Monday, June 10, 2013

Blast from the Past #648: February 4, 2005: some backstory ideas

Subj: some backstory ideas
Date: Friday, February 4, 2005 3:15:21 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


I was giving some thought to our backstory, and came up with the following. Maybe it will help!

-- Peter


notes on movie backstory 02/01/05

Maybe Yaotl and his generals were arrogant, overconfident... named themselves "The Immortal" and his "Four Fists of Stone"... and when they were cursed, these names became literal.

I like the opening we have already talked about, where Leo is doing a training thing in South America, but as I was thinking about this whole backstory issue, I started to see a really cool alternate opening, something that would have some of the look and feel of the opening scene of the first "Lord of the Rings" movie. This, as you will recall, sets the scene with the ancient battle against Sauron, wherein during the course of the huge fight between the hosts of Mordor and the armies of Men and Elves, the Ring of Power is cut from Sauron's hand.

What if: Our backstory concerns a power struggle set in the dim and distant past of Mesoamerica, perhaps in the time of the Olmecs (or we could create a "lost civilization" of our own devising which predated the Olmecs and -- because of what happened in this great conflict -- vanished without a trace (perhaps whatever scanty evidence of its existence which DID survive the conflict was deliberately eradicated by future civilizations in that region). This was a time of great strife and violence, and one in which magic and sorcery played a large part. Fell beasts walked the land, warriors were raised from the dead, arcane powers were wielded by mages, etc..
One man, leading a small yet deadly army, rose to a position of power, bolstered by his four sub-generals and his knowledge of sorcery. He was Yaotl -- self-named "The Immortal", and his sub-generals called themselves "The Fists of Stone". Yaotl sought to subjugate all the peoples of Mesoamerica under his despotic rule.
But an alliance of his foes gathered together all their armies and all of their magic, and in a campaign against Yaotl which culminated in a huge battle somewhere in the jungles of the Yucatan, they threw down Yaotl and his generals. It was an insane battle, with blood and guts flowing like water, and the screams of men mixed with the unearthly howls of things from the mists of legend -- giant flying, feathered serpents... jaguars that walked like men... huge armor-clad apes... and so on.
The victors slew Yaotl's army, but devised a more fitting, and ultimately more cruel, punishment for the usurper and his four generals -- using magics now lost to prehistory, they cursed these evil men, turning the generals into literal stone men, and Yaotl into a true immortal... cursed to wander the Earth forever, never resting, always seeing his loved ones wither and die (or, in the case of his offspring, become the living dead!).

One of the reasons I suggest doing something like this is -- if we go with the "ancient curse" idea we've been working on -- it could go a long way toward making clear the backstory which the audience must understand to comprehend why Yaotl/Winters is doing what he's doing. It could save us from a lot of potentially clunky exposition later on in the movie.

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