• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

Scenes We'd Like To See: Alternate Movies, Television & Other Pop Culture Miscellanea


Well-known member
Patreon supporter
Here's some alt-1986 movies and novels I iamgined for my space TL.

Fireghost, the absolute weapon.
Clint Eastwood, 1986.

The success of Honkytonk man in 1982 was a landmark for Clint Eastwood.
By 1986 Eastwood scrapped a tentative project with the name of Heartbreak Ridge and instead adapted Craig Thomas novel Fireghost - the absolute weapon. It was a sequel to the 1977 smashing hit Firefox, a novel Eastwood had enjoyed and wanted to turn into a movie, but couldn't. Eastwood later told reporters that in 1982 he had been forced to chose between Honkytonk and Firefox, and had prefered the former as a personal project. The move was probably a wise one considering the dismal failure of Fireghost five years later. Honkytonk man, by contrast, was critically acclaimed.

The early plot was largely changed after the landmark Reykjavik summit. "We had to change the villains" Eastwood said "since we felt Cold War was ending, with Islamist terrorism the new, major threat. Plus we thought it might be fun to get (Iranian) Tomcats as the story villains, in these days of Top Gun. Finally, we liked the idea of the F-4 Phantom, an aircraft that suffered so much losses over Vietnam, to be able to out-run all those shiny new fighters – Tomcats, Eagles, and Mig-25s. It is a kind of metaphor for Gant himself, who equally suffered in Vietnam and is now returning."


During the Vietnam war US Air Force pilot Mitchell Gant is flying a RF-4C Phantom near Hanoi when he is shot down. He is nearly captured by Viet Cong, an ordeal exacerbated when the enemy guerrillas are wiped out almost immediately by napalm from an American air strike, killing many children and women in the process.

Some years later in 1979 Gant experience with the RF-4C has the CIA contacts him. They have created a Super Phantom able to fly above Mach 3 through the use of a revolutionary propulsion system. Also onboard is an advanced camera system with very impressive resolution. A handful of aircrafts have been used to spy the Soviet Union, entering USSR airspace through the Iranian border – with agreement from Iran and , more surprisingly, help from Israel.

Alas, the Iranian revolution has broke out and the Islamists have sized two Super Phantoms. The revolution also took Israel by surprise: it is revealed that country had loaned a couple of nuclear weapons to Iran before the Shah was swept away. Israel wanted to scare Saddam Iraq, but the plan backfired.

Iranian islamist leadership is show examining varied terror attack scenarios. They discuss painting the RF-4X in American or Israel markings to drop a nuke on the Soviets, a move that may start World War Three. Also considered is the RF-4X air dropping a nuke on Saudia Arabia oil terminals, threatening a worlwide oil shock. Another frightening option has the Iranian dropping a nuke on Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

With the help of a network of Jewish dissidents and sympathizers, Gant reaches the Iranian air base where the two prototype aircraft are being stored. Israeli scientists are hold as hostages and forced to work on the project - they help Gant penetrate the base, then start a fire to destroy the second prototype and nuclear weapons, and also to distract security troops while Gant steals one of the planes. The nuclear weapons do not explodes but are consumed by fire, poisoning the entire area around the Iranian air base. Gant barely escape in time but now faces major hardships. His escape threatens to start an enormous, vicious air battle across the entire Middle East – and beyond.

To Gant shock, the Iranian air force is able to send some Tomcats in chase. Everybody was assuming Iranian F-14s had been grounded per lack of spare parts, or at least sabotaged in 1979. Gant starts the RF-4X revolutionary engine drive and successfully outrun the Tomcats and their lethal AIM-54 Phoenix. Undaunted, using aerial tankers the Iranian send more Tomcats to set a trap near the Saudi border and the Gulf or Ormuz.

Meanwhile Israel is worried about their nuclear weapon blunder and willing to stop the menace. Hence they place their Air Force on alert, a move which triggers panick across the Middle East, including Iraq, currently at war with Iran. Iraq send its own MiG-25s and also Mirage F-1s over Iran, resulting in a major air battle with severe losses on both sides.

Saudia Arabia is fearing an Iranian strike on its oil facilities. Soon Israel, in a secret move with Saudia Arabia, send F-15s in chase of Gant.

Meanwhile the Soviets, which were depply angered by border penetrations and willing to steal RF-4X revolutionary propulsion system, are sending two squadrons of MiG-25s across Iran airspace to shoot Gant down.

Gant face no other choice than to fly above 80 000 ft and Mach 3. The RF-4X is quickly picked up by Iranian radars and, as Gant escape is at the extreme range of the aircraft, the pilot had no option but to fly a virtually straight track. Throughout the mission, Gant is faced with the unnerving spectacle of a never-ending stream of fighters attempting to bring down the RF-4X by firing a variety of machine-guns, cannons and missiles at the aircraft. To compound Gant problems, his heavy fuel load allows only very limited evasive manoeuvring. Gant ends with virtually empty tanks and having kept the aircraft in continuous afterburner for over half an hour as he shot past some extremely agitated Arabian peninsula– as the RF-4X is officially limited to just a few minutes of afterburner, this effectively threaten to destroy the entire aft fuselage.

As he gets near the Saudi border – entering the United Arab Emirates airspace - and is nearly out of fuel, a final, major air battle breaks out. It involves Saudi and Israeli F-15s; Iranian Tomcats setting an ambush; Soviet and Iraqis MiG-25s and Mirage F-1s; and UAE Mirage 2000s.
The shooting allows Gant to narrowly escape thanks to a USN A-5 "Vigilante" tanker aircraft providing supersonic aerial refueling. Hornets and Phantoms provides air cover as they escape, since US Navy Tomcats might be mistaken for Iranian aircrafts.

