The original post for this episode can be found here.
John August: Today’s podcast contains explicit language. Also, there’s a Q&A at the end of the episode. We’re going to split that off as a second episode that will air a few days later. So, enjoy.
Announcer: In a world overrun with franchises, in a time of inexhaustible umbrage, one man must stand alone with another guy because it’s kind of a teamwork thing. To bring you the Scriptnotes Summer Superhero Spectacular.
John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.
Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin. Oh, thank you.
John: Thank you. And this is The Scriptnotes Summer Superhero Spectacular.
Craig: Yes. I had no idea that that was going to happen.
John: This is all a surprise to Craig.
Craig: Everything is a constant surprise to me. I had no idea that was going to happen. I didn’t know how many chairs were going to be up here. I’m totally unprepared.
Oh, no, wait, I’m prepared today.
John: You printed out your Three Page Challenges.
Craig: Woo! Printed out my Three Page Challenges. I have questions.
John: That’s fantastic.
Craig: Yeah. I hope those people showed up.
John: I think they did. We hope they showed up.
Craig: You don’t mind if I check my email?
John: Yeah. Check your phone. That’s good. We’re just doing a podcast here. It’s fine.
Craig: Oh. Hi!
John: Hello! So, we should explain to people listening at home that we are here at the Writers Guild Theater at an event sponsored by the Writers Guild Foundation. Let’s thank the Writers Guild Foundation for having us all here tonight.
So, Craig and I are up on stage by ourselves at this moment. We’re going to have some fantastic people up on stage to talk about superheroes, to talk about the pages that people sent in.
Craig: Yes. It’s a big time show.
John: It’s a live Three Page Challenge. It’s going to be a very big show.
Craig, tonight we’re talking about superheroes, but really most scripts have heroes of some kind. What makes a superhero different?
Craig: Well, superheroes — I’m just giving you the answer I think.
John: Sure. There’s no wrong answers, except that there are.
Craig: There are. [laughs] Superheroes are humans usually, but occasionally human-like aliens —
Craig: Who wear costumes, and because they’re heroes not villains, they fight crime. And they are either — I know this because I played the Marvel role playing game, not that I was a dork or anything —
John: No, no. It’s well established. It’s canon that he was not a dork.
Craig: They’re either mutants. Or they’re altered humans. Or they’re aliens. Or they’re just obsessive, like Batman for instance, who is just mentally ill.
John: Yeah. He’s kind of crazy.
Craig: Right. That would be my definition.
John: So, your definition is a person who is, a hero who is more than just an ordinary person in a very special — there’s something about them that is special.
Craig: Like super.
John: Super. Super is a crucial part of it.
Craig: So, they’re a hero that’s super.
John: Okay, so more than an ordinary hero?
John: All right. Well established. But where did superheroes come from? Like if we go back through time how do we figure out where superheroes came from. We talked about archetypes on the last episode. So, what is the superhero archetype?
Craig: Well, we were talking about mythology the other day and I think that mythology is, you know, gods in the old days — like now God is just a concept or whatever Oprah says God is, or so on and so forth. But in the old days gods would actually — there were many of them and they would show up and talk to you and meddle in your affairs and help you out and give you advice.
And so those were probably the first templates, but there were also if you want to be really specific there were certain humans like Achilles or Hercules that were humans that were champions. Goliath. And the idea of a champion I think is probably where the superhero came.
John: Yeah. So, it’s a human but they’re more than just human. They’re touched —
Craig: They’re super.
John: Well, yes, they’re super. We’ve established that. But they’re touched by something god-like. So, if you talk about the Greek heroes, you talk about Hercules, he is literally like a half — he’s a demigod, he’s a half god.
John: So, superheroes have been around for quite a time, they just haven’t always worn capes. They used to wear —
John: Sandals. Togas. Which brings us to our first guest because she’s actually writing one of those superheroes. Andrea Berloff is writing Conan —
Craig: Andrea Berloff.
John: Andrea Berloff, come up here.
Craig: Berloff. Here, I’ll move down.
John: Sit here.
Craig: Put you there. You can go there.
Andrea Berloff: Is this like between two ferns, it’s between two writers?
Craig: Andrea Berloff! Andrea Berloff.
Craig: You know what I’ve always wanted to say to you?
Andrea: No what?
Craig: Andrea Berloff, straight outta Compton. Crazy motherfucker named Berloff!
Andrea: Crazy motherfucker named Berloff. [laughs]
John: Andre Berloff, what is the deal with Conan? When someone says like, “Hey, do you want to write the Conan movie” and you’re like — ?
Andrea: Hell yeah.
John: So tell us about that character. What is it about that character that makes you want to write him?
Andrea: You know, he’s just a guy who’s angry, he’s so angry, and so am I.
John: He’s a barbarian, in fact.
Andrea: He’s a barbarian and so am I. And I get to just be angry every day and get my foot — no, I’m kidding. But not really. He is who every little person wants to be. He wants to be the guy — he is the guy who is writing wrong, who is kicking ass, and who just doesn’t want to have a conversation about it. He’s just going to get the job done.
John: So, when you go in to talk about the Conan movie, first off, are you saying “Cone-in” or “Cone-an?”
Andrea: I say “Cone-an.”
Craig: Oh, it’s “Cone-an.” “Cone-in” is —
Andrea: “Cone-in” is O’Brien.
John: He hosts a talk show.
Craig: He’s that albino on TV. This is —
John: Yeah. He’s the one who sort of got screwed out of a late night talk show. Yeah.
Craig: Conan is Stuart’s real dad. Conan.
John: Oh, Conan.
Craig: Where is Stuart?
John: No, no, we’re going to establish Stuart later on.
Craig: Oh, okay, because I’ve got something to say about Stuart later.
John: All right. We’ve got a lot to say about Stuart. We have a Three Page Challenge here and Stuart is integral to the Three Page Challenge.
So, you go in to talk about doing a Conan movie, what are you saying? What is the thing that gets you that job in that room? What are you talking about?
Andrea: God if I know. I think, look, I think when you take on one of these iconic characters there is so much that you have to consider. You have to number one come up with a new story because it can’t just be, “Oh, I liked episode 47 from the 1978 series.” It’s got to be something exciting that’s both going to satisfy the fans and bring in tons of new people who don’t really know anything about this character. And why should I be watching this character.
So, I think for me it’s keying into the few sort of iconic things that the fans love, but then also bring in a lot of special sauce to it. And for me that’s really digging down deep in the character. And I don’t want to approach a superhero character any differently than I would approach any other character. They’ve got to have motivation and all the great elements that people who have MFAs know how to talk about better than I do. [laughs]
John: Well let’s talk about what are the iconic things that people expect in the Conan movie from your perspective. What are the things — if you don’t match this list then you’re not a Conan movie?
Andrea: It’s funny. I had things that I thought were iconic Conan things and then as I’ve been working on the project I get sort of feedback where I’m like people go, “He’s got to be punching a horse.”
Craig: He’s got to punch a horse. That was what I was going to say. You have to punch a horse.
Andrea: And a camel. Got to punch a —
Craig: Is he punching a horse?
Andrea: I can neither confirm nor deny about horse punching. However —
Craig: He should punch like an elephant. Like make it bigger.
John: How about a zebra? A zebra? Any other ideas or suggestions for animals he could punch?
Craig: You don’t punch a zebra. That’s horrible.
Andrea: A kitty cat. What if Conan — ?
Craig: No, no, you punch the horse.
Andrea: The horse. Right. So, my point is I feel like there are iconic things such as, you know —
Craig: Punching the horse.
Andrea: Punching a horse. Maybe spinning a wheel. That doesn’t mean that things are going to end up in the movie. I make no promises.
Craig: You mean that thing where he’s pushing the wheel like, “Argh.” Yeah, you got to push that wheel.
Andrea: Right. I make no promises however. But, you know, there are sort of these iconic moments, but more than that it’s a guy who just cannot stand people telling him what to do when he doesn’t —
Craig: Well, that’s the thing. Conan is an interesting character because, I mean, my memory of those movies and even reading some of the comics and stuff like that is that he’s not an angst-ridden character because Conan is set in a prehistoric time where there’s no angst. You know what I mean? Like Batman is super angsty. And we’re going to talk to David Goyer in a bit and Captain America gets really angsty about politics.
Conan doesn’t care about politics. Conan doesn’t vote, you know what I mean?
Andrea: No. No. There’s a right and a wrong and you do what’s right —
Craig: Conan really is just like that horse, like the camel spit at me, I’m punching the camel.
Andrea: Is in my way.
Craig: Right. So, what’s the — is it helpful in a way to kind of have a character whose motivations are simplified down to that sharp point of I want this, I’m angry at that?
Craig: That’s great.
Andrea: Yes. Anything to not have to come up with more stuff and be creative I will take. [laughs] You know, it’s really great to have, you know, when he reaches a fork in the road you know which fork he’s going to take. He’s going to take the fork that is the proper fork to take. There’s no like, “I don’t know, maybe I should take…” No.
Craig: There’s no angst.
Andrea: There’s no angst.
Craig: Conan’s not Jewish.
Andrea: Craig —
Craig: How did they pick you for this? I don’t understand. It’s so interesting. I’ve known you for such a long time. I know —
Andrea: I don’t know what your vision is of me, but I am a tough woman.
Craig: I just imagine you like Yenta from Fiddler on the Roof, just like, “What? Conan, what, Conan?”
John: Now, Craig, we established that she came in with special sauce.
Craig: Oh, she had special sauce.
