I left my wallet in the cab!" Clark runs out of the building, leaving Lois and Jimmy. Suddenly, Jimmy gets an alert on his phone about the jumper and Lois tells him to go and that she can handle herself.

Outside the Omega building, Clark ducks into an empty alley and changes into Superman.

THE JUMPER
Standing on a balcony on a high-rise apartment building is a young twenty-something. She's crying hysterically and looking down. Superman appears hovering above her. She immediately yells as Superman not to stop her and he promises that he won't, but that he wants to talk to her and floats to eye level.  Similar to the scene that occurs in the Superman: Grounded storyline, the woman explains what's troubling her and Superman just listens. When she finishes, he talks to her about what it was like to grow up with his developing powers and the fear of uncertainty. He tells her things get bad and get worse, but you can never lose hope for a better tomorrow. Superman extends his hand and tells the woman that if she is still hopeful for a better tomorrow, then to take his hand. She sits and says she needs a moment and Superman responds "I'll be here when you're ready."

 
LOIS CONFRONTS MANHEIM
Inside Bruno Manheim's office, Manheim tries to make small talk with Lois and asks her about her relationship with Superman. Lois tells him to "cut the crap" and she immediately begins to grill him on his relationship with John Corben and business dealings with LexCorp. Manheim skirts around the issue and tells Lois there are forces at play she cannot possibly understand. He does give her details of the exact work that Corben did for him, including industrial sabotage and assistance in acquiring a rare metal scattered all over the Earth. Lois presses further, but Manheim avoids the issue, accusing Lois of conducting a witch-hunt and asks her to leave. He tells her if she really wants a story then she should check the LexCorp Launch Station’s lab.

Manheim watches Lois leave and then makes a phone call, saying: “beef up security of all shipments coming through Gotham.” 

THE JUMPER DECIDES
Superman still floats in front of the young woman ready to jump. She finally stands and asks Superman once more if he'll stop her if she jumps and he says "no, I gave you my word.” She then takes a step forward, but grabs Superman's hand and hugs him. He carries her safely back down to the ground and makes sure she gets medical attention. 

THE FIRST BRAINIAC DRONE ATTACKS
Lois is in a cab talking to Perry on the phone and says she has a lead on the location of the quantum drive. The cab suddenly stops as a large meteor can be seen heading for the ground.

Still aiding the young woman, Superman's attention is diverted when he looks up and sees the fireball streak across the sky. Superman asks the young woman once more if she is okay before he takes off.

Superman flies into the path of the oncoming object and is immediately knocked out of the way. He watches as it crashes into a field at the LexCorp Launch Station. Security approaches it and it transforms into a humanoid robot - BRAINIAC DRONE 1 - and attacks the security guards.

Superman flies onto the scene and punches the drone into the ground. He then directs his attention to the injured guards, flying them to safety at super-speed and then back to the seemingly destroyed drone, telling the other guards to get clear. The Brainiac drone awakens and punches Superman knocking into an SUV.


The drone begins to scan Superman and calls him an anomaly and that he shouldn’t exist.  Superman flies at the drone and unleashes a barrage of punches that the drone is able to absorb. The drone fights back and grabs Superman by the neck, slamming him into the ground. The drone unleashes two tentacles from its torso that pin Superman's arms. Using his heat vision, Superman is able to break free of the drone’s grip as more armed guards and armored vehicles arrive and open fire on the drone, distracting it long enough for Superman to regain his bearings. 

Superman and the drone fight in mid-air and Superman battles to keep the drone from reattaching its tentacles. Explosions goes off in the sky next them as the guards are firing high-explosive weapons into the air. Finally, one of the explosions hits the drone and it’s dazed, allowing Superman to hit it at super-speed and force it through the hangar roof.

Inside the hangar, Superman stands between the drone and the remains of the LX-01, including the quantum drive. They battle again, but Superman doesn't hold back, pulling on the tentacles to punch and do serious damage to the drone. After he rips out the tentacles, Superman uses his X-Ray vision to find a processor. Using his heat vision to soften the metal, Superman punches through the drone's chest and rips out the processor and crushes it, shutting down the drone. 

DRONE BATTLE AFTERMATCH
Lex arrives at the hangar and is immediately fascinated with the drone, citing that it has technology he's never seen. Superman questions why Lex still has the LX-01 and asks if Bruce Wayne knows. Lex informs Superman that LexCorp has more proprietary and patented tech in it than Wayne Industries, effectively making it his property. Lex also lays claim to the drone and implies that Superman leave. Lois arrives and she immediately questions Lex about the LX-01 and why he’s keeping it hidden. Lex tells them both to get off his property and after a tense stare down, Superman picks up Lois and flies away.  Lex orders the drone be taken to his lab at once.

