Friday, June 30, 2006
Updated: July 3, 11:47 AM ET
A super story for modern times
By Jim Caple
You know Hollywood is having a bad summer when the most entertaining and provocative movie stars are Al Gore and a 1951 Hudson Hornet.
So far we've gotten a remake of "The Omen,'' a third movie based on the "Mission Impossible" TV series, a third movie based on the X-Men comic book and, coming soon, a second movie based on a ride at Disneyland. And this weekend we've got the movie that absolutely everyone has been clamoring for: a fifth Superman movie.
Yes, a fifth Superman movie. What, did someone forget to greenlight "Goonies 3"?
I haven't seen the movie yet, but I imagine Superman flies around and rescues people from Lex Luthor. But if they really wanted to film an updated Superman movie, this is what it should have been:
[Terrorists are holding thousands of Metropolis citizens hostage on a bridge. A villain is about to push a plunger labeled "Nuclear Bomb" and destroy the bridge. But then one of the hostages sees something
HOSTAGE 1: Look, up in the sky!
HOSTAGE 2: It's a bird!
HOSTAGE 3: It's a plane!
HOSTAGE 4: It's Derek Jeter!
HOSTAGE 1: No, you moron! It's Superman!
[SUPERMAN swoops down and snatches away the bomb. He wraps it within his arms and flies away up high. The bomb explodes and we can see a little mushroom cloud puff out from between his arms, but SUPERMAN, of course, is unharmed. He swoops down again, grabs the terrorists by their shirt collars, lifts them up and drops them into a waiting police van.]
SUPERMAN: Now this is what I call extreme rendition.
[SUPERMAN lands near a crowd of reporters.]
REPORTER 1: Superman! How do you do it?
SUPERMAN: Just upholding Truth, Justice and the American Way, sir.
REPORTER 2: Truth? When was the last time you told America the truth?
REPORTER 3: Yeah! And since when is taking steroids the American Way?
REPORTER 3: If there was any justice, you would be subject to random drug testing.
REPORTER 4: How do you account for the weight gain since you were Superboy?
[SUPERMAN, stunned by the questions, flies away.]
REPORTER 1: And what's your hat size, anyway?
[A meeting of the core membership of Justice League of America. SUPERMAN, WONDER WOMAN, BATMAN, GREEN LANTERN, AQUAMAN and the FLASH sit around the table in heated debate.]
GREEN LANTERN: Let me see if I understand you correctly on this -- you're saying that saving the world from psychotic super-criminals and alien species determined to enslave humanity is no longer enough, that we need to set up drug testing?
SUPERMAN: Yes. The problem is the public doesn't know whether our super powers are legit. They want to know if we got this way by taking steroids and HGH or whether we gained our powers honestly through years of intense, devout training, bizarre radioactive accidents and being born with gills or on other planets.
WONDER WOMAN: The real problem is Marvel comic books beat us to the punch. They started up drug testing years ago while we sat around ignoring the problem.
BATMAN: But everyone knows Marvel's drug-testing program is a joke. It doesn't catch anyone. Look at the Fantastic Four! The Thing has the strength of a thousand men, weighs 500 pounds and is covered with orange, rock-like scales. Don't tell me that guy isn't taking steroids.
AQUAMAN: And how about Reed Richards? "Mister Fantastic," my ass. He can stretch his body into any shape and grow it to any size? Yet no one suspects he's on HGH? Give me a break.
WONDER WOMAN: What I've always wondered about Mr. Fantastic is whether he can make every part of his body into any shape he wants.
[WONDER WOMAN catches herself and smiles sheepishly. BATMAN and SUPERMAN shoot her suspicious, accusing looks.]
[LEX LUTHOR's lair. He is sitting at his desk, typing on his laptop. He hits a key, instantly downloading 14 penile enlargement ads, eight mortgage refinancing ads and four appeals from a Nigerian princess to every e-mail address in the world. He smiles with deep satisfaction as KITTY KOWALSKI walks in.]