John: So, talk about special sauce. Talk about like going into that room to talk about like this is why we make this Conan movie versus all of the other Conan movies. Are you talking about the main context of other superhero movies or what are you talking about?
Andrea: Yes, but again, you don’t want to just be derivative of everything else. You don’t want to point to everybody else’s successful superhero movie and say, “It’s got some of this and it’s got some of that.” For me it went back to, again, the character. Here’s why this character is special.
And I’ve been writing this for Arnold Schwarzenegger who is the embodiment of that role, so it’s not this abstract, you know, “It’s got to be a handsome guy who’s really strong.” No, it’s Arnold, and so you have to be able to write to Arnold and use his skills. And so I think it’s —
John: That can be incredibly helpful. As writers, to have a limitation like that, like it has to be this person. It’s like all those other choices just melt away because like those other choices don’t make sense with Arnold Schwarzenegger. These are the things that make sense.
Andrea: And, you know, there are limitations. He’s not a 20-year-old guy, so you’ve got to write for Arnold. The story has to be created around Arnold, so that has a whole —
Craig: But the idea of the aging hero.
Andrea: I love it. That’s what excited me.
Craig: It always works. I don’t know how you would do this movie today but, you know, like Chuck Bronson movies, he was just an old guy. He was like, I think, I guess his revenge genre, I mean, he was already in his 50s. He was small. [laughs]
John: But he was angry.
Craig: He was angry.
John: Anger is a thing that doesn’t diminish with age. Anger can actually harden.
Andrea: But it was also the era in which those movies were successful. People were angry. Feel disenfranchised.
Craig: They wanted that guy. Yeah, they wanted like Bernie Goetz. But, there is something about the Conan mythos that also speaks to a very primal, simple, masculine fantasy. And I’m kind of curious how you approached that. And I don’t like asking questions like “as a woman” because it’s all like as writers, so forget woman/man. But how do you approach the concept of masculinity when you’re writing a character like Conan and your writing in a tradition where you know the Frazetta paintings of the boobies and everything. Is that something you go for?
Andrea: Who doesn’t like boobies?
Craig: Well I love them. But do you go for that?
Andrea: Well, I don’t know that I’m going for boobies. I don’t know that that’s my goal. But —
Craig: Have you tried it?
Andrea: But…I thought there’s so many ways I can answer that and none of them are really funny in the end.
Craig: We don’t need funny, just interesting.
Andrea: Just true.
Andrea: You know, I don’t like to approach it… — Look, I tend to write male-driven movies anyway. That’s just where I’m most comfortable. And I always say I like to write male-driven movies because I understand women too well. And just as you said, the superheroes that are more complicated in terms of, you know, oh, should I do this, should I do that — I’m not into that. And I find that women characters, and I’m not disparaging women, I love women —
Craig: Me too.
Andrea: Do that. Women, you know, women process things a lot more. There’s an article in the New York Times today that a new study came out that showed that women take a longer time to make a decision because they want more facts. And men are very comfortable making the decision without all the facts.
Andrea: Which I found really interesting. I was like, of course.
John: Conan. Yeah.
Andrea: I don’t know that we needed or an article.
Craig: Yeah, sometimes you just, I’m like I decided to punch the camel in the face.
Andrea: Right. And when you’re a writer it’s really nice to have that black and white stuff when in real life life is not so black and white and not so easy. So, for me I kind of love the more hyper masculine, if you want to call it that quality I can go. I love it. It’s fun.
John: This seems like a great time to bring up other writers who are working on this image of masculinity in a black and white world and the complications of that. Can we bring up Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Craig: Let’s do it.
John: Who write Captain America.
Craig: Let’s. Let’s bring them up. I’ll just keep moving people down. Hey, nice to meet you.
John: Thank you, sir. So, we’ve been talking about a barbarian. Is it safe to call Captain America a boy scout?
Christopher Markus: Hmm, I mean we rebel against it, but it’s the easy —
John: So, rebel, rebel, tell us. Tell us how you describe Captain America, because you’ve done two of these now. So, talk to us about —
Christopher: He’s the 90-pound man. Regardless of his body size, he’s a 90-pound boy who has been thwarted for a very long time. Well, about 23 years prior to his injection. And that he’s never had a chance to develop his insides, I don’t think. He’s a very nice boy. But he did not grow up as a handsome well built man. That makes a jerk. You know?
That’s a recipe —
John: Stephen McFeely, how do you feel about that?
Christopher: No, that’s a recipe for the bad guy in Revenge of the Nerds who, you know, wants to win the big ski race.
Craig: Did you say ski race?
Christopher: Ski race.
Craig: That wasn’t in Revenge of the Nerds.
Christopher: Maybe it was a yacht race?
Craig: No. But there was like an —
John: There have to be snow and mountains for a ski race. All right.
Christopher: It was a movie with a ski race. I’ve seen it.
John: So, you did the pitching, right, and he sort of just did the actual writing? [laughs] Stephen McFeely —
Christopher: I’m done here.
John: Stephen McFeely, talk to us about Captain.
Stephen McFeely: No, but the key to Captain, Chris is kind of right, that he was a hero before he was a hero. I mean, he was a hero before he was a hero. And he just needed his body to catch up to the spirit inside him. And it’s kind of…
— One of the things we figured out on Winter Soldier, the second movie, is that because of that tendency to think of him as a boy scout, the best way to get everyone on his side is to make him the underdog. And the easiest way to make him the underdog was to make the entire world corrupt that he lived in.
So, if you haven’t seen the movie, the idea is that everyone he knows and works with is a liar and is corrupt.
Craig: Kind of like screenwriting.
I want to ask you guys a question about politics. You know, screenwriting, I made that joke about Andrea Berloff being a crazy motherfucker straight outta Compton because she was one of the writers of Straight Outta Compton, the NWA story, which is as surprising as the idea that she’s writing Conan in a sense. [laughs]
Because, you know, Yenta. Fiddler on the roof.
Andrea: [laughs] Is there a point? Or you’re just going to make fun of me?
Craig: There’s a point.
John: He’s basically just going to nag on you for a long time before he gets to the question.
Craig: I’m not just making fun of you. I’m making fun of you purposefully. You’ve thrown me off my complicated —
Craig: Yes, politics. So, the hip hop was, it happened and everybody thought —
Christopher: It’s just hip hop. It’s not “the hip hop.” I just wanted…
Craig: Is it Captains America or is there just one?
John: is it Captain American?
Christopher: It’s the United States Man.
Craig: So, the hip hop started and people thought, okay, well this is cool but it’ll stop soon. And it didn’t stop. And the superhero genre in a way, the revival of the superhero genre has sort of reminded me of that because it came back with… — I mean, the Burton Batman kind of kicked off something for a while, but it wasn’t so great. And then I think Nolan came along and suddenly kaboom, everything went crazy. And it’s sort of here permanently.
And one of the things that’s happened with the superhero genre, because I do think it’s here to stay in some sort of permanent fashion, is that it has become, it seems to me, the predominant genre for screenwriters to talk about politics in America which seems kind of nuts. But it’s true. I think it’s true. And particularly with Captain America. How could it not be? It’s called Captain America, right?
So, my question for you guys is at what point as you’re now going through this and you’re writing the third one do you feel like, okay, this is actually something that we should be continuing with and going forward with, or is there any point in that genre where you feel like, “Um, can we now just do a Captain America movie that’s not about America?”
Do you know what I mean? Like do you feel jammed by that in any way?
Christopher: No, I could see like 12 movies in, because they clearly have in the comics occasionally, I think, just recently — it’s been a really long time on the Winter Soldier story and dredging up his past. And they brought a new writer on who sent him into another dimension with like dinosaurs. And it apparently works great, because he works — I don’t know how he explains his outfit in dinosaur world, like why are you wearing that?
Craig: To the dinosaurs you have to explain?
Christopher: Dinosaurs are not American.
Craig: Great point. Great point.
Christopher: But I think — we certainly don’t think of the politics first. It’s inevitable in the job he has and the clothes he wears and the friends he has that the politics will arise. But if we think of the politics first, the movie is going to suck.
Stephen: I mean, we’ve been down the polemic road before. We did the Chronicles of Narnia movies, and if you start with an agenda or a point of view.
Christopher: But it’s just a lion.
Stephen: It’s just a lion. You’re sunk. And so we start with character. Character, character, character. And in Cap’s case politics, particularly for the second movie, is the water in which he swims. And for the first movie we had to address why a guy would choose to have an American Flag outfit. That’s one of the reasons why we had to do a period movie because it made no sense for a guy to come out and go, “My first idea is put on a flag.”
Craig: I kind of love that guy, actually.
Stephen: He lives in a compound in Utah.
Craig: Yeah, cool guy.
John: So, I have a question for you guys. You guys write the Captain America movies which is fantastic. Congratulations on them. But there’s also this other movie that came in the middle called Avengers, which your character had a big role in. And so what does it feel like or what is the process by which like, “Okay, now we’re going to make your movie and all that stuff happened and you have to acknowledge it happened, but don’t acknowledge it too much.”
Stephen: Right. It’s like he’s cheating on you.
John: Tell us what that process is because it’s so different than any other process out there.
Stephen: It’s weird. We’re part of a larger machine that has a number of drivers up there, individual pods. You know, we read the scripts first, early, or as early as we’re allowed. And so we know it’s almost always Joss, like what has he done and where has he left him.
