Screenwriter Max Landis (“American Ultra”) is a self-confessed geek; “Man of Steel” is a somewhat-underwhelming Superman film that people are hoping will be improved by its sequel. So it only makes sense that the two of them would combine — at least, in a fantasy setting — for some intriguing plot ideas.
In a video for Screen Junkies, the hot Hollywood writer pitches his ideas for where Superman should go next, and many of them are quite good.
“I’ve loved the character of Superman since I was very little,” says Landis, who wrote the quasi-superhero hit “Chronicle,” and is currently writing a series of comics based around Clark Kent.
“In the wake of destruction of over half of Metropolis at the end of ‘Man of Steel,’ Superman is a universally-reviled figure,” Landis says, beginning his sequel pitch. “Clark Kent…has PTSD and has given up being Superman. ”
Much of the plot revolves around the aftermath of the epic Superman/Zod battle and its 9/11-like destruction of the city. But before the shamed, reviled Kent can leave with his tail tucked between his legs, he has one last interview for “The Daily Planet.”
“He goes to interview Lex Luthor, he doesn’t understand why he’s been chosen,” says the screenwriter. “[Luthor] is basically an evil Elon Musk. But when you’re sitting there with him, and he’s Tom Hanks, he seems great.”
Landis would want to cast the affable Hanks in the villain role, contrasting the universal like-ability of the “Castaway” star with the Luthor stereotypes. “I can repair your image,” Luthor says to Clark Kent. “We’re going to start branding you.”
That’s right, Luthor would take down Supes by employing a weapon far more powerful than kryptonite: Public Relations. “Suddenly, we’re getting into all the stuff we never saw in ‘Man of Steel’,” says Landis. “Him saving people, him going places [to fix world problems].”
“That’s when a guy breaks into Clark’s home — it’s a guy in a bat costume,” explains the writer. “[Batman says] if you work for me instead of Luthor, as an agent of Batman, we can pull together Earth’s greatest heroes.”
Landis then goes into great detail about how Luthor would convince Superman to hunt down The Flash (“His powers are out of control”), Wonder Woman (“She kills lots of people”), Green Arrow (“Another vigilante!”) and Martian Manhunter (“A monster!”). “By the time you get to the third act, he’s captured all of them,” says Landis. “And that’s when Luthor reveals: ‘What you’ve created is a sovereign force. More powerful any that has ever existed on Earth…no nation can stand against us.”
Now tasked with killing Batman, Clark Kent begins to see that Luthor is a bad man. “The last act of the movie is Batman and Superman team up,” Landis says. “They free the Justice League, fight Luthor…and for ‘Man of Steel 3,’ I’d want to focus on Justice League vs. Doomsday.”
Getting back to the real world for a moment, we will indeed be seeing Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” next March, and from what we know some elements of Landis’ dream pitch — Superman as a pariah, the Justice League being assembled — are in the film. After hearing Landis’ intriguing pitch, however, “Dawn of Justice” suddenly has a lot to live up to.