DAILY PLANET
Superman flies Lois back to the roof of the Daily Planet and she asks him to dinner in their “usual spot.” Superman agrees and flies away.

Lois enters the bullpen inside the planet as Jimmy is recounting the story of Superman saving the young woman, but Perry is disappointed that Jimmy didn't get photos of the drone.  Lois tells Perry she'll have the Brainiac story in an hour, but it may bury Lex which makes Perry nervous. When Perry asks about Manheim, Lois explains that she’s still investigating. She sits at her desk and sees Clark sitting at his. “Did you find your wallet?” Clark smiles and shows her the wallet.


Lois laughs and makes a phone call to an unknown party. "Do me a favor; see if you can any shipments of metals and minerals recently. I'll email you a list of companies to look out for. Yes, yes. Next time you are in Metropolis, I'll see what I can do."

BRAINIAC’S SHIP
From his stasis pod, Brainiac is watching satellite and broadcast footage of his drone’s battle with Superman. He tells his computer to process the results of the drone’s scan and learns that Superman is Kryptonian. “Impossible. Acquire sample for analysis.” 

Two drones launch from Brainiac’s ship and enter a wormhole.

DATE WITH LOIS
Later in the evening atop the Metropolis Sky Tower (think Seattle's Space Needle), Superman and Lois have dinner together and discuss their relationship. Superman flew to Paris to bring Lois a very specific dessert. While she is grateful, she's also upset that after nearly a year of dating, he won't tell her his secret identity. She wants to go on normal dates with him and have a normal life. 

They quip back and forth, but Superman doesn’t know if it’s the right thing to do. Lois says “you can tell me or not, but if you don’t I’m not going to keep doing this.” 


Superman pauses but is distracted when he hears a sonic boom. He looks up and it immediately tackled into the air by the two Brainiac drones. He battles the drones in mid-air, trying to fly them away from the city. One of the drones wraps a tentacle around Superman’s neck and the other grabs his waist and the plummet back towards the ground. 

Superman and the drones land hard in Centennial Park and continue to battle. Superman is soon overwhelmed as one drone jumps on his back and wraps its arms and legs around him. The other drone uses its hand to cover Superman’s face and send a small probe attached to a cable into his throat. Superman struggles as the drone transmits data to a "Brainiac Prime" and Superman has flashes of Krypton and his real parents. After a moment, Superman uses his heat vision to free himself of the drone's grip. Superman breaks free of the other drone and uses his freeze breath to slow it down. With the drone partially frozen, Superman uses his heat vision to rip out the drone’s processor, shutting it down.  He turns his attention to the other drone but it takes off into the sky. Police and firefighters arrive and Lois appears. Superman looks at Lois, grabs the drone and takes off.

FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE
Superman flies into orbit and then back down towards the Arctic. He flies toward an iceberg where about two-thirds of the way to the top there is a section that has steps and a smoothed over area that looks like a door. Superman stands on the final step before the door and puts his hand in the center of it. Kryptonian lettering appears across the door and some of the characters begin to form a sequence - like a combination. The door opens and Superman is greeted by his robot KELEX.

Superman makes his way through the fortress to a Kryptonian console. When he activates the console, a projection of JOR-EL appears before him. Jor-EL praises his son for the good he is doing on Earth and encourages him to keep going, but can sense there is something wrong. Superman lifts up the drone and shows it to Jor-EL, asking about Brainiac. Jor-EL's demeanor immediately changes. Superman explains the encounter with the drone and mentions "Brainiac Prime." Jor-EL is stricken with grief and tells his son that Earth is doomed.

Jor-EL explains Brainiac's history and what happened when it came to Krypton. Showing Superman a projection of what happened; Jor-EL explains that Brainiac seeks out world's that are on the brink of total devastation. Jor-EL recounts that seven years before Superman was born, Brainiac came to Krypton. He explains the former capital city of Krypton - Kandor - was the most prosperous, progressive and technologically advanced city on the planet. Jor-EL explains that Kandor was the ideal of what all of Krypton strived to be - successful, accepting and a hub intergalactic travel on an otherwise xenophobic world. Then Brainiac arrived.


Superman is shown images of Brainiac drones swarming Kandor and the people of Kandor trying to fight back. Brainiac’s drones corral the citizens of Kandor within the city limits. Some of the citizens resist and fight the drones, but they are immediately killed. Superman watches in horror as Kandor is encased, lifted from the planet's crust and shrunk.  Jor-EL tells Superman that Brainiac collects the greatest cities of civilizations and planets on the brink of destruction - and that is how Jor-EL learned Krypton was doomed.