And invariably because you only call the Avengers together when you have a really big problem and the characters all meld together, but they’re not necessarily big arcs for each individual character. So, like we know where Cap ends up in Avengers 1 and then now Avengers 2. And it’s perfectly reasonable and we can use him going forward in Cap 3. And he hasn’t done anything that violates anything we’ve done.
Christopher: But it worked great actually on Winter Soldier because it stuck him into shield, which was exactly where it turned out was the most fertile for the character. Had The Avengers not happened and they just thawed him out, we would have had to probably deal with all the stuff we didn’t really want to deal with. Skirts are so short. What are these microwaves? It kind of allowed us to jump all the crap.
John: So, you guys are dealing with a character who exists in a world of many other heroes and it’s complicated and there are other things going on.
Our next guest is also dealing with that. Let’s bring up David Goyer. David Goyer, writer of Batman, and Superman, and lots of other characters. Constantine. Thank you, sir.
Craig: Just take a moment to look at David Goyer’s awesome Jewish Yakuza arms. Look at them. Look at them. Oh, yeah!
John: For listeners at home, they are covered in tattoos from the wrist on up. So, you can wear a shirt that buttons down and no one will know that you have a tremendous number of tattoos on your arm.
David Goyer: Well, that’s the deal with the, I mean, these aren’t Yakuza tattoos, but with Japanese sleeves you can wear a longs-sleeve shirt and be presentable to your grandmother.
John: Very nice. So, these guys have had to deal with a Marvel universe that is complicated and ongoing. You are in the middle of an increasingly complicated DC universe. Is it exciting, or terrifying, or both? What does it feel like to be in the middle of that process?
David: Both. It was nice to do four movies that didn’t have that headache, you know. It’s complicated. And they very eloquently… — I’m limited in what I can talk about because none of the kind of combined —
Craig: Just tell us how it ends.
David: Yeah. None of the combined stuff has come out yet.
John: So, does Batman beat up Superman? Does he have kryptonite? Tell us all the secrets.
Craig: Just tell us who wins.
David: My situation is a little different because The Dark Knight films were their own universe completely. And I mean it changed the kind of perception amongst Warner Brothers in terms of how those films would be made. And I’m not the first person to comment on it. It’s kind of interesting, like when we were growing up — I presume you guys are somewhat the same age as I am — the Marvel comic books were slightly more realistically than the DC comic books.
And it’s weird that they, like in terms of the movie world until the Winter Soldier, they kind of flipped. It’s just a weird thing that happened.
Craig: That’s right. Well, it’s that character. I mean, I’m not a huge DC fan, but Batman is my favorite character. So, I’ve always gravitated towards — I mean, I’m a big X-Men, I loved the X-Men when I was a kid especially, but Batman I always thought was the coolest character because he’s actually just psychotic. He’s mentally ill. He’s not an altered human. He’s not an alien.
John: Well, but that was a deliberate choice. Because the classic character isn’t mentally ill. It was a very deliberate shift to make that, yeah.
Craig: No, for sure. I mean, Batman, like early Batman was just ridiculous. I mean, Vincent Price was the egg head. It was nonsense. And we would run around on the playground, [hums Batman theme], and that was silly Batman. But obviously everything changed with Frank Miller.
David: Yeah. Frank was, I think, the first one to really say this guy is fucking nuts. Can we swear?
Craig: Oh, yeah, fuck yeah.
John: Apparently it’s going to be one of those dirty podcasts. So, yeah, there will be a little E in iTunes.
Craig: I mean, I called her motherfucker like three times.
David: I’m sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
But, anyway, I was just taking back to the… — Because of The Dark Knight films, those were separate but right or wrong Warner Brothers then sort of decided, well, we’re going to do these films but they’re going to be more grounded. And so that kind of led into Man of Steel and what not. But I don’t have quite the headache that these guys have had to deal with.
Craig: Well, that coordination of the Marvel pieces is really — it’s remarkable actually how well it works because all of us who have worked in Hollywood have watched —
David: But it also works because Marvel has true autonomy.
Craig: Well, that’s right. But, if you think about it the people that run any studio, at some level there’s autonomy there. Somebody has autonomy there. Somebody has autonomy, right? I have to give Marvel credit for balancing all those pieces.
David: Huge credit. Huge credit. And almost flawlessly matched together.
Craig: Almost flawlessly. I mean, I haven’t seen the flaw yet. But I have an interesting question for you, because so you were there at the birth of this new era. So, you and Chris Nolan and, it was just the two of you on the first movie?
David: The first one was just the two of us.
Craig: Just the two of you.
David: And Jonah came in on the second one.
Craig: Right. And you guys really began this thing. I give you guys full credit for that. There is this phenomenon now where you compress the amount of time required to remake something.
David: To reboot, yeah.
Craig: So, I don’t how many Spider-Mans we’re up to. I think we’re on the 19th Spider-Man of the last four months.
David: No, the windows are getting shorter and shorter. It used to be that it was like, okay, there needs to be, I mean, ten years in between reboots.
Craig: Yeah, or something, right? I mean, so like you had Keaton as Batman in like, what, ’85 or ’86?
David: Yeah, between the last Schumacher Batman and Batman Begins, I believe it was eight years.
Craig: That was a really good one, that last Schumacher one. That one was good.
David: That was eight years.
Craig: “Everybody freeze!” Good line. Because he was cold.
John: Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger. You can use that again. You can make a recall on that. He’s done.
David: Was that the one that also had inline skating?
David: So? That was cool.
Craig: Yes it was.
John: I sort of have a question for the whole panel, though.
Craig: Wait, hold on, he’s got to answer this question first. He’s got to answer this question.
John: Ask your question first so he can answer it.
Craig: What is the — I did ask it already.
David: Wait, what was the question? What’s the acceptable amount of time before you can reboot?
Craig: No. How do you deal with the fact that you’re remaking a character you just made? Right? There’s a new guy playing this part.
David: Oh, I guess that I’m one of the few people that have to do that. That was weird.
Craig: It’s weird, right? It’s not like, they did this with Bond.
David: I’ll tell you the one reason why it wasn’t as weird for me. Because I’ve actually written DC comic books. Like, I actually wrote Justice Society for four years with Jeff Johns. And so one of the things that they do in comic books all the time is reboot shit. And Crisis on Infinite Earths was like the first time they really rebooted the universe.
Craig: It was cool. I liked that.
David: But now they just in comic books seem to reboot Marvel every few years. And so in writing comic books I’d seen creators, whether it be people like John Byrne or Neal Adams or these people that do different interpretations of the same hero.
Craig: So it’s kind of that move?
David: Yeah. It wasn’t that weird to me. So, it wasn’t that weird to me to say, “Okay, this is a completely different take.” Like, if Batman Begins was a sort of fusion of Frank Miller and the kind of Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams’ Batman, it’s like the new Batman was — I’m just making this up, I’m not saying this is what it is.
Craig: Because you would get sued, of course.
David: Yes. But was like the Jim Lee Batman. Do you know what I mean? It was like a different take.
Craig: I do know what you mean. I get it. I get it.
David: Batman as done by Neil Gaiman is going to be a very different vibe than Batman —
Craig: That would be pretty cool.
David: Well, you know, Gaiman did do Batman.
Craig: Oh, he did?
David: Yeah. But I’m just saying, if there’s that — and I’m sorry. This is super geek. If I know I’m going into a movie running the Jack Kirby Batman versus the Neil Gaiman Batman, it’s going to be a completely —
Craig: You should put both those in the same movie and then we compress this down even more. Like now there are three Batmans and —
David: Grant Morrison would write that.
Craig: Okay. Very cool.
David: Like from different universes.
Stephen: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Craig: What did you have for lunch?
John: So on the topic of reboots, and we have six writers up here, we’re going to reboot some franchises. So, I have six cards here and I’m going to hand them out. And you’re going to draw a card and you’re going to reboot a franchise. So, pick anyone you want. Anyone you want.
Andrea: Can we trade if we don’t like our franchise?
Craig: You know I’m chaotic. I’m chaotic.
David: Chaotic neutral.
Craig: No, not neutral.
Andrea: Was this planned?
Craig: No, chaotic evil.
John: This event was planned. Yes. We actually sold tickets. People bought tickets.
David: This isn’t a reboot. This hasn’t been done before.
Craig: So that’s a boot.
John: So, that’s good. It’s a boot. You’re going to boot.
So, randomly people got cards. You’re going to read this. And so I think what we need to do is we need to figure out what is the modern version of this. What is the movie version of the character that you got? And also probably who is the villain or the antagonist, depending on you have? Who are they facing off against in the movie version that you’re doing?
Can you go first? So, read your person and tell us about it.
Stephen: I have Spider-Man.
Craig: Oh, thank god.
John: Congratulations, Stephen McFeely.
Stephen: Can I just mail this in?
John: You can book Spider-Man. That’s awesome. So, tell us, what’s your Spider-Man about?
Stephen: Holy crap. I’d have to know the first thing about Spider-Man.
Craig: There’s been 14 Spider-Men.
Stephen: Half-spider, half-man.
John: He’s half-spider, half-man. Tell us what he’s going to do.
Stephen: And go! Oh my god. Oh, geez.
John: You’ve got a writing partner.
Christopher: This is how it works.
Stephen: Also like Captain America was a weakling before his powers.
John: True, absolutely.
Stephen: Didn’t grow up a stud.
Craig: That’s right.
Stephen: But, I mean, I just don’t want to do that.
Craig: Use spider.
Andrea: He’s already done it.
John: So, reboot it. So reboot it.
Stephen: Alternate Spider-Man.
