Monday, August 25, 2008

And Don't Forget to Turn Your Freaking Cellphones Off

One of the blogs I check every day is Christopher Bird's Mighty God King. It's one of the ones where I don't even bother putting it in my RSS feed because I know that I'm going to be checking it anyway and there's going to be something new and worthwhile there. (Plus, Mr. Bird, like me, is a member in good standing of the Most Puissant Order of Toronto-Based Comics Bloggers, which in itself is sufficient recommendation.)

Anyway, there's a semiregular feature on Mighty God King called Why I Should Write the Legion, which I (and many others) quite enjoy. He's got a lot of neat ideas about the Legion.

Anyway, that's not the kind of thing I do here, for a few reasons:
1. I regularly review Legion comics. Sometimes I'm complimentary and sometimes not. For me to do that and also to have articles saying 'I should write the Legion,'... people might think I meant it*.
2. Ideas are cheap. Writing talent is rare. (Well, rarer.)
3. I do have some aspirations as a writer. But I don't do fanfic. No offense to those of you who do. But it's on the other side of this line that I drew.

But my imagination has been captured by something and now I have to type it out. At the San Diego convention this year, there was a brief mention--I imagine most people missed it--of some director who, in defiance of all reason, sanity and common sense, is intent on someday making a Legion movie. And all this in the middle of all the discussion about The Dark Knight and the Watchmen trailer.

So I thought, what if you were sitting in a darkened theater, getting ready for your screening of Breasts, Fighting and Explosions II, and you encountered the following?



Aerial POV of a golden, shining futuristic cityscape, stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions. Spaceships and hovercars flit around.

The skyline is dominated by a gleaming golden tower that features an insignia with a shooting star inside a capital L. A CAPTION reads, "METROPOLIS, 3011 A.D.".


An upper floor of the golden tower. As we get closer, we can see that on this floor is a classroom.


The classroom. A distinguished gray-haired man is lecturing at the front of the room. There are thirty desks, most occupied by teenagers, but four are empty.


One of the students, a skinny brown-haired boy, is taking notes intently.

CLOSE UP ON the ring on the boy's finger, a thick golden ring with the L* insignia on it.


Another student, a blond green-skinned boy, is writing furiously but obviously paying no attention to the lecturer. He's also wearing a golden L* ring.


Yet another student, a dark-haired guy with sunglasses, zoning out and chewing on the stylus he's supposed to be writing with. And taking bites out of it. He has a ring too.


Another student, a tall, gorgeous, muscular blonde girl, also with a ring. She's paying attention, but not taking notes.


Another student, a platinum-haired girl taking notes, but not enthusiastically. She has a ring too. For no apparent reason, she stops writing and stares into space, ahead and off to her right.


The green-skinned boy and skinny brown-haired boy, who notice the girl staring, and put down their styluses.

PLATINUM-HAIRED GIRL (raises hand): Mr. Latham?

LECTURER: Yes, Dream Girl?

DREAM GIRL: Can we go now?

MR. LATHAM: We still--

A RED LIGHT at the front of the room starts flashing on and off, and a siren blares. All the students bolt up from their desks and rush out the door, without any of them getting in each others' way, calling out tactics as they go:

BLACK GIRL: Resource Raiders--

BLOND BOY: --asteroid belt--

DREAM GIRL: Bye, Mr. Latham!

ORANGE-SKINNED BOY: --espionage squad--

RED-HAIRED BOY: --split into two groups--


A mining asteroid, under attack by small, laser-blasting spaceships and black-helmeted ground troops.

CLOSE UP ON miners running away from the attackers. They're panicking. Then the lead miner's expression changes, and he points into the sky ahead of him.


A silver spaceship, with two dozen teenaged superheroes, the students from the classroom, flying out of an airlock toward the asteroid. One group attacks the raiding spaceships, the other swoops down to engage the ground troops.


Heavy fighting between the superheroes and the raiders. The red-haired boy, flying by, blasts a raider spaceship with a bolt of lightning. In the background, a dark-haired boy, grown to giant size, punches another spaceship out of the sky.


A swanky reception hall on a planet with a green sky. It's full of aliens of every description. An elegant white-haired man, flanked by four teenagers, enters the room. The teenagers (blue-skinned girl, boy with a glass faceplate, winged girl and curly-haired blond boy) are all wearing golden rings.

CUT TO elsewhere in the reception hall.

A BULKY, MEAN GOLDEN-SKINNED ALIEN DIPLOMAT: The Earth ambassador's guards are children?

