The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Synopsis
At the apex of the Industrial Age, a merciless oppressor has developed and deployed frightening new weaponry in a diabolical plan to place the world at his disposal. Combating this threat are the anomalous attributes of
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
�Superheroes before there were superheroes,� says director Stephen Norrington.
Along with their preternatural gifts, it is the League�s very human traits � courage, loyalty, honor and sacrifice � that will be called upon to defeat the technological terror wielded by the man known as �The Fantom.�
�The story is a funspirited fantasy, but it also points out the dangers of one person, or one country, assuming the right of invincibility,� says screenwriter James Dale Robinson.
Producer Don Murphy, whose lifelong love of comic books has helped him forge relationships with some of the genre�s best�known figures, got a sneak peek of the comic books by Alan Moore in 1998. It was one of several concepts Moore was developing for his new line, ABC (America�s Best Comics).
�I was chatting with Alan, who I think is a creative genius, about a number of things, and casually asked him, �Well, what else are you working on?�� Murphy recalls. �He told me about his idea for � The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,� which I thought was brilliant. He sent me a treatment, which I brought to Fox, where I was doing another Moore project, �From Hell.� Fox got behind the story immediately, and we put it into development within a matter of weeks.�
Murphy and studio executives turned to the comic book world again for screenwriter Robinson, himself a friend of Moore�s and a well-respected graphic novelist. Robinson relished the opportunity to adapt his colleague�s work to the screen.
�Alan has the ability to rethink existing properties and turn them on their head,� states Robinson. �His source material has a dark and somewhat amoral tone, and a very British sensibility, which appeals to me. The singular and disparate League members, all accustomed to reigning supreme in their own milieu, must somehow forge an alliance.�
The members of the League enter their union with inherent suspicion toward one another. Quatermain views Nemo as a lawless menace on the high seas, while the Indian naval captain sees the former as an embodiment of the hated British imperialism that led him to build and seek refuge in his remarkable submarine. The immortal Dorian Gray is the estranged former lover of Mina Harker, while Skinner and Dr. Jekyll are societal freaks � metaphoric mutations spawned by unchecked, unprincipled advances in science and technology. Strange bedfellows, to say the least.
Says Sean Connery, �A man like Allan Quatermain allied to Dorian Gray creates an interesting chemistry. The conflicting characters in this story are a heady mix.�
Perhaps no one else in the League is more defined by his past than Quatermain, whom Connery describes as �an instinctive, oldfashioned character embodying a different era.� Once an avowed proponent of Her Majesty�s government, Quatermain is now a disillusioned and idle legend. Quatermain is introduced in Nairobi inside the dusty, sunlight�streamed Britania Club: a quiet respite from the relentless African heat. Here, British expats remember past glories and drink gin amidst faded trappings that portend an Empire whose sun is beginning to set.
Avowing to hasten that sunset is the fiendish meglonomaniac known as the Fantom. It falls to the mysterious British intelligence agent, M (Richard Roxburgh), to counter the Fantom with a team of singular individuals he recruits through inducement, threat or plea.
Quatermain is lured by the opportunity to fight, perhaps for the final time, the good fight. Nemo is offered amnesty for charges of high treason, while Mina Harker is secured by an offer of a breakthrough treatment for her peculiar medical condition. Likewise Rodney Skinner, the invisible �gentlemen thief.� Dorian Gray is swayed by the feminine charms of Mina Harker, which he hopes to enjoy in the intimate manner he formerly did. Gray is not, however, the only one casting an admiring eye towards Mina. The dashing young American secret service agent known as Sawyer, who joins the League of his own accord, is immediately smitten, though he is as of yet unaware of her nocturnal tendencies.
Adding the straight-shooting Sawyer to the mix was one of Robinson�s chief tasks in broadening Alan Moore�s story. The young man soon comes to view Quatermain as a father figure, and the special bond that forms between them becomes perhaps the most vital link in the group.
The story�s most dynamic link is between the dual personas of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde. The film�s version of Hyde is a nine-foot-tall towering mass of menacing power. As the alter ego of the timid and repressed Dr. Jekyll, who yearns to escape the extreme constraints placed upon gentlemen, Mr. Hyde is a brutish, uninhibited monstrosity driven by the basest instincts and darkest desires of the human soul.
As the League discovers, it is difficult and dangerous to deny a monster his pleasures.
Able to vanquish a score of men with minimal effort, Hyde�s ferocity instills awe and fear among those witnessing his unleashed fury.
Says producer Don Murphy, �All of the characters� attributes and special abilities have been ramped up in the film. Essentially, they�ve been �superhero-sized.��