Christopher: But what is that? He’s Miles Morales, right?
Stephen: First of all, I would absolutely make him Latino, or African-American, or something.
Christopher: A chick.
Andrea: How about Spider-Girl?
Stephen: And then explore that. I mean, and see if you can’t, you know, the phrase I use a lot, make the water you swim in, you know, that kind of thing.
John: Oh, the water he swims in? I like that.
Stephen: Yeah, you know, well, so that the idea that he is —
Craig: Do spiders swim?
John: On top of water, yeah.
Stephen: But, I mean, I’ve seen the, I mean, I just don’t — I’ve seen the high school kid who gets bit by a spider. So, yeah, fine. But like give me the different version.
Craig: Oh, like maybe like an old person gets bitten?
Stephen: Well, but seriously, Miles Morales would do it for me. That would be interesting.
John: What if it was like, you know, he was like the old, like he’s been Spider-Man for, like he’s 80 years old and he’s been Spider-Man the whole time.
Stephen: Oh, this is the Frank Miller Spider-Man.
Christopher: The Unforgiven, Unforgiven Spider-Man.
John: Unforgiven Spider-Man.
Craig: Unforgiven Spider-Man would be awesome.
Stephen: Yeah. And the venom is killing him, you know, so there’s a ticking clock.
Christopher: Took a long time to die.
Christopher: He’s basically dying of old age.
Stephen: He never gave up his Symbiote.
Christopher: The spider is bitten by a high school kid.
Craig: The poison —
Christopher: And the spider gradually develops the powers of a high school kid.
John: Seth Rogan. Seth Rogan eats a spider. Yeah. They share a symbiotic relationship. It’s sort of like Fire Storm kind of thing? Yeah, it’s going to be good.
Craig: I like it.
John: Christopher Markus, who did you draw?
Christopher: I oddly drew the Hulk.
John: The Hulk. So he exists in your world.
Christopher: He exists in my world.
John: Yeah, so have you written anything for Hulk?
Christopher: I have never written any — I’ve never touched the Hulk. I swear. [laughs] I would have Edward Norton, he exposes himself to gamma rays. He gets turned into Mark Ruffalo. And then he has to fight Eric Bana. And whoever wins wins.
John: That’s not at all a good movie. Let’s help him out here.
Craig: Yeah, it’s pretty bad.
John: Yeah. I mean, Hulk is tough because Hulk is sort of Conan in some ways. He’s just …smash.
Craig: What about like a Flowers for Algernon kind of Hulk thing.
Christopher: That’s the whole problem.
Andrea. He has a gentle little mouse friend?
Craig: Like Hulk gets smart and stupid.
Christopher: The whole problem with The Hulk is that he, you know, everyone else becomes smarter and more interesting when they become a superhero. He becomes mentally deficient and —
Andrea: But why is he so angry?
David: Well, Hulk traditionally was Jekyll and Hyde.
Christopher: So it’s more like you expect him to sort of like crap his pants. It’s just, The Hulk. Maybe that’s what I do. He’s not angry, he’s just sort of incontinent and fat.
Craig: You’re not getting this job at all.
Christopher: He’s like, Hulk let himself go. He’s at a home. You know, he has to take the short bus. And then he makes a friend. And it’s over.
Andrea: Sounds great.
John: A thing that occurs to me —
Christopher: A bomb like all the other Hulk movies.
John: It occurs to me as we’re talking about reboots is that you have to sort of honor expectations for the character. You have to mostly do what you expect it to do. And you sort of change one thing in the world. And so Superman and The Dark Knight, he’s like a do-gooder, but he’s actually like a tool of the government and in a way that was really fascinating.
So, you take the world and you just change the one thing in it. So, what if he doesn’t become stupid?
Christopher: That’s true. But they’ve done that in the comics where —
Craig: I like smart Hulk. Smart Hulk was cool.
David: Peter David Hulk.
Craig: Right. Exactly.
Christopher: It’s difficult.
John: It’s like Ocean’s 11 but with Hulk.
Christopher: Well, it’s a little hard to slip into a casino unnoticed. “Hi. I’m Mr. Jones. I’m just checking into my room.”
John: One of my very first jobs, I was working as an assistant for these two producers and they were trying to do She-Hulk. And She-Hulk is like the most fascinating messed up creature because she’s Hulk the whole time. She never changes out of it, which I think is kind of great. She’s just big and green.
Stephen: But she’s smart, right?
John: She’s smart. She’s normal. She’s like a lawyer.
Christopher: She has the worst, most demeaning character name possible.
Craig: It is honestly —
Christopher: You’re just the female version of the —
Craig: She-Hulk, the real name for She-Hulk was Slut Hulk. That was the whole point was like, “Let’s just make a green chick with enormous boobs,” and she’s Hulk strong but not Hulk massive, so like Hulk’s muscle tone —
John: Well, she does Pilates. She gets the strength without the —
Craig: Yeah, she’s real lean, stringy, and just hot.
David: She’s still pretty chunky. I mean, she was like Chyna from the WWE.
Craig: No, she wasn’t like — you put her against an R. Crumb girl and the R. Crumb girl has got bigger booty. No. She-Hulk was —
Christopher: What was it about we’re just not women or men, we’re just writers.
Craig: No, the She-Hulk, the whole point of She-Hulk was just to appeal sexistly to 10-year-old boys. It worked on me.
Andrea: As opposed to the other superhero comic books through all eternity.
Christopher: Boys were already sort of aroused by The Hulk but they were feeling weird about it.
David: Well, that’s where I’m going.
Christopher: Let’s give them a female one. It will take some of the pressure off this adolescent.
David: I have a theory about She-Hulk, which was created by a man, right? And at the time in particular I think 95% of comic book readers were men and certainly almost all of the comic book writers were men. So, The Hulk was this classic male power fantasy. It’s like most of the people reading comic books were these people like me who were just these little kids who were getting the shit beaten out of them every day, and they’re like what if I became a giant and could clap my hands and create a sonic boom? And so then they created She-Hulk, right, who was still smart. So it was like I think She-Hulk is the chick that you could fuck if you were Hulk. You know what I’m saying?
Craig: Right. No.
David: No, I’m just saying She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy. So, it’s like if I’m going to be this geek that becomes The Hulk, then let’s create a giant green porn star that only The Hulk could fuck.
Craig: Yeah…or me.
David: If you were pretending you were The Hulk. Do you see what I’m saying?
Craig: What if I’m not The Hulk? Can I still?
John: No. No.
David: Then you would get destroyed. Your hips would break when you had sex.
John: Stuart Friedel’s whole family is here, including his grandparents, so thank you so much Friedel family for joining us.
John: We’re going to move onto our next person.
David: You said we could swear.
John: We can, yes. But we don’t need to go into like the long pornographic history of The Hulk.
Our next character? I got Storm from X-Men. And so Storm, so Storm is a really interesting character and I’m not quite sure what to do with her.
I do think that you keep her in Africa and I think you maybe start her young and you maybe do a period. So, it’s sort of like, you know, you can do something about either it’s — it could be about slavery. It could be about injustice now in Africa. But keeping it a young character. And honestly restraining her power down into like a Carrie level could be actually really fascinating.
So, you have this young woman who has incredibly control over the elements, but really can’t control her own thing could be cool. I don’t know. What else could we do with Storm?
Christopher: She has very positive power, you know, if you’re in a drought-stricken country.
John: Yeah. Well, she’s also sort of a god. We talked about in the origin story, she was worshipped as a god in some of the books.
Craig: I mean, we could have used her today, honestly. This was brutal.
John: Yeah. We’re calling out for a storm.
Andrea: I’d like to give her a nice stable relationship.
John: Ooh, I like that. Who does Storm date?
Andrea: Who does Storm date? Maybe Hulk? Maybe she’s the one who needs to stabilize Hulk. But, I mean, she’s a little stormy, right, she’s a little — and so is Hulk. And maybe together they can calm down.
Craig: See, I was right about her, right? That’s very Yenta. She’s doing it.
John: The romantic comedy version of Storm and the fella could be really fascinating, too. I don’t know who the villain is in that story, but it could be the —
John: Divorce. Divorce is the villain. Yeah.
Andrea Berloff, who did you draw?
Andrea: I mean, it’s like ridiculous. I got Wonder Woman.
John: Oh, how did you get Wonder Woman?
Andrea: I don’t know. That’s why I asked you if it was planted.
John: I’m sorry. It wasn’t planned at all. So, Wonder Woman?
Andrea: So, Wonder Woman…I feel like there’s a few ways this could go. She’s Amazonian, right? She’s got to be upset about the degradation of the rain forests, I would say.
John: Now it’s sort of — it’s sort of more Greek Isles, but that’s fine.
Andrea: I know, but, right. So, I first thought maybe she’s going to fight like, you know, some deforestation sort of… — That said, maybe her —
Stephen: Fight some loggers.
Andrea: Fight some loggers. [laughs]
Stephen: But you need a super power.
Andrea: In my version I would like to be able to pass the Bechdel test, so I would have her maybe — like there’s an Amazonian mama that she has to report to and she has a lot of sisters. And together as a band they fight evil. And then she’s left alone in the modern world, and she doesn’t belong there, and she has to get back to the women that she belongs with. And, I don’t know where that’s going.
Craig: That sounds pretty good.
Stephen: I don’t know why — you could just do a whole movie in — what’ s the name of the place?
David: In the past?
Craig: The Amazonian Island, Shangri La?
Stephen: The Amazon ladies.
