Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hancock: What Could Have Been

Something that's interesting about this fairly weird movie, is that the original script that inspired it was completely different.

The original idea was for Hancock to be a sort of Nietzchean superhero who talks hard, bitter truth and is upset at everyone for not being as tough as him.

Mary is at the bank, doing her bank thing, when some wisecracking bank robbers show up and make her and a bunch of other hostages get in the lotus position. Hancock shows up, being way, way more competent than in the movie, and rescues everybody. Then he corners Tom, who shoots at him. The bullet bounces off, and tears Tom's ear off. That leads to this great bit of dialog: 
TOM: Fuck. My shirt. 
HANCOCK: Why don't we call it a day? (Steps forward) 
TOM: Don't. I told you... I'm not going back. (Raises gun.) 
HANCOCK: If you're going to tease, cock the damn gun. Otherwise, spare me the wounded animal act of desperation. I don't got time for rhetoric and sympathy so don't expect... dialogue and "come with me and you won't be hurt" bullshit. You walk out of here with me and your life is a violent storm. You will be hurt, you will be abused... whatever turns them on. Either way, your days are shit! Those are the realities, spelled out. 
TOM: What's eating you, man? 
HANCOCK: (upset) You got half the precinct out there, armed, trained to blow the tail off a sperm from a hundred yards... you're standing in here, cornered, three bullets left in that squirter of yours, if you're lucky, and you got one ear. I don't need the aggravation. I don't need this. 
TOM: Man, you're jaded. I'm not asking for a rainbow... You don't got to shower me with respect. Just a little tenderness, is all. Have you no mercy, mister? 
HANCOCK: (he's had enough) I'm all out. Let's go.

There's... some interesting ideas there. I'm not sure I like it, and it certainly isn't about class and social abjection in American society, but it's different than most MCU stories, and if it was made today I would probably still see it.

The scene it's closest to is probably the convenience store robbery in the second half.

ROBBER: What? I’m taking the money
  Hancock: Umm. I can relate to that. You know you want something... Nobody can stop you from taking it. You just take it right. I like that. But can you take it?

There's some real soul searching here, from the man who physically has the power to take whatever he wants, and a sort of empathy for the benighted robber he is about to take down. It's a great scene on it's own, that has interesting twists with the context of the conversation he just came from (finding out he isn't alone) and the fact that the bullets shot will actually hurt him. So we should definitely be grateful that this version of the movie was made instead.

It definitely raises hard questions about authorship though. At what point did someone wrestling with the script of "black, embittered superhero" go from this sort of Pick Up Artist fantasy figure to the compelling class commentary we got instead?

1 comment:

  1. That first Hancock sounds like an asshole.

    (This is the height of my wit.)