Steampunk Wednesdays #2 – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

league_of_extraordinary_gentlemenBased on the comic book series written by Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a superhero film of sorts, albeit a 19th century set one with famous literary characters of the period teaming up to form a ‘Victorian Justice League’ to combat evil doings and to protect the British Empire. Sean Connery heads the team as Allan Quatermain of H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novels. There’s an invisible man called Rodney Skinner (as the rights to the original invisible man from H. G. Wells’ novel apparently couldn’t be obtained). There’s Mina Harker who did indeed become a vampire in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, although she was cured of that particular ailment once the Count was destroyed. Here she’s still a vampire because, y’know, that’s cooler. Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is an immortala grown up Tom Sawyer is now a crack marksman for the U.S: Secret Service, and Dr. Jekyll, whose addiction to the drug he created means that he will inevitably turn into the monstrous Mr. Hyde, keeps everybody else on their toes. And they all travel about in the Nautilus from Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea under Captain Nemo who has also built an automobile now. The basic plot is that a shady, masked character called the ‘Fantom’ is causing trouble between Britain and Germany by dressing his followers up as one side and attacking the other. He also plans to destroy the whole of Venice where a meeting is to be held between the world leaders, thus causing a ‘world war’ and profiting from the inevitable arms race. This Bond-esque adventure was Sean Connery’s swansong before he retired and, despite its notorious deviations from the source material, stands as one of the more well-known attempts to bring steampunk to the screen.

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