BULKY, MEAN GOLDEN-SKINNED ALIEN AIDE: Those children are Legionnaires, Excellency.

DIPLOMAT (frowns): Ah, the Legion...

CUT TO the mining asteroid.

TEENAGE BOY IN PURPLE OUTFIT, to some others: Then who sent the Resource Raiders?


A fleet of alien spaceships diving toward Earth, firing energy-blasts.


Black screen with caption: TEN CENTURIES IN THE FUTURE


Black screen with caption: THE UNITED PLANETS IS INVADED

CUT TO the four teenagers on the green-sky world, flying above a city.

BLUE-SKINNED GIRL: But what if the ambassador is the traitor?

CUT TO fighting scenes between bulky, mean, golden-skinned alien invaders and superheroes:
- the dark-haired kid with sunglasses grabs an energy rifle from an alien soldier and bites it in half
- a red-haired girl floats a platoon of invaders helplessly up in the air
- a black girl races through a line of advancing alien invaders at superspeed, disarming and knocking them over
- a blond boy brings down a strafing spaceship with a burning beam of sunlight
- two black teenagers, one boy and one girl, stand back to back as invaders charge them from either side:
BLACK BOY (over his shoulder to the girl): Long live the Legion?
BLACK GIRL (over her shoulder): Long live the Legion!
The two unleash a barrage of power, the boy weighing his targets down to the ground, the girl freezing her targets motionless in quantum bubbles.


Black screen with caption: EARTH'S ONLY HOPE



CUT TO the deck of a spaceship. The tall blonde girl, looking battered but still moving easily, is confronting the golden-skinned alien diplomat.

TALL BLONDE GIRL: On the contrary, sir. It's always been our humanity that's saved us.


The skinny kid and a dark-haired girl, running down a darkened hallway. They turn a corner and are confronted by a dozen figures in black robes and hoods. The two teenagers share a look, and the boy disappears while the girl shrinks down to nothing.

CUT TO a different darkened hallway. A big rocky guy is punching his way through black-robed figures while the green-skinned boy strides along behind, dictating into his ring.

GREEN-SKINNED BOY: ...didn't invade on their own! There's a darker force...

CUT TO the classroom, at night. A purple-robed wizard, with silver hair and beard, gestures, and three of the teenagers (the boy in the purple outfit, the red-haired lightning-thrower, and a blonde girl) fall to the ground screaming, covered in crawling red energy.


Black screen with caption: COMING TO THEATERS SUMMER 2011


The green-skinned boy, hiding in a closet, talking to someone over a communicator in his ring.

GREEN-SKINNED BOY: There's only one thing we can try.


GREEN-SKINNED BOY: We need Superman.


Top of the golden tower, at night. A battered Dream Girl is surrounded by invading aliens at the edge of the roof. If we look, we can see that there's no ring on her finger.

DREAM GIRL: Long live the Legion!

Dream Girl steps gracefully off the top of the tower, and falls out of sight.


Black screen with caption: LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: EARTHWAR


Black screen with caption: THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT


The purple-robed wizard, wearing a halo of flames, standing under an arch made of helpless captives, as an angry Superman flies at him, full speed, fists first. There's a golden L* ring on his left fist.


Would you see this movie?

* which is not to say I wouldn't like to write the Legion. How cool would that be? But I have no idea what it takes to write a comic book properly and won't pretend that I do.

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Anonymous mightygodking said...

Speaking as someone who's actually worked on trailers back when he was still a video editor:

It's too busy, to be honest. Good trailers for action/adventure movies tend to have as little dialogue as possible and don't bother even trying to explain the plot. You're trying to tell a little story in ninety seconds here, and trailers aren't about telling a story; they're about selling an audience on a story, which isn't the same thing.

Take a cue from the Watchmen trailer, which similarly has to introduce characters mostly unknown to the average viewer. What do you see? The characters doing cool shit: Rorshach's mask, Silk Spectre walking through flames, Nite Owl jump-kicking somebody in the face, Dr. Manhattan exploding CGI Paddy Hat Man. The trailer doesn't even bother explaining what the movie is about. There is cool shit. That's all they want you to know.

Or The Dark Knight. More dialogue in that trailer, maybe, but beyond "the Joker shows up and is crazy and him and Batman fight," the average viewer won't take away a whole lot of story either. The trailer focuses on Batman and the Joker - again - doing cool shit: jumping off buildings, flipping big rigs, riding the Bat-Motorcycle, et cetera.

