Armchair Screenwriter: The Hawkman Trilogy?!
We all agree that big summer blockbusters probably need to stop acting like they deserve a sequel, and should focus on making a cohesive movie that will make viewers demand more, right?
This is advice both for horrible movies that felt entitled to sequels (looking at you, Last Airbender) and for movies that actually do require sequels (like Golden Compass – even a sequel would have had to open its first five minutes with an insanely jarring plot shift, akin to STARTING Empire Strikes Back with “Luke I am your father”).
And right now I’m looking at the negative response to Green Lantern’s sequel plans, which start with a shoe-horned post-credits-sequence that announced the next villain without earning that reveal at all, apparently. Then there’s the mostly toxic critical reaction. And then, there’s the relatively shitty box office (7th place in its third week is not encouraging).
In shooting for Epic Importance, movies keep dreaming of that sweet sweet trilogy status that somehow implies, “This thing mattered.”
Noble goal, sure. But set your sites a little lower: Don’t worry about being Lord of the Rings. Just try not to be, I dunno, Eragon? (I honestly was trying to think of a perfect example, but the glut of post LotR/Harry Potter fantasy franchise non-starters clogged up my brain.)
All of which is to preface what I’m about to say next: A Hawkman movie franchise absolutely has to be crafted as a trilogy.
Let’s crack open Hawkman as a property, and you’ll see what I mean.
Hawkman as a character…isn’t much of one. There’s not a lot of internal motivation for him to do what he does (which is fly around on big wings and hit bad guys with ancient weapons). In fact, his ONLY real motivation is – as a constantly-reincarnated figure of justice – he’s always done this. It’s just been his thang for millennia.
The reincarnation angle also plays into his primary non-hitting-people characteristic: He really, really loves his wife. So much so that the curse that keeps bringing him back to life actually kicks in when he (re-) meets his beloved Shiera. Once that happens, they’re lovers doomed to come into contact with their reincarnated murderer again and again.
Now, that IS a hell of a good hook, but there are a couple of issues to deal with:
1) It doesn’t really tell you much about Carter and Shiera as PEOPLE, just as cogs in a repeating doomed-romance story, and
2) There’s also Katar Hol.
For a lot of fans, liking Hawkman has become something of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 dilemma: at some point you have to figure out whether you prefer Joel or Mike as the host. (I’m a Mike guy, myself.)
As far as DC characters go, it’s one thing to say you prefer Kyle Rayner to Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, or Wally West to Barry Allen as the Flash. That just means you prefer one personality type or series of adventures to another – but either way, they’ve got the same basic premise.
But when you choose Carter Hall or Katar Hol, you’re choosing two pretty different genres.
I’m actually more partial to the Katar Hol alien-cop version, mostly because of the amazing Tim Truman Hawkworld mini-series. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who would prefer this version to get the big-screen treatment.
Now, Geoff Johns, as Geoff Johns generally does (and while I’m not a fan, I do recognize this is one of his major skills), attempted to bridge the gap when he dusted off the property a decade back, effectively saying, “Hawkman was Carter Hall, he died, was reincarnated as Katar Hol, HE died, Carter Hall came back and has all Katar’s memories so let’s just move on now, please.”
I won’t say it was a simple fix, but it was better than things that had come before.
So now, in the DC Universe, Hawkman’s Carter Hall, an archeologist who remembers all his past lives and battles among ancient ruins and alien worlds alike. Which means you’d likely craft a Hawkman movie on the Carter Hall, archeologist/warrior premise. And that might be an okay flick.
You could surely toss in a bunch of flashbacks throughout the movie as Carter regains all these memories, and then it could climax with Carter and Shiera beating the bad guy and ending the curse and happily ever after.
And then you have to figure out what to do with the sequel. And the part of me that says “Don’t plan for sequels” would admire a nice, clean one-off superhero movie plot.
But what if the movie were to swerve a bit? What if it were to really embrace the romance/reincarnation angle that makes Hawkman more than just a winged guy with a mace?
Next: An outline for the Hawkman Trilogy.