So here is the follow-up to my previous Spider-Man Outline; did anyone grieve over the loss of Ben Reilly? Well, someone was missing grieving after his death (what was with me writing two depressing stories about people dealing with the loss of their loved ones? Was it because the comics I was reading didn’t appear realistic)?

      Anyway, Ben Reilly had dated Jessica Carradine right before he died. However, he found out she was the daughter of the burglar that killed Uncle Ben, and she refused to believe he was a real criminal, calling his killing of Uncle Ben an accident, and stating that Spider-Man killed him (a very lose recalling of what actually happened when the criminal returned in Amazing Spider-Man #200). She eventually took photos of Spider-Man unmasking himself to reveal that he was her boyfriend. They argue multiple times, with her refusing to believe her father was a criminal and that Spider-Man was a hero, especially when he was possessed by Carnage. That storyline really pissed me off with her character, because she was glad Spider-Man was suffering with the symbiotic on him, but couldn’t see he was resisting it and telling her and everyone else to get away because he might accidentally kill them.

      Eventually, she witnessed Spider-Man nearly die saving people in a burning building, realized she might have not been looking at the situations objectively, ran up to him and handed him the photos, then ran off. Ben is too weak to follow; he called out to her, but she had already vanished, never seen again.

      So, here is my short follow-up story to Jessica reflecting on his death when she reads it in the news, because if there was one thing I never liked about comics, it was the way they abandoned characters. I wrote this my Freshman Year of High School.

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Spider-Man: I Love Ben

      Opens with Jessica on the internet, thinking about Ben Reily, who she used to love. She is tempted, rejects, then ultimately searches for his name online, only to find his obituary; “Ben Reily Falls To Death. Spider-Man Responsible?” Pic of Spidey carrying Ben to the roof.
Jessica remembers her father in prison.

      “Listen baby, don’t worry. It wasn’t my fault. Some costume webs me up, and they think I did something wrong.” As a teenager, she cries because she heard he was a killer. “Don’t believe them, Jess. You father is no killer.”

      Next, Jessica watching Spider-Man, then taking her first picture of him. “This one will rival Parker’s.” She sells the picture to Jameson. She sees Spidey swing overhead. “One day Spider-Man, I’ll take so many pictures of your unjust acts that the world will see that my dad was right; you set people up and take the money for yourself.”

      Later, she hears from a cop that her dad is dead. Heart attack. They tell her Spider-Man was there, that he tried to break into the same house again. She blames Spider-Man, even when the cops say it was only a heart attack, it had been building for years.

      Later, Jessica meets Ben Reily, similar to how she did in the 1995 comic books. They dine, dance. They sleep together. They walk in park. “He was perfect because he wasn’t.” He shows her Steward Trainers lab? “But then.”

      Spidey taking of mask, replica of Blood Brothers cover. Her preparing camera, then after taking picture pulling back in shock.

      Jessica’s shocked reaction in three panels.

      She confronts him (like in old comics), then later sees him save some people in a burning building and realizes, that he isn’t like what her father said. He had nothing to gain, and only his life to lose. She gives him the pics and runs away as he screams her name. As she walks off, her right eye has a tear and her eyes are not visable. “Oh god. What does this say about my father?”

      The Present: Jessica on the street where Ben died, looking at the pavement, holding the newspaper printout of the picture away from her, to the side. She just stares at the sidewalk. “I forgave you long ago.”

      Picture of Ben and Jessica doing something fun. “But I never admitted that I still loved you.”

      On way to Ben’s ‘grave’, Spider-Man is a few blocks away fighting criminals. She tries to run and talk to him, but he says, “No, no need to thank me. Just be sure to say I hired them to save my falling percentage in the hero polls.” “Wait,” she says, not yelling, but he has already jumped away. “Who was that anyway? Cousin, brother…it doesn’t matter.”

End Story

Umm…was there an ending here High School Shawn? I’m pretty sure I never edited this, and I also see that the real ending should probably he her either at Ben’s grave or the sidewalk where he died; both which should have been placed after her encounter with Spider-Man. Oh well. Well, so much for that character, she will most likely never show up ever again in Marvel Comics, but at least she had a good character arc.