Gant finally land its RF-4X on an aircraft carrier cruising in the Persian Gulf, but the aircraft is ruined.

(note 1: the RA-5C Vigilante was never a tanker, that was the older A-3 Skywarrior. But the movie prefered the Vigilante as it flew higher and faster, to rescue Gant).

(note 2: UAE Mirages as shown were actually Kfir – more exactly, F-21A agressor aircrafts.)


Space ranger

In 1999 Clint Eastwood renewed its cooperation with Craig Thomas. Winter Hawk was the third book in the Firefox series. The movie is a straight adaptation of the novel without much change to the plotline. The plot is no longer related to aircrafts, but to the space program.


The events of Winter Hawk transpire over a few days in which the Soviet Union will launch into orbit the first in a series of laser battle stations, the existence of which they have kept a closely guarded secret.

The launch is meant to coincide with the signing of a new and apparently groundbreaking treaty dramatically reducing nuclear weapons to be kept by both sides, but excluding space based weapons such as the one the Soviets will be launching, mostly because none are known to exist. The Americans know of the weapon because a Soviet technician named Philip Kedrov has been supplying them information, operating under the code-name “Cactus Plant”.

The Soviet space weapon places the Americans in a painful dilemma: they can neither sign a treaty that will dramatically cede the balance of power to the Soviet Union, nor can they back out of the treaty lacking proof of the Soviet weapon.

The only alternative is a deep cover extraction mission of Kedrov and his evidence from the Soviet’s space launch complex, the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The mission, involving two stolen Soviet Mil Mi-24 helicopters to be flown by CIA pilots — one of whom is CIA pilot Mitchell Gant — is codenamed “Winter Hawk”.

The story, which then shifts to Baikonur, reveals competing agendas within the Soviet camp. The Soviet civilian leadership has allowed development of the laser weapon, whose launch is codenamed “Linchpin”, to placate a military antagonized by military spending cuts. The laser weapon is to be docked to the civilian space station MKBS-1.

Unbeknownst to Soviet leaders, the Soviet military has its own plans for the weapon, including a live fire test, codenamed “Lightning”, against the American Space Station Liberty. The novel suggests “Lightning” as a prelude to an army-backed coup to seize control over the Soviet Union, even as the laser weapon will make the Soviet Union the world’s leading super power.

KGB Colonel Dmitri Priabin, introduced as a minor character in Firefox, elevated to a more central role in Firefox Down and now the ranking KGB officer in Baikonur, nurses a painful grudge against Mitchell Gant due to the tragic events of Fireghost (his career was ruined by the giant air battles over the middle east, plus many of his friends wereshot down and killed flying MiG-25s).

Like the reader, Priabin quickly learns of the existence of “Lightning” but not the details. The military has kept its plans secret by arranging fatal “accidents” for any civilians they suspect have learned of “Lightning”. He has also learned of Kedrov's treachery, and keeps him under surveillance.

Priabin investigates the murders as a pretext to learn details of “Lightning” itself, which he correctly concludes is an illegal military mission. He also surveils Kedrov, suspecting that the Americans will try extracting him before the launch of the laser weapon, although he has no way of knowing that the mission will be flown by Mitchell Gant.

Gant’s mission proves ill-fated from the start. The C-5 cargo plane carrying the helicopters and their crew to their staging point, suffers a fuel-system malfunction requiring the jettisoning of the helicopters on a remote beach — nearly destroying both of them. The helicopters are made flight-ready and the mission commences, only for one of the helicopters to be shot down over Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Gant narrowly avoids destruction over Afghanistan only to be captured once he reaches Baikonur and tries to extract Kedrov, falling into the hands of KGB officers who had been surveilling the turncoat engineer.

Barely keeping himself from killing Gant, Priabin instead takes him into custody, then continues his investigation into “Lightning”. Priabin soon learns the truth, but he is unable to warn Moscow because an Army-imposed, pre-launch security lockdown has cut Baikonur off from the rest of the world. Realizing that the army will soon eliminate him as it has other obstacles, Priabin is forced to save Gant in order for the American to fly them both out of Baikonur along with evidence of “Lightning”. Using the KGB’s Mil Mi-2 helicopter, the two of them manage to get evidence of the laser weapon, but not before their helicopter is severely damaged by fire from a group of the army’s Mil Mi-24 helicopters. Gant barely escapes the Army patrols before he crash lands outside of Baikonur.

With evidence of the weapon, Gant escapes on foot. Priabin, weighing his hatred for Gant against the implications for "Lightning", chooses to be captured by the army. Gant steals an Antonov An-2 biplane used for crop dusting at a nearby collective farm. He narrowly escapes army helicopters sent to capture him, but not before the Soviets have successfully launched their N-11 carrying the laser weapon.

General Rodin, the army’s ranking officer, decides against immediately killing Priabin. It was Rodin’s son who revealed to Priabin the details of “Lightning” before being killed by subordinate officers acting against the general’s orders. Led to believe that the KGB drove his son to suicide, but suspecting his other officers nonetheless, Rodin keeps Priabin in his own custody, even as he orders a massive hunt for Gant. Emotionally unhinged by his son’s death, and his wife’s suicide immediately following it, Rodin is unable to keep Priabin from escaping before the laser weapon has been successfully placed in orbit.

With the help of Kedrov, Priabin finds the covert tracking station the army will use to control the laser satellite, and sabotages its orbital uplink.

With his plane shot down by Soviet fighters near the Turkish border, Gant is forced to make the journey on foot while being chased by Soviet troops. Having sent his special code over the air before bailing out, Gant’s presence is now known to the Americans as well, who send their own helicopters across the border to save him.

The novel closes with the signing of the new arms reduction treaty, which the Soviets have graciously amended to include space-based weapons. In space, the two space stations – Liberty and MKBS-1 – are brought close from each other for mutual support in case of emergency.