However, Jor-EL questions Brainiac's motives. He acknowledges that Earth's climate is teetering on the brink of collapse, but the core is stable. Jor-EL goes over Brainiac's history based on his own research conducted with his brother Zor-EL. Brainiac is from the planet Colu and was once a revered scientist named Vril Dox. The Coluans are a mostly peaceful people who believe in advancing other civilizations and worlds. Dox had an opposite philosophy, merging with a sentient computer program and becoming Brainiac. His only purpose now is to collect specimens of failed worlds and use their knowledge to better only himself. When Superman asks how to stop him, Jor-EL tells him "there is no way to stop him. Earth's final days have come."

BRAINIAC’S SHIP
Onboard Brainiac’s ship, the alien rests in his stasis pod as the drone returns and plugs itself into the mainframe of the ship. Brainiac asks the computer to bring up specific files regarding the Superman sample collected on Earth. Brainiac also examines his files from Krypton, recounting the history of the planet’s destruction. The Kryptonians tapped into the planet’s core as an energy source rather than exploring alternative energy sources. Although they briefly thrived, they poisoned the planet from the inside, making Krypton unstable. Brainiac acquired Kandor when Krypton’s fate was irreversible. 


When reviewing the files, Brainiac discovers two quantum drive signatures – one from Argo City and the other from Kryptonopolis. They both entered a wormhole, but only one made it to Earth.
Brainiac processes data on Earth, discovering it has a similar orbit pattern and many of the same characteristics as Krypton. The computer notes that Earth is only halfway through its life cycle, but the dominant species – humans – have accelerated the planet’s decline through war, famine and environmental irresponsibility. The computer also notes that Superman resides mostly in Metropolis – Earth’s most advanced city. The computer explains how Earth’s yellow sun is also the source of Superman’s abilities. Brainiac sets course for Earth and prepares to acquire Metropolis as his ship opens and enters a wormhole.

LEX’S LAB
In the depths of the LexCorp building is Lex’s secret lab. The lab itself is highly advanced with many recognizable and practical workstations, as well as many that reach beyond standard sciences. Lex works alone, listening to classical music and dissecting the first Brainiac drone.  He notes that the metal appears to be organic and was only truly vulnerable to Superman’s heat vision. He posits that he can adjust the resiliency of the metal and apply it to both improve his battlesuit and provide the perfect shell for his secret “Metallo Project.”

KENT FARM
Clark sits on the top floor of his family’s barn, leaning on the door and looking up at the stars. PA KENT greets Clark and immediately notices that Clark is shaken. Clark explains the encounter with the Brainiac Drone and his visit to the Fortress of Solitude, briefly recounting what Jor-EL told him. With Brainiac looming, Clark believes everything he’s done is for nothing and that humanity will never try and fix their mistakes. Pa acknowledges that humanity can be its own worst enemy, but that as Superman; Clark can be a beacon of hope that will inspire humanity to be better. Pa briefly recounts the problems he and Ma Kent faced trying to have children, but when Clark fell from the sky, they had new hope of a better tomorrow. 

Pa tells Clark that humanity can be cynical, fearful and always preparing for the worst and that is why some people still fear Superman. But Pa also reminds his son that he’s more than just Superman, he’s more human than he is Kryptonian and at the end of the day, he’s still just Clark Kent. Pa is confident that Clark will defeat Brainiac or any other threat that comes his way, and that the people of Earth will have another reason to strive for a better tomorrow.  “You can put on that suit and be Superman, but you’re still Clark Kent, and the one thing Clark Kent and Superman have in common is you always find a way. You always give us hope, son.”


Clark has dinner with his parents at the house. MA KENT scolds Clark on his manners when he tries to go for food before she sits down and then she asks briefly about “the killer robot.” Ma almost brushes it off, confident that Clark or some his “super-friends” can stop it. Ma pivots and asks about Lois, reminding Clark that he can’t be Superman all the time. Clark is a bit coy and both Ma and Pa are disappointed he hasn’t told Lois his identity yet. Clark tries to say it’s complicated, but Ma doesn’t accept that. She mentions his high school sweetheart, Lana Lang, the first person he ever told and she’s been fine having kept the secret. Pa laughs about the entire situation, saying “Lois is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Clark. You’re na├»ve if you think she doesn’t know!” Ma joins her husband’s assertion, “she loves you Clark, but it’s up to you to let her in.”