Andrea: I don’t know. What’s it called?
John: I’ve said it like three times. Themyscira.
Stephen: “It’s only my damn podcast.”
Andrea: I can’t even hear you anymore, John.
Stephen: Honestly, I just heard the word and I’m like, I don’t know what he just said.
Andrea: Yeah, that can’t be correct. What is he saying?
Craig: Is that a restaurant?
John: The island is good — it’s one of those — they made the DC animated movies and in the Wonder Woman one the animated one is pretty good.
David: Why are you gesturing to me?
John: Because you’re a DC person. Because you have her in your movie.
Craig: Yeah, you did it.
Andrea: Is it Atlantis?
David: I’ve also done Blade though.
John: You have done Blade. That’s true.
Craig: I love Blade.
John: Blade is good. He’s a vampire.
Christopher: And Nick Fury.
David: I don’t take credit for that one.
John: David Goyer, who did you draw?
David: Martian Manhunter.
John: Ooh, you have the challenging one.
Craig: Overpowered. Overpowered.
David: How many people in the audience have heard of Martian Manhunter.
John: This is a good audience.
Craig: He knows he’s overpowered.
David: How many people that raised their hands have ever been laid?:
John: 100% of the audience.
David: Oof, well he hasn’t been rebooted, but he’s a mainstay in the Justice League.
Stephen: Is he going to be rebooted?
David: I’m not saying shit.
Stephen: Is he going to be booted?
David: Well, he can’t be fucking called the Martian Manhunter because that’s goofy. He can be called Manhunter.
John: They have those.
Stephen: I rented that movie.
David: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the whole thing, the whole deal with Martian Manhunter is he’s an alien living amongst us.
John: Is there another one of those in the DC universe?
David: Well, he came out in the ’50s and he had basically all the powers of Superman.
David: Except he didn’t like fire.
Craig: Right. Oh god.
David: And he could read your mind. So, here’s the best part: he comes down to earth and decides, unlike Super man who already exists in the world now, that he’s just going to be a homicide detective and pretend to be a human homicide guy.
Stephen: But he’s green.
David: Yeah. But, no, he can change his shape. Instead of using super powers and mind-reading and like, oh, I could figure out if the president is lying or whatever, he just decides to disguise himself as a human homicide detective. Dare to dream.
Craig: That’s pretty dismal.
David: I don’t know. I would say — I wouldn’t call him Manhunter. I would set up a Day After Tomorrow and we discovered one of those Earth-like planets, you know, with Kepler or something like that. And you know how they’re talking about Scientific American like DNA faxing, where they can basically break down DNA and fax that information? So, maybe like —
Craig: Yeah. We send it there to that planet?
David: Well, no, we get the DNA code from that planet and then grow them in a Petri dish here.
Craig: We grow a dude here to solve our crimes.
David: No, but he’s like in Area 51 or something. And we’re just —
Craig: Just sitting there doing word searches and stuff?
David: Yeah, doing biopsies on him. And then he gets out and he’s really angry.
Craig: He’s pissed.
David: And then he fucks She-Hulk. He’s green! And he’s super-powered.
Stephen: That’s right. Because green people can only date green people.
Christopher: Goddamnit. I thought we’d come further.
Craig: That’s one area where we’re just not ready. Appropriately I got Lex Luther.
Craig: So, Lex Luther, who’s not obviously a superhero, unless you’re me and then he is, I think if you were to do a Lex Luther movie the temptation would be to sort of, “Oh, I’m going to feel bad for Lex Luther and I’m going to make Superman a dick and all that.”
I don’t want to do that. I love that Lex Luther is bad. I think that’s the best part of him. But also the bald thing, it’s so iconic, you do want something more — yes, I’m like the hairiest I’ve ever felt in my life up here by the way.
Andrea: Look at this stage. Look at this stage.
Christopher: How are your treatments going?
Craig: I mean, I feel like, wow. Shampoo has been working. No, I think that Lex Luther, young Lex Luther is bald because… — You guys know the story of like Phineas Gage? Have you ever heard that story, Phineas Gage? So, love that story. If you haven’t heard, there’s a guy in the 1800s, he was working on a railroad and basically there was a mishap and there was an explosion and a steel rod went here and out through his head and he survived. But it blew through his limbic system and this guy, Phineas Gage, who was by all accounts a really nice family man turned into a total asshole.
He was just a drunk and he was mean and violent. And he stayed that way for many, many years until he died. So, I like the idea of maybe this kid who gets a tumor or something, or is injured, and it blows out the part of your brain that basically gives you any kind of moral conscience and turns into like a perfect sociopath.
But he’s brilliant.
David: So, he’s a studio executive?
Craig: Right. So, you now have unleashed something that is truly terrifying, because even Lex Luther in all the Superman movies, he’s still a human. There’s something there. The fact, if you’re motivated by like money, for instance, that means you’re a human being. This guy is a monster.
Stephen: That’s cool.
Craig: Yeah. Let’s do that. Let’s make that — that’s so much better than what the fuck with your Hulk. He was shitting. He was just sitting there.
Christopher: It’s Lars von Trier’s Hulk.
John: [laughs] So I would like to thank our amazing panelists to talk about superheroes. Thank you guys so very much.
Craig: Thank you.
Andrea: Thank you. Thank you . Thank you.
John: Get off our stage. All right. So, now is the time where we get to the Three Page Challenge. So, I want a show of hands in the audience — who here has read all of the entries to the Three Page Challenge?
John: Wow. You people are almost as good as Stuart Friedel who has to read them every week.
Now, who here in the audience has a Three Page Challenge that they submitted that was one of those up there?
Oh my god. Thank you very much. Let’s have a round of applause to everyone who like sent in a script. That’s amazing.
Craig: Well done. Well done.
John: On the topic of Stuart Friedel, I think it’s important that we actually have Stuart — yeah, if we can have the actors playing Stuart Friedel stand up. The actors playing Stuart Friedel, where are you? There they are. There they are. Stuart Friedel, everyone.
Craig: Stuart Two. Stuart Friedel.
John: Stuart One and Stuart Two. Thank you very much.
Craig: So, you know, I met Stuart’s dad. Stuart’s dad, where are you man?
John: He’s over here.
Craig: Hey, Stuart’s dad! So, Stuart’s dad is so great. He comes up to me and he goes, “I just want to thank you so much for what you’ve done for Stuart.”
And I’m like, “Oh, that’s, you know, John, he does it, man. He’s done…”
He goes, “No, really thank you for what you’ve done. It’s just so nice what you’ve done for Stuart.”
And he kept saying that like Stuart is a drug addict or disabled in some serious way. You know, like you took him in when everyone else was like throwing their hands up, like we can’t handle this kid.
John: Yeah. I hired him away from a dangerous life at the Disney Channel. It was all like crack and hookers.
Tonight we have three Three Page Challenge entries which is always fun when we do them on the show. But we have the actual writers here, which is amazing as well. Plus, we have perhaps the most superlative person we could ever have to come up here and be a judge with us. Susannah Grant everybody.
Craig: Susannah Grant.
John: Hello. Here, you sit by me.
Susannah Grant: I’m not checking my email. I have them on here.
John: Oh, look at her, she’s got them on the iPad. So, let’s start with a superhero themed script. Let’s bring Bucky Knaebel up here to talk about The Clock Strikes Three!!! Bucky, come up here.
Craig: Hey Bucky.
John: Bucky, tell us about The Clock Strikes Three!!! So, usually we would do a synopsis, but tell us what — if someone is listening here and doesn’t have the script in front of them, what would they have read?
Bucky Knaebel: So, The Clock Strikes Three!!! starts off with three superheroes sitting in a diner, just BSing about their past exploits and all of the sudden a super villain, “super villain,” jumps in and sends them back into time. And they’re left back in the ’70s to try and figure out a way back home.
John: Fantastic. Is this a whole script, or did you just write these three pages for this —
Bucky: Whole script. It’s a short film that I plan on filming at some point, maybe. It depends on what you guys say.
John: No pressure whatsoever.
Craig: Well, let’s crush some dreams tonight. Let’s save somebody some credit card debt.
John: [laughs] Craig Mazin, start us off.
Craig: Okay. Well, you know, I think you’ve got a very promising concept here. I did a movie a long time ago called The Specials, 14 years ago, that was very much about superheroes sitting around in a diner talking. And so I think that that’s fertile territory and now more than ever.
But I’m going to — there’s like a couple little things here that I’m going to sort of not bother with. I’m going to talk about the big thing. And the big thing, I think, for any comedy, but particularly a comedy like this that’s a high concept and sort of broad comedy I think is that you have to ground the comedy in a world that’s real, or make the world crazy and make the job mundane, right?
So, in Anchorman the world is insane, but they’re doing a mundane job. Here they are something that is insane, essentially, and the world around them doesn’t seem quite right either. They’re not interacting in a way that feels grounded to their situation.
This is also a case of going too fast. You have a superhero, so here’s one concept: a team of superheroes that are kind of bored and sit around diners and don’t take their villains very seriously and kind of quippy. You have another concept: modern day superheroes go back in time to the classic era, or what I would call the classic era of ’70s superheroes. Those are two totally different concepts. And they’re happening literally within two pages of each other, so it’s very confusing.
I’m also a little concerned that it won’t be as funny as you want because to me if I send like David’s Batman going back in time and hanging out with like the jazzy cool cats of the ’70s with their skintight moose-knuckle bikini pants, that’s funny. Like, “What are you people doing?” And they’re like, “Hey, it’s cool man.” That’s funny.