So that was the plot of "Winter Hawk" Craig Thomas said in an interview in 2003. "It seems I guessed some real life events pretty well, but got them in the wrong order." Craig Thomas chuckles. "I mean, once again, reality bet fiction, hands down. Here are some examples of that.

"In my novel the Soviet civilian leadership has allowed development of the laser weapon to placate a military antagonized by military spending cuts – read, nuclear disarmement. Forget nuclear bombs and MAD, we have far better toys for you.

Well, that's how I imagined it. Real-life was far more weird.

First, with perfect hindsight it seems I made my Gorbachev much more evil than his real-life counterpart. I had an excuse: my early novels explicitely mentionned Yuri Andropov, and that man was really machiavellian. Hey, as of 1983 when I wrote the Firefox sequels I couldn't guess his reign would be so short, and that he would let someone like Gorbachev at the head of USSR someday. Well, as we saw in 1988, the dark shadow of Andropov was still there, through conservatives in Kremlin and of course, the KGB.

Then, Gorbachev recently revealed that the Soviet military actually build a laser battlestation and he wasn't told about it. Somewhat ironically, he discovered the spacecraft on February 20, 1986, alerted by rumours about dual purpose MKBS – civilian and military missions. Instead of using the project to piss-off Reagan (as happening in my novel) Gorbachev made sure the laser battlestation was starved of funding enough it wouldn't fly for a long time.

He also chose not to tell the West about it, although he changed his mind in Reykjavik, with the completely unpredictible results we all know about."

"Reykjavik, let's talk about it."

"Well, all I can say is that the agreement went far beyond my wildest fantasies. Having discussed the matter with Tom Clancy, I can tell you he was equally shocked, even more since a good part of Red Storm Rising happens not too far from Hofdi House, in Iceland. What's even more amazing, just like myself Clancy tried his hand at a Soviet coup. I respectfully acknowledge he did a better job than me – last year Clancy told me half-jockingly that in 1988, watching the coup unfold on TV he had had that uneasy feeling the Soviet plotters had studied Red Storm Rising finale before striking.

Now this. The Soviet space weapon places the Americans in a painful dilemma: they can neither sign a treaty that will dramatically cede the balance of power to the Soviet Union, nor can they back out of the treaty lacking proof of the Soviet weapon. Well... it didn't happened. In Reykjavik Reagan and his advisor George Shultz found a third, different way, leading to a stunning agreement - nuclear disarmement and joint research on laser battlestations. Can you believe that ?

It also helped that, unlike in my novel, the laser battlestation was never launched – you can imagine Reagan horror, shock and anger if it had been.

And finally, what really made my heart warm was last year decision to get the American and Soviet space stations closer from each other - on the same orbit for mutual support. At least I got this right" Craig Thomas laugh "since my novel ends with the two stations sailing close from each other, peacefully, as the nuclear disarmement treaty is signed by the two leaders."

Unlike Fireghost, Space ranger was a major success. Its success got Ridley Scott Reykjavik out of development hell.


Superman reborn

The year 1986 was one for the aviation buffs. They got Top Gun and Clint Eastwood Fireghost. A collateral victim however was Sidney J. Furie very own aviation flick, Iron Eagle. Iron Eagle was a complete failure, and this got a direct impact on another fast flying wonder, Superman.

Donner Superman I had been good, Superman II had started to go off the rails, Superman III was a train wreck, Supergirl was a dud. At this point the Salkinds considered that Superman had run his curse... his course, and sold the rights they had bought in 1974. They sold them to B-movie magnates Golan and Globus of Cannon Films. That was a pretty bad idea.

Cannon wanted Sydney Furie to make a Superman IV, but Furie's Iron Eagle F-16 was blown out of the sky by Top Gun. Golan and Globus instead made that God-awful Spiderman 1987 movie that was so bad and flopped so hard, no other Spiderman movie could be made until 2012. Such a colossal failure at least got a positive effect: it sunk Cannon for good, and as such, Superman rights reverted to... the Salkinds, more exactly to Illya. In 1987 he managed to convice Christopher Reeve to done the Superman cape one last time, and together they made Superman Reborn, concluding the first Superman era in film on a high note. After Richard Donner declined Wes Craven accepted the job. The result was a darker, grittier Superman crammed with pain and suffering and nightmares as the Man of Steel has to heal and retrieve his superpowers.


The movie starts with a titanic battle between Superman and Brainiac. They lay into each other with everything they have. They strike each other with so much force that the shockwaves from their punches shatter windows. Superman gradually lose his edge, until the unthinkable happens: he is increasingly exhausted and injured from the fight that he is on a verge to collapse.
At the struggle's culminating moment in front of the Daily Planet building, each fighter lands a massive blow upon his opponent. Except Brainiac is not affected, while Superman is knocked out.
Brainiac then beats Superman mercilessly before breaking Superman back over his knee, impaling him with kryptonite, and throwing his body in a river. Lex Luthor triumphantly claim this is the beginning of a new era.

It is revealed that Brainiac powers were augmented by Luthor and what's more, the two archvillains have had a long-running alliance. Since 1957 Lex has used Brainiac to triggers regular “broken arrow” nuclear alerts between USA and USSR, as a way to ensure Cold War tensions last forever, since Lex is happily selling weapons to both sides (it is strongly hinted that Goldsborough, Palomares and Thulé B-52 mishaps were a work of Brainiac, among many others).

It is revealed that, much like the rest of the World, Lex has been stunned by the Reykjavik summit nuclear disarmement breakthrough. When Superman discovered the truth, Lex boosted Brainiac powers to silence the man of steel, which was on the brink to reveal Lex machination to the Daily Planet (sending Lois Lane career into orbit at the same time).

