In The Wake of MAN OF STEEL: A Timely Proposal

The lights dim… the screen flickers to life…

EXT. CALAIS COAST OF FRANCE – DAY

The cliffs of Dover are faintly visible on the horizon. A GERMAN GENERAL addresses a group of WEHRMACHT STAFF OFFICERS. As he begins speaking, a pristine Nazi flag snaps in the breeze behind him and the ominous shapes of dozens of HE-111 BOMBERS growl past overhead, toward the English side of the Channel.

GERMAN GENERAL
Gentlemen, England is on its knees. Her convoys are swept away. The Americans are too preoccupied by the destruction of their carrier fleet at Midway to send the British anything but prayers.

FLASH – DARKENED COMPARTMENT WITHIN A SINKING SHIP

Men screaming in the smoke-laced compartment as water rises rapidly to their chins.

GERMAN GENERAL
The Royal Air Force… no longer exists.

FLASH – LONDON CITYSCAPE –DAY

Big Ben is a shattered ruin, prominent in the foreground, as smoke rises in a hundred columns over a blackened and tortured city. German aircraft are flying away in leisurely formations.

GERMAN GENERAL
Moscow is a graveyard. The Fuhrer has released the bulk of the armies of the East to our command and given us our orders. By the end of this summer, 1942, we will be standing on the British Isles and we will be looking across the Atlantic… to our next target.

FLASH – WARNER BROS. LOGO

FLASH – DC COMICS LOGO

EXT. PLEASANT TROPICAL ISLAND COAST, OFFSHORE — NIGHT

A team of shadowy men are paddling a rubber boat toward the beach. The silhouette of a GERMAN U-BOAT rocks gently on the waves behind them.

YOUNG MAN WITH GERMAN ACCENT (Voiceover)
Herr Leutnant, what is this place? How can it not be on our charts?

EXT. PLEASANT TROPICAL ISLAND BEACH – NIGHT

A team of GERMAN SOLDIERS is briskly setting up a perimeter, while a GRIZZLED NAZI LIEUTENANT consults a map and compass. His ADJUTANT, the young man of the voiceover, stands nervously beside him. The scene is lit by the Lieutenant’s smoldering cigarette. Another shadowy shape can be seen at the Adjutant’s feet.

GRIZZLED NAZI LIEUTENANT
(Languidly) Who cares? We’re here to put it on the charts. And to find out how we can make use of it. I think we ought to start with a more… persuasive conversation with our American guest, don’t you?

The Lieutenant laughs and kicks the shape at the Adjutant’s feet. The MAN ON THE SAND (Paul Walker), who now comes into focus, is wearing a torn olive drab U.S. Army uniform and his hands are cuffed behind his back. He is unshaven, hollow-eyed, wary but not entirely defeated. The name patch on his uniform shirt reads TREVOR.

ADJUTANT
Herr Leutnant! Someone’s coming out of the jungle!

The German soldiers raise their weapons, and the Lieutenant peers into the darkness. We follow his gaze and see that a LONE FIGURE IN A HOODED CLOAK is standing just outside the darkened treeline, a few yards inland from the beach, watching the men.

LIEUTENANT
It’s a woman. (Shouting to his men) Bring her down here!

CLOAKED WOMAN
Strangers, you must leave. To trespass here is death.

LIEUTENANT
Really? And who are you to threaten us?

CLOAKED WOMAN
I’m not threatening you. (She pushes back her hood, revealing that she is DIANA (Jaimie Alexander)) I’m trying to protect you.

LIEUTENANT
From what?

DIANA
From me.

LIEUTENANT
Oh, good. A crazy woman. (He gestures, and his men begin to jog up the beach toward her) Don’t bother being gentle with her, just–

CUT TO

Steve Trevor scrambling backward on the sand, eyes wide, jaw hanging open. The sound of submachine-gun fire and screaming fills the night. The beach and the water behind him are lit by the pale staccato flashes of gunfire. Loud wet thumps, intercut with the high-pitched noise of razor-sharp metal slicing through the air, tell the story of the unfortunate German soldiers. Flying weapons and debris hit the sand all around Steve.

