Twelve Days of X-Mas, Day 4: ‘STARJAMMERS: THE IMPERIAL GUARD’
This feature originally ran at MCU Exchange in December of 2017.
Welcome to another installment of what I hope is an enjoyable, extended look at a series of films that I’d like to see used as a way to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four universes into the MCU. I’ve spent a troubling amount of time in my own mind thinking about this and figured that if I was going to spend that much time, I might as well write it up and feel accomplished! In doing so, I know that I’ll push some buttons with some readers, so let’s be clear about a few things: these are only MY ideas and do not, in any way, represent insight into what we should expect; of all the films I end up writing about, there’s a very small chance ANY of them get made; you’re free to write your own fan-fiction about films you want to see.
With so much time between now and when we will first see the X-Men enter the MCU, there’s a lot of time for things to change (including my own mind); however, this “blueprint” is my current idea and one that I’ve attempted to base both in the kind of decisions Marvel Studios has made to date and on the types of changes we’ve seen recently. Unfortunately, in writing these I’ve discovered I am NOT cut out to do screenplays, so some of these stray from convention in a few ways.
In the first installment, I took at look at how The Starjammers could potentially kick off Marvel Studios’ inclusion of the X-Men characters into the MCU. Then I took a shot at introducing Charles Xavier to the world and explaining just why he needed the X-Men in the first place. Next, we introduced arguably Marvel’s greatest character, Victor von Doom. Today, it’s time to return to space and continue the story of Corsair and the Starjammers. When last we saw the Starjammers they had landed several major blows against the Shi’ar Empire and this film will pick up right where the last one left off: with Lilandra’s Shi’ar Imperial Guard on a mission to bring down Corsair and his crew of pirates.
The middle film of what I planned out as a trilogy, this film will have a few twists and turns along the way but will definitely see our heroes taking a beating. A couple of years have passed and while the legend of the Starjammers has grown, Lilandra has not only called on the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, a team of the finest warriors from all across the Shi’ar empire to pursue them but has also placed a robust bounty on Corsair’s head, making it harder and harder for the space pirates to find safe places to stay. As the film opens we see the Imperial Guard, made up of Kallark, praetor of the guard, Mentor, Smasher, Oracle and Neutron smashing a few heads at a port where the Starjammers were rumored to have recently been.
D’Ken has successfully unearthed the M’Kraan crystal from its resting place on Alsibar. His madness has grown and he looks to return to the expansionist roots of the empire. In the presence of the crystal, he believes himself to be communing with Sharra and K’ythri, the Shi’ar deities they hold responsible for the creation of the universe. Well aware of the damage done to the Kree homeworld of Hala during the Kree-Skrull War, D’Ken looks to threaten the Kree with an ultimatum: be annexed into the Shi’ar Empire, or be destroyed.
On Earth, the 14-year old Scott Summers remains at the State Home for Foundlings. When we first see him, he’s talking with Dr. Essex about the nearly constant migraines he’s been experiencing the past few weeks. Essex draws some blood and as he goes back to his room, we see Essex open a computer file that gives us a little more insight into his deep obsession not only with Scott, but the entire Summers bloodline. A look at his computer reveals generations of gene mapping of the Summers’ blood line and molecular markers on Scott’s 23rd chromosome. As Essex takes a look at the new blood work and immediately recognizes that Scott’s body has begun producing some interesting new proteins.
When we catch up with 12-year old Alex, we snot that he’s grown considerably. An early bloomer, Alex has moved in with a family and has fit in nicely. We won’t spend much time with Alex now, but it’s important to note that he’s matured quickly and has taken to the role of big brother in his new foster family.
And before we leave Earth we head to upstate New York where we meet a mutant Shi’ar, Davan Shakari. Shakari, the Hand of the King, is on Earth collecting intelligence for D’Ken about the threats offered by Terra’s heroes as D’Ken hopes to wipe them out and expand the empire to include Earth. While he’d make you double take on the street, Shakari has a more-exotic, less-alien appearance that allows him to do some surveillance on his own. However, he has a full stable of slaves at his disposal and for his purposes on Earth, Gabriel Summers is the perfect tool. Summers does much of Shakari’s day-to-day information gathering. Though he seems loyal, it’s important to note that Gabriel has gained Shakari’s trust and is testing his limits.
