In 1981, the Reavers, a criminal paramilitary organisation, raid a London warehouse belonging to MI-13, an elite and secret British intelligence agency. The organisation’s masked, armored leader discovers what he was looking for: an ancient map of Britain highlighting two locations (in northern and southern England); he then burns it after learning of its contents. The Reavers are ambushed by MI-13 (led by Union Jack and Black Knight) as they depart. However, the Reavers escape and head north whilst being pursued by MI-13.
Earlier that week, Brian Braddock, a gifted post-graduate physics student at Thames University and scion of an ancient (and nearly extinct) aristocratic family, is sent to the Darkmoor Energy Research Facility in northern England as a part of a fellowship (along with Jack “Jacko” Tanner and Irish-Romanchial Courtney Ross, his close friends and fellow students). During the tour of the facility, Braddock spies a circle of primordial stones out on the moor. These remind him of an identical set he saw in his youth when at the elite boarding school Falsworth College, where he was also bullied by fellow students Dai Thomas and Joshua Stragg, both of whom came from lower class Welsh and Brummie backgrounds, respectively, and were abused in this aristocratic environment because of their lack of “breeding” (with current Prime Minister James “Jim” Jaspers, then Head Master, and his cronies being their insidious tormentors).
During his first day of work at Darkmoor, the facility is attacked by the Reavers. When the Reaver leader himself sees Brian, he reveals himself to be an adult Joshua Stragg. As Stragg continues his interrogation of head researcher Alysande Stuart, Braddock escapes and flees on his motorcycle, both to get help and because of his own fear. Stragg pursues Braddock across the moor. Braddock outmaneuvers Stragg, although crashes near the circle of stones and is fatally injured. Dying, Braddock is visited to by two ethereal spirits: Merlyn and his daughter Roma. Roma reveals that they hail from the spirit realm of Avalon, which has an inextricable connection to Britain, the mortal and physical realm. In this codependent relationship, Avalon draws its lifeblood from Britain and control of Avalon can confer a mortal godhood over Britain. To ensure justice and balance, a champion is chosen in trying times to protect both realms; Brian has been chosen and is offered a choice between the Sword of Might and Amulet of Right in order to complete his ascension.
Despite being tempted with the Sword of Might (as a test), Braddock, even whilst dying, is riddled with self-doubt, shame, is unable to conceive himself as a warrior or even brave, and the lacks the thirst for either power or violence. Thus, he chooses the Amulet instead of the Sword and is painfully healed and left staggering as Stragg arrives. An enraged Stragg takes the Sword as Roma and Merlyn dissipate and return to Avalon and undergoes a similar transformation. Stragg attacks Brian in order to take the Amulet but is driven off by MI-13. Coming to an unconscious Brian’s aid, Union Jack is revealed to be Dai Thomas.
When Braddock regains consciousness, he, along with Ross and Tanner, is in London in the care of MI-13. Brian discovers MI-13’s Director is his uncle, Aldwyn (who distantly raised Brian after the rest of the Braddock family died), and that his father, James Braddock, worked for the agency prior to his death. Ross soon takes her leave to return to Thames University, but not before instilling Brian with shame for betraying her trust by running out on his friends partly out of cowardice. As Brian is introduced to MI-13’s Excalibur Task Force (consisting of Dai Thomas (Union Jack), Dane Whitman (Black Knight), Dr. Faiza Hussain, Alistaire Stuart, Slaymaster, and the Mastermind A.I.), he discovers their awareness of Avalon and that they did not anticipate the spirits choosing another champion, but they extend the offer to train the physically enhanced Brian in order to fulfill his role whilst they study the Amulet and its unique energy properties. Brian agrees, partially due to the introspection and shame Ross’ rant spurred on.