KITTY: Congratulations, Lexie! I still can't believe it! Congressman Lex Luthor! And with a 94 percent landslide! How ever did you do it?
LUTHOR: Easy. I rigged the Diebold digital voting machines in my district.
[KITTY kisses the top of his bald head.]
KITTY: So what will your first official act be to represent the voters of your district? Vote yourself a nice pay raise? Accept a bribe from a defense contractor? Or go on a Scottish golf junket courtesy of Jack Abramoff?
LUTHOR: Nothing so routine, I assure you. My dear, I am using my newly acquired powers to finally place Superman in a trap so fiendish he'll never be able to escape.
KITTY: You don't mean?
LUTHOR: Yes. I'm subpoenaing Superman to testify before a congressional committee on steroids.
[A hearing of the Committee to Re-Establish Ethical Powers. CHAIRMAN LEX LUTHOR is just dismissing a witness.]
LUTHOR: That's all very interesting, Mr. Pound. But for the moment we're restricting these hearings to alleged "superheroes" who can either fly, breathe underwater, turn invisible, burst into flame, shoot powerful rays from their eyes, shrink themselves to the size of an ant or bench-press an oil tanker. If we expand our inquiry to include cancer survivors who ride bicycles, we'll be sure to bring you back.
DICK POUND: Did I mention that baseball doesn't test for colon cancer, either?
LUTHOR: Bailiff? Have Mr. Pound put down with a tranquilizer gun. Thank you. Now, could we have the next witness?
[SUPERMAN walks in, sits down and raises his right hand.]
SUPERMAN: I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
LUTHOR: So, Mr. Superman, let me get this straight. You're faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap a tall building -- not just a building, mind you, but a tall building -- in a single bound. And yet you maintain that you never used steroids?
SUPERMAN: I have never used steroids. Period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.
LUTHOR: Let me remind you, sir, that you are under oath.
SUPERMAN: Well, I've never taken steroids knowingly.
SUPERMAN: Super-villains like to tie me up and inject me with stuff in an attempt to kill me. They don't always tell me what's in the syringe.
LUTHOR: So there's no way of telling whether General Zod might have smeared the Cream on you at some point? Or that Mr. Mxyzptlk might have slipped you the Clear as a practical joke? Or that Bizarro Superman might have injected you with HGH in a bathroom stall sometime? You've been a superhero for almost 70 years but because you have ignored this problem so long and avoided drug testing for all that time, there is no way of ever knowing whether you're completely clean, is there?
SUPERMAN: I'm not here to talk about the past.
[The Daily Planet offices. CLARK KENT walks up to LOIS LANE's desk. She is reading a newspaper with the headline: "LUTHOR VOTES TO CUT MINIMUM WAGE, ELIMINATE ESTATE TAX, LOWER AUTO EMISSION STANDARDS"]
CLARK: Hi, Lois. What are you working on?
LOIS: Oh, just a story on whatever happened to Superman. Ever since the public turned against him after the congressional hearings, no one has seen him anywhere. So I've been interviewing other superheroes and asking where they think he is.
CLARK: And what do they say?
LOIS: They say he's ashamed that he got busted and slinked off to play golf at his Fortress of Solitude.
CLARK: Oh, yeah? So that's what they say? Have you ever thought that maybe they're just jealous of his naturally acquired powers? That maybe Superman is clean but he retired because he is so upset about the government making all these accusations without any evidence or justification? That if Congress doesn't have anything better to do than pry into the lives of private American citizens and alien humanoids, there obviously must not be any problems left that are worthwhile for a superhero to fight? Have you ever thought of that?
LOIS: Yeah, whatever.
CLARK: Well, I think you should look into the possibility. Really. I'm serious, Lois. And why are you smiling like that?
LOIS: I interviewed Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, last night. [She sighs.] Talk about a superman.
[CLARK does a slow burn as we FADE OUT
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. You can reach Jim at jimcaple.com. Sound off to Page 2 here.