We’ve made it all this way and still haven’t checked in on our Starjammers! We catch up with the crew and notice that they’ve expanded by two members since last we met. Ch’od has picked up an adorable little companion who we see him playing with as we pan to Corsair, who looks a little worse from their recent mission. In swoops what first appears to be a small drone that heads towards Corsair; as it approaches, Corsair greets him as Dr. Sikorsky. A closer look reveals him to be a sentient being, covered in armor as he quickly demonstrates his his minor telepathic abilities. We learn that the Starjammer took heavy fire in their latest heist and that they’re aware that the Imperial Guard is hot on their trail. We also find out that they’ve become aware that the M’Kraan crystal has been found and Hepzibah gives the crew a little exposition on just what the crystal can do. The Starjammers are cornered, the galaxy is getting small so they plan their biggest heist yet: they are going after the M’Kraan crystal.
Back on the ship of the Imperial Guard, Praetor Kallark briefs Lilandra on their progress in hunting the Starjammers. Their intel suggests they are hiding out near the planet Tryl’sart, the home planet of Hepzibah and her people, the Mephitisoids. The Mephitisoids were the last holdouts of the Shi’ar’s conquest of their current empire and have remained unruly, though controllable, since. As the crew sets a course for Tryl’sart, Lilandra asks Kallark for his opinion on D’Ken’s plans to expand their empire through fear. The hesitation in his voice gives us hope that Kallark is a good man, but his answer is this is what is best for the Shi’ar because it is what the Emperor has planned. As they jump to Tryl’sart, Lilandra reminds Kallark of the madness that took her sister and that she perceives is growing in her brother. She will speak to her brother and if he does not listen, she’ll plead her case to the Shi’ar High Council in the hopes that they will see what her brother is becoming.
Gabriel Summers has done well in preparing himself to escape and does so. He cleverly covers his trail and quickly finds himself miles away in the woods near a small orphanage that he’d previously identified as a potential shelter. As he enters the building and the staff begins to question him during intake, it’s quite clear that his only memories are, inexplicably from the very recent past. After he is settled in to his room, the director of the orphanage comes to visit: Moira MacTaggert is in America. Meanwhile in Nebraska, his brother Scott is shown getting a fancy new pair of specs, courtesy of Dr. Essex. As Essex explains, the red-tinted lenses should filter out the low wavelength, high energy blue light that’s been causing him headaches. And as we check in with Alex, we see that not only is he fitting in well with his new family, he’s become quite popular as he gets ready to head to high school.
The Imperial Guard come out of their jump outside the planet Tryl’sart. It’s not long before the Starjammers are alerted to their presence and begin preparations to take off. Kallark and Neutron jump to action and quickly disable the ship. Kallark releases beams of intense heat from his eyes that begin to carve large pieces of the ship away. As he finished, Neutron approaches the ship on what appears to be a kamikaze run only to breach the hull: the rest of the Imperial Guard board the Starjammer. Raza and Ch’od greet the forces of the Imperial Guard and fight valiantly, but are quickly dispatched. Their battle is just a distraction allowing Corsair and Hepzibah to make their escape in order to commandeer the Imperial Guard’s vessel. As they work their way to their shuttle, Hepzibah is struck with the memory of how her friends saved her in the mine, plants a kiss on Corsair and tells him to hurry. Her surprise entrance briefly turns the tide but Oracle quickly subdues her with her powers. She also reads her mind and sees that all this has unfolded just as Corsair had hoped: the Imperial Guard are all aboard a disabled ship and Corsair is in control of an Imperial cruiser. As Kallark flys out in pursuit of the cruiser, Corsair jumps leaving the Imperial Guard stranded, but also in possession of everything he has left in his life.