As Brian learns combat, strategy, etc. rapidly, bonds with Whitman and Dr. Hussain, and forms tense rivalries with his uncle and Dai Thomas, the Reavers launch a full-scale assault on and occupation of Thames University, with Courtney Ross being among the hostages. Braddock wants to undertake a rescue operation, but Aldwyn refuses on the grounds that a drawn out hostage situation with causalities will only sour the British people’s semi-sympathetic attitude towards this organisation of revolutionaries that has a proclivity for reaching out to the United Kingdom’s downtrodden and forgotten. Sensing insubordination, Aldwyn has Brian detained to his quarters. Whitman and Dr. Hussain, however, agree with Brian’s proposal, and Brian escapes with them via a secret passage in the walls (as they vacate MI-13 HQ, they go through a laundry room; Brian, in his state of undress, dons an MI-13 ski outfit that acts as a nod to his original red costume under Chris Claremont and later uses an iron rod as a makeshift quarterstaff before he designs a proper one at MI-13).
Brian, Hussain, and Whitman infiltrate the university and rescue the hostages whilst dispatching Reaver patrolmen. Braddock confronts Stragg, who offers Brian a place beside him in reshaping Britain if he gives up the Amulet and implies he has a past with MI-13. Braddock refuses and Stragg escapes after a brief skirmish that ends in a stalemate. After inadvertently becoming a news sensation as the masked hero responsible for the rescue, Brian, returning to MI-13, demands answers about Stragg.
It is revealed both Stragg and Dai Thomas were recruited into MI-13 after their outstanding records at Scotland Yard. Stragg, then an idealist, was groomed by MI-13 to be the next champion the Avalon spirits would choose. The spirits, however, never answered, and Stragg’s hopes of bettering his country in that capacity were destroyed. After Jim Jaspers (then an overseer of MI-13) mocked Stragg’s dreams and threw acid in his face, Stragg disappeared. He later resurfaced as the leader of the Reavers, a paramilitary of like minded revolutionaries, after he learned all he could of Avalon through sources and trinkets long forgotten and archived (such as the map in the prologue). Stragg wants to combine both the Amulet and the Sword in order to open to gates to Avalon, where he, a mortal, would sit the throne unopposed and be granted nigh-godhood over Britain and thus be able to reshape it to his whim. In Stragg’s mind, this means ridding Britain of the rife injustices he grew up suffering from and millions of others are still beleaguered by; this would entail him murdering millions in Britain to bring about this vision (what Stragg intends to do is comparable to the Bolsheviks murdering millions that belonged to the military, political, and intellectual classes of Russia in order to, in their minds, reshape that country for the better).
As the film is set in the 1980’s, a lot of real-life events compound Stragg’s suffering and worldview, i.e. the rise of National Front, the abuses of power that existed in British institutions, rife poverty and class tensions, etc. Even Courtney Ross and Dr. Hussain have grains of sympathy for Stragg’s motives as their have both suffered forms of persecution, poverty, and abuse at the hands of thugs and powerful and untouchable people with friends at Whitehall.
Mulling over these revelations as he walks the streets of London, Brian brutally beats a gang of NF thugs, partly out of anger that people like them have helped create people like Stragg and the Reavers. After this dark moment in which Brian is filled with the fear of God of becoming like his enemy, MI-13 is able to locate Reaver headquarters by tracking their movements after they fled from Thames University. Brian, Whitman, and their team suit up in order to raid the headquarters and put a stop to Stragg and the Reavers.
During the raid, Brian and his team encounter weak resistance and discover the entire base has been rigged with explosives that promptly detonate; simultaneously, MI-13 is furiously assaulted by the Reavers. It was all a ruse; Stragg attacked Thames University after compiling everything he could on Braddock after Darkmoor, gambled that a rescue mission would be launched, and the Reavers would be tracked back to their base by MI-13, which would not anticipate Stragg also tracking them back to their new HQ (where the Amulet is) and make a move on their lightly defended base as the raid on Reaver HQ was undertaken. During this assault and tense encounters with his former friends and allies, Stragg finds the Amulet and is able to join it to the Sword at the pommel, granting him incredible power (the moment is a deeply powerful, spiritual rebirth for Stragg). Dai confronts Stragg as he and the Reavers depart the ravaged MI-13 HQ. The enhanced Stragg quickly subdues Dai and decides to take his former friend with him as the Reavers enter their war vehicle and head south (to the second location on the ancient map).
