Sunday, August 25, 2013

In His Satin Tights

This seems to be my M.O. on this blog: skip a month and then write three blog entries in three days - preferably on the weekend, when it can be assured that no one is on the internet. Ah, well. I write when I have time and when I have something I want to say. (I was going to say "something worthwhile to say," but that really isn't the point of this blog.)
With Joss Whedon's Avenger's success, a number of people on the internet have been calling for his former collaborator, the Canadian hunk (Canunk?) Nathan Fillion to find his way into a superhero movie, any superhero movie but preferably something with Joss.
Well, I have a proposal that will cover both of those criteria.
Meet Wonder Man, a lesser-known and complicated superhero in the Marvel Universe.
And a bit of a clothes horse, frankly.
Simon Williams was the young CEO of a tech company slowly being put out of business by Stark Industries. In order to save the company, he embezzles some funds to "invest" with the local mafia. This is discovered and Williams is put on trial. Baron Zemo, a regular masked baddie and frequent nemesis of Captain America, reads about Williams and - noticing his disdain for the Stark corporation - makes him an offer. He will give Simon superpowers through the use of his ionic ray, if Simon will help him in a plot to bring down the Avengers. There is one catch: upon receiving the ionic treatment, Williams will have to take regular injections from Zemo or the process will kill him.
The plan is this: Zemo's team of bad guys, The Masters of Evil, stage an attack on the Avengers headquarters and Simon, now called Wonder Man, pretends to intervene and chase them off. Then, having gained the trust of the Avengers, Wonder Man will lead them into an ambush later. The snag is that, while Simon Williams has made some bad decisions, he has done so for usually very good reasons. When the ambush occurs, Simon has a change of heart, and he winds up fighting Zemo and saving the Avengers after all. However, without Zemo's treatments, Wonder Man collapses, seemingly dead.
Seemingly ends up being the operative word here as the Wonder Man story gets much more complicated from here. They involve: Simon's consciousness being transplanted into an android (the Avenger known as the Vision), a Voodoo resurrection as a zombie, an older brother who is a super-villain (the Grim Reaper), an actual resurrection as we learn that Zemo was bluffing about the need for the injections, a career in Hollywood as a stuntman and actor, a few more "deaths," and that's only the beginning.
However, every comic book superhero who's been around more than a few decades has these complicated storylines. Thor was a woman for a while. Spiderman has clones running around everywhere. Superman was blue. Literally.
"Well, crap. The glasses aren't going to fool anybody now."

When bringing these characters to the big screen, many of these more complicated aspects are streamlined (Captain America's Bucky is a non-costumed adult soldier), lamp-shaded (Thor wears the clothes of Jane's ex: Dr. Donald Blake), or omitted altogether (Rick Jones has never appeared with any live-action version of the Hulk).
So, with Wonder Man, I think you can still get a good story using a few major points and filling in the blanks.
Simon Williams is a competitor of Stark's. However, instead of the mafia, maybe he aligns with Zemo (or any other evil Marvel scientist, really) on the ionic experimentation project, thinking it can save his company. Not comfortable with Zemo wanting to use a human test subject, Williams makes the sacrifice of allowing himself to be the subject.
The 80s look for Wonder Man is generally considered pretty cheesy,
But I've always kind of liked it.
And now it's "retro."

Then, as the super-powered Wonder Man, Williams makes a number of public appearances, and even Hollywood features, as a way of promoting both his company and the possibilities of ionic power. Meanwhile, Zemo is using the life-saving injections as leverage to get Wonder Man to do what he wants. Zemo's idea for a fake attack on the Avengers in order to get Wonder Man on their team makes Williams a little uncomfortable, but, seems to be a good way to promote his company. It isn't until later that Zemo springs the ambush plan on him. Williams is conflicted, but his company and his life are at stake, so he does the wrong thing for the right reasons. Then he does the noble thing in the end, and it turns out that Zemo was lying about the whole life-saving injections thing anyway.
Now, if it seems like a flimsy superhero movie to have the Avengers dealing with just one super-powered guy and a betrayal story, remember that we still have the Masters of Evil here.
This includes:
The Executioner: half Asgardian, half frost giant, and he likes guns.
How about giant badass, Rory McCann?

The Black Knight: basically a slightly lesser Iron Man, but with a medieval theme.
Dominic Purcell?

Radioactive Man: a walking atom bomb who can shoot beams of radioactive energy.
Donnie Yen?

The Enchantress, a magical Asgardian who doesn't like Thor very much.
I like Lucy Punch for this. Okay, I like Lucy Punch for just about anything.

And, of course, Baron Zemo himself.
Til Zweiger would be great whether you go with the modern Helmut Zemo
or some kind of age-preserved Heinrich Zemo.

And if the names seem a bit cheesy, well, remember, they're a fake team of villains staging a fake attack on the Avengers, ostensibly (from Simon's point-of-view) as a publicity stunt.
In this picture, he's playing the Firefly theme song by
making fart-noises with his hands. My blog. My rules.

Simon Williams is a gregarious but complicated superhero, and I think that Nathan Fillion has the look, the charisma, and the acting chops to bring this character to life. Since Fillion has said that both he and Joss are too busy with their own projects at the moment, this story might be a nice fit for their schedules sometime after Avengers: The Age of Ultron. So, for those of you who were disappointed that we didn't get a Fillion Green Lantern and that we won't get a Fillion Batman (It's Affleck. Deal with it.), Wonder Man's story can either be an Avengers movie or a movie that simply features the Avengers, depending upon everyone's availability, and it would be a great way to get Joss and Fillion back together. (I'm assuming that this will be a reunion subsequent to their reunion on the Doctor Horrible sequel. Right, guys?)

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