LOIS’ LEAD
The next morning, Lois is asleep as her phone rings – it’s Vicki Vale, the contact she made following the first Braniac incident. She has a tip for Lois and says the connection between LexCorp and Omega Worldwide is that Omega has been supplying LexCorp with Kryptonite. Vicki tells Lois that the shipments come through Gotham City before making their way to Metropolis and that she’s emailing the information. When Lois asks how Vicki found out, Vicki replies "an urban legend helped me out."  

BRAINIAC ARRIVES
Brainiac’s ship exits a wormhole in Earth’s orbit and makes its way into the atmosphere. The military immediately goes into a frenzy trying to identify the ship. The ship rapidly descends above Metropolis and people drop what they are doing.

Inside Lex’s office, Lex and Lois watch the ship in awe. Lois looks at Lex, “you do this?” And Lex responds “Can’t you call Superman?”

Superman then flies towards Brainiac’s ship and Lex and Lois both breathe a sigh of relief. As Superman approaches the ship an energy beam hits him and he’s knocked back into the ground. Suddenly, Brainiac drones emerge from the bottom of the ship. 

Lex tells Lois he’ll show her exactly what he needs the Kryptonite for and they enter a private elevator.


Superman struggles to get back to his feet as he looks up and sees the Brainiac drones making their way to Earth. Superman takes off and starts fighting the drones and they all focus on him.

Lex and Lois arrive in Lex’s workshop and he explains that the Kryptonite is also a power source and he’s been experimenting with harnessing that power. When Lois asks why, Lex unveils his battlesuit, powers it on and tells her “Superman can’t do it alone.”

Moments later, a hangar opens in a courtyard behind the LexCorp building and Lex takes off into the sky.

In the sky above Metropolis, Superman is holding his own but focuses on saving people from the drones and that puts him at a disadvantage. Just as he starts to get overwhelmed Lex appears in the battle armor and helps Superman fend off the drones.

Superman briefly explains to Lex that the ship belongs to an alien called Brainiac. Lex questions Superman about how he knows and the Man of Steel explains that he just learned of Brainiac’s existence. 

Superman tells Lex he needs to get into the ship before Brainiac bottles Metropolis. With no time to explain, Lex and Superman fly towards Brainiac’s ship and draw the drones towards them, using them as shields for Brainiac’s energy beams.

Lex gets taken down by drones and Superman manages to avoid an energy beam just to be grabbed by a larger tentacle from the ship. Superman is pinned and pulled into the ship as Lex struggles to fight off the drones.

BRAINIAC’S SHIP
Bound by the drones on board the ship, Superman is brought through a collections room with thousands of bottled cities and looks on in horror. He is then brought before Brainiac. The drones force Superman to his knees and Brainiac emerges from his stasis pod. He’s massive and physically imposing. He grabs Superman by the neck and explains that he shouldn’t exist because Krypton is gone. Superman tries to fight back but Brainiac overpowers him.


Brainiac explains his intentions – he preserves the greatest cultural achievements of worlds that are about to die. Earth wasn’t a target, but Superman’s presence has accelerated the timetable for Earth’s death. Superman disputes Brainiac’s claim, suggesting humanity can change, they just need a push.
Brainiac counters and suggests even if humanity stopped the damage done to the environment, there are other parties interested in Earth, mostly because of Superman’s presence. Brainiac also tells Superman that his existence must end as Krypton has been destroyed.  Brainiac claims to be benevolent and gives Superman a choice as one of his drones brings the bottled city of Kandor and place it in front of Superman. Brainiac tells Superman he can die and be studied by Brainiac or he can live for eternity, powerless inside Kandor. 

Superman remains resilient as Brainiac calls him “a god with no world.” Brainiac tells Superman before he makes his choice, he will watch Earth’s greatest city be taken for collection.

THE BOTTLE
A gel-like substance begins to emerge from the bottom of Brainiac’s ship as the drones float into the air. Lex’s battlesuit is damaged and he’s a bit beat up. He watches in shock as the substance descends in a opaque shape around the city.

Lois, Perry and Jimmy watch from outside The Daily Planet as the casing lowers.


The casing wraps around the city and begins to harden, cutting off people on the outskirts of the city and prevents people from getting out.

Lex diverts all remaining power to his thrusters and takes off, flying towards the Launch Station.

BRAINIAC’S SHIP
Superman pleads with Brainiac to stop, but the alien reaffirms his position that there is no hope for humanity. A small drone floats in front of Brainiac and he broadcasts to everyone on Earth. He announces his intentions and tells humanity they have failed their planet and not even Superman could save them. 

