This week will launch a new article for GUARD, “Pipedreams”. The premise is that we get to pick out an intellectual property and describe what we would do with it. This can be a remake, a webseries, a video game, whatever. Tragically, these things will never come to pass because Sony absolutely refuses to hand me the keys to “Spider-Man”. But I can talk about what I would do all I would like, hence “Pipedreams”. So to inaugurate the occasion I’m going to delve into something on the horizon, “The Defenders”.
Now all good Marvel nerds will already know about the deal struck with Netflix. A lot of our favorite characters are getting their own streaming shows: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Danny Rand, and the most important, Luke Cage. The reason he’s the most important is because Luke Cage was the first one to fight Wrecking Crew—Bup, bup, bup. I hear you shouting Marvel trivia at your screen but I did my research. True, The Wrecker first tangled with Thor but Luke Cage was the first one to fight the whole assembled Wrecking Crew, specifically in “The Defenders”.
Now enough history, time to get down to brass tacks. All you need to know about Wrecking crew in the comics is it’s four guys given Asgardian strength—wait, let me fix that. They are four morons given Asgardian strength. It’s an important distinction because in the comic book world these guys could take on the likes of Thor while giving Iron Man a wedgie. Yet their highest ambition is to steal shit from grocery stores and the post office. What I’m trying to say is that in the Marvel cinematic universe we have only been introduced to one type of villain, the menace. That’s all well and good but you know what I want? The thug, the mook, the guy everybody steps on. What I want is to bring in this Wrecking Crew and I want them to be terrible at what they do. So how would I go about making a Wrecking Crew that is terrible?
First we have to establish what this is. How would I do a Wrecking Crew story? First, a Wrecking Crew story is a Luke Cage story so they would be introduced in either Luke Cage’s series or The Defenders series but it is pivotal that he is the hero. Notice that I didn’t say he is the protagonist and that’s because it’s not his story, it’s a Luke Cage story but it’s not his story. The entire focus of the episode would be around the members of the Wrecking Crew. It would intro each member briefly before bestowing them with the power of Gods; then they would rage around the city where they would confront Luke Cage for the first time and then the story would climax in a showdown. It’s a pretty standard formula but I feel like that would let us flush out the characters, see them as the humans they are, removed from the powers.
Before I talk about the plot, let’s do a comparison. What is the closest example of what I would try and do? Who has seen the 2001 movie “Knockaround Guys”? The answer is nobody, it was a terrible movie. However the premise was very interesting. It’s about four guys who are in the mob but they’re all low level errand boys with aspirations for something greater. They want to be big players in the mob. So a job comes along with a big payoff and they jump at the opportunity. But things go drastically wrong and now they have to clean up the mess and prove they can be big boys in the mob. This is what I would want, a group of guys who start out knocking over convenience stores and liquor stores but have these aspirations to be in the big leagues. But then the powers come along and things don’t get better, they get messier.
Understand, these aren’t dumb characters. Hell in the comic books Thunderball is a physicist who is able to make the gamma bomb that Bruce Banner never could. But they lack a lot of things to be big time, dangerous villains. First off, these guys start off robbing stores and then get there powers and keep knocking off stores. It would take them a while before they go for an armored truck or even a bank. And when they get there? What tools does it take to rob a bank in a perfect scenario? Do you think they thought to bring any of those tools or did they bring their muscles and expect everything else to fall into place? Second, what do these guys do in a panic? I’m certain they aren’t calm under pressure. Now give these guys enough strength to throw cars and let’s see what happens when things don’t go their way.
The whole of this story would center around these guys and we would watch as the almighty power they were given didn’t make things better for them, it made things so much worse. At the end of this story these guys are all knocked down and taken out by Luke Cage because that’s what happens to every street level bad guy in comic books. At the end of the story they’re dragged away by the cops and the hero celebrates the victory. But what if we’re watching this from the other side? We get to see them go into the epic showdown, fight the hard fight and lose. In the end, to see someone with such epic powers, powers that could beat entire armies, to see that fail would be an amazing realization. Because maybe powers don’t mean anything. Maybe Steve Rodgers is Captain America because he’s Steve Rodgers first. Perhaps Iron Man wouldn’t be an Avenger if first he wasn’t Tony Stark. All the power in the world can’t change who the person is deep down.
Or maybe I just want a big punch up with the Wrecking Crew and Luke Cage.