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      Spider-Man was THE comic book I read growing up. I remember getting every 30th Anniversary issue from my dad, and that got me interested, but the 4 separate storylines leading up to the Clone Saga got me hooked. After the clone saga hint at the end of each title (Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web Of Spider-Man, & Spider-Man) I went to Krogers (to the comic book section) and bought the first issue of the Clone Saga Storyline – Power & Responsibility. I could only afford the first issue, but when I got to the counter, I realized that the back of the comic was actually a flip comic (where the comic is reversed and has a new cover on the back) so I DID in fact have all of the story.

      However, the Clone Saga eventually ended. but there was a huge, HUGE, glaring character error that annoyed me when the saga ended. Mary Jane and Peter had a child that died stillborn, and after the next issue, they both forget they ever had a child. “WHAT…THE…HELL! Emotions don’t work that way,” my 15 year old self said out lout to no one. So, as you can guess, I wrote my own epilogue. It was the first time I ever wrote fan fiction, because I wanted to right an injustice.

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They wrote the baby out because she was inconvenient. Next you’ll tell me they’re going to write
Mary Jane out of the picture, too, because married people are too hard to write.

      Mary Jane and Peter were going to have a child, but at the same time, Peter was dying of a virus that was killing him. Previously, he had tried to ignore Mary Jane, the Bugle, and his entire Peter Parker existence due to the death of Harry Osborn and his Parents. But, his child allowed him to have something to fight for and caused him to look toward his future. He found his way back from his darkness and returned to the Peter he had become. During the Clone Saga, Mary Jane was pregnant for about 2 years (in real time), giving Peter and Mary Jane many scenes in which they plan their future. At one point, he even gives up being Spider-Man so he can raise his family.

      Then, his baby died and he forgot it even existed. So, what does Peter and Mary Jane need? Why, a graveyard scene, of course. These were something of a recurring theme in the Spider-Man books, yet the baby has never had a single g*d da** grave scene, because the writers want to pretend it never happened. He still finds the Green Goblin and laments Gwen dying, but no, never remembers, THE DEATH OF HIS OWN CHILD! If the writers continue to remember that the Gwen Stacey / Norman Osborn babies are still around, they can remember Peter and Mary Jane’s actual, natural, non-stupid-plot baby. Rant ended.

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Read that last paragraph: Osborn admits to KILLING A BABY.

      Below are adaptations of my hand written notes from high school. All bad dialogue, descriptions, and misspellings are preserved for posterity.

Lost Child – Outline

Mary Jane awakens to the rain. She says Peter’s name, then turns and finds he is not there. She lays her head on her pillow, then hears a babies voice. “Mommy, mommy.” The baby tugs at MJ’s blankets and asks for breakfast, but when she turns to look at her child, she instead sees Peter bruised, in costume, his mask off. Says he fought someone that wasn’t in his rogues gallery. Peter looks at MJ and sees her face, “Is something wrong?” She say no. He goes to bed and passes out. MJ sits in her bed for a few panels, then grabs her coat and heads outside.

She walks around, only to have a little girl tug at her. “Did you forget me mommy.” MJ pats the little girl then holds her hand along the sidewalk. They head over to a park, despite it being dark. “Yay, the swings.” The little girl runs over to the swings. Then MJ’s face when she watches her try the monkey bars. The girl tries the monkey bars, then falls into dirt below. MJ’s expression in one of concern, but not danger. Girl gets up and MJ half-smiles. Girl dusts herself off and runs up a slide.

Peter wakes up, only to find MJ gone. “Strange, isn’t this suppose to work the other way?” He looks at MJ open the door. Peter looks at MJ as she sits on the bed. She looks down at the sheets. Peter asks her what’s wrong. Next panel same as before only with Peter’s shocked face as he realizes what day it is. “Oh my god. I’m so sorry.”

“There’s a reason you forget her, I think. As long as you pretend you never saw her, she never existed. She was real Peter, she was inside of me.” MJ’s tears. Peter embraces her. “I wanted her so bad, Peter. Our little May.” Peter: “I did, too.”

