Why I Should Write For Hollywood (WISWFH): Marvel Comics’ ‘Deathlok’
I have always thought that one of Marvel’s missed opportunities at a movie during the start of their films with X-Men & Blade, was Deathlok. Who is Deathlok, and why do I think he is one of Marvel’s better chances for a film adaptation?
Deathlok would be a perfect movie for this reason: When Michael Collins, a well-known scientist and pacifist, discovered his employeers were behind illegal weapons designs, he finds his brain placed in a cybernetic weapon known as Deathlok. However, he is able to gain control of this weapon. Realizing what he has become, Michael must wage two wars, an external one to gain his original body against the evil corporation that turned him into what he is, and an internal battle against his own AI, that merely wants to kill everything in it’s way to help Collins accomplish his goal.
Do you not see the potential here? You have a pacifist trapped in a death machine. Said death machine is always telling Michael the easiest way to accomplish his goals, but he constantly tells it to explore other, non-lethal options.
Throughout the comic, much of the dialogue is like this:
MICHAEL: They’re shooting at us. We need to stop them.
COMPUTER: Recommend rapid fire shot to all 5 targets.
MICHAEL: No, find another way!
COMPUTER: There is only a 17.80% chance you will survive without using lethal force.
MICHAEL: I don’t care!
You already have a conflict, where one man refuses to give into the easy tools at his disposal and chooses to live life according to his beliefs, no matter what has happened to him he refuses to compromise his beliefs and take the easy way through life. And what do most heroes do? They don’t kill. This writes itself.
Then, there’s the hope. You see, Michael Collins wants to be human again, but is it even possible? Well, his original body is still around, being kept alive in a tube, and his former employer holds the keys to making him human again. But will Deathlok kill just to get his life back? Well, of course he won’t, but you need to make it appear that he might compromise his beliefs near the end of the movie. There could even be a tragic ending where he sacrifices his body to not kill someone, but in the end, despite the fact he can never be human again, he still has his soul, and that’s all he needs to remind himself of who he once was.
So, there you go. You have a pacifist struggling with the fact he is now a weapon of death. He has to fight an AI that would rather kill to keep itself alive. He has to fight evil henchman and some robotic boss at the end that threatens to kill people somehow. He has to fight his desire to compromise his beliefs to be human again. And don’t forget his wife, who he can never visit because of what he has become (who might or might not be kidnapped by the corporation to convince him to do what they want). And, just imagine how many unique scenes you can create that GO AGAINST the tradition action movie. You have set-ups for normal shoot-outs, but Deathlok finds a way to win non-lethally. Get crackin’ Marvel!
There are many Deathlok characters in the marvel universe, and this one is based on the 1990’s version, who had his own series for 4 years.