At the time of the decision to go into production on the 2005 live action movie, I got the shooting script and offered my notes. They not only disregarded my advice, it seems they deliberately did the opposite.
I advised against making Una's character Aeon's sister. So what did they do? They gave Trevor a brother too! (Which Oren wasn't in the script I read.)
In the draft that I read, which was made then heavily edited by the studio, the movie ends with Aeon pregnant with Trevor's child. It's an example of what I mean by an arbitrary solution to an arbitrary made-up problem: for the AF movie, in the future, the human race has become sterile. The hero solves the problem by-- becoming pregnant!
Here is the introduction to my list of notes. I won't post the script notes themselves, as they refer to specific items with page numbers, and won't make much sense out of context.
screenplay by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
Notes By Peter Chung
Before I begin my review of the script, I’d like to establish some groundwork regarding the intent, the themes, and the methods which have been the driving force behind the existence of Aeon Flux, the character, and the world she inhabits. I’m not against steering the character in new directions nor would I insist on a pure translation of the original animated version. But I do believe that whatever made Aeon unique among action heroes/heroines is worth preserving in the transition to live action.
And Aeon Flux is a unique character. What distinguishes her most is that she is independent and entirely self-motivated. She is always driven by personal interests, never by ideological ones. Unlike other heroes who fight for their country, for justice or to defend the law, Aeon is free of such ties. She is ultimately a loner who upholds the value of personal freedom above all others. For good or ill, she spurns any attachment to others.
Trevor Goodchild is the most powerful man in the world; Aeon Flux embodies pefect freedom. Aeon’s freedom is threatened by Trevor’s need for control; Aeon protects her freedom using any means necessary. But she’s smart enough to realize that Trevor’s benevolent regime is better than the power-driven forces that would replace him if he were ever to be removed. Aeon’s challenge is to weaken Trevor , but never to destroy him. He is most valuable to her just where he is. In this way, Aeon needs Trevor more than she’ll admit. She loves him; as powerful as he is, he’s the only man worthy of her.
From Trevor’s standpoint, Aeon is the one thing he cannot control. Of course he desires most that which he can never possess. This obsession turns to love. They are perfectly complementary. It’s the battle of the sexes amplified to political warfare. Think of it this way: a lovers’ disagreement fought with guns, armies, and a national agenda. The cliché “this time, it’s personal” doesn’t apply, because with Aeon and Trevor, the conflict is always personal. For Aeon, fighting Trevor is not a job or a duty, it’s self-preservation and self-definition.
There is a unique aspect to this conflict in the way it reflects the love/hate dynamics of personal relations. This is not a conflict of good vs. evil. I think it’s high time that superheroes grew up. Aeon Flux is here to answer that need.
My reading of the script is that it places Aeon in an ambiguous role, and leads to a conclusion which contradicts the very character which we should seek to reinforce. It’s a betrayal of Aeon’s identity as a new type of feminine role model to see her pregnant and ready to settle down with Trevor at the movie’s end. What’s next, a house in the suburbs and living happily ever after? Please. I’m sorry, but I doubt that any of the loyal fans of Aeon Flux could find this ending acceptable. I certainly do not. This is as sure a way to kill the character as putting a bullet in her head.
― Peter Chung, Sunday, 1 July 2018 14:20 (two years ago) link
This announcement made me groan -- didn't they try this ten years ago? It's riding a nostalgia wave and it'll miss the point completely, I'm sure.
I did a search on Twitter for Aeon Flux, though, and found a lot of fans perplexed at the decision. They seemed to get that whatever this ends up being, it won't be the same thing that caught their attention so well back then.
― Matt Rebholz, Sunday, 1 July 2018 15:26 (two years ago) link
The point that Aeon is not fighting for a cause is actually not a finer point. It is THE point. They have one thing to say, and they say the opposite.
It is like saying that Batman is a superhero whose superpowers are those of a bat.The point of Batman is that he is a superhero WITHOUT super powers.
I'm left to wonder if there was even an attempt to grapple with the challenge of the premise of Aeon.Maybe they looked at it and said, "a hero without a cause-- nah, that'll never work", and just made up something generic.
The complaint of so many viewers is that there are no original ideas. Everything is derivative.You make something that IS original, and they say "I don't get it".
― Peter Chung, Sunday, 1 July 2018 22:21 (two years ago) link
I've always been puzzled by the desire to categorize characters and stories into narrowly defined boundaries. When people watch a romantic comedy, or a family drama, or a boy's adventure, there's no expectation that the character needs any kind of ideological or political motive.The motivations of characters in those genres are personal: emotional, psychological, even spiritual.
When I sat down with Eric Singer as we set out to collaborate on writing The Purge, I told him that he should think of Aeon Flux as a James Bond movie if it was directed by Ingmar Bergman.
― Peter Chung, Monday, 2 July 2018 00:20 (two years ago) link