MJ wipes her tears away. “It’s never going to happen again, is it?” Peter: “I want it to.”

MJ, “But? What if someone takes her away from us?” Combine with image of Green Goblin taking their girl away. Then, Chamelon disguised as Peter taking a boy away.

“They could raise him against me, kill him, torture him.” Green Goblin dunks girl into Goblin formular tank, while one rogue who knows him just points a gun directly at a boy’s head.

Peter looks down. “I still remember his words.”

Flashback – Green Goblin with Peter beaten, showcasing his scar. Green Goblin: “What I did to you girl was to make up for what you did to my Harry.” (Nice sentence, Shawn)

Peter leans on head, “It’s all my fault.”

“Peter, it’s not. You aren’t the one who did any of these things.”

“What’s going to happen when he grows up? Will he put himself in danger all the time, like I did?”

MJ: “If she’s like you, could you really blame her.”

Peter ponders that question for a moment with his hands closed together. “No, because I’d understand her reasoning for everything.”

MJ – “It’s always going to be like this, isn’t it?”

“Maybe, when I retire, or…”

“Retire?” Yells MJ, looking at him. “You have the world on your shoulders for everything. You would never retire, until…”

She leans into his chest. “I don’t ever want to lose you.”

“I wish we could, knowing he would be safe.”

MJ smiles through the tears, and pinches his cheecks. “How do you know it won’t be a girl?”

Peter: “Well, I have a sixth sense about these things.”

MJ: “Don’t you mean a seventh sense?”

They put their heads together and smile, holding each other’s face in their hands.

The Next Day

They stand over a grave that says: May Parker: Beloved Daughter. MJ and Peter both place a flower at the grave. MJ looks up to see little May sitting on her tombstone. “Don’t be sad, we just need some ice cream?” MJ smiles then Peter lifts May onto his back. May holds his back. “Look, I’m crawling on you like a wall. I’m Mrs. Spider-Man.” Peter turns to MJ, and kisses her. “I believe that already applies to one lady.”

Little May says, “Gross. I don’t ever wanna kiss anything.”

MJ and Peter laugh, with the panel showing the back of all three people, with Peter and MJ with little Peter holding May’s left hand, and MJ holding her right hand. The next panel, however, is MJ and Peter close together, holding each other at the waist. They hold each other as if they will fall down without the other, imagining the life their child could have had as they leave the graveyard.

End Lost Child Outline

      So, there you have my totally-not-depressing story about Peter and Mary Jane dealing with the loss of their child one year later. Written by 15 year old Shawn Padraic Murphy.

      Superman. Back in high school I read his adventures right as he died. Yes, I read the Death of Superman with millions of other people. However, unlike most, I stuck around the comics for almost 2 more years after he returned. Most of the stories were pretty bland, causing me to give up the title. However, one particular villain and story stood out and has remained in my head as an essential Superman villain – Conduit (created by Dan Jurgens), who I think would be the perfect Movie Villain (this is the only middle/high school notes I made that I believe would still work today regarding my ‘Hollywood’ column).

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      Unfortunately, Conduit appeared in 2 stories, but they were both rather long and really, really good. He is THE perfect movie screen villain to counter Superman. Why? He is someone Superman can’t get close to due to his kryptonite body and energy-draining metal tentacles (he can take Superman’s punch because they are only normal punches to him). He was Clark Kent’s athletic rival in school, and was always 2nd place and has an inferiority complex. And, he knows Superman’s secret identity and has a close and jealous relationship with him, making the stakes more personal and dramatic between the two. Beside, regardless of who it is, the villain always has to get personal in movies, and here the work is already done for you.

      The only Superman movies I had seen at the time were Superman II and the comics adaptation of Superman IV, so let’s head back to that time period and check out my old notes for the way MY Superman movie should have gone down.

First, Conduit’s comic back story.

      Kenny Braverman’s parents were giving birth to him on the side of the road because their car crashed on the way to the hospital. Meanwhile, Superman’s spaceship (carrying baby Kal-El/Superman/Clark Kent) landed at the same time. It emitted radiation that, while unharmful to normal people, WAS harmful to human beings that were not fully developed (aka Baby Kenny Braverman).