Another, more pressing issue is that Lex has lost control over Brainiac. Lex goal was to keep Cold War boiling up; but Brainiac don't gives a rat about it, and nows wants to anihilate mankind with a simple trick. Brainiac plans to trigger a computer glitch in both NORAD and PVO to trigger WWIII.

Meanwhile Superman isn't dead, but has been very seriously crippled. He must regain most of his powers. The healing process works, but very slowly. Lex somewhat felt Superman isn't dead, and intends to kill him for good, now that he is stripped of his superpowers. Hence Superman hides in Smallville where Martha and Johnathan help with his recovery. In the process, Clark meet Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole) again. He ponders about living a simple life with her as a farmboy, but soon reminds the threat against the world. Lana told him she has some uneasy feeling about their relationship, as if they were more like a brother and sister.

Meanwhile Brainiac corrupts a Minuteman missile silo near Smallville and launch the rocket. Clark unexpectedly regain his power to flight, and kick the missile away, but it is too late: WWIII has already started, with all missiles launched.
Superman however has by this time regained most of his powers and superspeed around Earth, kicking all the missiles in the direction of the Sun, until no threat is left. Last scene of the movie has a nuclear disarmement summit between all the major powers, with Superman adressing the United Nations. "There will be peace when the people of the world want it so much that their leaders will have no choice but to give it to them."


Racist name by the way,
Published by SLP
I'm going to repost a mini-vignette from my Test-Thread, a pop culture ATL with the PoD of Al Gore winning in 2000:

JACK: You're serious? You're going to make us soft-deal on the biggest fraud case in years in the vague hope we might catch a terror cell down the line?

FRANK: I know, it's not ideal-

JACK: Not ideal? You've cut me off at the knees here!

ALEXA: For what it's worth, I can live with 10 years. Medium Security is no picnic for execs like Timothy-

JACK: Well I'm glad someone can, because I'm not sure the victims can. And all this so we can go down the War-On-Fear rabbit hole?

FRANK: People are frightened. Al Qaeda bombed the IMF, they bombed Times Square, they nearly brought down the Twin Towers a few years back. People are scared. People need to know that we are taking terrorism seriously, and they're not taking lip service. They want action not words.. That's why it's President Thompson and former President Gore, I know who you voted for and you know which way I voted as well.

JACK: Come on. We can't prosecute and make deals based on the changing political winds of middle America-"

FRANK: I know, Jack. But I had to win an election to sit in this chair. And just because I don't have a head of grey hair doesn't mean I don't know what I'm doing."

Cast of Season 15 of Law & Order:
Richard Blezer as Detective John Munch
Jesse L. Martin as Detective Ed Green
S. Epatha Merkerson as Lieutenant Anita van Buren
Sam Waterston as E.A.D.A. Jack McCoy
Vanessa Williams A.D.A. Alexa Young
Gary Sinise as D.A. Frank Paulson

Richard Brooks as Paul Robinette
J.K. Simmons as Dr. Emil Skoda


Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
List of Indiana Jones films:

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) [1]
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) [2]
Indiana Jones and the Heart of Darkness (1986) [3]
Indiana Jones and the Baron's Tomb (1988) [4]
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1990) [5]
Indiana Jones and the Matter of Britain (1993) [6]
Indiana Jones and the Frozen Terror (1996) [7]
Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (1998) [8]
Indiana Jones and the Valley of Kings (2002) [9]
Indiana Jones and the Prehistoric World (2004) [10]
Indiana Jones: The Golden King (2007) [11]
Indiana Jones: Among Thieves (2009) [12]
Indiana Jones: Atlantis of the Sands (2011) [13]
Indiana Jones: A Raider's End (2014) [14]
Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny (2018) [15]

[1] But for a bout of dysentery, Harrison Ford might have done more than one film as Indiana Jones, a character who would go on to arguably be his most famous role. He was not the first choice of creator George Lucas, who did not want Ford to become known as his "Bobby De Niro"; it was only after their original choice for the role had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts that Lucas was convinced by director Steven Spielberg to hire Ford. Ford did not have a great time during filming in Tunisia, the hellish six-week location shoot almost becoming as infamous as the benchmark for production hell Apocalypse Now. When asked later specifically why he dropped out of the sequel, Ford pointed to a day spent shooting an extended fight sequence with stuntman Terry Richards while his dysentery was at its worst. With the death of his character Han Solo in David Lynch's 1983 hit Revenge of the Jedi, Ford felt it was time for him to leave the type of film that had made him famous behind for a while to allow him to do other things.

[2] Lucas and Spielberg were not to be deterred from making a sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark just because their leading man had refused to return. The other great inspiration for the previous film, after the adventure serials of the 1930s, was the James Bond films from EON - a series which had no problem changing actor. Their thoughts soon turned to the one that got away back in 1980 - Tom Selleck. Selleck had dropped out of the film to do the television series Magnum, PI. His portrayal of the suave sophisticated debonair Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV may have won over audiences, but he himself hated the character wishing he could play something more laid back and not play how he looks. Enter Spielberg and Lucas, they felt Selleck's wish to portray a more laid back version of the character would gel with the darker direction they planned on taking the series. Selleck departed from Magnum, PI on acrimonious terms; it was a huge gamble to take. Temple of Doom would not be nearly as well received as its predecessor; with many pointing to several annoying characters, problematic portrayals of Indians, and a lack of fun compared with the previous film. It was still a financial success, and inadvertently gave birth to the PG-13 rating, but the consensus was it paled in comparison to the original.