CUT TO

Diana, looking down toward Steve from a few feet away. She slides an ornate sword of pale metal back into its sheath.

STEVE TREVOR
Jesus! Lady, I’m, ah, I’m not exactly here by choice!

DIANA
You were their prisoner?

STEVE TREVOR
Yeah, I, uh, look… can you maybe see if there’s a key to these cuffs on one of the men you just–

Diana pulls Steve to his feet, spins him around, takes the handcuffs carefully in her hands, and snaps them apart as though they were made of paper.

STEVE TREVOR
Ahh! Well… (shakes the busted cuffs onto the sand) I guess that works, too.

EXT. THEMYSCIRA CITY –DAY

A beautiful eye-in-the-sky tracking shot of the Amazon city in the heart of a verdant jungle, a beautiful place that is please, god, not once again directly stolen from DINOTOPIA like every other fucking movie since THE PHANTOM MENACE.

DIANA (Voiceover)
We will bring your news of the outside world to my mother. I give you my countenance to enter Themyscira.

STEVE TREVOR (Voiceover)
Themis-er-what?

INT. THEMYSCIRA QUEEN’S COURT –DAY

HIPPOLYTA (Claudia Black) stands flanked by handmaidens and advisors, including ARTEMIS (Rosario Dawson), MALA (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and PHILIPPUS (Angela Bassett). These women, as gorgeous and intimidating as their surroundings, are backlit by slanting shafts of golden sunlight.

DIANA (Voiceover)
This man speaks of empires… empires of steel machines dividing the world between them! How can we live on in perfect peace while millions of innocent people die?

CUT TO

Diana walking stridently beside Hippolyta, who looks less than charmed with her daughter.

HIPPOLYTA
The world of men broke with us. Now it must wear the chains of its own failure. We cannot interfere!

DIANA
Cannnot or will not?

FLASH – ATLANTIC OCEAN – DAY

The mighty battleship TIRPITZ fills the screen, German naval ensign flying prominently, her guns blasting smoke and fire toward the audience. Behind her we can see a long gray line of German battlecruisers and destroyers, fading into the distance, thundering away with their guns.

HIPPOLYTA (Voiceover)
You know nothing of the outside world!

DIANA (Voiceover)
And what happens when there’s nothing left in the outside world for me to learn about?

FLASH – AN AUSTERE BEACH UNDER OVERCAST SKIES — DAY

German soldiers march in lines past craters and ditches filled with the bodies of British and American soldiers. Allied flags lie tattered on the sand, next to the smoking wrecks of Allied tanks and equipment.

CUT TO

EXT. THEMYSCIRA QUEEN’S COURT –TWILIGHT

Diana and Mala standing on a balcony over a lantern-lit courtyard, looking down at Steve Trevor, who paces below, looking frustrated.

MALA
Why are you obsessed with this man?

DIANA
It’s not him. It’s what he represents.

MALA
And what do you think he represents?

DIANA
A second chance for us. To break this exile and be what the world needs us to be.

FLASH

GERMAN PANZERS race through a war-torn wood. Smoke boils into the red-tinted sky behind them.

STEVE TREVOR (Voiceover)
I can’t lie to you, Diana. We’re not winning this war. We’re running out of time and we’re running out of hope.

DIANA (Voiceover)
My people won’t aid you. Gaea help me, my people are wrong.

CUT TO

INT. THEMYSCIRA QUEEN’S COURT –DAY

Diana arguing with Philippus, whose arms are crossed. Several handmaidens stand watching at a respectful distance, looking shocked.

DIANA
I’ve come for the weapons that are my birthright.

PHILIPPUS
I guard them for a queen’s heir. Not a girl who wants to go adventuring on a fool’s errand!