      Despite his handicap of radiation poisoning, he became an accomplished athlete, but it wasn’t good enough for his father, who only wanted him to be the best, and constantly wanted him to be like Clark Kent, who was the best in academics and sports (and who always beat Kenny at sports). Scenes of Clark and Kenny at high school are interspliced along with Kenny’s thoughts about how jealous he was at Clark, despite the fact they were also friends.

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      Kenny gives himself up at experimentation to help his failing condition, and develops kryptonite based powers. On his first mission, he is thwarted by Clark Kent doing journalism somehow (it’s been a long time since I read this). His anger seething, he plots to escape his government experimenters and kill Clark Kent once and for all.

      Years later, Superman fights the villain Conduit at the same time Kenny is traveling in Metropolis. At the end, Superman discovers who he is. In the 2nd storyline, Clark’s family house explodes, as Conduit has discovered who he is, his parents and Lois are presumed dead, and a Superman with nothing to lose and on the run has to fight his desire for revenge that conflicts with everything he believes about justice.

Now, my movie version.

      The main villain would be Brainiac. Why? Because he hadn’t been in a movie and I didn’t know anything about him in 1994. Kenny Braverman trying to kill Clark Kent would be the subplot of the movie, trying to kill him and frequently finding him gone, interspliced with scenes of Kenny and Clark becoming friends from Clarks point of view (basically everything I summed up above) then slowly revealing Kenny’s resentment, and Clark just assuming he moved on to other friends. As Conduit, Kenny and Superman have one brief fight halfway through the film. Conduit escapes because he isn’t interested in fighting him, he only wants to find and kill Clark Kent, and Superman can’t see who it is because kryptonite blocks his x-ray vision (whatever, this is MY movie universe). If he found out it was Kenny now, it would interfere with his struggle for the main movie plot.

      At the end, Braniac is defeated, and Lois and Clark have a wedding at Clark’s family home. But then, someone blows up his home with his parent’s inside, creating a cliffhanger that leads into the 2nd movie.

      And yes, I wrote an entire outline about the subplot, but didn’t write anything about the ‘main’ movie plot, because what I was really trying to write was the 2nd Superman movie in my two-part series and make it serialized.

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      So, in Superman 2: Superman finds the burnt bodies of two people (but doesn’t realize that they are fakes). Kenny has kidnapped his parent’s because he needs someone to vent to throughout the movie, but also because he wants to keep Superman in check with hostages. A distraught Clark gets a message to meet and he runs away as Superman. Here, Conduit reveals he is Kenny, and he and Superman fight, setting the stage for the rest of the movie about what the villain wants. Also, we see the flashback sequences from the first movie, only now they are in Kenny’s point of view, which dramatically changes the way Clark (and the audience) thought about them. Superman tires to reason with him, and we get home events about Kenny’s verbal abuse (he’s not a physical abuser) that Clark never knew about. He asks Kenny why he never told him anything, and that he was his friend and would have helped him, but Kenny is beyond reason or listening, and says he lured him in the open for one reason, to kill Lois. And says ‘Clark has everything, and I want to take it all away’. Lois is almost killed, but escapes.

      Using the remains of Braniac from the first movie, Conduit is able to interface and take over his systems and robots to scout for Lois, who goes into hiding. She should appear throughout trying to contact Superman, and investigate the Government (and call up her contacts) who gave Kenny his powers so she can find a weakness for Superman to exploit. It also gives Superman things he can destroy and fight throughout the movie (that get harder and harder as the movie goes on, as shown why below)

      After the 1st battle against Conduit, Superman feels weakened, and then comes to a realization that he can’t use one of his powers anymore, and that the more he fights Conduit, the less powerful he becomes. Conduit is trying to weaken him until he becomes just a ‘normal, worthless man like I used to be’ and then kill him. This also gives the movie heightened drama, as Superman slowly loses his powers, while Conduit gets harder and harder to beat with each confrontation. There should only be 4 confrontations MAX so the audience doesn’t get bored.

