Twelve Days of X-Mas, Day 8: ‘STARJAMMERS: THE SHI’AR EMPIRE’
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 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. We then caught up on the adventures of Corsair and crew and met the poweful Shi’ar Imperial Guard. We finally gave Marvel’s first family the film they deserve and then brought the X-Men into the MCU, making good on our several movie long build up to a true-to-comics Scott Summers. Yesterday we investigated the origins of the universe and took a look at the threat nature poses to us all in the Silver Surfer. Today, we’ve come back to finish up our Starjammers trilogy and give the Summers boys a reunion with their father!
My goals here are to tie up a lot of loose threads, give the Summers’ men a chance to shine together and really put a kink in our relationship with Charles Xavier all while saving the world and and the Shi’ar Empire. No big deal really.
When we last saw our Starjammers, things were pretty bleak. Hepzibah’s home planet had been destroyed, though she, Raza and Ch’od were together and on the run, and Corsair had been captured and imprisoned on Chandilar. The post-credit scene to that movie revealed that the pirates hadn’t given up, however, and had hatched a plan to spring their leader. We’ll pick up there as the movie begins. A great pirate prison break scene unfolds as Sikorsky’s plan is hatched. It seems important here to show the trust and efficiency with which the team operates now to see how far they’ve come and what they’re capable of doing for their “family.” It’s Hepzibah who ultimately springs Corsair and the reunion of the two results in some serious passion (Corsair thought she was dead). As they prepare to take leave of the prison, Corsair realizes that they could also leave with what might possibly be their biggest score to date: Lilandra. And so they do and as we move through and incredible escape scene (I like to think about this looking like the escape from the Death Star in A New Hope), our space pirates have new life. They pick up a new ship on the way out and hit their jump. We find out that they’ve been on the run for some time since the breakout and they know they’ll have no place to go with the Imperial Guard on their trail; however, they’ve managed to lay low and begin work on a plan with Lilandra’s help.
Cut to Earth and Professor X’s newly renovated school seems busier than when last we saw it. We know that the events of Professor X and The X-Men were among the first to reveal the enormity of the mutant population to the world and while fear has spread through the government propaganda, Moira and Charles have been hard at work expanding trying to talk to parents of young mutants they’ve identified and expanding the student body. Now shown to be enrolled at the school are Calvin Rankin, Kevin Sydney, Alex Summer, Lorna Dane, Ororo Munroe (the young mutant Charles first encountered years ago in Cairo) and Suzanne Chan. It’s also revealed that Moira has continued work at her foster home nearby and some other, younger mutants are living there in a bit of a different setting. Among them are Jamie Madrox and Petra Laskov (the girl we last saw pawning diamonds at the end of Professor X and The X-Men) and, of course, Gabriel Summers. We see the new students going through their paces in school and also being led through training exercises led by the original team. Charles’ sense of pride in the students, especially his first class, is evident as he watches them; however, he is especially concerned about Alex’s inability to control his power. As Charles moves away in his hoverchair, Moira contacts him and as the two speak, the camera pans to Kevin Sydney and we find out that she’s been working hard to find a cure, but it seems as if the poor young man has only a few months left to live.
On Chandilar, the Imperial Guard surround a closed door and as we move inside, we see D’Ken in a heated conversation. As we move around the room, it becomes clear that he’s the only one in the room and that he is carrying on a full back and forth with the crystal. We learn that since his sister escaped, he’s used the crystal to destroy several other planets within the Empire for harboring the Starjammers, though in none of those circumstances was their evidence of them being there. Back outside the room, the Imperial Guard share concerned glances and even the stoic Kallark seems to crack. As D’Ken finishes communing with the crystal, he is led by the Guard to another room where he’s greeted by a face we haven’t seen for some time: Davan Shakari. Shakari briefs him of the events on Earth, leaving out of course the escape of his Terran slave, but sure to include the growing number of super-powered beings on an already dangerous Earth, including Charles Xavier and his team of X-Men. D’Ken sends Shakari back to Earth, tasking him with surveilling their school and learning just what each of the team can do.