Corsair flips his H.U.D. down and opens a line of communication with Dr. Sikorsky, who is still aboard the Starjammer along with Ch’od’s little pet. The two have surveyed the area and are ready to rescue the rest who are being stowed on a sub-level. When they arrive to free their friends, they find only a badly wounded Ch’od and Raza; Hepzibah is nowhere to be found. We find she’s been taken by Lilandra and Kallark to Tryl’sart’s Shi’ar embassy where she will be executed in front of her people for treason. As Dr. Sikorsky patches up Ch’od, he and Raza formulate their plan to get to the surface of the planet and save their friend. At the embassy on Tryl’sart, Lilandra contacts D’Ken and informs him of their progress. Long hateful of the Mephitisoids and their unruly behavior, D’Ken tells Lilandra to stay the execution of Hepzibah; he’s coming to Tryl’sart himself, with the M’Kraan crystal intent on destroying the entire planet and showing the rest of the empire what happens to those who harbor traitors. As the screen fades away, Lilandra and Kallark exchange glances…Lilandra must go back to the Aerie and confront the High Council and stop her brother’s madness. As she makes her plans, Neutron, well aware of Lilandra’s plans, storms away.
Corsair walks the streets of the Shi’ar capital in disguise knowing time is short. They abandoned the vessel just outside the planet and have used some contacts on Chandilar to be smuggled in and are finding hiding among the nearly million of inhabitants of the imperial capital to be quite easy. Unfortunately for them, they have underestimated D’Ken’s response. As word on the street spreads of D’Ken’s decision to destroy Tryl’sart, Corsair realizes he has failed. Not only will he be unable to steal the crystal, he’s also going to lose what family he had left. It’s just at that time that Imperial Guardsmen Oracle and Smasher arrive and quickly disable Corsair.
Lilandra’s ship lands on Chandilar and she approaches the chamber of the High Council, who she has called together. D’Ken’s ship approaches Tryl’sart, the newly weaponized M’Kraan crystal ready for use. Ch’od, Raza and Sikorsky, known as Starjammers and heroes to the Mephitisoids, launch their attack on the embassy with the help of some locals. Lilandra enters the chamber, eager to plead with the Council. Corsair, badly beaten, is thrown into a holding cell on a Shi’ar vessel. The Shi’ar jailer projects an image from D’Ken’s ship into his cell. D’Ken unleashes the crystal’s power, vaporizing Tryl’sart. Lilandra is never given a chance to make her plea; Neutron has informed the Council that she has planned to usurp her brother and take the throne for herself. Raza, Ch’od, Sikorsky and Hepzibah are shown to have escaped from the darkside of Tryl’sart in an old ship left over from the original Shi’ar-Mephitisoid war. Corsair watches the destruction of Tryl’sart, his failure complete in his mind. Lilandra is brought to the same Shi’ar vessel as Corsair and thrown in a cell across from him. D’Ken begins the journey home, eager to claim the heads of the pirate Corsair and the only remaining threat to his throne: his sister. Kallark and the rest of the Imperial Guard return to the Aerie, their duty done.
Post-Credit Scene #1: Scott, much like Gabriel, is on the run. The difference, however, is that he has no plan and nowhere to go. He’s hitch-hiked as far as Sioux Falls, South Dakota when he begins hearing voices in his head. Those voices lead him to a small house nearby where the voices get stronger and stronger. As they grow, the stress causes Scott to unleash a massive optic blast, his first since the plane crash, and pass out. As he hits the ground, a hand, fully encased in diamond, reaches out to check his pulse. The camera pulls away to show fellow mutant Jack Winters, the Living Diamond, as he carries Scott to safety.
Post-Credit Scene #2: Aboard the Imperial flagship where Corsair and Lilandra await their death, a defeated Corsair hears a familiar voice in his ear: Sikorsky has made his way to the jail.
Things do indeed look bad for the Starjammers during the course of the film, but we get the glimmer of hope we need at the end of the film. The Summers boys are all in the places they need to be for what comes next. We are left to ponder the fate of Lilandra, however. We’re just a third of the way through, but I want to thank you for reading and continuing to support the site. I’m looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s feature with you when I finally get around to introducing Marvel’s First Family, who come to find out, have been around longer than we know.
The Starjammers will return!