      Eventually Lois gives Superman the info he needs to defeat Conduit, but he sees an explosion behind her on the video monitor and assumes she died. Angry, at the lost of his parents and Lois, Superman is determined to kill Conduit, but as he fights him for the final time, he has flashbacks to his parent’s raising him as an honest, good, and moral individual; especially since he has so much power.

      Finally, he defeats Conduit, and refuses to kill him, because that’s not who he is. He would be betraying his parents, Lois, and himself.

      I never actually wrote Conduit’s final outcome. Would he vow revenge? Would he die of his own devices like in the comic storyline? Or maybe he finds redemption and accepts Superman and Clark as his friend somehow and lets his parent’s go as a last act of good will? Who knows why I never wrote this final part. Also, I didn’t seem to write any notes about doing anything useful with his parent’s and Kenny’s scenes talking to them. Way to write effective stories there 12 year old Shawn).

      Also, after this battle, Superman finds he will never be as powerful as he once once was because he was exposed to so much kryptonite in such a short time, but he will adjust, for he is still committed to fighting for truth, justice, and the American way.

      DC made a serious mistake in never bringing this character back from the dead. In my mind, Conduit is the quintessential Superman villain.

      Ok, so almost all of these posts for Why I Should Write For Hollywood are bad ideas from high school, but this is one I created in grad school. And I think it could really work as a movie, just take out all the magic and supernatural elements. Whoa…put down the blade fanboy. Now I know most people think ‘mainstreaming’ something is removing the interesting parts, but hear me out.

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I want to turn audible history’s first superman…

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Into this.

      When in high school, I loved the Beowulf story. While at grad school I was always trying to write new ideas, but one of those wasn’t new at all; it was a retelling of the Beowulf story as if Beowulf was a celebrity detective, and altering the story to fit into a traditional 3 act structure so all 3 stories connected instead of being 3 separate stories.

      Now, here is the initial concept in one page from my old discontinued Microsoft Works file from 2004.

Detective Beowulf Concept

     A mighty celebrity detective (who has cameras follow him everywhere) is sent to stop the serial killer known as The Beast (Grendal). Beowulf boasts how easy it is for him to track anyone. The mayor holds a feast for him since the detective that has never lost a case is coming to help him. He tricks Grendal into attacking the mayor’s house, and rather than cuff him, finds Grendal’s arms too big for regular cuffs. Beowulf fights him and takes his arm (somehow), but The Beast gets away. Though he is not caught, they know Grendal will never return, but his mother does, and she brings a lawsuit against Detective Beowulf for the violence against her son.

      In the courtroom, it look like Grendal’s mother will win against the physical infliction that killed her boy, citing Beowulf used entrapment and didn’t attempt to arrest him and had intentions to kill her son. Later, Beowulf finds letters that show the mother actually taught her son how to kill, and finds a letter of The Beast, thanking his mother for teaching him the thrill of killing others. Using this evidence, as well as a gun he found in her house that matched what Grendal had used to kill a few people on occasion. (However, Grendal wouldn’t use a gun, and what would the mother need it for, think so the gun can be the sword, or should the letters be the sword?) Grendal’s mother pounces at Beowulf and tries to cut him with a knife. Holding the evidence gun in his hand, it goes off and kills her.

      On the night of Beowulf’s retirement, the rising major crime kingpin has one of his front businesses robbed by a thief, and he declares war in the streets to find him. (This Kingpin also killed Beowulf’s brother and was never brought to justice for it; thereby making an emotional investment in the story, and give Beuwolf some regret at not ever being able to take him down). Beowulf then leads a batch of new cops and detectives and trains them in crime prevention (some paid off by the kingpin which eventually leave or turn on him). He has a meeting with the kingpin at the beginning and is poisoned by him unknowingly. He kills the kingpin near the end of the story, but not before the kingpin tells him he poisoned him with a slow poison, that now takes effect. Now, many rival would be crime bosses will try to fill his position. With the death of their greatest officer, the city is left open for a giant crime wave/gang war.

      That is just the outline. I actually wrote the first chapter, as this was originally an idea for a book in my (I forgot) class, and I will put it up here when I am done with this blog series.

      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?

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      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.

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      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!

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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.