Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pitch Me, Mr.B: "MEGA MAN"

This poll decided which hypothetical movie adaptations of... things I'd take a swing at pitching as movie treatments. Just a creative-writing exercise to keep things sharp. By decision of you the readers, first up is MEGA MAN - which I'm assuming anyone reading this recognizes as a series of video games from Capcom. Reminder: If you enjoy this sort of feature on this blog, please consider becoming part of The MovieBob Patreon.

Let's get into this:

Open in extended montage, intercutting childhoods and teen years of two young boys: THOMAS LIGHT and ALBERT WILY. Light is a happy child of priviledge, the only son of two wealthy scientists (a lineage of doctors, professors, etc in fact) whose interests in science, technology and art are nurtured and encouraged from the start. Wily, on the other hand, is born into harsh working-class poverty - a middle child whose natural genius for science/engineering mostly get him bullied by his peers, abused by his siblings (his inventions broken, ideas mocked) and ignored by his parents.

The two become friends at an Ivy League college, where their complimentary talents make them a potent force in the emerging field of robotics and artificial-intelligence, which has just begun to fully explode (think the advent of home computers) into the mainstream. Soon, robotics and A.I. are ubiquitous, and L&W ROBOTICS SOLUTIONS is at the popular and technological forefront of the industry.

Virtually everyone agrees that L&W robots are the industry standard, but their most popularly-touted innovation (culturally, at least) is Light's solution to circumventing The Uncanny Valley by embracing the use of humanoid/animal shapes subtly-exaggerated to cartoon proportions. This means that the robots look exactly like they do in the NES Mega Man games - bulgy, smooth and "chibi-like," with humanoid models commonly featuring oversized heads/feet/hands and expressive doll-like faces (alternately, imagine a more expensive version of this nonsense.) Privately, Wily resents that "The Light Touch" (and Light's more public-friendly, Walt Disney-like persona) is so talked-about, as he feels his pure engineering contributions are the true source of their success.

The plot-proper finally finds Wily & Light as white-haired older men, 40 years after college, making a huge press presentation of their new products for the year. They are joined onstage by ROCK and ROLL, a male/female "sibling" pair of humanoid robots with super-advanced artificial-intelligence (most "work bots" are not as "smart" as virtual-only A.I. for technical reasons) who largely serve as crowd-pleasing mascots for the company.

The centerpiece presentation is six prototype industrial robots with unprecedented fusion of physical-dexterity and artificial-intelligence (not nearly at Rock & Roll's level, but impressive) built to work in harsh conditions - yes, CUTMAN, GUTSMAN (mining/clearing/etc, a team) ICEMAN (arctic industries) FIREMAN (high-temperature) ELECMAN (energy) and BOMBMAN (demolition).

The presentation goes well, and Light announces that Wily will be presenting a "concept robot" whose design he personally spearheaded: This is PROTO MAN, a demonstration robot meant to show off Wily's still-in-development "smart circuit" technology that theoretically allows a robot to "rewrite" it's own schematics almost as rapidly as software, in order to not only use any tool within it's ability and programming but absorb new functions and physical parts rapidly (he uses, to Light's obvious chagrin, a less than friendly metaphor of a military robot being able to repurpose the onboard weaponry of it's fallen comrades and enemies).

Someone in the crowd asks the obvious question about robots with universal function replacing human manual laborers. Wily treats the concern flippantly, while Light hurriedly interjects that those concerns are why Proto Man is only a research concept - they have no interest in putting humans out of jobs. There has clearly been internal disagreement on this, and the two men begin to argue - first by passive aggression, but ending with Wily blurting out an insult about "Giving the world the steam engine and being harraugned about the fate of mules!" This goes over bad, leading Light to usher his friend offstage and start-up the introduction of another product, RUSH the robot dog - a toy/companion for children.

Backstage, they have it out: Wily feels that Light only cares for the labor-class because in his life of priviledge he never actually had to "know" them; whereas Wily grew up in that world and became obsessed with robots partially because of a personal revenge-fantasy of seeing mechanized-labor drive the human working-class (whom he associates entirely with the "ignorant brutes" who tormented him in his youth) into extinction - ultimately creating a utopia where robots manage all menial tasks and scientists like him and Light are left unbothered to think and create.