So take that and apply it to the Legion. The core idea for a Legion movie is simple: Superman comes to the future and the Legion learns from him while he learns from them.


- shot of the future being future-y with rocket cars and jet packs and teleporting bugs and such
- danger! evil space fleet! planets being destroyed!
- Young Clark, arriving in a smoking thunderbolt, still in his farmboy clothes, shadows surrounding him as he looks up
- shot of him looking awed walking through the Superman Museum
- and now we go to the money-shot portion of the trailer, and every Legionnaire shot has to be fucking awe-inspiring or goddamned pants-creamingly exciting or both:
- Lightning Lad as fucking dynamo out of control, arcs of electricity spouting from his hands all around him
- Cosmic Boy gesturing and a robot goes flying away violently
- Colossal Boy growing to fight a giant robot or monster or whatever
- Kid Quantum (diversity is good) snapping her fingers and baddies lunging at her stop in midair, frozen in time
- Sun Boy going nova
- XS running so fast across the ocean she's leaving waves in her wake
- Brainiac Five firing a big-ass Science Laser Bazooka at something
- other characters that would work in this montage: Blok, Dawnstar (flying through space serenely - "cool" doesn't have to mean "destructive" or "obviously powerful"), Gates, maybe Chameleon Boy, Timber Wolf, Shadow Lass, Wildfire, Ultra Boy, maybe Shrinking Violet
- ones that wouldn't: Invisible Kid, Phantom Girl (anything that looks like it can be done with a greenscreen isn't what you want in a trailer to make people spend money seeing your movie three times), Star Boy or Light Lass (too hard to explain visually, not really dramatic enough), Projectra (Sensor would be fine because she is a big snake), Saturn Girl (telepathy = not good without voiceover explanation, which you want to avoid), Matter-Eater Lad, Bouncing Boy (too silly).
- and now the MONEY SHOT of the moneyshots, which is Superman dressed in costume fighting something big and enormous and kicking the shit out of it.
- Superman, soaring at the camera to PUNCH WHATEVER IS LOOKING AT HIM!
- title: "SUMMER 20XX"


Oh, and "most beloved superhero team of all time" won't work, technically correct or not. To the public, that's the X-Men.

2:34 AM  
Anonymous plok said...

I would totally see either of those! Despite Matthew's busyness, there are a couple of really great bits in that, and actually I'd love to see the audience reaction to "the most beloved super-team of all time." Wha...? Huh...? Most what? The future? Superman? What's a "Legion"? How many of these freakin' kids are there, and who's the white-haired chick?

Maybe I'm speaking too much as a comics nerd, but that grabs me.

4:49 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...


About the busyness and action and stuff... I was actually trying to go for that, in my way, but it's the first time I've tried writing anything like this and I'm not surprised to have gotten the mix wrong.

As for, "most beloved superhero team of all time", I thought quite a bit about that before putting it in there. Whether it's true or not (and I think it is; notice I didn't say 'most popular'), it's a heck of a thing to be able to say about something you're trying to promote.

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Asteroid Al said...

I love your hypothetical trailer. It sounds to me more like what you would want to show a studio to convince them to fund the movie, though. It's dense, but high concept enough (it's the future, they're students, they're superheroes, they fight, they defend) to give the full flavor of the story without their having to previously know a single thing about the Legion.

The fact that Superman is in it is gravy.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. It's true that I was trying to... not to explain the plot (which, let's face it, I haven't got more than a hazy idea of in the first place) so much as to suggest that there is one. But if MGK (above) is right, maybe I shouldn't even have been doing that. Oh well; I'll know for next time, assuming that for whatever weird reason there is a next time.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definately bad on the "most beloved superhero team of all time". If theres one thing the Legion cartoon DID teach me, its that fewer people have heard of the Legion then I realised it. I mean, I watch the whole of Superman animated series and JLU, but even I went "Legion of who?" at the cartoon. The name of "Legion" in their previous appearances just slip by me. Yet everyone pretty much knows who the X-Men are. That sentance alone needs some work.

The movie trailer itself... It sounds like you are trying to create a Preview of the movie rather then a trailer. That would work as a pre-movie based comic (which has been done before with movies) but not as a trailer. It doesn't give a lot of plot away, but does hype up what little it IS will to tell.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm perfectly willing to admit that I don't know how to script a trailer.

On the other hand, if I ever got involved in anything like this for real, I'd fight for the phrase 'most beloved of all time'. I'm not saying I could prove it was true, but this is, after all, advertising. It just has to be defensible, and it is defensible.

6:23 PM  

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