Friday, July 15, 2011


RICK: Red Skull is Captain America's villain during WWII and an evil bent on destroying the world. Red Skull must be defeated and Captain America must win. Yet, Cap must also end up frozen in ice AND the Red Skull must get away to plot evil again. To portray this in terms of film, each scene must balanced or the ending will be flat.

BEN: I think y'all get the picture so I'm going to add a couple of notes at the end. Enjoy the show!

SUMMARY PT. 1, 2, 3 & 4
Somewhere below the Arctic Circle the Red Skull holds Cap inside a submarine. Cap is weak and bound, an easy kill for the Red Skull. We soon discover that the Red Skull has other plans for Cap. They come face to face and must fight. We pick up the story as Cap has just beaten Red Skull.


Continued from last post...INT. SUBTERRANEAN BASE - HANGAR
...Cap lands a flurry of lefts and rights until Red Skull collapses on top of a stack of crates.

How far will you go? What are you willing to do to stop me...

Until I have beaten you. That is how far.

Cap punches Red Skull directly in the face, dislodging a tooth. He is down for the count. Cap walks over and picks up his shield. The girls are huddled next to a car crying, flames still burning in the background.

You have proven to be rather resilient Captain America.

Cap turns to find Red Skull standing, leaning heavily against some crates. He is obviously injured and cupping both hands against his chest.

You are defeated Skull and I will take you to justice.

My scientists argued against it. Said it could never work. He understood. When
I went to him with the idea of this craft, he wanted thousands of them to fill the
skies over London as troop and ammunitions carriers. It would have been
victory plucked out of the jaws of defeat.

Cap prepares to launch his shield.

Red Skull takes out a fresh cigar, pinches it and lights it taking a big puff.

Come with me now.

This prototype was almost ready in the spring of this year but I could see
where things were going. Imagine forcing 60 year old men and teenage
boys into combat. It was one of many signs Steve Rogers.
Do you follow my meaning?

H-how do you know know my name?

Your name? I know many things about you. Your parents, where you are from
and I know your many illnesses. Yes I do. This should have made you bitter
about your country I would have thought.

I love my country.

...And you have proven it many times over.
(Takes long puff on cigar)
Do you ever ask yourself, "why me?" Has it ever occurred to you to question
your fate? How did you find yourself at Project Rebirth. Surely, there were
other candidates more qualified than you...

I was pulled out of line at an enlistment center...

Why? Why do you think that was? You were so frail. Why did you get pulled
aside? Wouldn't everyone else in that line have been better?

You are trying to confuse me. They wanted to offer me a chance...

A chance? What if I told you it was no coincidence? What if I told you you were
picked out of that line because I, the Red Skull, wanted you picked out?

Just keep quiet.

Cap takes two steps forward and clenches a mighty fist. Red Skull leans even more heavily.

Project Rebirth was started by three of my German researchers in 1919, working
in America. Did you know that? The secret nature of their undertaking gave them
free reign. One is still alive and working for your government. Can you believe it?
The first batch of subjects was selected at random in 1924, the year you were
born. When you were three a bad strain wiped out all of the other subjects.
Yet, you survived, curiously.

Are you saying I was born into the program? I don't believe you.

No. I am saying you were the program. Batch after batch produced high mortality
rates yet you always seemed to survive each test. Your parents could not have
been any more concerned for you. You are 17 and trying to sign up, Japan
had bombed Pearl Harbor and we were now all in the war together.

Why are you telling me this?

Don't you see Stevie, that's what your mother called you. I started the program!
I knew who you were and working in America was the only safe place to keep
the formula and the research away from the prying eyes that would have
perverted it. I wanted it for the Fatherland, for myself. I needed just one
more test. I needed you Steve to perfect my formula. When you
succeeded I had the equation for the serum sent to me.

Do you know what I had in my hands? Do you realize what I had gone through to get it?
Yet something got lost. In haste, mistakes were made. People got killed. Something vital in
English didn't make it to Germany or through Enigma. My experience, the hope for
power and glory, did not kill me but left me like...
(motions hand over face)

For the first time, Cap seems to know what Red Skull is telling him.

Why would you do this?

Have you not been paying any attention? Why? Building a master race
is just a stepping stone. Your chemistry and mine are almost identical.
We are a lot like brothers....

You disgust me. Millions have died. Millions. For what? Petty dreams of power?

Red Skull pulls his lighter out of his vest pocket. With a flick of his wrist the lighter opens up into some kind of gadget.

Never liked the cold. To produce a flash freeze heat exchange effect...

Cap launches himself at Red Skull, covering the distance in a heart beat. He smashes the Red Skull with a powerful right upper cut. The lighter flies from his hand as the Skull sprawls on the deck.

How do I shut it off? What is it doing?

The temperature in the craft has gotten noticeably higher. Cap picks Skull up by the shirt collar and brings his face in close. Barrels of fuel begin exploding one at a time in the background. Fire is now everywhere.


You have beaten me today Steve Rogers but you'll never
take me alive...

Cap looks and sees the girls have vanished. The steel of the structure groans and pops. Enormous waves of heat cloud Cap's vision. Wings of aircraft are now engulfed in flame.

