Life can be a strange thing filled with many usual things and events, and it seems that most of us can usually look back and see things in a way that you don’t necessarily see them when they are initially occurring. Sometimes real life truly is stranger than fiction.
Back around the beginning of 2005 my life was going though some major changes. One, although I had been separated from my wife over a year before generally things were going pretty well for me. Because of my separation I had decided to pursue a career as a professional writer. And before that point I had already written several short stories and screenplays.
They were not as polished and professional as I could craft now, especially considering that this is the month of October in 2011, but there were signs that with work, determination, and effort I could possibly become a professional writer.
And as luck would have it, I even managed to get hired at a new comic book company that was developing several comic book projects for publication. Initially as a assistant editor, but very quickly being assigned the task of being the assistant editor for the Executive Editor. A position that although I was new and wasn’t experienced, I consistently did my level best each and every day.
I had been a fan of comic books for many years, and was a well established regular chatter on the Yahoo comic book related chat room The Comic Shop. And armed with my natural talent for writing, plus my detailed knowledge and memory of the majority of the comics that I had ever read, it was an place that you would probably expect a person like me to be.
Now as a comic book fan, and a amateur screenplay writer, it would also be expected that I frequented websites that focus on possible comic book movies, and one day I came across an article talking about a possible Captain America movie. Which I thought was an excellent idea, as I had always been a Captain America fan up to that point. But besides that I really didn’t think anything about it.
But one night while in Yahoo chat room the Comic Shop a yahoo user came in asking everyone what we would want in a Captain America movie. And not surprising I had a very detailed list of things that I thought that would be required in a Captain America movie.
1. Set primarily in the 1940’s.
2. The goal should be to make as movie that had a realistic wartime context to it, more like it would have really been if there had been a Captain America. And I cited the movie Saving Private Ryan.
3. His combat costume should be heavily influenced by what American soldiers were actually wearing back then.
4. His original non-circular tool steel shield should be utilized.
5. Should include Captain America’s enemy the Red Skull
And I know some of these things most people wanted, but some of them were pretty specific. But the main thing is that my detailed list impressed this guy. Impressed him enough that we had a long conversation where he asked me how I had come up with such an detail idea about how the film should be, and I related to him that I was trying to establish my career as a professional writer, current had a job as an editor of a comic book company, and was in fact an amateur screenwriter.
And that was when he told me that the reason he was in the chat room was because Marvel was indeed looking for scripts for the feature length Captain America movie. He revealed to me that he was in fact a producer for a smaller production company. And suggested that I work up an initial opening (A healthy portion of the first act) and he would pass it on to Marvel for consideration.
Honestly I didn’t think I had any real chance, or that he could actually do what he was saying he was capable of. But after establishing that he was indeed a producer working for a production company by calling the company and personally talking to him, I decided that it certainly couldn’t hurt anything to try.
So I began the process of writing my version of the Captain America script. And like many would have done I decided to go to someone that had actually lived in that time period, my grandmother. As my own grandfather had himself been a very real soldier during World War 2, in a very real world.
And she herself had always had something of a reputation in the family as a bit of a historian. Always remembering details that most had forgotten years and years ago, which I thought made her an excellent choice. And although she didn’t know hardly anything about the comic book character Captain America, she most certainly knew what it was like to live during World War 2, and she knew details about my grandfather’s experiences during the war.
It was during the conversation that I was talking to her about the initial origin of Captain America and how he had been rejected and labeled 4F by the military physicians because he didn’t meet the requirements of the physical. In fact the fictional character Steve Rogers was so small and frail that there was little doubt that he would be labeled 4F, yet he so wanted to serve his country that he still tried to get pass that physical. And I told her that to me that was an example that Steve Rogers was heroic even before he was Captain America.
That was when my grandmother smiled and related to me that my grandfather had been rejected and labeled 4F multiple times. Not just once as the comic book Steve Rogers was, but in fact at least four different times my grandfather kept trying and trying to pass the military enlistment physical so that he could serve his country in World War 2. And eventually he did manage to get passed and got his wish to serve his country in its desperate time of need for volunteers.