As the world looks on in fear, Superman screams and uses all of his strength to break free of the restraints.  Shocked Brainiac turns and is met with a massive punch. The drone feed cuts off as Superman and Brainiac battle in the ship, eventually crashing through the hull and back down to Earth.

SUPERMAN VS. BRAINIAC
Superman and Brainiac battle in the sky above Metropolis. Neither one of them has a clear advantage, but Superman is easily distracted by saving people and preventing catastrophic damage. Lex arrives to help Superman and together they battle back towards Brainiac’s ship.

They crash back inside the ship and Brainiac is left reeling. Lex tells Superman he’s armed and aimed the quantum drive at Brainiac’s ship and will destroy it. Superman is shocked and tells Lex to look around – millions of lives are at stake inside the bottled cities.

Lex blames Superman for bringing Brainiac to Earth and reveals he’s never trusted Superman and fires a Kryptonite beam, taking Superman down. Brainiac then fires a weapon at Lex forcing him out of the ship. 

Brainiac prepares to shrink Metropolis, but Superman uses his heat vision to knock Brainiac away before punching through the console, causing the process to halt and the encasing to disappear. Brainiac is irate and begins to mercilessly punch Superman. “Why do you save them?!” Brainiac asks. Superman replies: “Because there’s always a better tomorrow.”

 
Superman fights back, overwhelming Brainiac and pushing him back into the stasis pod, using his heat vision to seal him shut. Superman continues to fight off Brainiac drones. 

From the ground, Lex uses a keypad on his armor to launch the quantum drive. “Die aliens.”
Superman fends off the last of the drones and flies out of the ship at super-speed, looking for the quantum drive. It races towards ship and Superman flies at it. He grabs it and tries to stop it, but Lex has used Kryptonite as part of the drive’s shell and Superman is weakened. Using his last bits of strength he changes position and manages to pull the drive away from the ship. 

Superman falls away as the quantum drive explodes, creating a shockwave that momentarily stuns him as a wormhole opens in the sky above Metropolis. Superman regains his bearings in mid-air and flies back towards Brainiac’s ship as it’s slowly being pulled into the wormhole. 

Flying back into the ship’s hull, Superman grabs Kandor and looks at Brainiac. “I will return, Kryptonian. You will die.” Superman looks at Brainiac with disgust. “When you do, I’ll save the rest of the lives you stole.”

Superman flies out of the wormhole and makes his way back down to the ground as Brainiac’s ship is pulled in and the wormhole closes. The people of Metropolis cheer wildly as Superman descends to the ground, carrying Kandor. Jimmy takes a photo of Superman and immediately shows it to Perry who smiles with joy.

SUPERMAN CONFRONTS LEX
Inside his office later that night, Lex is irate over the headlines online and in the Daily Planet. “SUPERMAN SAVES THE WORLD.” Lex angrily declares that he saved the world and if it weren’t for Superman, Brainiac would have never showed up. 

Superman appears outside Lex’s office. Superman demands answers and wants to know why Lex attacked him. Lex reveals that he’s always hated Superman and doesn’t trust him. He’s an alien and he’s done nothing but put people in danger. Lex also says “I AM SUPPOSED TO BE HUMANITY’S SAVIOR, NOT YOU!” Superman stares at Lex stoically and Lex screams “SAY SOMETHING!” Superman gets in Lex’s face and says “I CAN SEE YOUR SOUL” before flying away.
Lex receives a call telling him that Corben is ready.


In his lab, a surgical team awaits Lex as he scrubs in for an operation. On an operating table is Corben’s body. Two scientists wheel in another table and uncover it to reveal a metallic skeleton. When Lex asks for the power source, a case carrying a Kryptonite heart is brought in. He examines the Kryptonite and then looks at Corben: “It’s time for a new job, Mr. Corben.”

SUPERMAN TELLS LOIS
Lois stands on her balcony looking at the skyline. Superman flies up to her and they briefly discuss what happened with Lex. Lois acts a little cold towards him, but Superman gently grabs her arm. “Lois, I love you. It’s time for you to know…” Lois smiles, “It took you long enough, Smallville.” Superman is taken aback, surprised that Lois really did know all along.

“So you did know?”

“Looks like Lois Lane is going to dump Superman for Clark Kent. How scandalous.”

Superman smiles and they kiss as we pan up to the stars.


END

STINGER:

SUPERMAN CONFRONTS MANHEIM
At night, Bruno Manheim dismisses his assistant for the night and pours himself a drink. When he turns around, Superman is floating outside his window. Manheim takes a drink and smirks at Superman. Through the glass Superman says "I'm watching you." Manheim laughs and grabs a permanent marker from his desk, draws an Omega symbol on the window and says "So is he."