How do we get out of here?

The girls have taken the only escape pod. We are a quarter mile underneath the
surface of the ice. I am going to brave the heat. You'll want to get out soon.

Red Skull opens a panel in the floor. Flames shoot forty feet upward. The Red Skull grits his teeth and salutes Cap.

See you in Hell my boy...

Red Skull slides himself into the opening and immediately starts screaming. It looks as though he becomes charred ash before Cap's eyes. Cap tries to get close to where Skull was but it is impossible. Flames are now eating everything. Crates are going up. The area is a hellish inferno. Cars explode, ammo explodes, fuel explodes, paint starts melting off the tanks. Underneath Cap's feet he hears gears whirring out of control.

The only way out looked like the water in the middle of the structure. As he takes a huge gulp of air, makes the leap, feet first, arms at his sides and before he hits the water, the flash freeze effect kicks in. The temperature drops rapidly. By the time he hits the water, he is already encased in a layer of four to five inches of ice. The entire vessel is frozen solid in a block of ice - not to be distinguishable from an iceberg from the air.

We pull back to see the surface with all the ice and snow. There is not a human being stirring and Captain America is nowhere to be see.

A plane flies overhead.

These the coordinates?

There's nothing here but ice.

If he's out here, he's a popsicle.

Old man wants a search. We gotta' give it to him.

Enough fuel for one more pass. Get the charts out.

Seems to be a magnetic disturbance.

Call it in. We're no heroes.

Roger that...


The scene you have just read was actually written to be more narrative than in a screenplay format. Also, it is very long compared to the amount of time on screen. To make this screen worthy, it needs to be cut in half and then cut down again in half. The action should be tighter and more dramatic. The dialogue should be crisper, shorter and more compact. In short, this acts more as a narrative guide for doing the actual first draft than as a stand alone. Still, the story of Cap's descent into the bowels of the ship to confront the Red Skull is a great place to start writing.

The action begins after the Teaser Trailer: The Cold (Emails #28). Cap has been severely beaten by the Red Skull who no longer sees him as any threat. As we discover, Bucky has been killed before these scenes start. Since the entirety of the narrative is not known, it is hard to say what is appropriate to include. This would definitely be rewritten but I place Cap specifically in three water related dangers before the final situation. First, with water over his head, Cap must retrieve the SS dagger. Second, after battling the two huge Nazi soldiers, Cap must dive in icy water to open the hatch to the lower level. Third, Cap is struck by the auto and forced into the circular opening. Each time he escapes. His final encounter ends him in a block of ice to be thawed later by the Avengers.

Red Skull must perish by fire! Fire is kinetic, hot, passionate, cleansing and symbolic of sacrifice. It also makes his exit different than Cap's. It is also a nasty, horrible way to die and decidedly painful. This can't really kill him however. His healing factor will kick in to repair the damage but could take years to do so... Think of him as a poisonous black snake with red and white markings who sheds several layers of skin to escape his enemy and fight again some day. Red Skull is power hungry, evil and arrogant. Yet, with these qualities comes paranoia. He has backup plans, escape plans, hidden weapons, hidden allies and an over abundance of ruthlessness.  What is not to love?

At the end of this scene, many questions remain. In subsequent drafts more of these questions could be answered and the story chopped down and put into a more suitable screenplay format. Writing is always about taking ideas and crafting them into their finished shape. Sometimes this process is easy and other times it is extremely difficult. The act of writing demands a keen eye for detail, patience, tenacity and a willingness to sacrifice material that doesn't serve the whole.

The journey we have taken here with Cap and the Red Skull (take a bow, gentlemen) has now reached a fork in the road. Either way you go, the important lesson of searching for character and using creativity to stretch the limits of imagination in shaping those characters has been paramount. Some, including writers, dismiss the idea of using guides like the outline for the hero's journey proposed by Joseph Campbell or the three act screenplay method described by Syd Field. There is a difference in those who write FOR structure and those who start with structure. I can't think of a better way to learn anything than to start by studying proven methods and actual cases.

VE Day! What a newsreel folks! I hope you have enjoyed this Saturday matinee 5-parter featuring Captain America and his arch nemesis the Red Skull! Next we will present a cartoon and a dusty western featuring Gene Autry!


Rick Arthur, Cartoonist, Central New York - 06/30/2011.

Bravo Rick! Well done, my friend. In today's post I would only say that it needs to be a little clearer as to what kind of structure they're in, what Skull drops into and what the freeze effect is. Of course, in any other situation, we'd have an entire film to prep the audience for this so, no biggie. It was fun! Thanks for writing. Onward to the draw-up to the First Avenger release! Hey, funny you mention Gene Autry...


  1. Cant wait to see how this will all go down in the film. Red skull has so much to live up too.

  2. In the capable hands of Hugo Weaving, with the right script Red Skull could be one of the great villains. I fear that he may be crowded out of the film by Cap and his Howling Commandos. There are so many different things that could be done with the Red Skull it will be interesting to see what Joe Johnston will do.

    We will find out soon!