My wife was trying to figure out what to do with a weirdly-shaped canvas she’s planning to paint, and some riffing led to the ultimate pulp B-movie idea… well, for a certain audience, anyway. I’m thinking it’d be one of those neo-exploitation flicks, like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have resurrected.
The image on the painting–a movie poster–features the following:
- Giordano Bruno, in a torn monk’s habit (with giant rippling muscles visible beneath), stetson, boots & spurs, poised with two sixguns in his hands and a cigar in his mouth, a grim look of determination on his face.
- Marie Curie, levitating in the background a frilly black gown (the hem blown upward by the wind to reveal sexy legs, of course), wreathed in radioactive force that she is obviously about to unleash full force at her enemy.
- Isaac Newton, in a kind of clockwork mechabattlesuit with “F*ck Alchemy, I Haz Calculus” written across the front; he stands concentrating while a mysterious halo of blue force emanates from the suit, with deadly spiky lines of force erupting in all directions.
- Einstein, dressed as a Shaolin monk and with his hair wild as he flies through the air while executing an amazing high kick, his eyes crazed with fury and his mouth open as he roars a cry of battle.
- An elderly Charles Darwin in a tightly buttoned greatcoat, twin machine guns in his hands and a pipe in his mouth, letting loose a volley of justice in the form of searing hot lead; he looks like he’s enjoying himself.
- Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in a shiny black suit, sporting a scar across one cheek (“oh, I got that in the Renaissance last week,” he will comment offhand); he poses in a battle stance with a saber in one hand and a complicated Gernsbackish gizmo in the other, and a “I’m gonna kill you assholes dead,” look on his face.
The concept? A conspiracy by creationists at some ridiculously named megachurch, hatched after the (concealed) discovery of time travel by a religious wing-nut trying to find a way back to the time of Adam and Eve (or, alternately, to kill off the dinosaurs before they can leave those pesky fossils around). When they start gathering Faithful Christians of the past–Origen, Augustine, Torquemada… nice guys like that– they realize what they have on their hands, and what they could do with it. Then they begin a campaign of terror, trying to time travel back and assassinate the great scientists of history. But after a few killings, they change tactics, and the scientists instead begin to disappear.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is forced to steal the secret time machine (independently invented years ago) from Princeton University and travel into the past, to round-up scientists of various eras and deposit them in an extratemporal “safehold” dimension where they can train and learn to defend themselves before going home to finish the work they need to do. Training montages, budding romance (maybe a love triangle? Marie Curie digs Newton, but Netwon’s asexual and Darwin just wishes she’d let go so he could help her get over the brutal assassination of her husband by the Creationists); maybe the scientists bond over a love of nerdcore rap music, pizza and craft beer, and playing a hacked version of Skyrim on Oculus Rift? Whatever.
But when, during a booty call/supply run/contract fulfillment back to 2014 (he’s filming Cosmos 4: Science Still Totally Fucking Rocks, after all, and there’s a production schedule to be kept up; cue a scene in the TV studio green room with Cosmos groupies (of both sexes) all turned on while he explains angular momentum to them in detail), Neil DeGrasse Tyson discovers the Creationists have begun a televised trial of kidnapped scientists, arguing it is the Will of God that they be condemned to death, he feels he must go back and tell the scientists he has rescued. When he tells them, the gang decides that they can’t just stand by while religious morons kill more scientists.
The megachurch will burn to the ground by the end of the movie, of course. Because those rescued scientists aren’t going to rely on the scientific method alone… not anymore. Now, they’re also trained to kill. But the Creationists knew this day was coming, and they’ve taken refuge… somewhere in time. A hunt to save the scientists ensues…
It sounds horrible, of course, and kind objectionable in all the ways exploitation films tend to be, but imagine it: intelligent scientist protagonists, and geek humor in-jokes, and Maybe Some Actual Science amid all the superheroic and pulp tropey nonsense. I would pay $12 to see that. I would write a freaking script for that, if someone were actually willing to pay me for it.
I would so write that.
You hear that, world? You want this film, call me.
[It strikes me that maybe it’d work as well, or better, as a comic. Hmmm.]