An anonymous tipster has sent us what appears to be the pilot script for FX's adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Oeming's cop-and-superheroes series Powers. It reads like the real deal, complete with a heaping dollop of cable grime.
Spoilers from here on out...
A caveat before we begin. We have no way of confirming if this 63-page script is the official pilot or the most recent draft. This production script is dated May 7, 2011 and credited to Walking Dead producer and writer Charles H. Eglee, who's been attached to this project for a while.
I'm assuming this is legit for a couple reasons. First off, as popular and critically acclaimed as Powers may be in comic circles, it seems kind of strange that someone would go through the effort of making a hyper-detailed hoax script. For The Dark Knight Rises maybe, but not Powers. Don't get me wrong, I love Powers, but I don't know if it has the cultural pull to inspire such a meticulous fake.
Additionally, the leaked script seems to be following The Walking Dead model for comic-to-television adaptation. It draws heavily from an established story line — in this case, the inaugural "Who Killed Retro Girl?" arc — and leaves plenty of room for rejiggering in future episodes. All of the major players are introduced, and we get glimpses of familiar story arcs. For example, the fact that Christian used to moonlight as the superhero Diamond is made crystal clear by the episode's end.
When we received confirmation that Powers was being adapted for cable, we noted that FX would likely give the series' gritty plot room to breathe. The script sure keeps the cussing and ribaldry. Heck, Christian Walker pulls a balloon of narcotics out of a drug mule's ass when we first meet him ("This is the three finger interrogation. Wanna go up to the wrist-watch?"). Profanity is early and often (Triphammer on Retro Girl: "The girl was straight freak gash.") I don't remember the first arc of Powers word-for-word, but the dialogue definitely out-Bendises Brian Michael Bendis at points. It's a streetwise cop drama but with demigods levitating overhead.
Let's dig into the meat of the script — it's basically the first 1.5 or so issues of "Who Killed Retro Girl?" The first part deals mainly with Calista (a 10-year-old girl) entering police custody after her stepmother's brutally murdered. Her father — Gustav Flinch, a Level 3 avian-and-flame powered individual known as "The Eagle" — flies off for vigilante justice to get the "black kids" who killed her. Incidentally, the police are also hunting a serial killer known as the Lake Shore Slasher. Coincidence? We'll see.
Detective Christian Walker of Chicago's Powers Division — a.k.a. the police who investigate superhuman affairs — becomes her temporary guardian. His partner Deena Pilgrim is Starbuck incarnate. It's not surprising people want Katee Sackhoff for this role. She's a free-wheeling (yet sensitive) badass who drinks, plays darts, blasts Flogging Molly, and has no trouble getting the fellas.
Dealing with a smart-mouthed Calista and finding Flinch (before he gets all Death Wish) are Walker and Pilgrim's primary concerns, until we find one of Chicago's most beloved superhuman dead under the L train. How do we know she's famous?
Another train screams overhead, but the sound falls away as if Walker were twenty-feet underwater. We recognize this beautiful face from the billboard seen previously. The world knows her as RETRO GIRL: glamorous, heroic, revered... now a murder victim.
From there on, Pilgrim and Walker pursue suspects (such as the telekinetic drug kingpin Johnny Royalle) and meet with Retro Girl's superhuman compatriots (the heroes Zora and Triphammer). We also meet our protagonists' fellow officers Captain Cross (who's being played by Charles Dutton) and Julius Kutter. Additionally, the pilot delves into Walker's history with Retro Girl and we're treated to a few cops-versus-superhuman brawls, including one bonkers final fight. There are plenty of opportunities for whiz-bang special effects — hopefully the show's budget will do them justice.
Comic fans should be pleased with the script's fidelity to the source material. The script doesn't take any monumental creative liberties, but there are moments in which distinctly un-Bendisy sentimentality seems shoehorned in. I also was ambivalent on Christian Walker's characterization. Bendis wrote him with a sense of resigned stoicism — the TV Walker is more willing to dish out the bon mots. Overall, there's nothing that would throw fans into conniptions.