Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Emails #21: Sweet Land of Liberty

This is an example of how Rick and I began work on a film outline. It's an incomplete sketching out of events as well as questions. Although it's incomplete you'll see many of the musings you've read over the last two months begin to gel together. Remember, I'm green while Rick's notes are blue. -Ben


  • Cap’s WWII battlefield entrance
  • Cap participates in or a news reel tells of Normandy
  • Cap fights with the men

Flashback to...
  • Cap’s Creation Myth(s)
  • Red Skull’s Creation Myth(s)
  • Cap meets Bucky

Return to current time...
  • Cap on battlefield
  • Cap flag waving scene

Plot Point 1:
  • Cap’s Frozen Vegetable Entree (by fate or intention?)

Act II

Cap’s Re-Awakening
  • 15 pages bridge the time gap (unfreeze Cap for Vietnam and refreeze?) unfreeze Cap in the 90's/late 90's, culture shock, keep him on base. (or unfreeze in a response to 9/11/like event) In case of emergency... break the ice? Nope. There have been several attempts to unfreeze 'ol Cap but the technology to do it without killing him didn't exist yet. As each year passes, less attention is paid to him and he stands encased in ice just waiting to live a breath again.
  • Until finally, they have the need and design new technology. It's very risky, but works!

Cap debrief and intro to modern military tech
  • Cap is told of history (include some key points)
  • Cap is given the rundown on the current political situation (Cap may remark how it’s the same as it ever was)
  • Cap is intro’d to latest military tech-- "I've just been thawed from a block of ice and reanimated. What do I need to know?" The process to reorientate Steve Rogers to the modern era will be a little more complicated than giving him a slide show. It also seems a little cornball to do it that way. "How long will this take doctor?" "I don't know. We have never encountered anything like this before. It could take months, years or never happen at all..." "The mission window is ten days from now, We need him doctor, America needs him and Captain America has always risen to every challenge we have given him!"
  • Is he given a new shield or his old one back? Ah, the old shield... Recovered from the last frozen battlefield and ultimately shipped back to the states. Old shield, battered - sits in a glass case. In case of emergency... We have something much better for you Cap made out of stronger materials than were ever dreamed possible during WWII. Intro the "modern" round shield. It has also been designed to be a throwing weapon...Cap whips the shield and it cuts a computer in half before lodging ten inches deep in a concrete wall.
  • Should this shield be throw-able and the old not? YES.
  • Perhaps the old adamantium shield now just has a uber-coating? New shield, new materials. Time marches on. Cap has been on ice for a while. They have been hoping to thaw him and may have come close several times. So, his uniform and shield have been upgraded for him. This is after all the greatest weapon any army could ever hope to have.

How long should we keep him on base? Should his first contact with the modern world be as Cap (i.e. On-route or at a Cap-function) or as Steve?)

"You heard the man, ten days to mission ready..."
I can almost see him being loaded, half drugged onto a cargo plane. His Cap uniform covered by a hospital smock. He is doubled over in pain and out of it.
"Sir, he doesn't look too good..."

"Play the music son, play it good and loud."


Cap's eyes pops open. He is in the hold of an older cargo plane, men jump out an open door into thick enemy fire, some killed before they reach the ground. Cap jumps out of the plane behind the men...


Holy crap! Give me chills! I'm wondering if we need to create a mordern battle for him to fight in. As in, don't do Iraq or Afghanistan. I don't know what would be best given every current war film or scene is in the Middle East (except Rambo from a couple years back.) I do love the texture of the region a lot, but I'm not sure. Hmm. Lots of BS going on in ex-Soviet block countries... Regardless, structuring this in this way is a great way to get us back in the game. Fits film structure very well.

Cap Visits His Childhood Home
  • Steven and these modern times
  • General sends him to visit home
  • Cap rides in civies home
  • Cap has flashbacks
  • Cap finds clippings and film

Cap Reads Letters
  • Cap enters an archive (under the Pentagon?)
  • Cap reads letters
  • This might be the start of his process of acclimating to the current time. A quiet time when he finally starts to restart his life and move on.
  • He learns of what he means to very normal folks.

If this is indeed where Cap gets his footing emotionally, perhaps Bucky should visit him while he's here? Is Bucky still alive? I think it could be an amazing switch to have the original Bucky as Cap's mentor. "Saints alive, there you are." Cap turns to be sure his face, and his tears, are hidden. He grabs his mask. "Excuse me, this is a top secret--" "Steve." Old man Bucky steps solidly to Cap as Cap stands. Bucky salutes. "James Barnes, reporting for duty, sir!" "Bucky!" Cap grabs the man in a bear hug. (This reminds us that Cap is very much still a lost little boy.) "Not a day older than I saw you last." I think the General is Cap's initial mentor in modern day, but Cap can't really trust him. Bucky he can trust implicitly. If you know anyone from this area especially who fought in WWII, there isn't anything they wouldn't do for each other. Perhaps it's played out, but we could time this across Christmas. (And Bucky invites him to celebrate it with him and his family and grand kids as his old friend Steve.) There's another chap, The Patriot who was Cap for some period time after the war. Also, Bucky was replaced for a short time by Golden Girl whom Patriot married later.

R.I.P. BUCKY BARNES kid sidekick, boy hero. In the comics, during final battle of WWII era, Bucky was killed. When the Avengers found Cap frozen in ice, Cap was still racked with guilt over Bucky's death. The boy sidekick was a staple of newspaper strips and early comic strips. This invention was so that the main hero could have someone to talk to and the kid sidekick could in turn demonstrate exposition. Also good for getting into peril and needing to be saved or as comic relief. The main reason sidekicks were useful was that they appealed to younger audiences who followed the daring exploits along with the adults. The boy sidekick was a device to attract immigrant readership with their general slapstick appeal.

That sounds like another excellent layer of conflict for Cap. It may force him to rely all the more on the General-- someone the audience doesn't know if we can trust.

To be continued! Tune in Friday!

The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.
-Samuel Adams

The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.
-Benjamin Disraeli


  1. Sergeff Suomi write:

    These are wonderful, creative discussions, guys! I'd love to see them made into a graphic novel or film. So what if there's a new Cap film this summer. There's always room for improvement!

  2. Thank you for your comment Sergeff. We actually started these discussions in 2008 and maybe as early as 2007. I just edited an Iron Man post which we will publish in a few weeks and it is dated January, 2007. The fact is that Ben and I have been discussing the hazards and benefits of comics to film projects for as long as we can remember. It was not until we hit upon talking about Cap that we spoke in more practical and mythic terms. It has been a tremendous exercise in writing.

    Many surprises lay ahead for Cap. As we try to find different ways to tell his story. It has become clear that there is abundant material for those who look and the WWII era is a fascinating one. This is also both a love letter to film from Ben and I and a clear rebuke to all the corner cutters, be they directors, writers, actors or studios who only see comic characters as cash cows and therefore do not look any deeper into the characters than they have to.

    Where do we go from here? In case of emergency break the ice.