Wily's rant is captured by a young Japanese hacker and technology blogger, MAYL SAKURAI (yes, Battle Network references - there aren't a lot of humans in this mythos) and goes viral - a P.R. disaster for the company that is "damage controlled" by an announcement to "gift" Cutman, Gutsman, Iceman, Fireman, Elecman and Bombman to specific operations of of "global interest"

Light is forced to dismiss Wily, who turns down a severance package "large enough to found your own new company" in exchange for taking PROTO MAN (and his patents for Smart Circuity) with him. Six months later, the rebranded LIGHT ROBOTICS remains on top of the market; with "sightings" of Dr. Wily in public (and the odd fact that no competing firm has been able to "poach" him despite trying) are the only real lasting memory of his "meltdown."

Where Wily actually is? A rocky island off the coast of Japan (L&W was located in San Fransisco, incidentally) where has has secretly maintained a whole "workshop" of "borrowed" company equipment in an abandonned underground military installation.

Light meets with a teen-aged girl who sneaks away from field-trip tour to show him "her invention." This is TRON BONNE, a young robotics wunderkind (she's actually already skipped ahead to college, used the tour for cover), and her invention is an affordable mass-production house-robot called a SERVBOT. Light is impressed, buys production rights to the Servbots and hires her on the spot as a "consulting intern" for the engineering department, which needs fresh ideas after Wily's departure.

Tron Bonne learns, along with the audience, Light's most closely-guarded secret: Rock and Roll are even more advanced than the public realizes: They have full personalities and even rudimentary, child-like emotions.

Sakurai investigates reports of famous hackers, mostly from Japan and Korea, disappearing after being contacted by a "Mr. X" (yes, Dr. Wily, who is also selling illegal "SNIPER JOE" combat robots to international terrorists and organized crime, using the money to grow his "workshop" and continue experimenting with Proto Man and... "other" projects.)

Bonne (whom was also learn is a big fan of Mayl's online presence) comes to Light with a new proposal: She believes that she's managed to reverse-engineer a non-infringing answer to Wily's "smart circuits," but needs his help to implement it. Light agrees, and they decide that they will first try adding the feature to the extra-durable Rock.

The rebuild of Rock is successful: He can incorporate almost any tools or programming into his body (and also does the color-changing thing when changing tools, because.) Wily, having hacked into Light's security systems to spy, discovers that they've (sort of) trumped his tech and becomes enraged, telling Proto Man "we're moving things up."

Light Robotics prepares for the launch of a major firmware update for around 20-30% of their most popular models, which will be downloaded automatically during a brief "power down" that the company treats like a mock-"event." But when the robots power back on, the they've been infected with a virus that causes them to go berzerk causing damage and mass-hysteria! The same protocol also causes Cutman, Gutsman etc to being operating "independently," taking control of the areas they've been dispatched to violently with backup from also-refigured Sniper Joes and other machines.

Light's tech-support finds the source of the infection immediately: Mayl Sakurai, whose home is raided and is arrested. But the virus has actually come from Wily, the creation of the hackers he's abducted.

After some web digging, Bonne theorizes that Wily pinned the initial hack on Mayl - and not just for revenge to take her away from computers, as she may be among those capable of reversing the virus. Light opts to retrofit Rock with combat equipment and hope he can use his new smart-circuit adaptability to fight his way to rescuing her from prison in Japan (the country has been hit especially hard, and she hasn't even been arraigned yet) and bringing her their (to Light's) to help stop the machine riots.

As MEGA MAN (and using Rush's transforming vehicle modes) Rock flies to Japan and fights through out of control robots to extract Mayl. He also encounters Proto Man (now looking like he does in the games, whistle and all) confirming that Wily is behind things. They fight, but Proto Man is ordered to withdraw.