At that we cut to Charles who has a fully realized Cerebro, a machine that harnesses his ability to exist in his astral form, now built into the school (it’s been hard to stay away from it until now, but it’s necessary at this point). As he enters the program, we find that he’s able to reach further and further with his mind and now he senses a call for help further than he’s been before: Charles, in his astral from, has left Earth and finds himself quickly drawn through space where he comes face to face with the unique beauty of Lilandra Neramini. Charles calmly sits next to the deposed leader of the Imperial Guard and introduces himself. Lilandra tells her story and of the threat that her brother poses to the entire universe. Charles, in move far more self-serving than we’d like our heroes to make, insists that Lilandra and her team come to Earth where Charles and his X-Men will help devise a plan to stop her brother’s reign of madness and terror. Charles returns to his body and Lilandra brings the plan to the Starjammers and it is met with near unanimous approval and then a decidedly angry “NO!”. Corsair will not go home; he won’t face reminders of his losses; he won’t bring this threat to Earth. As Corsair storms away, Hepzibah starts after him only to be stopped by Ch’od. In a twist, Ch’od, not Hepzibah convinces Corsair to return to Earth to find closure for his losses and to regale the Starjammers with tales of his youthful adventures. The course is set: the Starjammers are heading to…Alaska.
Catching up with the X-Men, we see the original team finishing a battle with Unus the Untouchable using a device of Beast’s design that cleverly captures him within his own force field. This was the first mission in which Charles allowed Mimic, Polaris, Havok and Sway to go into the field as backup and while they weren’t needed, Charles debriefs them on the way back to the school and seems to be very pleased with their progress. This won’t be the “we’re ready Coach, put us in moment” because it’s at this point Charles determines that they are, in fact, ready and tells them as much. Back at the school, we find that Moira has come to visit and has brought Gabriel with her. It seems that Gabriel, who has been progressing well and fitting in nicely at the home, was working on fixing some wiring when he took a shock. The shock was minor but what’s happened to him since then is what’s brought him here:
Since the shock, Gabriel’s body, including his eyes, have been emanating energy and while he’s not in pain or hurting anyone else, it won’t stop. Charles agrees to see the young man and is amazed at what he sees. He explains to Gabriel that he’s a mutant and would like to enter his mind to see if he can find out what he can do to help. Gabriel agrees but Charles finds it tough sledding to even enter his mind at first as it appears Gabriel is resisting. Once Gabriel calms down, Charles finds several things: a torrent of awful events at the hands of aliens who look an awful lot like Lilandra; a Shi’ar spy here on Earth and Gabriel’s escape; the fact that Gabriel’s memories seem to begin at adolescence and the lack of anything at all before that. Charles also feels pain and the promise of enormous power and, as he exits Gabriel’s mind, he senses a deep hatred for the people who hurt him. Charles and Moira confer and agree that Gabriel should stay with the X-Men for now until the full reach of his abilities are understood. As Charles takes him to his room, he passes the common room where the Summers boys are playing a killer game of Super Mario Kart 9. Scott puts down his controller and walks to get a closer look, believing for a moment that they man that just walked by looked an awful lot like his dad. Alex quickly snaps him out of it and the two return to their game. Before we leave the school, we see Kevin in front of a mirror, quickly taking the shape of each of his classmates before morphing into and holding the look of Charles Xavier and as we pull away, we find that Shakari, the hand of Shi’ar Emperor D’Ken, has not only found the X-Men, but his runaway slave.