[3] The plan had always been to do a trilogy of Indiana Jones films, and if anything the lukewarm reception of the previous one spurred both Lucas and Spielberg on to make the next one a success. Since Selleck had essentially put his career on the line for the two former wunderkinds, there was no hesitation in inviting him back to reprise the role. Chris Columbus was brought on board to write the script, focusing on a trip up the Zambezi River in search of the Fountain of Youth that saw Indy in a race with Nazi archaeologist Greta von Grimm, portrayed by Cassandra Harris. Praise was directed towards the film for recapturing the excitement of the original; particularly in its climax that saw African tribesmen battle the Nazis.

[4] Spielberg did not wish to return to direct another Indy film, but the franchise may have been too successful by this point to just let it die. The last film's scriptwriter and one of Spielberg's many proteges, Chris Columbus, was brought into direct a script from Romancing the Stone's scriptwriter Diane Thomas. A scaled-back story compared with the first and third, set in a remote Scottish castle rumoured to be the resting place of the holy grail - here given a pagan basis. A major coup was the casting of Oscar winning actor Sean Connery as the villainous Baron Seamus Seagrove III, revealed in the climax to be a ghost - something that made Spielberg wary but was convinced to do by Columbus who argued that they could go dark so long as it remained fun. Fun it was, with audiences and critics alike delighting in the interplay between Connery and Selleck. It would not be as big a success as the first or third films, but performed steadily at the box office and was well-received by audiences.

[5] Columbus and Selleck both soon agreed to do another film, the former's second as director and the latter's fourth as actor. There was finally some trepidation as to just what the subject matter of the film should be, but a quick visit to the library at Lucas's Skywalker Ranch provided Columbus and Frank Darabont with ideas galore. Eventually they settled on the lost city of Atlantis as the focus of the fifth film, from their latching onto the idea of a U-boot captain and his crew as the villains. Willem Dafoe would find himself portraying the villainous Captain Jaeger. From Darabont's script and Columbus's direction the film would go on to be the biggest commercial success of the series to that point, and a frequent argument amongst fans to this day is to whether Raiders or Atlantis is the superior film.

[6] The world was shocked when following its greatest success the star of the Indiana Jones films wanted to leave the character behind. Tom Selleck had simply grown tired, and wanted to go on to do other things. The decision was quickly made that the role could be recast again, and Selleck departed from the franchise on friendly terms. The search was now on for the next actor to wield the bullwhip. Two names sought were John Travolta and Tom Hanks, both of whom were coming off a string of unsuccessful films. Hanks, by virtue have having acted for Spielberg before in Big, was offered the role; but declined in order to take the lead in Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. film, citing a desire to create his own portrayal rather than following in someone's footsteps. Eventually, another actor was chosen from the world of television, who would later joke "I could just picture it turning out like Pierce (Brosnan) where I get the role but then Cheers would be renewed for another five years." Columbus had decided to go out on a high note following Atlantis, so it fell to Frank Darabont to write and direct the introduction to a new Jones. Wishing to focus on the Arthurian legends, The Matter of Britain would be set in England during the height of the Blitz and see Indy on a quest to find King Arthur's legendary sword Excalibur before a fifth columnist portrayed by Liam Neeson. A particularly memorable scene saw a sinister gas-masked figure grab a child during a panicked air raid and bring them into a dark shelter, only for the gas mask to be removed and the fedora to be donned revealing it to be Indy - in England during the Blitz officially as a member of an Eagle Squadron. The plot would take the characters from London to Glastonbury to the wilds of Wales. It would not be as big a success as Atlantis, but performed better than expected and Ted Danson was seen as a worthy successor to Ford and Selleck.

[7] Having scripted the last two and directed the last Indy film, both major successes, and directing the critically-acclaimed The Shawshank Redemption which went on to win multiple Oscars, Frank Darabont was offered a great deal of creative control over the next Indiana Jones film. This would be the second of Danson's contracted three films. Darabont, drawn to the a different kind of pulp adventure than had been done previously, used the works of H. P. Lovecraft as inspiration for the seventh Indy film - The Frozen Terror. Travelling to Antarctica to trace some out of place objects that had been brought to him at his university, Jones finds himself battling crazed academic William H. Macy and numerous monsters in a buried pyramid under the ice, later revealed to be extraterrestrial in origin. Critics and audiences were polarised by the film, no one believing it to be a poor film, but questioning whether it was truly in the spirit of the franchise with it's grim subject matter and pushing the PG-13 rating to its absolute limit (it later transpired around 60 seconds of cuts had to be made to secure that rating, and an uncut version of the film remains something of a holy grail for some fans). The sight of Burger King attempting to market what is essentially a Shoggoth as a happy meal toy remains a popular video on the internet.

[8] Danson could not really understand the problems people had with the Frozen Terror, but he knew enough to not question peoples outrage. Spielberg and Lucas stepped in for their biggest involvement since the third film to chose writer and director. David Koepp, writer of Joe Dante's Jurassic Park was brought on board to write the script, and after some overtures to Dante himself another Lucas/Spielberg protege, Joe Johnston, was brought on board. Johnston was chosen largely on his directing of the first two entries of The Rocketeer franchise. The script would see Jones battling Soviet agents in South America over the matter of a crystal skull possessed of psychic powers. Aside from some poor CGI the film was mostly criticised for going too far in the opposite direction of The Frozen Terror and being too bland. It was the least successful, critically and commercially, since Temple of Doom. Not to say that the film was unsuccessful, but it was not up to the successes of its predecessors. Danson decided not to renew his contract for any future films.