Instead, it's Bomb Man (previously stationed at a Korean demolition project) who arrives for a showdown. He and Mega Man tear apart part of a city, until Mega draws the fight away to nearby cliffs. After defeating his enemy, Mega Man incorporates the bomb weaponry into his system - maybe if he can do this to the rest of them, there's a chance.

Proto Man returns to Wily, confused as to why he was recalled. Wily says there is more work to be done on his upgrades.

MM brings Mayl to Light's, then announces his plan to take down the other "Robot Masters" while they work on the virus.

GutsMan and CutMan are stationed at a geoengineering project in the Pacific Northwest, so they're first on the schedule. GutsMan falls easily to bombs, but doesn't fully shut down - his "living" head is taken away by HARD-HATS. CutMan is more of a hand-to-hand martial-arts foe, defeated but after a much harsher fight.

ElecMan falls next, fight taking place at a solar energy storage facility.

Robots bring Wily the remains of GutsMan, he orders them taken to "reengineering," with Proto Man continuing to grouse about not being allowed to face Mega Man again yet.

IceMan falls next (arctic weather-research station).

Mega Man arrives at a geothermal power-plant adjacent to an active volcano in Hawaii to battle Fire Man, but Proto Man is waiting for him.

At Light's, Sniper Joe robots attack the faciltiy but are repelled by Bonne's Servbots (and Roll, who repurposes "household" tools into weapons to beat them.)

Proto Man and Fire Man double-team Mega Man, subduing him. Proto Man then destroys Fire Man himself, intending to absorb the flame-thrower weapon and prove himself equal (and then superior) to Mega Man - who protests that they shouldn't fight because they're "brothers" built together.

The flamethrower weapon malfunctions, shocking Proto Man and badly damaging him. He departs, leaving Mega Man to claim the final weapon.

Light, Bonne and Mayl crack the virus code and stop the rioting robots. In response, Wily causes SKULL CASTLE to rise out of the island and announces his terms to the world: Bigger and more unstoppable robot uprisings, unless he is allowed to found his own mechanized nation on any plot of land he chooses.

Mega Man arrives at Skull Castle amid a battle between Wily's robots and an easily-outmatched human naval fleet, who are almost making headway until the ROBOT DRAGON from (Mega Man 2) appears to engage them.

MM enters the castle and begins fighting his way to Wily's inner sanctum. The way is guarded by (separate) encounters with two big-scale robots: The shape-changing YELLOW DEVIL and GutsMan rebuilt as the massive GUTS DOZER.

On the final approach to Wily, MM finds himself in a huge chamber where an unknown number of "figures" are being contained in opaque glass tubes. Wily's voice comes up, welcoming the hero to the "prototypes divison." The tubes open, and out of them come between 40-50 "fan favorite" Robot Masters (some not finished) from the entire Mega Man game series. An absolutely massive brawl ensues.

Outside, Light arrives on the deck of a naval carrier with Mayl and Bonne, explaining that they've developed a reverse version of Wily's virus that could shut down the robots protecting the castle, but it will take time to set up and broadcast.

Wily, in his lab, happily watches MM fight a losing battle against his prototypes - but is caught off guard when Proto Man bursts in demanding "answers" to his malfunctions.

Light and the girls' virus is broadcast and works, de-securing the castle and causing the prototypes to shut down inside. But it doesn't effect Proto-Man, who is still holding Wily at gunpoint when Mega Man bursts in.

Wily takes the opportunity to zap Proto Man with electricity, knocking him out. He explains that he sees Proto Man as a failed test, usable for parts, and that he hasn't been repairing his smart-circuits, he'd been carefully porting them over into a NEW project - Proto-Man has his "head" and memories, but he's basically a glorified Sniper Joe unit now.

Wily then unveils his "new favorite son," the robot who got all of Proto Man's implants: Wily's answer to Mega Man... "X!" (Yup, as in MEGA MAN X in full armor - that's our big final fight.

After a brutal battle and a last-minute assist from Proto-Man, MM defeats MMX only to see Wily get away in an escape pod.

Mega Man returns to Light with Proto Man and remnants of MMX. After repairs, Proto Man announces that he is going looking for Wily, while MM will stay to protect others if he returns for the sequel.

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