Back with the Starjammers, Corsair, not in his 80’s rock star bodysuit, and the team have made a brief stop in Alaska where we see Christopher Summers approach a home in Anchorage. An unsure Summers pauses before knocking on the door, which is opened by a man who slowly realizes who is standing before him. We find this is one of Summers’ old Air Force buddies who has clearly thought his friend long dead. Summers enters the home and tells his friend the tale we’ve seen unfold, ultimately being forced to introduce him to his new crew. After some convincing, Summers’ friend agrees to get Summers’ belongings left behind at the base and delivers a small box of materials cleaned out from his locker and desk. In it, Summers finds exactly what he was looking for: a picture of his wife and sons taken on their fateful vacation and as he returns to their ship, he places it on his control panel as a constant reminder of what was taken from him by the Shi’ar and the reason why he continues to take from them. Their brief detour done, Lilandra reaches out to Charles Xavier and the two work together to bring the Starjammers to Westchester.
Back on the Shi’ar throneworld, Shakari is seen transmitting his report to D’Ken. As he ends his report, he begins his descent on the school, revealing himself in his full Shi’ar armor for the first time.
Shakari boldly breaches the school and is soon greeted by its students. His Shi’ar physiology gives him enough of an advantage and his armor proves to be able to not only produce energy blasts, but also keeps Marvel Girl from getting into his head. Several of the X-Men are taken out of the picture as Charles calls out a plan to others. Sway creates a time loop in which Shakari finds himself battling Cyclops over and over; with his attention diverted, Polaris and Havok team up. Havok unleashes a massive blast of energy on Shakari, more than even he can handle, disabling him momentarily. While he’s down, Polaris uses her powers to restrain him within his armor and remove his helmet at which time Marvel Girl finds her way into his mind and shuts him down. As the battle comes to an end, Gabriel comes out to the field to see his former tormentor disabled and approaches him. Before anyone can stop him, Gabriel projects and energy whip and begins to lash Shakari, tearing away pieces of his armor as he goes. Gabriel can’t be stopped and either Charles nor Marvel Girl can enter his mind; fortunately, the arrival of a massive Shi’ar starship proves to be enough to distract him. As the ship lands in clearing in the woods surrounding the school, the crew disembarks: the Starjammers and the X-Men make their first fateful meeting.
Having not had contact from Shakari, D’Ken heads back to commune with the crystal. When he emerges, he gathers the Imperial Guard and gives the command to load the crystal aboard their ship. He’s going to Earth and the crystal has told him to destroy the planet. Each of the crew, save Neutron, know this is madness; they load the crystal but Kallark, Oracle, Mentor and Smasher, all psi-linked by Oracle, devise a way to stop the mad Emperor.
Back on Earth, the Starjammers and X-Men try to hatch their own plan. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Havok and Polaris accompany Corsair and Hepzibah to the ship, thrilled to explore an alien vessel. Here Scott sees the picture on the control console and the dots are all connected. He asks to scan Corsair’s mind and she finds that he is indeed Scott and Alex’s father and that since their separation, he’s believed them dead and suffered greatly. Meanwhile, in the school, Gabriel has found where they are holding Shakari and opens the cell intent on torturing his former master. Shakari is beaten and weak, but as Gabriel pauses, Shakari strikes a blow to the boy, rendering him unconscious. Shakari dons his armor and as he looks to leave the school, he crosses the path of Charles and Lilandra. Shakari’s armor keeps him safe from Charles’ psychic attacks and before the rest of the team can come to help, he’s overpowered Charles and taken Lilandra. Tossed from his chair, Charles sees Shakari use his armor to open a portal and disappear.
After they collect themselves, they X-Men and Starjammers are now planning a rescue when Lilandra reaches out and tells Charles that she is on Earth but that she now knows her brother is headed for Earth, intent on destroying it. Eager to make up for his mistakes, Gabriel tells the team he knows where Shakari’s lair is, explaining he’s been a slave to the Shi’ar his entire life. It’s gonna be a bit awkward, but it’s now at this critical juncture in the film, that the revelation of father and sons is made by Jean who had been able to not only learn about Christopher Summers but also the life of Gabriel while reading Shakari’s mind. Following their reunion, the plan is presented as follows:
- Polaris, Havok, Storm and Sway will be joined by one of Moira’s students, Petra, and Gabriel to rescue Lilandra.
