Okay. So. I waited months and months to watch "Tin Man" (thank you SciFi Channel for starting the buzz over the summer, no seriously I love you guys). And when it finally aired, it was perfect. I mean, not perfect. In many ways it sucked. But it was perfect for fanfiction writers because it left plot holes unfilled and loose ends untied. My kind of fairy tale update.
I was actually--this has never happened to me--bitten by a plotbunny while watching the movie for the first time. Like (apparently) everyone else who's writing for this fandom, I was immediately interested in Wyatt Cain. Not because I want him to get with the Princess (which seems to be the main agenda of teenytwits and serious writers alike) but for two other reasons. One, his name--the first shared with the best-remembered member of a band of brothers, the second shared with a guy who murdered his brother out of jealousy. Wow. No way there's not a story there. The first decision I made was that in my story this is not his birth name, but a name he chose for himself.
The second thing that caught me was that he's really, really obviously lifted from another story. I looked at him and I said, "By God. That's a gunslinger." Stephen King's Dark Tower series has obsessed me for years--not quite as long as it's obsessed Stephen, to be sure, but I practically memorized the first three books while waiting for him to write the other four. The gunslingers are knights--the last of a dying breed when Roland (the book's protagonist) is a child and is trained to the gun. By the time he's grown, his world has been overtaken by evil machine-building wizards and the gunslingers are regarded as a relic of a world that's "moved on".
"Moved on". That's such an evocative phrase. People move on voluntarily, when they've falled out of love with someone. Or people are told to move on because empty space is more valuable to its owner than having that same space used by people who have nowhere else to go. Someday I'll probably write more about that. Right now, though, what interests me is this guy, Wyatt Cain. How did a gunslinger from a world that's "moved on" wind up in an Outer Zone experiencing the same machine-building-wizard problem? What happened to him and his brothers that made him take a name implying both his solidarity with them and his murder of one of them?
The first one's relatively easily explained: Roland's the last gunslinger in his world, but nothing says that one of the gunslingers didn't escape to someplace else, such as the Outer Zone. My interest in the phrase "moved on" is fairly recent, but since I first read it I've been obsessed with another phrase from the Dark Tower novels. Roland travels for a while with a little boy named Jake, and eventually he has to "move on" from Jake because pausing to save him from mortal danger would fatally delay his quest. Jake looks at him and says, "Go, then. There are other worlds than these." That phrase has gotten stuck in my mind for days on end, like a song. Which is partly the Asperger's talking, but partly because Stephen King has an amazing ear for language. Anyways. My point? Roland's the last gunslinger in his world, but another gunslinger could've escaped to the Outer Zone and trained Cain and his friends/brothers in the ways of the gunslingers.
Which brings us to the band of brothers. And a plot starts to grow, from here. Besides Cain, we have the warrior called Zero. When we first meet Zero, he's not the leader of Azkadellia's forces; he's some kind of second-in-command or alternative leader, and her warleader is General Lonot, who we later find out was one of the Queen's (Az's mother's) generals and turned traitor to follow Az. At the beginning of the movie, Az kills Lonot and Zero is promoted. However, she then sends him off on solo missions. We know that before he was promoted, he was responsible for torturing Cain's family (killing his wife in the process) and imprisoning Cain in an archaic metal diving suit where he had to watch the hologram of his family's torture over and over again.
Cain is freed, later, and he and Zero meet up again in a battle that ends the first 1/3 of the movie. Their dialogue during the fight makes it clear that these guys have known each other for a long, long time. Closer to the end of the movie, Zero--now on a solo mission to follow DG and friends--is captured by Cain and his now-grown son. Zero folds, under the perceived threat of torture, and provides useful plot exposition. Cain's son, Jeb, wants to kill Zero, but Cain convinces him to stuff Zero in a diving suit instead.
It's worth noting that Cain was in his own diving suit for a long time, but that his aging appears to have been arrested while he was in there. He appears to be in his mid 30s (the actor is 40ish); to my eyes, Jeb is no more than ten during the torture scene, and not much less than twenty when he and Cain are reunited, but Cain looks exactly the same. Cain also makes reference to having been stuck in the suit since "that [grown, albeit slender, tree] was a sapling. Zero is played by Callum Keith Rennie, who's 47 and looks it in real life but as Zero is made up to look somewhat younger. (See here for visual reference.) Cain and Zero are both blue-eyed blonds with Smirks of Doom and mean smiles.
What follows are conjectures. Anything marked conjecture, expansion of conjecture, etc. has officially departed from the events of the movie unless specifically stated--i.e. it's "my own idea" as much as any fanfiction can be.
Conjecture: Cain and Zero (not either one's real name, but use-names taken later) are blood kin. Brothers, or maybe cousins who swore blood-brotherhood. Let's make a casual estimate that Cain was strapped into the diving suit ten years ago, and that at the time he was in his mid 30s (the age the actor appears) and Zero was a bit younger. In the ensuing years, Cain stayed young while Zero caught up and then passed him agewise, but in the beginning they're young enough to have studied together. What if they were both trained as gunslingers? (It may be worth noting that both wear long coats, Cain's a cowboy duster and Zero's a long belted black leather coat. Az's soldiers all wear these coats and are called Longcoats.)
Expansion of conjecture: Say Cain, Zero and at least one other were trained by a gunslinger who'd escaped from Roland's world before it "moved on". Fast forward to twenty years before the events of the movie. The Queen gives birth to a second daughter, named DG. [Fact from movie.] The Queen's first daughter, Azkadellia is at the time around seven. [Fact from movie, although the age is guesswork. I had guessed she was twelvish in the possession-by-Witch sequence. The actress was born in 1993.] Before the second child was born, there was a good chance that Az would be Queen, particularly if the Queen had no other children with magical powers, but for some reason (read on) this was never set in stone. When the second child was born, however, it was declared within minutes that she had whatever it took to be the next Queen.