DIANA
Then I’ll see you in the arena.

PHILIPPUS
For the love I bear you and your mother, I will break you like a little girl before her very eyes.

FLASH- Diana and Philippus, in suitably bad-ass ceremonial armor, walloping the ever-loving bejeezus out of each other. The earth trembles beneath their feet.

DIANA
I’ll accept your apology for that. (Flexes arms and cracks knuckles.) When you wake up after the fight.

FLASH – Diana’s hands lifting a gleaming golden lariat from an ancient wooden display case.

FADE TO BLACK – FLOATING TEXT: IN AN ANCIENT PARADISE

FLASH – Diana’s arms, as she buckles on a pair of sleek golden bracers.

FADE TO BLACK – FLOATING TEXT: A WORLD WITHOUT HOPE

EXT. CALAIS COAST OF FRANCE – DAY

GERMAN GENERAL
The operation is SEA LION! The beginning of the end for all the Reich’s surviving enemies. Frankly… they have nothing left with which to oppose us.

FADE TO BLACK – FLOATING TEXT: FINDS A CHAMPION TO STAND IN ITS DARKEST HOUR

INT. THEMYSCIRAN FORGE CHAMBERS

Molten metal and sparking fires light the scene as stern, sculpted female blacksmiths pour and hammer with a clear sense of purpose.

DIANA (Voiceover)
I can’t wear the sigil of my house while my mother refuses to bless this mission. I’ve requested new armor, in the colors of your cause, for inspiration’s sake. Do you have any suggestions?

FLASH – Brief glimpse of ribbed armor in the traditional red, blue, and gold.

STEVE TREVOR
You know, ah, my people have a legend about a woman named Godiva…

DIANA
Oh? What’s this legend?

STEVE TREVOR
On second thought, forget I said anything.

EXT. – BEACHES OF SOUTHERN ENGLAND – DAY

The German General, hunkered just off the beach in a mud-spattered overcoat, is yelling into a field telephone while all hell breaks lose in the background. Hundreds of German troops are moving off the beach, shells are bursting overhead, and the sea is dark with landing craft and naval vessels.

GERMAN GENERAL
What the hell do you mean you’ve lost contact with ALL of our forward Panzer elements?

SMASH CUT – EXT. – EDGE OF A FOREST IN SOUTHERN ENGLAND – DAY

British and American troops crouched side by side behind makeshift barricades watch in awe as a vast dark shape rolls toward them out of the smoke and red fire of brutal combat. Tracer bullets streak past in the background. We soon see that the shape is a GERMAN PANZER IV TANK… rolling to a grinding halt. Standing atop its chassis is Diana. She has torn the tank’s turret out of its housing and, as we watch, she steadily lifts it up over her head while smoke and flame boil out around her legs. She is wearing her dark cloak, but as it flutters and flies we can catch a solid glimpse of Wonder Woman’s armor, bracers, and circlet beneath it. Diana shrugs the tank turret off to one side, where it lands with a thunderous crash. Diana looks at the men briefly, posing in the smoke and flame like the UNIVERSE’S OWN MAXIMUM BAD-ASS. Then she grins ferally and leaps twenty feet into the air, looking for her next target.

FADE TO BLACK – FLOATING TEXT: WONDER WOMAN

Beat… music crescendoes and ends.

INT. – COLD AND IMMACULATE OFFICES SOMEWHERE IN THE THIRD REICH

A NERVOUS NAZI OFFICER stands before BARONESS PAULA VON GUNTHER (Tilda Swinton), who is wearing smoked glasses and an incredibly chic gray and black ensemble that perfectly mimics the scheme of Nazi uniforms, while having not one single uniform feature. Her hair is ice-white and she wears gray leather gloves that can only be described as the pale color of crushed dreams. She is dwelling on some ominous piece of scientific apparatus cradled in one hand like Yorick’s skull.

NERVOUS OFFICER
We don’t understand, Baroness von Gunther. This woman… she’s not human!