[9] The search was on for a new Jones, but more importantly was where they wanted to take the franchise next. There was an almost universal agreement that the franchise needed to go back to its early successes to recapture some of the magic. Joe Dante was finally brought on board to direct, after Joe Johnston went on to do the third Jurassic Park film that quickly got bogged down again in development hell. David Koepp returned to do the script. The idea was to go back further than the 1930s serials and touch upon some of their late Victorian predecessors. Both King Solomon's Mines and Prester John would be inspirations on Valley of Kings. To portray Indiana Jones many actors were screen tested, including Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey, the latter of whom wanted too much creative control and wound up in his own franchise of Dirk Pitt adaptations out of spite. Thoughts were even made of focusing this film on a younger version of Jones, with River Phoenix and Sean Patrick Flanery being suggested. Some said the eventual choice of Brendan Fraser was lazy, given he had played an Indiana Jones-esque character in Stephen Sommers The Mummy several years previously. There were fears that the irreverent fun direction they were taking the franchise in might not be as well received post-9/11. Valley of Kings would be the most successful since The Matter of Britain, the decision was made to keep the same tone and feeling for the next film.

[10] After the 9/11 attacks, films in the United States began to take on a darker edge. The successful Dino Crisis adaptation forced Jurassic Park III into development hell and eventually being abandoned, something that would have a major impact on the Indiana Jones franchise. In 2002 Tomb Raider outperformed Valley of Kings at the box office. The decision was made not to ape this change in tone for the Indiana Jones franchise, instead the decision was made to not let all the test footage of dinosaurs for Jurassic Park III go to waste. The idea of Indy vs. dinosaurs had been considered as far back as Temple of Doom. Sending Jones into a lost world type environment was great for merchandising, but the film was largely trashed by critics. Not seen as being as bad as some of the execrable attempts to adapt comic books from the same year, but as a relic in a changing world. Brendan Fraser gave the performance real heart, and the effects were a massive improvement on several years previously, but the John Sayles scripted, Joe Johnston directed rollicking adventure was not fondly thought of and all three found themselves unceremoniously fired and the franchise went into something of a hibernation.

[11] The first major part to be decided on for the next Jones film would be that action thriller director Martin Campbell would direct. Secondly, it was decided to script would be written by Amy Hennig. Hennig, who had made her start in film working for Nintendo's film division in the mid-90s had always loved the Indiana Jones franchise, and her commitment convinced Lucas and Spielberg to give her the job. The decision was also made to set it in the modern day as opposed to the 1930s/40s settings of previous films. A darker, grittier tone was decided for the new film, and after a brief flirtation with Nathan Fillion and Chris Pine it was decided that Thomas Jane would bring the right qualities to the character. An element brought in from Spielberg's initial conception of the character was to portray him as something of an alcoholic in the vein of Humphrey Bogart. Hennig's script would take the film from a U-boat washed up in the Amazon to a lost Spanish colony in the Pacific in search of El Dorado, here a statue rather than a city. Critics loved the new take, it was a box office success, but managed to alienate some long-term fans. Even with this in mind, it was decided that the franchise might have hit the right note for the 00s.

[12] Campbell declined to return for the next film, but Hennig eagerly stepped up to directing duties as well as writing. This time Jones would go the Himalayas in search of Shangri-La, in a very memorable opening he would awaken wounded on a train dangling of a snowy mountain top and have to climb to the top before flashing back to how he arrived there. Among Thieves would go on to beat the Valley of Kings as the most successful Jones film of the decade, and received critical acclaim for its plot and diverse cast of characters.

[13] Hennig and Jane returned for a third film; this time going from London to the Middle East in search of a lost city in the desert. Helen Mirren would star as the villain. It would be neither as commercially or critically successful as Among Thieves, but still perform respectively at the box office and with critics. An ending that saw Jones apparently hang up his fedora for good had fans speculating if the thirteenth film might be the last.

[14] It was never planned to be the last, but the next film would be stuck in development hell for a couple of years. Eventually Hennig would give up and leave for other projects, though her ideas of a lost pirate colony near Madagascar and introducing Jones' father as the villain would be retained by eventual writer/director Rian Johnson. Former James Bond Sam Neill would be given numerous kudos for his performance as Jones's villainous father Henry, but the serviceable film was seen as bringing nothing new to the franchise beyond this. It was also noted that it was the first film in the franchise to not feature any supernatural elements.

[15] Jane declined to return for a fifth film unless he was paid an extortionate amount of money the studio was not willing to pay. The decision was also made not to invite Rian Johnson back for another film. With a proven track record in action comedies, Shane Black was intentionally sought to take the Jones franchise forward. He asked for a measure of creative control that was beyond even Hennig and Darabont, and was granted it. After a much publicised search for the new Jones, including actors Bradley Cooper, Nathan Filion, Dwayne Johnson, and Alden Ehrenreich, Chris Pratt eventually emerged as Black's choice for the new Jones. This resulted in a petition being launched to have Dwayne Johnson cast in the role instead, but the studio famously cited him as requiring too high a salary. Not much is known about The Spear of Destiny, the trailer being a closely guarded secret to be first screened with Alien vs. Predator vs. Terminator, the so-called most ambitious crossover event of all time. The first photos from the set showing Pratt to be the first Jones to wear a moustache since Selleck have been very well-received. It is thought that The Spear of Destiny will be a guaranteed success, with little else to challenge its dominance this summer than the latest attempt at rebooting the Star Wars franchise and the first of what Marvel Comcis promises to be a series of films based on their properties.

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
Sea Lion Press staff
That's really good Ryan, love the asides (a dino crisis film!) and that's a great pod. Removing one of the most famous ab-libs of all time.


Always mysterious!
Published by SLP
Municipal Commune of Bourne
Me and @Comisario had a conversation a few months ago about the numerous things around the development of Die Hard.

