TheRealTomServo Presents... Martin McDonagh's ROY HARPER, SNOWBIRD Pitch
Many fans want the Green Arrow to appear in the DCEU at some point. But what about taking a different angle than giving him a solo adventure? What do I mean? Read on to find out...
Oh, hey! That was quickish, right? I'm surprised I'm getting this up so soon, considering just how packed my schedule has been. Went to Universal on Spooky Day. Halloween Horror Nights was a pretty good time. And speaking of good time, I highly recommend checking out the Safdie brothers' Good Time. It's a fine flick, and we get two of the best performances of the year so far out of it. So stop what you're doing and go check it out! After this article of course.
Last time, I gave my take on a Plastic Man feature, and was happy with some of the feedback I got. I'm surprised it was so positive, considering how out-there it was tonally, and the fact that it featured source material deviations aplenty. Still, it did encourage me to continue these, for better or worse. So here we are once again.
I, just like many of you, am a huge Green Arrow fan. Enough of one to main him in Injustice 2, even with him being so low on the tier. Yeah, all in all, he's not the best character in the world, but coming from a guy who uses Luigi in Super Smash Bros. Melee more than he picks up his top tier mains (Falco, Sheik, Marth), it isn't all that surprising. I guess I root for the underdog. I've got a family of Jets fans, so maybe it's genetic. Anyway, I also want to see Ollie and the rest of his universe repackaged for the silver screen. He's certainly an interesting character, and has an extensive self-contained universe with enough potential to support the translation.
My real question going into this was "how?" more than "why?". I've seen plenty of pitches for the character in the past, but none rise above standard CBM fare or pretty bland trope-fests. At worst, some are just cinematic versions of Arrow arcs or Batman Begins clones. My initial thought was to make a Green Arrow film a hybrid of the Tim Burton Batman and The Wolf of Wall Street, where Ollie would be an unstoppable force in terms of media coverage, garnering him celebrity status. Seeing his city so overrun with crime, he decides to suit up as Green Arrow by night, but also taking advantage of his position to run for mayor by day. It would have been an exploration of celebrity and upper-class excess and corruption disguised as a superhero film. I liked it fine. But then I asked myself: why don't we take some of those ideas, but play it from the point of view of the little guy?
That's where Roy Harper comes in.
R O Y H A R P E R , S N O W B I R D
"There's another reason they called him Speedy."
Directed by Martin McDonagh
Written by Martin McDonagh and Terence Winter
Based on Speedy by Mort Weisinger and George Papp
I did end up keeping some of these story elements intact, as they did have potential. But instead of directly lifting Scorsesisms and making some sort of busy MCU-like Smörgåsbord of undefined genre hybrids (I love the MCU, but they're all a bit samey), those topics will be explored from an outsider's point of view. And how far removed from that world can you get than the world of drugs?
Well, actually, sleazy politicians and drugs are actually a pretty common pairing, so, yeah. Maybe it's a little different when you're talking about drugs on the street? Or is it the same, because you still have politics and drugs in the same movie? Does that count? I wonder if doing that is gonna unintentionally turn into some out-of-touch, dated, Reagan-era War on Drugs kind of... oh, damn. I'm rambling. I keep on doing it!
After his mentor, the Green Arrow (Colin Farrell, The Lobster), disowned him for his drug use, Roy Harper (Glen Powell, Scream Queens) capitalized on his vigilante talents to be an enforcer for whatever client was willing to hire him. An assassination attempt on Oliver Queen during a campaign speech leads Black Canary (Abbie Cornish, Seven Psychopaths) to go to Roy for help. Still unwilling to return to a full-on career of superheroics, Roy will navigate through the dirty streets of Star City, his new home, to find the culprit in the shooting. But the journey leads to the pair untangling a spider web that has its strands in every corner of the city. Drugs, sex, crime, and corruption run rampant in Roy Harper, Snowbird, Martin McDonagh's (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) takedown of American politics and the superhero genre.
As you can see, the same story elements remain intact. But placing the narrative outside of that circle allows the film to critique it objectively, as well as place the superhero genre itself under the microscope. It's a story told from Roy's point of view, but it examines Oliver Queen/Green Arrow's altruism and hypocricies just as much as it develops our main character. I think it's a direction that bolsters an already-solid premise.
You have no idea how much I've been anticipating being able to cast this man in something. McDonagh, before his leap to film, wrote for the stage. When he did jump to moviemaking, however, he did so in style. His short film, Six Shooter, won an Academy Award in its category. His two feature-length features, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, garnered critical acclaim. Each did very well in the film festival circuit, and went on to be nominated for a multitude of awards. It's the former, however, that received what the mainstream film press considers the highest honor of the lot: an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. His upcoming feature, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is looking like it will continue that pattern. It has already received overwhelmingly-positive response from critics, winning the People's Choice Award at TIFF 2017 and generating Oscar buzz.
McDonagh is one of my favorite working directors. He has a serious talent for black comedy, and that's certain to shake up a genre landscape that has either branded itself with family-friendly, safe humor or drained itself of comedy completely. His films are meaningful and smart without using "stylish filmmaking" as a crutch. And with his Irish heritage, he's an outsider himself. A fresh set of unbiased eyes could dissect both the tropes and clichés of the superhero genre, as well as the all-too-familar seediness of politics, both common and long-lasting trends in the United States, in a way no American can.
Martin McDonagh and Terence Winter
What a rock star combination this would be. And what wonders it would work. In a Watch the Throne way, not a Milly Vanilly way.
McDonagh, a seasoned playwright, naturally pens the scripts to all of his films. And does so exceptionally. No McDonagh film would quite be the same without his unique brand of writing. As such, bringing him on to write Snowbird is pretty much a no-brainer.