So imagine if you are that you are me, and you are working on your version of the Captain America movie, and you hear a person from that time relating a story of a man that had been rejected multiple times. There was a gravitas to it that I liked a lot, and thought that it would help even more to emphasize my thought to establish that Steve Rogers was a hero even before becoming Captain America, and in fact it played a large role and focus in the pages that I eventually wrote.
It was that in around a week I had written the first 15 to 30 pages of script and sent it to this producer guy, and after reading it he still seemed impressed enough to send it on for Marvel to look at. He was a bit enthusiastic at the potential possibilities, but again I didn’t think much about it and figured that I would never hear from him again.
But the things is that I did.
He said that Marvel had gotten flooded with possibly scripts for the Captain America. In fact a large number of scripts for the Captain America movie that they planned, which I didn’t find surprising at all. But what was very surprising to me was when he explained to me that they had already managed to narrow it down to around eight scripts, and that my script was one of the eight that they thought at least had possibilities.
And at this point this producer was starting to think that there was a real possibility, after all I had made it to the second round. That in itself for a relatively amateur screenwriter was quite an impressive feat. Not surprising at this point I thought that I might possibly have a chance at an incredible shot in the dark opportunity.
Which lasted a little over two weeks when this producer communicated with me again and told me that Marvel had decided to pass on my script and that my version had been eliminated from the list of eight scripts that had made it to the second round.
Disappointing, but not altogether expected. I tend to be realist, and things like this usually don’t happen. A guy in a comic book chatroom gets an opportunity to have a hand in writing a major motion picture on a well established superhero? So although disappointed I took it as a good sign that I had managed to get that far. And me and the producer said our goodbyes and I figured that was the end of it, continually on with my life as it hurtled toward the dissolution of the comic book company and my own separation from my wife turning into a complete divorce.
Then a couple of months later to my complete shock the producer sent me a very excited message telling me that Marvel had made it through all the scripts that made it through the second round rejecting each and everyone of them, just as they had rejected my own submission. But the thing was that after some consideration they decided to go over the entire bunch and see if possibly they had missed something. Possibly there was something in one of the scripts that had something…
…And that’s when after reading my script yet again that they decided to pull it back and take a very serious look at my version. Even more importantly was that this was when this producer who had been somewhat enthusiastic before suddenly got incredibly excited, as to hear him talk there was a very real chance at this point that I could get this amazing opportunity. And at this point I have to admit that I thought that my million in one chance had increased substantially to something at the very least closer to a flip of a coin.
But after about a month, the producer communicated with me, and it was like he was a balloon and someone had let all his air out. He then related to me how Marvel had after taking a very serious look at my script they had decided to pass on it and not hire me to work on their movie script. And he cited to primary reason that Marvel had told him had be major factors in their rejection of my submission:
1. My own number one of details that I thought a Captain America movie should include. Set primarily in the 1940’s. Marvel had decided that they were going to go with a movie that was set about 50% in the 1940’s and 50% in the present day.
2. I wasn’t an established screenwriter, and therefore didn’t have any movie writing credits. And so they decided that it would be best to go with a professional writer that was.
And that’s nearly the end of my story except for a few details.
First being that several years later I read an article stating that Marvel had decided to drop the whole idea to have the movie set 50% of the story in the 1940’s and the rest in the present day, and had instead decided to go with a Captain America movie that was… Set primarily in the 1940’s.
Not surprisingly that irked me just a bit. But c’est la vie as the French would say, and something that I definitely understood.
The second thing I can show you. The second thing I can utilize my own personal experience that I have related to you in this story I have told you, and there is a possibility that this story combined with this thing that I can present to you had a chance in invoking an emotional reaction in you, like it did it me.
Even though it is doubtful, even with every detail that I have presented to you, that you will have as much as an emotional reaction as I had when my gazed upon it. But don’t worry, I won’t waste any more of your time than I have to. All you have to do is watch the first 23 seconds.
I was going through my morning news articles and came across this one which was titled The 10 Best Superhero Origins Stories of All Time! and found a certain detail mention their entry for # 6 particularly amusing.