  • First of all, Die Hard is based on Nothing Lasts Forever, which is the sequel to The Detective which was turned into a movie in 1968. While the developers of Die Hard had no intention of making a sequel to the 1968 movie, they were contractually obligated to offer the role of the character that would become John McClane to Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra was in his 70s so him accepting the role is obviously ASB but its nonetheless an interesting thought.
  • From there, they wanted to make into a sequel to Commando, with Schwarzenegger in the McClane role. Schwarzenegger turned down a second outing as John Matrix, but its nevertheless an interesting idea.
    • Perhaps Jenny Matrix is in the Holly Gennaro role, which is closer to the original relationship in Nothing Lasts Forever. A now teenage Jenny, her relationship strained with her father runs away from home and becomes a surprisingly successful employee of the Klaxon Corporation. She does this by lying about her age and changing her name. So her colleagues assume she's in her early twenties when in fact she's in her teens. The terrorists attack, following a plot closer to the original book. Rather than German Autumn RAF types though, they are Neo-Nazis. So long as we are still drawing inspiration from the book more from the OTL movie, we can also play with their motives. But rather than trying expose Klaxon's corrupt dealings with Latin American dictatorships, they are actually trying to blackmail Klaxon, as Klaxon was involved in funding a coup in Val Verde, that made use of Neo-Nazi militias (drawing inspiration from Operation Red Dog). The Neo-Nazis want safe passage to Val Verde and a heap of cash not to expose the Klaxon's involvement.
      • Some interesting other bits from the development of Die Hard that could feed into this. The first design of Nakatomi's corporate symbol was thought to look too much like a swastika so they redesigned it and its supposed to look like a samurai helmet. Given that this Klaxon Corporation has shady links to Latin American dictatorships and Neo-Nazis, perhaps they should keep the weird swastika logo for foreshadowing purposes.
  • It seems that Hollywood wanted anyone but Willis. They asked Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere and Don Johnson to star but they all turned it down. Along with Schwarzenegger its interesting to think about what projects would have been cancelled or delayed if any of them had agreed to take on the role.
    • Stallone - If he had agreed to take the McClane role, then he probably wouldn't have been able to do Rambo III in 1988. Given the franchise's staying power, he would have probably ended up doing it anyway at a later point
    • Ford - Work on Die Hard may well have delayed work on The Last Crusade. Which brings up something I will discuss later.
    • Reynolds - he did like five movies in 88-89 thats insane
    • Gere - May have prevented him from doing Miles from Home.
    • Johnson - He probably wouldn't have done Sweet Hearts Dance, and if he had still followed up with Dead Bang, Johnson could have become more typecast as a gritty action movie star.
As for Ford, I have often wondered what would have happened if Raiders of the Lost Ark had rolled with some of Spielberg's crazier ideas. One of Spielberg's ideas, which I have seen more than one concept art drawing of, was to have one of the Nazis be a cyborg with a robot eye, radio transmitter for an ear, and a robot eye that turns into a machine gun and a flamethrower. George Lucas convinced Spielberg that it was too far and that Nazi became creepy Todt. But if that had been retained, then maybe Raiders comes across as just too weird and rather than becoming a blockbuster becomes a mere cult classic. Ford's career isn't quite jumpstarted and so he is available for Die Hard in 1988.


Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
[citation needed]

(BTW, what's Connery's Oscar for in your scenario?)
It's still The Untouchables, which also saw Bob Hoskins nominated for his performance as Al Capone - and actually I realise now that timing wise it might not have been a coup as he probably would not have yet won it at the time he was cast.
It's still The Untouchables, which also saw Bob Hoskins nominated for his performance as Al Capone - and actually I realise now that timing wise it might not have been a coup as he probably would not have yet won it at the time he was cast.
Yeah, The Untouchables in real life was 1987. It was definitely a career award for Connery like Sidney Pollack getting Best Director for :rolleyes: Out of Africa. I thought maybe he'd have won for that Sidney Lumet movie where he's a police officer who wants to murder a child molester or something.

I haven't done anything with this thread despite starting it. I'm sorry everyone, because I said that I would. I just don't have any good ideas. I've been thinking about reposting The Doctor Is Who? from AH.com (probably not with much new content, but who knows, maybe I could think of something for you) at some point - where would that go? Which subforum, I mean?
I had another idea a while ago which may interest you to hear about @RyanF - my idea was that back in the late 80s when Spielberg and Lucas could make anything happen in Hollywood, Spielberg got really interested in television production (as he did in real life - around the same time he produced Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and got really interested in animation, which resulted in Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and a huge kick in Disney's ass to get them to start really pouring their best into cartoons again both in the cinema and on the tv). He and Lucas would team up to do an Indiana Jones series.

But not The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Rather, The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones. And who would play Indiana Jones, adventuring in the years after the Second World War? Why, Richard Dean Anderson, of course!


Thank you for subscribing to coin facts!
Goscinny died in 1977 aged 51. I don't believe that he was in particularly poor health before his death, and so it's not inconceivable that he could have lived for at least another 20 years, producing another 15-25 Astérix stories with Uderzo, who wasn't as good a writer as Goscinny by a long chalk.


Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Yeah, The Untouchables in real life was 1987. It was definitely a career award for Connery like Sidney Pollack getting Best Director for :rolleyes:Out of Africa. I thought maybe he'd have won for that Sidney Lumet movie where he's a police officer who wants to murder a child molester or something.

I haven't done anything with this thread despite starting it. I'm sorry everyone, because I said that I would. I just don't have any good ideas. I've been thinking about reposting The Doctor Is Who? from AH.com (probably not with much new content, but who knows, maybe I could think of something for you) at some point - where would that go? Which subforum, I mean?
By the time The Baron's Tomb in 1988 he would have won it, but when he was cast it would probably be between the release of The Untouchables in 1987 and the Academy Awards for that year in April 1988. I've always found the films Connery did between Diamonds Are Forever and The Untouchables to be the most interesting phase of his career.