Terence Winter is a pretty big deal in the world of television. He's hand a hand in what many claim to be two of the best shows to hit the airwaves in the last few decades: The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. Winter wrote a multitude of Sopranos episodes before going on to create Boardwalk Empire. Both received near-universal acclaim from critics and audiences, garnering multiple award nominations and wins. He would later collaborate with a previously-mentioned Martin Scorsese a total of three times: The Audition, a 2015 short film, Vinyl, the 2016 season-long HBO television series, and probably his highest honor of the three, penning the screenplay for 2013's The Wolf of Wall Street.
I've already sung McDonagh's praises, almost to an excessive degree. I hope he isn't reading this. He might think I'm crushing on him or something. And I don't know how progressive a nation Ireland is, honestly. How did they feel about Brexit? Honestly, if you ask me, things are looking up for the Brits since the vote. Now if only they can get people to stop hitting other people with trucks.
Back on topic though, what makes Winter a perfect choice? Well, he's already worked within Scorsese's domain, and would be familiar with the tropes and tricks and style embelished in his work. With Snowbird taking aim at these ideals, he'd challenge himself as a writer to critique his own work. I think McDonagh's brand of European cynicism and onlooker status in the very-American Hollywood scene can bring that out of him.
Okay, so. I'm lazy. I'm literally gonna do exactly what I did in the last article and just list off here. I really don't think everything requires a breakdown. And frankly, why would it? Not everyone has the attention span for it, and I wouldn't be surprised if some people have already clicked off by now. Let's just get through this so we could give the people what they want!
See? Quick and easy. This section is probably the most boring to most of you, I'm sure. But you know what? Put on your big boy pants and face the real world! Not everything is exciting all the time. Where you expecting Disney World when you applied for that desk job, Harold? No? So stop shooting Post-It balls into the bin and get back to work!
Ah, finally. The real meat and bones. The moment you've all been waiting for. Will it fulfill your passionate fanboy headcanons? Probably not. Keep in mind I cast these with the directors and writers in mind, and who would best compliment who. Okay? Good. Prepare to be upset!
-Glen Powell as Roy Harper-
Main protagonist of the film. A crack cocaine addict living in shame as an enforcer-for-hire after his stint as Green Arrow's sidekick came to an abrupt end. Brash and snarky. Has adopted the "ends justify the means" mentality of Star City's underworld.
Notable Works: Scream Queens & Hidden Figures
-Abbie Cornish as Dinah Lance-Queen/Black Canary-
Wife of Oliver Queen. After the assassination attempt on her husband, Dinah tracks down Roy and asks for his help. Tried to play the role of mediator between Roy and Ollie. Outgoing and confident. Just as adept as her counterparts in both combat and sleuth skills.
Notable Works: Bright Star & Seven Psychopaths
-Colin Farrell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow-
Former mentor of Roy Harper and husband of Dinah Lance-Queen. Cocky and sure of himself, but liberal to an almost oxymoronic degree. Nearly assassinated during his mayoral campaign. Communicates with Dinah mostly by phone. Disowned Roy as a mentee after witnessing him buy drugs from Hannibal Bates, a criminal he was tracking.
Notable Works: In Bruges & The Lobster
-Michael Stuhlbarg/Sam Rockwell as Anthony Bellows/Hannibal Bates-
A cannibalistic supervillain and drug kingpin who takes the form of the indulgent, corrupt political associate of Oliver Queen. As Hannibal, his family was killed in an accident during Green Arrow's more reckless early crimefighting years. Steals a new face and rebrands himself as Bellows. Plans to frame Ollie as the source of Star City's drug trafficking.
Notable Works: A Serious Man & Arrival (Stuhlbarg), Moon & Seven Psychopaths (Rockwell)
-Brían F. O'Byrne as Malcolm Merlyn-
Historic arch-rival of Green Arrow. A dangerous archer with impressive physical prowess. Hired by Hannibal Bates as an enforcer for his crime ring. Tasked with masquerading as the Green Arrow and pulling off various grunt work throughout Star City in an effort to defame the vigilante.
Notable Works: Million Dollar Baby & Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
-Cristin Milioti as Commissioner Brianna Nudocero-
Young, hard-headed commissioner of the Star City Police Department. Presses for an investigation on the attempted murder of Oliver Queen, which leads to the SCPD falling for Anthony Bellow's trap of misinformation. An obstacle in Roy Harper and Dinah Lance-Queen's way.
Notable Works: The Wolf of Wall Street & How I Met Your Mother
-Jean Dujardin as Eddie Fyers-
A gifted mercenary and former enemy of Green Arrow. An ex-CIA agent corrupted by the wealth and influence of criminals willing to pay for his talents. Hired by Hannibal Bates as an enforcer for his crime ring.
Notable Works: The Artist & The Wolf of Wall Street
-André Holland as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning-
A schoolteacher working in Star City. Ex-superhero who retired following the emergence of Green Arrow. Inspired back into action after learning from Black Canary that a student of his is buying from one of Hannibal Bates' men.
Notable Works: Moonlight & The Knick
-Yasiin "Mos Def" Bey as Frederick Tuckman-
Lowly Star City criminal working under Hannibal Bates. Responsible for distributing drugs to the younger crowds of Star City. Turned to crime after being stranded on and island with Oliver Queen cost him his old life.
Notable Works: The Italian Job & The Woodsman
Interesting cast, huh? I think everyone here perfectly compliments the directing and writing styles of McDonagh and Winter. I just hope you guys can look past the deviations I made in service of the larger story!
So, what did you think? Are you comfortable with the American superhero film being put in the hands of a cynical Irishman? Is this at all the right approach or do you hate me more for this pitch than the last one? Because let's be honest, more people care about Green Arrow than Plastic Man. I love both but come, it's a fact. Don't be a halfwit.
I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got movie sign. Cheers!