BARONESS VON GUNTHER
There’s nothing you need to worry about understanding, Herr General. Science has given you tanks and aircraft and submarines. Surely my science will give you the means to defeat a single woman.

FADE TO BLACK – FLOATING TEXT: THIS SUMMER

…and the lights rise again, on a room full of movie studio suits

WRITER: So, that concludes my, ah, presentation. Superhero films have cleaned up in recent years, there’s still lots of jazz from the Batman and Superman films, it’s got a lot of that retro and alternate-historical fashion to give it a grounded feel, and it’s got some steampunky super-science, and I think the cast could just kill… plus it leaves lots of room to bring in Circe in the sequel, maybe with Morena Baccarin for the role…

SUIT: Look, thanks for your time, but it’ll never work. Women just aren’t interested in comic book movies.

WRITER: Actually, the MPAA’s own theatrical market statistics show that movie attendance is essentially a dead heat between men and women and has been for years now, and comic book movies audiences are only a shade less balanced…

SUIT: Well, sure, whatever, but everyone knows guys don’t want to see female leads in, you know, stuff like this.

WRITER: Right, because that little Hunger Games flick was a renowned mega-flop, in the tradition of other notorious bombs like Aliens, Terminator 2, Silence of the Lambs, the Twilight saga...

SUIT: That Salt movie with Angelina Jolie didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

WRITER: Uh, it nearly tripled its production costs in global box office and a sequel has been greenlit.

SUIT: Yeah, but Catwoman

WRITER: Catwoman was a box office turd. So was Green Lantern, but nobody ever suggests it failed because it was an onscreen sausage-fest.

SUIT: But Brave

WRITER: Also tripled its production costs globally, and that was a mediocre flick for Pixar.

SUIT: Yeah, look. This is a nice try, but we just gotta pass, kid.

WRITER: Look, seriously, female participation in comic book culture and its associated media spinoffs, which is where the real money is, has never been higher. These women are passionate, pre-aware, and ready to line up and throw money at a project like this. There would be lines to the horizon if you would just quit fucking around and muttering about how the female audience is weak and the male audience is self-absorbed, and build something for that audience to cling to like a treasure. This is the preeminent female comic book hero in HUMAN HISTORY, and you can’t find the guts to even TRY?

SUIT: Look, maybe we can find the money for a budget next year, if you can retool it as a Johnny Depp vehicle. But to be perfectly honest with you, we’re tight at the moment. We’ve already lined up $100 million to do Zach Galifianakis’ Aquaman.

WRITER: There aren’t enough desks in the world for what I want to do with my head right now.

*****

(Apologies to screenplay formatting, which I have brutally trampled on while writing this. -SL)

15 thoughts on “In The Wake of MAN OF STEEL: A Timely Proposal

  1. Pingback: WANT. | Jiggery-pokery's Soup of the Day

  2. As a girl and a geek, I’m a little in love with you and your understanding of the changing landscape of geek culture, and the tragedy that the ladies are being overlooked.

  3. I’d rewatch this trailer over and over. Would easily pay money to see this.

    Strong female lead characters missing in more action movies is a huge miss for Hollywood, and quite frankly, for our daughters.

    We constantly try to show our daughter how strong women can be, and why it is important to not let anyone dictate what you can or can’t do, just because she’s a girl.

    Kudos on this. Again, I’d be first in line to watch this flick. Great job

  4. Oh, hell yes. Please. So much rightness.

    Can we also keep the single thing the New 52 did most right, having her be Zeus-spawn, sister to Herakles and Perseus? Because that shit finally made *sense*.

  5. Not only is it an amazing teaser it is also a VERY accurate assessment of why Hollywood is out of touch and why crowd sourcing is the way to go, despite what negative online hipsters call “Kickstarter fatigue”. This was amazing! Thank you for showing me that there are others out here who bloody well “get it”!

    Cheers!

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