But these quippy guys going back in time just seems like — I’m looking for what to hold onto and play the comedy off of. So, I’m going to leave it to these guys to sort of get into other things, but I wanted to lay that out there because I think that tonally it’s not going to work unless you figure out how to find that contrast.
Bucky: Right. Makes sense.
John: Susannah Grant?
Susannah: So, of those two options, which one are you going for?
Bucky: Well, in the story they don’t encounter any heroes in the past whatsoever. They actually just kind of solve their problems by inaction.
Susannah: [laughs] Okay. So, I’m going to talk about something that is valid for any movie, superheroes, non-superheroes, and that’s character motivation. It’s a really basic thing. You have a character I assume is the villain of the piece, the guy who walks in and sends them, creates the problem, sends them back to the ’70s. And this is sort of the going too fast thing. He’s only given two lines.
Susannah: And I don’t know how — there’s a hint of resentment because they kind of belittle him, but for that character to make that big a choice that we’re going to watch an entire movie about the problem he creates, I need to be intrigued by him. I need to lean in and say, “Ooh, he’s mad,” and why is he mad? Take time.
It does feel rushed. And I know everybody is always saying about writing — economy, economy, economy — you’ve got to be fast. I personally think you’ve got to be long before you can be fast. You’ve got to take the time to find out what you’re saying and really like dig into who this guy is. And that might take five pages. And then you say, “Oh, that’s who he is. I found it on the fifth page.” And you get rid of the first four. But you’ve really got to take the time to sink in to who this villain is, why he’s doing what he’s doing, and why I should care about him.
John: To me, I was reading this thinking like if this was the third episode of a series about these guys, that would be awesome.
Bucky: The clock actually shows up in the second, so he’s established.
John: So, he’s established. Do you perceive this as being part of a longer franchise?
Bucky: Like, a web series.
John: I think in those ways it could actually work. If we already knew who those characters were when they were sitting in the diner, then the guy could just walk in and we can start the whole plot. But as I was reading this just cold I didn’t know what is the relationship between these three people, like Pecos Pete sort of seems annoyed by this person, so why are they all at the diner together. I was having all of these questions. I was wondering what the world was like and it was harder for me to sort of — and suddenly there’s a plot happening. And now we’re in the past. And I didn’t know what the world was like before we went to the past.
Craig: This is the third episode of something.
Bucky: Ideally. Like written as a web series.
Craig: Okay. That would have changed everything.
Susannah: Forget what I said.
John: Make it really clever on those things.
Craig: Needed to know that, yeah.
John: But let’s talk some of the words on the page, because you do some things which work great and some things which don’t work so great.
Right at the very start, “We are outside looking in at what one might say is an exact replica of Hopper’s Nighthawks. Instead of Bogart-esque type characters, we see three superheroes at the counter.”
I love “we are,” I love “we see,” but we didn’t need them at all here.
John: Just tell us what’s there and we’re good and we’re going. And because this was the first time I was experiencing any of these characters, I really wanted more time spent on who those people are. Like tell me really what kind of people they are, not just what they’re wearing, but sort of who they are and sort of what their deal is. And it’s probably — when you shotgun three characters at us at once we have a hard time knowing how to sort them out.
Other stuff about what we saw on the page?
Susannah: Yeah, you know, what can be easier is if you give them something specific, to be working out, or arguing about. You have hints where you want their characters to be, but you haven’t given yourself the tools to really make something, make a meal of the scene with these guys. If they’re actually arguing about something specific, or trying to get something specific done. You’ll just have a lot more opportunity, a lot more tools there to show who these guys are.
And then the other question I had is I wasn’t clear if, I guess what you were saying, their relationship. Nighthawks is very specific and it’s lonely and middle of the night and melancholy. And then I didn’t feel how that was relating to the story you were telling. So, I just would say think really carefully about the environment you’re creating and make sure the choices you make are really specific to that.
Craig: Let’s capitalize our characters when we meet them. It just helps us to know that they’re there. I think regaling, maybe I’m wrong, but “is regaling his tale to two obviously,” I think it’s just regaling to obviously bored superheroes. I think that’s how that works.
Commander Alpha is blathering on and he’s boasting. And these other two are bored, Pecos Pete and Mauve Moth are bored. When two other people are bored I don’t need them to say things to indicate that they’re bored. I think actually there’s an opportunity for the two of them to be doing something else entirely because they’re just not paying attention to him. And they occasionally look up and nod, but maybe they’re in the middle of something. Are they into each other? Is one of them just trying to get somebody’s attention and not — I mean, there’s something interesting about a superhero that can’t flag a waiter down.
You know, there are opportunities for you to kind of —
Bucky: Make it funny.
Craig: Layer things in. Because this stuff is, you know, like one of the things that David Zucker taught me when I started doing spoof movies with him is that this stuff is wonderful because it allows you to do jokes. But the jokes have nothing to do with what the people are saying. That’s just talking that fills space. So, use that.
John: If she’s checking her email while he’s going on with this whole story then that’s something we can relate to, like, “Oh, this person won’t shut up.”
An example at the bottom of page one, The Clock bursts in and he goes, “Sup’ bitches. It’s time for your beatdown!”
And right now Pecos Pete says, “Oh no, are you here to slow down time? You realize that all that does is stretch out the span of us whooping on you.”
That second phrase is actually really good, but I wondered if that first phrase is delivered to the other superheroes at the bar. So, he’s going to slow down time. He’s going to slow down time. Maybe it’s like I’ve seen him before, he’s going to slow down time.
You realize — there’s a chance to actually get a real joke, sort of break that into two jokes and really let that land.
Craig: Yeah. I mean, that character, one thing about that is I don’t know if he’s real or not. You know, when somebody like that shows up, because I’m still learning the rules of the show or the movie or whatever it is. Like, you know, in one of the Batmans, I think it was in the second one, there’s a Batman but then it turns out it’s not really Batman. It’s a guy that’s pretending to be Batman. He’s pathetic. This guy seems like that, like what are you doing? Where did you get that? What’s wrong with you?
Bucky: Well, you know, heroes are somewhat pathetic I think.
Craig: Well, that’s fine, too. But you have to help me get there. Because what I know walking in and what you’re using frankly for comedy is that heroes aren’t pathetic. So, I need to be taught now how this works so when this guy shows up we need to be taught that he’s an actual villain. Like, dude, we beat you up last week. We beat you up last night. He should have a black eye. You know what I mean? What is wrong with you? This isn’t even about — what is this about? You like getting beaten up, don’t you? I mean, like, something — we need to get a sense that he’s actually legitimately real or else we’re like what’s going on here?
John: I would leave this at I was really curious to see episode one of this. Because I feel like you actually, in your head you know who those three characters are and you know what their relationship is. There is a reason why those three people are together — that first episode where we’re seeing why they’re together and sort of what that deal is. And sort of like The Tick or those universes could be great and this just felt like it was too soon for me to get a complicated plot change. It’s too early for us to go back into the past when I didn’t know what the present really felt like.
Bucky Knaebel. So, I should say, Craig, you don’t realize this but Bucky actually asked a question on the show many years — how long, a year ago?
Bucky: Roughly, yes, a year ago.
John: So, he was the person who asked about sort of like I’m moving to Los Angeles with my family. Where should I live? And we actually had a long conversation on the show about where he should live.
Craig: Where did you end up?
Susannah: Where do you live?
Craig: Straight outta Compton!
Bucky: It was a total help, too.
Craig: Oh good.
Bucky: We live in the Valley now.
Craig: In the Valley?
Craig: Somewhere out there. Yeah, don’t get specific. We’ve got some weirdos out here.
John: You’ve got a whole audience of people who may want to steal your stuff.
Craig: They will find you.
Bucky: So, thank you for that. Thank you for this.
John: Thank you very much for sending in these pages.
Bucky: Please, thank you so much.
Susannah: Thanks a lot.
John: Awesome. Bucky Knaebel.
Craig: Good luck.
Bucky: Thank you, Craig.
Craig: My pleasure. Stick with it. Stick with it. All right.
John: All right. Our next Three Page Challenge comes from Michelle Burleson with Kimchi Rhinestone.
Michelle, where are you? I see Michelle. Hooray!
John: So, some backstory. I had Stuart email everybody who was, well, all the winners, but everyone who submitted to say, like just make sure they’re actually coming.
Michelle Burleson: Very nice to meet you.
John: And, Michelle, you emailed from like the side of a road. You like pulled off at a car — come on, grab your microphone. Where were you driving from?
Michelle: Santa Cruz.
John: Santa Cruz, all right. So, same state. Yeah, it’s not too far.
Michelle: Somewhat. Different country, same state.
John: All right. Thank you for coming.
Michelle: Thank you for having me. Be gentle.
Susannah: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Michelle: I’m just a girl.
Craig: Absolutely not.
Michelle: I’ll go She-Hulk on you.
John: Ah! She’s already wearing green.
Craig: This is all I ever wanted.
John: Your script is called Kimchi Rhinestone. So, Kimchi I know is Korean.
John: Rhinestone, I think of sort of like cowboy something. So, I’m reading that as a thing, so it’s going to be something-something about that. As your script starts, talk us through the three pages that people are going to be reading if they were reading this at home.
Michelle: Okay. She’s actually a character I created at the Second City and just decided to take her a little further. But she’s being abandoned, and this happens a lot. A GI impregnated a Korean girl, so that’s taboo. So, the mother is abandoning her at the Amerasian orphanage, which does exist, and abandons her in her father’s guitar case.
