I love this. I really do.
The opportunity to showcase the talent and vision of creative people is a blast, but it’s more than that. It’s an affirmation that storytelling isn’t just one thing, that a “type” or “classification” of story is faceted jewel with shiny bits to be found from multiple perspectives.
Sure, Hollywood is driven by a host of priorities (and “good story” isn’t always at – or even NEAR – the top of the list). But by showcasing these alternative story arcs, we’re demonstrating a kind of storytelling diversity that expands the possibilities moving forward.
But I digress…
Our 2nd Place Winner
It gives me great pleasure to present our 2nd place winner in the “Build a Better Superhero Movie” contest: JAMES SILVERSTEIN!
James has been obsessed with storytelling since he could frame letters into words. His passion for stories began with works ranging from LeGuin and Zelazny to Bradbury and Tolkein, and evolved into a refined and diverse literary palette, embracing the full scope of genre fiction.
His discovery of the collaborative storytelling experience of role-playing games launched him into a fevered exploration of the format, leading to his publication with the 7th Sea RPG, Stargate SG-1, and most recently the RPG ‘Cairn’.
His most recent work, “Necropolis” – a noire necromancy tale set in the the 1940’s – is currently being considered for publication.
In addition to literature and games, James has indulged in several stage and vocal performance productions for Pseudopod, Far Fetched Fables, and the late lamented Protecting Project Pulp.
He currently lairs in the suburbs of Chicago, plotting the dominion of his literary empire.
And here’s his prize-winning entry!
Batman / Superman: Panopticon
Bruce Wayne comes to Metropolis, amid ‘fringe’ anti-Superman sentiment, for a tech / surveillance conference. Alfred isn’t there to arrange reservations, etc., so he has to play ‘lost charismatic rich kid’ while in the background we see throw-away news about other DC properties, such as new contact with Themyscira and Atlantis.
Clark Kent is interviewing Alfred about his WW2 intelligence work (this needs updating).
Kent’s super-senses notice Alfred being ‘twitchy’ – because of something Batman is doing. Normally the sort-of thing no one would pick up on. No one without super-senses…
An enormous android attacks the conference. Superman can either save a group or Alfred. Needs of the many prevail.
Wayne has a controlled, anti-superman rant when Kent attends Alfred’s funeral – which sparks Kent’s curiosity. Soon Wayne realizes he has Kent on his tail, and investigates in turn. Both uncover clues their respective talents would find. Thus begins an extended cat-and-mouse: Each trying to out the other while keeping themselves concealed.
Brainiac arrives in Metropolis. Batman and Superman get in each others’ way as they battle him. (This is shown in several action scenes, overlaid with media: social media about Wayne’s anti-superman stance, and snippets from Kent digging into Waynetech. Possible Lexcorp connection?)
Brainiac critically injures someone both Wayne and Kent know, escalating matters so that things explode at the next encounter: Things going wrong for our heroes, Brainiac escapes again, and during this, one hero seems to take a swing at the other. Social media picks this up. Normally, the ensuing fight would be one-sided, but Batman reveals a glowing green rock, and severely wounds Superman, who flees.
A news story opens with Wayne’s “car accident” in the area (due, he jabs, to Superman’s ‘freak out’).
Kent was to interview Wayne, but Lois Lane does it instead. All the shots are over-the-shoulder, good for the handsome yet damaged Wayne (we do not see Lois’ face). He clarifies or denies anything Kent researched with skill.
Lane notes that they are in the same place where Alfred was killed. Wayne has another anti-superman rant. We get anti-superman crowd reactions; some think Wayne might be going too far.
Suddenly the windows burst in. Brainiac arrives and, via gloating exposition, reveals he’s been winning due to not only his own power, but media information and data from which he’s built profiles on his enemies. He has come to devour Waynetech’s R&D databases.
Brainac apparently knocks out Wayne and Lois, then begins to absorb the tech. He gloats, and begins transforming to enslave Metropolis’ technology to his will. No one can stop him now.
Except Batman. The Dark Knight emerges from the shadows and begins the battle. Braniac is too dangerous for him to take on alone, however.
Superman flies in out of the sun, and turns the fight against Brainiac, until the android reveals the synthesized kryptonite he just stole.
Except there was never any synthetic kryptonite! The fight between Superman and Batman was staged in order to draw Brainiac out. They had to hide the big threat (Superman) and offer a big prize (Waynetech’s technical databases and the ‘synthetic kryptonite’). They’ve been seeding and manipulating all the information Brainiac’s been collecting. (“For a guy called Brainiac, you’re really not that smart, are you?”)
Brainiac begins a fighting retreat, scanning databases to find an advantage. He realizes Superman’s code against killing and attachment to Lois. He grabs her.
And the big reveal. It’s not Lois Lane. It’s Diana Prince. She was the last piece in the trap for Brainiac. The trio then beat the ever-living-hell out of Brainiac, and the city is saved.
Denouement: the trio realize that there are threats that are best faced together. Diana tells Bruce and Clark that there are things that hover over Themyscira that are a bigger threat (setting up for the Wonder Woman movie that we all want), but that if they need her help, she will be there.
The three split up, but images begin to flood the screen: Social media, Waynetech reports, and Daily Planet stories about emerging superheroes and villains all around the world. The eyes of the world are watching, and await what comes next.
Congratulations, James! That hits all the right notes, man. 🙂
Tune in tomorrow when we reveal the grand-prize winner and their cinematic magnum opus!