The choice to write a spec script for S.H.I.E.L.D. was a serious one. It was also a necessary one. As an amateur script writer trying to find his break, it’s always good to keep creating new material. With two feature scripts and a bunch of shorts under my belt, I was planning on writing an hour-long drama as my next project.
S.H.I.E.L.D. news started flowing at the perfect time. I saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity show itself (at least from my perspective) and I decided to go for it. What better way to show your talent than produce a high-quality script for a television show only now shooting a pilot? The worst that could happen is the attempt fails miserably and nobody cares. That’s the chance every writer takes. I was banking on it being solid enough that someone able to make the decision would say “Hire this writer,” or at least “someone needs to call this guy, he shows promise.”
The first thing that occurred to me is that it could easily be mistaken as a piece of fan fiction. We do live in that world, and comic books are often the center of the crazy. Wouldn’t writing a script for a show like this come off as the result of a motivated fan’s boredom?
Then I decided not to care about that. If a writer trying to get a position on a show like this isn’t a fan of the source material, they’re doing it wrong.
The first step was in researching the characters. There is very little actually out there, but profiles have been revealed. I wrote to those profiles. It’s a spec script – if I’m able to get moderately close to the showrunner’s vision, the dialogue and quirks can be adjusted later. Part of the pudding that is the proof is delivering a strong script in as timely a manner as possible. In the television industry, writer rooms don’t have nearly the luxury I did putting two weeks of work into the script.
It also had to be good. It couldn’t feel rushed. My goal was to get it out before shooting on the pilot wrapped and I met that goal, but I would have let it take as long as it needed. I’ve done plenty of research on the Marvel Universe, however, so speed wasn’t nearly the problem it would be if I were trying to write a script for something like Days of Our Lives, a show with an immense back story that I know nothing about.
To make the characters even easier to work with, I chose to write a script more Marvel centric. I added a lot of characterization, but I filled the space usually devoted to interaction between the major characters with character interactions involving a number of new characters.
“What better subject,” thought I, perhaps vaingloriously, “than an origin story?”
I didn’t want to do an origin story for the series. That was probably already well-plotted and much better than I could do anyway. How about a villain?
The Wrecker seemed like a perfect fit to me, even though it seems strange at first glance. The Wrecker is primarily one of Thor’s baddies, especially considering his crowbar became enchanted with Asgardian magic. Why throw him up against a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that are probably supposed to be busy tracking Hydra cells down and closing them with brute force?
That’s where the magic comes in. The new show can be a huge number of things. Regardless of the A story, why wouldn’t the kids at Marvel want to use it as a vehicle for introducing new monsters? It wouldn’t be surprising to see new second and third tier heroes showing up on the small screen, as well.
The Wrecker is an iconic character for many, especially fans of Thor. He’s one of those characters that isn’t an A-list villain, even though he’s had some memorable stories. He’s B-list, some would argue he’s C-list unless he has the Wrecking Crew in tow. Even knowing that, he’s much too powerful for six spies to take down, regardless of their training.
I thought that was exactly why he was perfect. A-list villains are going to be saved for movies, so why would I use one in my script. I wanted to write a script that could actually be used if I found the magic mixture, or easily adapted if I got it close, or easily discarded if I missed completely. The Wrecker’s rank in the hierarchy of Marvel villains makes him a great candidate for a serial like this – he’s as comic-booky as they get but with the right treatment it can work.
The Wrecker didn’t always have enormous Asgardian power. Originally, he was an angry dude in a costume robbing places. It wasn’t till he stole Loki’s helmet that he got all super-powerful. Besides, this is the MCU – new rules apply.
I borrowed part of the origin from the Ultimate Marvel Universe and cut up a little of the regular continuity to sew together a new beginning. That allowed me to get Eliot Franklin involved sooner (The Black Bruce Banner), as well as bring in Damage Control.
Damage Control may seem an odd choice, but after enough thought I came to the conclusion that they were perfect. Their inclusion allowed me to write to an even broader range of characters, some comedic, and give the story depth. Instead of the tired old trope of a guy robbing jewelry stores that gets superpowers, I could use Damage Control’s relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. to give the protagonists a vehicle for action. I also used it to give more room for creating motivation for Dirk’s transformation into The Wrecker.
In the end, it allowed me to do everything I wanted. The finished script is the origin of an iconic baddie, not too powerful for a pack of mere mortals but highly recognizable to any hardcore fan. There’s a little extra exposition to rearrange the final scene and remove the cliffhanger ending, but as written it teases the Wrecking Crew, a formidable team that could be useful in other Marvel endeavors (a move towards Civil War?), and if you read closely enough it allows for a much larger story arc that could culminate in the Acts of Vengeance and include an introduction for Wilson Fisk – one of those broad, multi-book stories that would be perfectly suited for a small screen, multi-episode arc.
Damage Control has been mentioned in the MCU – in Iron Man, on a television monitor. With Enter the Wrecker, I attempted to expand on the company’s mythology while still delivering a great villain that is formidable, but not so formidable the story can’t work.
Should The Wrecker be a S.H.I.E.L.D. villain and does Damage Control deserve such a spotlight? I say yes, as long as they’re handled properly. I tried to do that by writing the scenes with Dirk seriously, while handling the scenes with Robin, John and Anne as broad-stroke comedy acts. For a first script from a new talent trying to prove himself, I’m proud to stamp my name on it.
Is it fan fiction? Sure. It is fiction and it was written by a fan. Some fan fiction ends up becoming canon, some doesn’t. Regardless of what happens with this, it was written first and foremost to be a speculative script, designed to run the length of a single episode with appropriate act breaks for commercials. Locations were left relatively simple, as were special effect needs, which means it should be producible on the show’s budget.
For now, there’s nothing more I can do. I’ve tossed my hat into the comic universe ring, and now I can only circulate it, continuing to write and hone my craft for free until someone plucks this plucky punk from obscurity and offers the opportunity to unleash a firestorm of story telling the like of which the universe has ever seen!
Even if the Marvel brass never pick up on the script or decides it isn’t good enough, the exercise was worth it. It can always sit in the pile of scripts meant to be shopped when an agent finally bites at a query, get its title and tagline added to the others – probably at the top since it is the newest.
It can also become fan fiction. I’m sure some Damage Control or Wrecker geek somewhere will love it even if most hate it, and that’ll be good. The objective of storytelling, for me, is to ultimately give someone enjoyment. It can be direct and vivid in a manner that The Avengers set new standards for, or it can be subtle and sinful in the way that Kevin Smith did it in Guardian Devil, where the enjoyment comes not from the death or madness but instead seeps from the emotions the piece evokes. This episode will not live up to the standards of either of those two examples, but it isn’t meant to. It is meant to feel like one episode, an important one but not an hour-long geekgasm, of a series if I were given the opportunity to write it.
It does begin setting the stage for an eventual hour-long geekgasm – maybe even a two-hour long double episode. I hope it also sets the stage for what could become a fruitful writing career. An MCU origin story for The Wrecker, Damage Control and this writer – that’s a story!
Excelsior… there’s a story in there, too. Wouldn’t work until at least season two, though.