If you're just reposting something a few of us have created our own threads over on the Writing subforum.

I had another idea a while ago which may interest you to hear about @RyanF - my idea was that back in the late 80s when Spielberg and Lucas could make anything happen in Hollywood, Spielberg got really interested in television production (as he did in real life - around the same time he produced Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and got really interested in animation, which resulted in Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and a huge kick in Disney's ass to get them to start really pouring their best into cartoons again both in the cinema and on the tv). He and Lucas would team up to do an Indiana Jones series.

But not The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Rather, The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones. And who would play Indiana Jones, adventuring in the years after the Second World War? Why, Richard Dean Anderson, of course!
That is interesting, Richard Dean Anderson was on the notes for potential Indy's when I did my list.

If it's not something you think would make a multiple entry work I'd love to see an article or in-universe review of the programme - I think this thread is good for those.

Some other one-offs I'm toying with - a different later career for Alfred Hitchcock, a different strand of sequels to Alien, John Carpenter has a better 1990s.
That is interesting, Richard Dean Anderson was on the notes for potential Indy's when I did my list.
In both MacGyver and Stargate SG-1, Richard Dean Anderson has a quality that's a lot like Harrison Ford performance as Indiana Jones, namely a self-assurance and charisma that's very tempered by a very genuine sense of vulnerability. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone (and on the rank below them, guys like Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal) always played guys who were invincible.

Conversely, you could see that Indiana Jones or Angus MacGyver felt fear and they got hurt, which leavened their characteristic confidence and made them more relateable and ultimately much more likeable characters. The way I've seen it described is just the right balance of charm, self-effacement, authority and determination.

It's exactly the same thing that makes the best Jackie Chan movies work; he has the same talent.


Socialists drive like this, while Communists drive
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
I've had an idea for a series of vignettes based around a failed Operation Sea Lion, which I was going to write for the First Monthly Vignette Competition but couldn't quite figure it out

But basically it'll be Sea Lion as viewed through the lens of films through the decades, and the different types of war films. So the first would be some kind of Pathe film reel released shortly after the landings failed, but the first proper film would probably be akin to Theirs Is The Glory, an immediate post-war documentary that probably had lots of actual combatants that survived the war.

Then I imagine in the early '50's you'd see see something like the A Night To Remember - so, very realistic but with a distinctly patriotic bent - so, I don't know, Home Guard resolutely dying in a bunker, Kenneth More as the wounded Destroyer Captain sending his ship through the barges one more time even though it's aflame, that sort of thing

Then going into the '60's and '70's you'd see bigger films, so I'm imagining ensemble cast films like The Longest Day - lots of stars, huge budget, replicas of Rhine barges, HMS Belfast brought in for filming. Scenes in France before and after, John Wayne as some American 'volunteer' that evokes angry screeds from the Daily Mail after its aired. The final shot is the oil-slicked beaches, corpses floating around, panning slowly around after Richard Todd slowly walks away, weary but victorious

And, as a counterpart, a similarly high budget but more anti-war film like Waterloo from 1970, focusing more on the grim pointlessness of war - Christopher Plummer stumbling down a beach and collapsing in the sand, hands in the air, screaming about the pointlessness of it all

Not quite sure about the '80s yet, but by the '90s you'd be seeing replicas of Saving Private Ryan - so imagine the Omaha Beach opening with the hyper-realism and muted colour scheme - although not sure how you'd do that as of course the Germans are the bad guys, unlike SPR. And of course you'd get an equivalent to The Thin Red Line - all grey and everyone is just as bad as the other side, morally grey; the Germans shoot hostages, the British shoot some 'escaping POWs'

@The Red
Last edited:


Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
@Skinny87, great idea! Might the 1980s have seen a more schlocky and poorer attempt to recapture the magic of big ensemble pieces like The Longest Day or Von Ryan's Express - akin to Escape from Athena and The Sea Wolves, starring a lot of past it Old Hollywood actors and some younger blood just there for the wage pack in between better gigs.

An idea that just popped into my head was Play for Today or similar broadcasting something about recriminations against supposed collaborators after the War if there was an occupation. Sort of a cross between Judgment at Nuremberg and The Crucible.


ITV versus the Racists
What I want to talk to you all about is about how TNG would have progressed if Denise Crosbie had stuck it out. And how Garrett Wang should have played the first gay Trek character and got his shirt off a lot more and -

I've complained in the past that pop-culture alternate history so often just descends into an excuse for 80s nostalgia and geek fanboy wish fulfilment.
Oh I've wasted my life.

How would Star Wars have turned out under Disney? Lucas has said OTL that "This is a Disney movie."
I really wish I'd known this when someone got agitated when, in one of my boozy abusive rants a few years ago on AH.com, I called Star Wars action Disney and a kids franchise.

Random idiosyncratic shit:

- Sylvester McCoy was brilliant and should have got longer as Doctor Who and it should have doubled down on it being dark as fuck, and then it should have allllll stopped and left me in peace forever more as a franchise.
- Is the standard of Hollywood acting immediately, like on that day, better in a timeline where Keanu Reeves disappears off the face of the earth after Bill and Ted 2 finishes
- (Linking seamlessly, Bob) Bram Stoker's Dracula is underappreciated at the level it actually is on and could have been a great film
- Could Macaulay Culkin have been a nineties Bieber (Check Wikipedia to see how insane this is when sober)
- What the hell is the plot of Die Hard 2 in a world where Noriega never enters the American zeitgeist
- What if Mel Gibson starts ranting about his Trad Catholic obsessions twenty years earlier and there's no Braveheart, Patriot etc, and the world just fucking heals
- More as and when I think of them
I'm pretty sure Mel Gibson had been going off on homophobic rants at the height of his Lethal Weapon heyday.