- Charles, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, Angel and Mimic will accompany the Starjammers to Shi’ar space to stop D’Ken.
The final battle is waged on two fronts. On Earth, Storm and the “gold” team battle Shakari who is beaten back and tells them if they don’t stand down, he will kill Lilandra. In space above Earth, Cyclops’ “blue team” and the Starjammers engage in an incredible battle with the Imperial Guard as D’Ken powers up the crystal.
Shakari, aware that the battle is lost, looks to enter the base and make good on his threat when the Earth begins to swallow him up. Petra concentrates and Shakari is slowly surrounded by the Earth and Storm hits him with a large lightning bolt, stunning him.
In space, Jean communicates with Charles who instructs her to leave the team and head for the crystal. As she does, she looks back and sees the Professor hit with a devastating blow from Neutron, and fall limp. She reaches out to him to find their connection is still intact despite the fact she’s sure he’s dead. As she looks on confused, the body of Professor X slowly changes into their teammate Kevin and she realizes what’s happened. This scene also features some great moments of Scott and Corsair fighting side by side, filling Scott with the kind of confidence he’s often lacked. Fighting in the presence of his father is going to be key to Scott’s growth as a leader.
On Earth, Charles frees Lilandra from her cell and the two share a kiss. As he moves back outside with Lilandra, he sees the team engaged in a new battle with Gabriel. We see a decapitated Shakari and a rage in Gabriel that has grown out of control. The revelation of his mother’s death at the hand of D’Ken put him over the edge and the gold team can’t stop him. Polaris and Petra use their powers in concert to begin to lift the Earth on which Gabriel is standing into space. As he rockets from the Earth, Gabriel stares down at the team and flies away, leaving a trail of energy in his wake.
On the Shi’ar ship, the blue team realize they’re on their own to stop D’Ken. Appalled at what he saw and what he believes is betrayal, Mimic has retreated back to the Starjammer. As the tide turns in favor of the Shi’ar, Charles reaches out to Jean and explains, in brief, that he’s constructed an elaborate maze in her brain to keep her true power contained, but that now is the time to turn her loose. D’Ken is in deep commune with the Shi’ar gods inside the crystal as he prepares to unleash the weapon. Jean’s blocks are removed and she’s momentarily unable to process what she’s seeing (think about someone getting glasses for the first time), but she quickly reaches out and realizes she is within everyone’s heads simultaneously. She easily shuts down each of the Imperial Guard and follows D’Ken inside the crystal. Fill in the blanks about what she sees in here (I really don’t think they can do another Phoenix story), but it ends with her unloading with all her new found might and destroying the crystal from within, ending the threat and rendering D’Ken catatonic.
As the film wraps up,Marvel Girl and Angel have left. Several newcomers have come on and train in an incredibly updated and alien Danger Room, courtesy of Shi’ar technology, which has also provided a new jet for the team. As we head into space with the Starjammers, Polaris and Havok are seen with the crew. Back on Chandilar, Lilandra is crowned Majestrix of the empire, flanked by her Imperial Guard, as Charles, Cyclops, Storm, and Beast look on.
Post-Credit Scene #1: A ship carrying Charles and the X-Men is attacked by a Shi’ar cruiser. Lilandra’s long-exiled sister, Deathbird, pilots the other vessel.
Post-Credit Scene #2: On Earth. The Canadian Wilderness. A raging Wendigo terrorizes a hunting camp until a group of heroes come into view and begin to contain him. As they close in, the Wendigo grows angry and just as he lashes out at the hero code-names Saint Elmo…SNIKT!
While the Starjammers trilogy has come to an end, we certainly haven’t seen the last of them. We also are set up not only for an all-new, all-different X-team, but also the introduction of Wolverine into the MCU. At this point we are almost done but we know it’s been a long road so far. In our next installment, we’ll catch up with the Richards’ men and Doom as they discover the Kang Dynasty!