Remember, this is twenty years before the events of the movie, so Cain and Zero and their fellow gunslinger buddies are in their early and mid-twenties. Say that Zero's the youngest, no more than twenty-two. Say that Cain, Zero and their fellow gunslingers passed some kind of major gunslinger trial on the day Az was born, seven years earlier (Zero would have been fifteenish but at the same level as Cain and other guys who are slightly older than him) and were consequently sworn as the personal bodyguards to the heir to the throne.
So the announcement comes that the newborn second Princess possesses whatever attributes are necessary to be Queen. (they put the Emerald of the Eclipse in her hands and it lighted up, whenever. Maybe when Az was newborn and they tried it on her, it lighted up but changed color, so it was in dispute as to whether she qualified or not.) And Cain and Zero and friends, trained in politics, immediately interpret this news as a threat to Azkadellia. After all, someone might decide the baby's claim to the throne is even stronger if there's no older sister around as a spare.
Scene: The young gunslingers go to Az's quarters, where she's been inexplicably left alone (giving credence to Zero's theory that an assassination contingency plan was in place before the new Princess's birth and that Az's nurse was in on it). When they arrive, Az throws herself at Zero and he picks her up, as she's always done, as he's always done. He has always been her favorite, the only person who could control her when she got into her notably violent tantrums. Then she squirms to get down, and her entire demeanor becomes cold and regal. Cain's the only one who understands: A Queen of the Outer Zone may choose any consort she wants, even a commoner, even one of her own guards, so long as she provides an heir to the throne. Az is only seven, but she'd already decided Zero was going to be her consort. [Knight in shining armor, heh. In the movie, Zero's the only one who wears archaic plate mail.] Except now she's not going to be Queen, only a princess. Princesses don't choose consorts, they get married off as political advantages.
Continuing expansion of conjecture: There is now disagreement among the gunslingers and their master as to whether they are still sworn to Az or to the new baby, since she's now heir to the throne of the Outer Zone. Zero intends to remain Az's bodyguard (even though she's suddenly stopped acting like an affectionate little girl and started acting like, well, royalty). Their master, and the other young gunslingers, believe that their oaths compel them to abandon Az and transfer their loyalty to the new princess. Cain's of two minds, and refuses to be drawn to either viewpoint. A fight ensues and one of two things happens.
Plot possibility 1: Cain accidentally kills one of the other gunslingers.
Plot possibility 2: Cain injures Zero and believes the injury to be fatal.
In either case, what happens next is that the gunslingers' master reveals himself to be in possession of some kind of technology that he uses to send Cain to the Otherside, which is what Outer Zone residents call out world. His possession of this technology is also a big reveal, because the only person who has technology at this point is Ahamo, the Queen's consort, and this is totally not like the tech he has. If someone familiar with Roland's world saw this particular piece of tech, that someone would immediately recognize it as the kind of tech used by John Farson, the Good Man [a Dark Tower villain who's an aspect of Flagg, the Dark Man]. Which would, to this person familiar with Roland's world, raise immediately the question of under just what circumstances the gunslingers' master had actually left Roland's world in the first place. Luckily for the gunslingers' master, no one with that knowledge is anywhere around.
When Az finds out that one of her gunslingers is either dead or gravely injured (especially if it's Zero), she throws an industrial-strength hissyfit, which in a strong-willed little girl with wizard powers is no small matter. She wants to bring Cain to justice, but he's been sent beyond her reach.
[Oooo, is this mysterious master gunslinger Father Vue, the cyborg priest in Milltown? What a horrible and ironic punishment for a gunslinger, to cut off all his limbs and replace them with machinery. It's totally what Az would do, when she grew up, to the man who kept her from punishing Cain.]
Anyways. Cain winds up in our world, has the usual problems with, well, doing anything if he has no ID. Finally gets picked up by a shoestring theater company who couldn't give a rat's ass as long as he can build things out of wood and is willing to work for room and board. I can spend as much or as little time as I want on this part of the story, really, including Cain's adoption of his new name and his marriage to one of the girls in the theater company, name of Shira.
Oh yes, I am so going there. She-Ra, Princess of Power, is He-Man's cousin who is normally a princess named Adora, except when danger calls and then she becomes a superhero or whatever He-Man is. One of the absolute stupidest "My Saturday morning cartoons role model for girls iz pasted on yey!!1!!" concepts in history. A couple of baby name books from the 80s recommend avoiding the name Shira (a perfectly nice name which I happen to like because it comes from the Hebrew word for "song") because of the "inevitable" Princess of Power jokes. Anyways. We know from the movie that Cain's wife's name was Adora. My notion is that when Cain decided to return to the Outer Zone and Shira agreed to go with him, she insisted on changing her name just as he had, and decided to make use of all those stupid jokes.
Right, yes, there's a plot here. I'm going to leave this alone for now, though, because my laptop's beeping at me and telling me my startup disk is almost full and I'm terrified it'll crash.
But, you see why I'm fleeing this story instead of actually writing it? I mean, I haven't started in on Glitch's backstory or on what happens to him after he gets his brain back. Haven't even gotten to the present day, after DG and Az have thrown out the Wicked Witch and then learn some interesting things about their royal mom and how the Witch got there in the first place. (Yes, I really hated the Queen in the movie. So sue me.) And I haven't gotten to the original female characters (unless you count Adora, who at least exists in canon). Or to the arrival of the Winchester brothers in the Outer Zone and their discovery that salting and burning a corpse's bones to lay a restless ghost, works kind of differently over here. Or to the Star Wars quotes.
I only wish I were kidding. My brain? Is broken.