Then we go to, she’s busking on the street, she’s out of the orphanage. And their — the Halfies — I call them Halfies, because I’m one.
Craig: Yeah, you can get away with that.
Susannah: We won’t be calling them Halfies.
Michelle: Yeah. They’re citizens of no country. I’m not an orphan, but they’re citizens of no country. So, she’s busking. She thinks, you know, if I get to America everything will be better and she has this thing on her head about if I can just get to America. And then it goes to this American Idol type country show called America’s Honky Tonk Angel.
John: And that’s the end of our three pages is in the middle of this I’m going to rip open the envelope and we cut to commercial.
So, as I started to read this, I was sort of in three different worlds and I had a hard time grasping sort of what to expect to happen next. And that was the challenge I was facing. And I probably would have read page four and five and six, but I was really like, I felt the gears kind of grinding. It was hard for me to grasp what was really going to happen here. Because you say Honky Tonk Angel, I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what to even expect in my head.
And so I sort of think it’s country, but I was sort of confused. How did you guys approach these three pages as you were reading them? Susannah?
Susannah: I just wanted so much more breath in this. I was interested in everything you told me, but just now, just your saying that she has a dream that she’s going to go to America — put that in. Even the woman dropping her at the orphanage in the beginning, I was just like well where is she going, and who opens the door? There’s room to breathe in this.
And it doesn’t have to be long. Just give us a bunch of tiny little details that really tell us where we are and what we’re dealing with. And the same thing when she — you cut to her right on the street, right? But I was like, wait, where is she living? Is she living alone? Is she living with someone? Is this guitar case the guitar case?
And you have room for that. I said it before, but this idea that you need to be efficient seems to sometimes rob people of the — giving themselves the room to be really specific and flesh it out. Because I really want to know what’s happened to her, and what she wants, how she’s going about getting it and what the obstacles are.
You know, a kid dropped at an orphanage. But I just want to know everything. Everything around her.
Susannah: And I think you have tons of room to do it. Like what you did in three pages I think could take ten, you know, or eight. You have a lot more room and you need to tell me more so I’ll care.
Michelle: Okay. Thank you.
Craig: You said you build this character at Second City?
Craig: So, this is not a comedy though?
Michelle: No, the first draft was just a bunch of my sketches I kind of just all threw together.
Craig: Right, but from these pages I take it this is —
Michelle: She’s matured a bit.
Craig: It’s sort of an inspirational underdog story. Okay. So, I completely agree with Susannah and I don’t know what’s going on where people are hitting the gas so hard. Do we see her mother again?
Craig: One theory is we never see the mother. And that there is a… — This is why I like thinking about credit sequences in movies like this, too. That you begin with somebody coming across a guitar case in front of an orphanage, like the people that work at the orphanage just see a guitar case there and like, “What the hell?”
And then the guitar case goes donk, and they open it up and there’s a baby in there. And then you see images of what’s happening — because the other thing is the time that passes is not time you can afford to ignore. You need to educate people what it means to be Amerasian in Seoul in the ’70s and ’80s. They need to know.
So, that’s a big part of this. And it also — I need to know how she learned guitar. I need to see the moment when she picks it up for the first time. It’s the only possession, the guitar she has isn’t the guitar, because there was no guitar, right? Or there was a guitar? I can’t remember.
Michelle: There was a guitar. She kind of set it — the mother set it out and replaced her with it.
Craig: Okay. Got it. So, you see a closed guitar case and a guitar. That’s a cool opening image. Why is a guitar out of a guitar case. And then you open the guitar case and see a baby in there. That’s the only thing she owns in her life. And I want to see a little seven-year-old kid sitting there with the guitar and just going poink, poink, and then I want to see her at 13 going, [guitar sounds], right, and listening to music. I want to see something happening there. That’s what your story is about, you know?
So that by the time, oh, and then I definitely — here is what I definitely do not want to see.
Susannah: I know what you’re going to say.
Craig: On page three I do not want to see her so good, like boom and there she is, she’s awesome. No. I want to see her suffering, right? She’s literally out there for two seconds playing one song that by the way is too lyrically on the nose.
John: Yeah. We all wrote on the nose, I think.
Susannah: But aside from that, it’s a wasted opportunity because we know this already. She’s singing about what we know. If you ever sing about something we don’t know, then you’re broadening our understanding of her.
Craig: I want to see that, look, the movie is about people that try and become professional artists. Follow a formula, which you can choose to follow or not, but I feel like you kind of want to here. And there’s that scene where they are being pelted. Nobody is listening to them. Nobody likes them. They are poor and they are hungry. And they’re being kicked around. And you’re suffering with them and they’re about to give up and then something happens.
And that something that happens is page 10 at the earliest, I think. It feels more like 15, or 20, and then suddenly your world explodes because that’s kind of the narrative that we have in our hearts, right? So, it’s all just racing here far too fast, because you have an interesting story to tell.
We will be always more interested in the human than we are in the circumstances. So, I would also just — my last little bit of advice, you’re inventing a show that doesn’t exist.
Craig: And does not exist because nobody would watch that show. Right? So, my suggestion is to think about basically being true to people’s experience. There are talent shows now where anybody can go on. Any kind — even if you’re not a musician. You’re a dancer, whatever, like America’s Got Talent or something like that. But that becomes even harder. Now you’re going up against the best of everything. And you’re just this kid from Seoul with no parents, but you’ve got soul, you know.
I mean, it’s cool, right? So, I would just say slow it down, tell the human story, let those beats happen as they need to. And you know what they are. You’ve seen the movies. And stay true to what you think people will go, “Oh yeah, that feels like my experience.” Because you’ve got so much potential here, you know.
John: There are some moments I really loved. So, we were talking about the America’s Honky Tonk Angel stage. At two and half pages in we cut to this stage and we’re just seeing that this guy doing the open. But I want to read a little bit aloud because I liked some of what you did here. “A center stage spotlight shines on two barely legal BLONDE SOUTHERN BELLES. They cross fingers. Hold hands. Fidget. Left foot. Right foot. Please God, please.”
Really nicely done. I know exactly what that is. I know what that feels like. You put us in the perspective of those characters. Really nicely done.
“Every mini rip into the envelope an eternity. Sweet torture. The Emcee flashes a salesman smile.” I know exactly what that is. But if that moment were happening and then as we pull back we see that we’re actually in Seoul and that’s happening on like a satellite TV screen —
Michelle: Mind reader.
John: I suspected we weren’t really in Tennessee at that point. That could be a really great moment. But right now it’s happening on page three and there’s like, well, I know exactly what’s going to happen in your movie. What we’re saying is the gas was just hit way too hard, way too fast.
John: And that may be part of the problem with what we do, Craig, honestly. I think sometimes this Three Page Challenge makes people feel like, “Well, we’ve got to cram so much into three pages.”
Craig: Yeah, no. No, no, no, no, no.
John: We just want to see really great writing. We want to be intrigued about the three pages. We don’t need to know what everything is.
Susannah: It’s just a tease. It’s a seduction. Think of the beginning of The Godfather. I mean, the beginnings of great movies just have you going, “What?!” I don’t know anything; I want to know everything.
Craig: Right. There’s mystery involved. And you create the spaces that you want to create. Emotions need space. And it’s interesting because John’s right. Look, you can write. There’s no question. This moment is really well written. But you’ve created all that space for these two characters that won’t be important on a show that isn’t connected to the thing I care about. And you haven’t created enough space for what it means to be a hungry kid with no parents and no identity. Right?
But you know that. I know you have that, clearly. So, that’s what I want you to do. I want you to just go and kick that ass.
Michelle: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Craig: My pleasure.
Susannah: There’s one other point I’d make which is that you’re writing a character who is trying to do something really, really hard in life. And there’s always a reason somebody is trying to do something really hard in life, so keep that in mind. That you need to know that and you need to communicate that somehow.
Michelle: Thank you very much.
John: Michelle, thank you so much for coming.
Michelle: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Craig: Good work. Good job. Good work. All right.
John: Our final script of the night, so people could vote on this. This is the first time in the Three Page Challenge where we posted all the three page entries. And how many people voted on their favorites in this audience. Show of hands who votes? Oh, actually a lot of people voted.
Craig: That’s a good amount of voting.
John: Great. Thank you for voting. Some people voted a lot. And, our winning entry got 32% of the vote. So, let’s meet the man who wrote that script.
Craig: And voted a lot for himself?
John: Perhaps. Mr. Paul Yoshida, come on down.
Craig: Come on down.
John: Paul, thank you very much for being here. Your script is called Zombie With a Gun.
Paul Yoshida: I did vote for myself a lot.
John: That’s fine. It’s absolutely fine.
Paul: Sorry everybody.
John: We totally didn’t really kind of block in any sort of meaningful way. Like you could get it around it. I was curious what was going to happen. How many times do you think you voted for yourself?
Paul: I don’t even want to say.
John: We’ll let Ryan and Nima run some numbers and figure that out. But, congratulations, and we enjoyed your script.
John: So, Zombie With a Gun, what’s Zombie With a Gun about?
Paul: Well, the three pages, it opens with this scumbag named Lou. He’s doing blow with a hooker in a motel. And they’re doing their thing. And then this mysterious guy shows up banging on the door. He has a hood on. You can’t see who he is. And then they kind of dismiss him as some crazy guy. And then the hooded guy gets back in his car and then just drives the car through the wall and then confronts Lou, the scumbag, and it turns out that the guy with the hood on is actually a zombie who has come back from life to kill the gangsters who killed him and his family.
