THE (WO)MAN CALLED A•X

The Malibu version of Man Called A•X did well for the company, but right after Marvel bought Malibu they shut down the company. The DC Comics version of A•X fell victim to the bad sales of the mid 1990s when everything, from Spider-Man to X-Men dropped in sales. So I got to thinking about doing a different version of A•X, namely a TV pilot. Well, the comic book A•X is overly violent, which is what is was supposed to be - after all we were doing an American version of a Hong Kong film. But not only couldn't we get away with that violence on regular TV, we wouldn't want to. TV is about creating characters that people will want to see week in and week out.

Since A•X was firmly set in my mind, I felt the best way to change the violence and characterization was to reinvent the character. But I loved the story and didn't want to change that. So I came up with a better idea; pre-Xena, pre-Nikita, I thought what if A•X was a woman. I knew all the relationships would change. Liz Watkins would become Len Watkins. Liz's son would become Len's daughter.

The stories, now focused through a female, would become even more character driven. The action, the set-up, etc. would still be there, but now we'd have a female A-Ten with a very different way of dealing with her problems. I had a lot of fun with the first draft script, and I'm presenting here one scene - the first meeting between the new A-Ten and Len Watkins. I also had fun with the name A-Ten. Later, once A•X and Len discover the A-X on her belt buckle really stands for A-Ten, Len, looking at her carefully, and admiring what he sees, says she is definitely A Ten. I definitely agree.

Please note because of my limitations in using HTML in translating formatted type, what you're seeing below is not the actual format of a TV script. I tried my best to duplicate it, but spacing and margins are way off. Anyway, enjoy the scene. Perhaps some day either this version, or another, will make it to the airways.

FYI: This scene takes place during the blackout that resulted from the Mercy Island generators being destroyed. A•X, having no idea who she is or where she came from, has gone to the newspaper office to read the articles written about her supposed attacks on the city. If you notice, I call the city Bethlehem and not Bedlam. I decided for TV the name Bedlam was over the top, so the city's official name is Bethlehem, but the people who live in this mad house call it Bedlam, which comes, by the way, from the name of an insane asylum.

-Thanks, Marv

INT. BETHLEHEM GAZETTE - LEN WATKINS’ CUBICLE - EVENING

The lights are on. Watkins is typing away on his computer. Across from Len, HOWIE, in his 50s, pitches wadded paper balls in his waste basket. He misses. Misses. And guess what? Misses!

HOWIE

Everyone else it’s a free day. Why do we hafta have emergency generators?

LEN

Wild guess. For...emergencies? Our last blackout, you remember it?

HOWIE

Uhhh. January ‘91. Same day as the Gulf War. They had me freezing my ass off at the power plant when all anyone wanted was war news. You fought there, didn’t you?

This is a topic Len does NOT want to talk about.

LEN

We got any hard copy statistics? Days without power? Problems with traffic.

Howie finally scores a basket.

HOWIE

Down in archives, I guess. Damn, I’m good.

He throws another one and misses. As Len walks past he scoops it up, and tosses it in.

INT. ARCHIVES

Len enters and sees a LIGHT reflected against the back wall. He steps forward then reacts and backs off, hiding behind a file cabinet.

A-Ten is there, hunched over the newspapers, using a flashlight to read them. Len watches; not believing what he’s seeing. She’s frantically looking for something, then A-Ten angrily tosses the paper aside then cocks her head. She hears AMPLIFIED BREATHING. She turns.

Len backs up. In an instant she’s there, gun to his head.

LEN

Hi. Sorry. I didn’t know the room was being used. I’ll come back later.

A-TEN

Who are you?

LEN

I just work here. You’re not going to kill me, are you?

A-Ten glances at her gun then lowers it. She turns to the newspapers. Len breathes a sigh of relief.

A-TEN

Why does your newspaper say I blew up the power transformers?

LEN

Because... you did. Didn’t you?

A-Ten turns back to him, her look of confused fear allows him to relax if only slightly.

A-TEN

I...don’t know.

He sees her hands.

LEN

Wasn’t one of them shot off?

She suddenly turns on him, pushing him to the wall.

A-TEN

How do you know?

LEN

Nono. I saw the video my daughter took. It’s okay. I’m a reporter.

INSERT - MEMORY MODE

HIGH ANGLE - Jacki and Ali are afraid, they step out from the boxes, Jacki still shooting her video. Ali is desperate.

ALI

Don’t shoot us.

BACK TO SCENE

A-Ten pauses, removes her hand from Len. She is reciting Jacki's dialogue.

A-TEN

“We’re reporters...”

LEN

You have a name?

A-Ten is frustrated as she struggles for an answer. Jack takes his reporters notebook out from his pocket.

LEN

Okay. Forget the name. This is just for notes. Tell me what happened last night.

A-TEN

I was in front of the warehouse. I was attacked. I escaped.

LEN

That’s it? That’s all?

A-TEN

Your newspaper said I killed people. I have to know.

Len suddenly remembers. He scrambles through the newspapers. A-Ten watches, confused. Len finds the paper, flips through it, looking for the page.

LEN

Someone’s been knocking off Bedlam’s very own mob bosses. In my mind not a negative by the way, in case it was you.

A-TEN

“Prominent citizens.”

LEN

Yeah. And as honest as a Dodge City poker game. They’re the inmates who are running the asylum that is Bedlam. Here.

Len’s ramblings confuse A-Ten. Meanwhile, he’s found it. There’s a photo of Gage in a small one column story.

LEN (cont’d)

Side bar. Gage said you, or someone, broke into his place last night, tried to kill him and his friends. Al Capone didn’t have such friends.

She’s listening, desperately trying to sort it out.

LEN (cont’d)

They say they shot back in self-defense. Yadda-yadda They thought you were dead. Here. They turned your body over to the coroner for identification. AX, not only do your fingers grow back, but you pull off the first resurrection since... never.

He turns. A-Ten is gone. He runs out to see her running down the hall. He races to catch up to her.

LEN (cont’d)

The coroner’s office?

He catches his breath and follows.

FADE OUT



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Marv Wolfman