John: Great. And this a script, is it all written, or just these three pages?
Paul: Yeah. It’s on the Black List website in case anyone is interested.
John: Nice. Franklin Leonard of the Black List is here tonight.
Craig: Hey Franklin, can he vote for himself on the Black List?
Paul: I already tried. It doesn’t work.
Craig: I like it, by the way. That’s a real Jersey move. I like that.
John: So, Paul, when we were up here talking before about superhero movies is that idea of one thing changed. And this very much felt like a one thing changed. It felt like the movie that Billy Bob Thornton could be in, except that like there’s a zombie. And you told us from the start that there is going to be a zombie because it’s called Zombie With a Gun. And I thought that was actually kind of cool.
It’s a genre movie. It’s actually sort of two genre movies simultaneously and sort of seems to honor both of those expectations of what those genre movies are. Susannah?
Susannah: Yeah. I love that, too. I think that’s a great idea. My biggest thought is that you’ve just got to get a little more specific with Lou, or a little more — just pull him out of, I mean, the blow and the Asian, it feels familiar. And Lou can be a great character. And he can be fucking whores, and he can be doing all the blow, but give me something about him that shows me that he’s a unique person on the planet. A unique tattoo. Maybe there’s something particular about his hooker that tells us what he’s into. You know, something. Just something that makes you say, “Oh, you’re not just run of the mill scumbag. You’re that scumbag.”
And then I’ll lean in, you know. I’ll want to know.
John: On the second line of actual action, “The owner of the truck, a scum-bag with “WHITE POWER” tattooed on his neck, INHALES a line of coke off a hand-mirror.” So, you said scumbag, and honestly then you titled the whole thing for us. I’m never going to think that this could be the hero of the story because you said he’s a scumbag. So, if you backed off that and found some little interesting details we might think like, oh, maybe he’s a good guy somewhere down the road.
Craig: Yeah, White Power. I get it.
Susannah: You know, a lot of people who have goodness in them can end up in a motel room with a hooker doing blow off a mirror.
John: If we thought it was Louie, then yes.
Susannah: Something landed him there. Something interesting landed him there.
Craig: I mean, Lou is not going to survive much longer, is he?
Paul: No. This is actually a flash forward. So, he kills him.
Craig: He kills him right?
Paul: Yeah. He’s one of the henchmen kind of.
Craig: It’s funny that you said, John, that you called out scumbag because I wrote don’t chew my food for me. I know how to put two and two together. If you say white power, and coke, and a whore…scumbag. I get it. I know.
Susannah: I’ll do the math.
Craig: You don’t need to tell me scumbag.
John: We’ve seen one or two movies.
Paul: I knew you would know.
Craig: But Susannah is right that every character has — this character is in the movie because he’s going to lead you to this very cool reveal. And the last thing that you want to do when you have a cool reveal back here is then just jab weakly setting up this big obvious thing. I want to be, like Lou should be cool enough where I could have a whole Rosencrantz and Guildenstern movie with Lou. Every character should be unique. You never want to go just Central Casting Thug, because this guy is doing really Central Casting Thug stuff.
I had one thought for you about the ending of the three pages. Oh, first of all, just little logic things. When a car crashes a motel room, you don’t have time to dive behind a bed for cover. The car is going fast.
Paul: Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense.
Craig: The car would have to be like [sound of car chugging slowly]. And then dive, right? So, it just misses them basically, you know? But, you have this really cool reveal that this guy with the hood shows him this picture and he goes, “I didn’t murder nobody.” “Yeah, you did, Lou.” And then he pulls his thing and it’s him in the picture, right?
Craig: But I was looking, and maybe it’s on the next page, but I was looking for that line where the guy is like, “Who are you?” Like he’s like, “You murdered Sean Walker.” “Who are you?” “I’m Sean Walker.”
John: Is that the next line?
Paul: Well, no, he’s more like in shock of like, “Oh, you’re dead.”
Craig: You want that. I mean, the whole person is basically like —
John: Craig, would you do an exercise with me?
John: I think it could help if we read it aloud. If we read just the dialogue aloud?
Craig: Okay. Can I be the hooker?
Susannah: I want to be the hooker!
Craig: Oh, Susannah wants to be the hooker.
Susannah: No one ever asks me to be the hooker.
Craig: Well, one of us can be Lou, one of us can be the hooker, and one of us can be Man in Hood.
John: I’ll be Man in Hood.
Craig: Okay. I’ll be Lou.
Craig: I will get physical, by the way.
Susannah: Oh, it’s one.
Susannah: Oh, we’re just reading lines?
John: Just lines.
Savannah: You save me some?
Craig: This is comin’ out of your pay, you know…
Craig: Alright, let’s fuck.
Susannah: Loud pounding. Who’s that?
Craig: Fuckin’ Christ…
Susannah: Is it the cops?
Craig: Wrong room, asshole! Now, where were we?
Susannah: Yeah! Yeah! Right there! [grunts.] Oh, Don’t stop! Don’t — !
John: The car smashes through the wall.
Susannah: P-please, don’t hurt me!
Craig: What the fuck is this?
John: You pigs murdered them. Shot ’em dead in their home.
Craig: Bullshit. I didn’t murder nobody.
John: Yeah, you did, Lou…
Scene. So, you won’t get the finale on the podcast.
Paul: That was amazing. That was hot.
John: Part of the exercise there, no criticism of your performance.
Susannah: Oh, it was brilliant. I know that.
John: Yeah, we all acknowledge that Susannah Grant is who you should cast as Asian Hooker in your films. But I kind of thought that every line the Asian Hooker said was a little not awesome. And she was just saying things that Asian hookers kind of say in this movie. And maybe she should say other things. Or maybe not say anything. Because if you took off all her lines, you could —
Susannah: Maybe she’s a really weird hooker. I want to see a really weirdo hooker.
John: That also makes it more interesting for Lou if like there’s something interesting about her.
Craig: I mean, in general right it goes back to this whole Central Casting thing. You’re a hooker. You’re banging some dude for coke in a shitty motel and there’s a knock on the door. You don’t care. You don’t care about anything, right? You’re a hooker. You’re just like la, la, la, and he’s like, “Ugh, what?” And bonk, bonk, bonk.
Susannah: And you also don’t care if they stop or not.
Craig: Yeah, you don’t care. Nobody cares.
John: They don’t care if it’s good.
Susannah: I also want to talk about the knock on the door, which is the guy who drives the car through the door, I mean, through the wall is not usually the same guy who knocks. And if you want to show us the guy is coming, just show us he’s coming. Just go outside the motel, see the car pull up.
Paul: Yeah, that’s cool.
Susannah: See the hooded guy get out. And they have no idea. Because the knocking and then driving, I don’t know what he’s — he’s polite, and then he’s —
John: I thought he was doing it to make sure that he really was in the room. So, he’s hearing a voice.
Susannah: Oh, okay.
John: And so there may be a way to acknowledge that he knocks on the door to make sure he heard the voice, and then he walked off.
Craig: Yeah, but then at that point I’m wondering why drive the car through there? Why not just kick the door open. You have a gun.
Craig: But, what you could do, for instance, is you’ve got Lou and this woman and then the Trans-Am pulls into the lot and then you see like that sad old guy that’s working behind the desk. And the door goes jingle-jingle. And the guy looks up.
The next thing that we see after another little bit of Lou is that car going through the door. We’ll know, okay, he got the name from the guy.
Paul: Oh, yeah, that’s cool.
Craig: You know, something like that.
John: Cool. Thank you, Paul, so much for submitting.
Craig: Good job.
Paul: Yeah, I’m a super big fan.
John: Thank you very much.
Craig: Nice work.
John: And that’s it. Susannah Grant, thank you very much.
Craig: Thank you, Susannah. Great job.
John: Craig, this was a long show. We needed to really warn the affiliates that we were running a little bit long. But this was really, really fun.
Craig: No, it was great. Yeah, hopefully we didn’t preempt whatever comes after us on the network.
John: Yeah, there’s hopefully not another thing happening. We need to think Aline Brosh McKenna for sponsoring our cocktail party, which was lovely. We need to thank Christopher Kartje and the Writers Guild Foundation for putting this event on. That was amazing.
Craig: Yes. Fantastic job as always.
John: And Matthew Chilelli edits all these episodes. He also did the intro music, which was a surprise to Craig.
Craig: Yeah, like everything is a surprise to me.
John: Yeah, so it was a surprise for Craig. And I especially want to thank everybody who submitted those pages.
John: Because everyone is brave for doing them, but thank you again for putting your work out there in the world. It’s amazing.
Craig: Thank you guys. And thank all of you guys for listening and all of your very kind words in supporting us. We promise we’ll keep doing this long after you lose interest, I assure you.
John: And one last thanks to Milt and Rich, our sound and our lights, and everybody else who made this all work.
Craig: Thanks folks back there.
John: And thank you guys so much for coming.
Craig: Thanks for coming.
- The Writers Guild Foundation
- Andrea Berloff on IMDb, and Deadline’s Conan announcement
- Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely on IMDb, and their interview on LA Times Hero Complex
- David Goyer on IMDb, and his BAFTA Screenwriters Lecture
- David Goyer’s arms
- Spider-Man, Hulk, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and Storm
- Susannah Grant on IMDb, and a feature on her from Salon
- The three Three Page Challenge entries, and all 57 that were submitted
- Intro/Outro by Scriptnotes editor Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!)