Brian, Whitman, and their team recover from the trap laid for them and rush back to the ruined MI-13 HQ. Film enters the ‘low point’ sequence, with Braddock having meaningful character interactions with Hussain, his uncle, and Ross (who decided to stay after being rescued from Thames University and slowly begins to trust and respect Brian again). Aldwyn reveals to Brian the extent of his father’s involvement and role in MI-13 as an agent with symbolic value that wore a uniform adorning their country’s flag. With things being bleak, Brian, with his father’s old uniform, drives north back to Darkmoor where everything started for him. Dr. Hussain and Ross simultaneously realise they may be able to track the energy signals the Amulet gives off to have a vague idea of where Stragg is.
Dai Thomas regains consciousness; here, Stragg attempts to sway the man that was once his best friend to his side. He pleas with Dai that, together, they can reshape Britain to make sure no one else has to suffer the way they did growing up. After this impassioned speech and even being shown visions, Dai agrees to join Stragg and the Reavers. Meanwhile, Brian returns to the circle of stones at Darkmoor, where Roma appears to speak with Braddock. Brian realises Roma knows far more than she lets on, as he had seen her visage in his youth at the stone circle at Falsworth; Brian realises Roma had intended to someday chose him as her champion years in advance, and that guilt over something had driven her to map out this destiny. Though Brian firmly tells her he will get answers from her another day, this conversation and a call from Dr. Hussain makes Brian realise where Stragg is heading to down south: to the stone circle at Falsworth College, where Stragg was shaped into the man that he became through the abuse he suffered there. That is where Stragg will enter Avalon, obtain godhood, imbue his followers with similarly devastating powers, and murder millions in a genocidal campaign to reshape Britain to his whim.
Brian calls this in to MI-13 so they can mobilise and face the Reavers as he speeds down south on his motorcycle after gearing up in his father’s old uniform. MI-13 arrive in the town of Baxterton outside of Falsworth College (‘Baxterton’ being where one of Leland Baxter’s ancestors hailed from; Leland Baxter’s company later constructed the Baxter Building, the eventual HQ of the Fantastic Four). Whilst Ross and Dr. Hussain try to convince the army to intercede, Baxterton is then furiously assaulted by the Reavers; MI-13 and the police are on the defensive, and civilians are caught in the crossfire. This disturbs Dai, though Stragg reasons these bodies are only a few more among the foundations of the new Britain that they will soon build together. As the battle in the town rages, Stragg and Dai head towards the grounds of Falsworth College (in the process of evacuation) where the circle of stones are.
Brian finally arrives to the turn the tide of the battle. Braving his fears, self-doubt, and using his training, he takes charge of MI-13 agents and police and organises an effective way to hold the Reavers down until Ross and Hussain can get the army involved (Whitman compares this strategy to Waterloo). As MI-13 and the police start taking some ground and holding the Reavers down, Brian, referred to as ‘captain’ by his men, goes after Stragg. As Brian nears the circles, he is attacked by Dai; Dai tries to convince Brian the way Stragg convinced him; he fails. The two engage in a brutal, intense fight where all of their unresolved issues come to the fore. Dai is able to shoot Brian several times, beat him down, and shouts at him to stay down, much as he did when he bullied Brian when they were at school together. Unlike when he was a boy and did stay down, Brian refuses to back down here despite his wounds and the gun he has aimed at his head (this moment represents the completion of Brian’s character arc). Brian tells Dai he forgives him for all the pain he put him through in the past and promises he will find a better way to improve Britain than what Stragg offers.
Dai breaks down in guilt and shame and lets Brian pass to deal with Stragg, who has already began to open a gateway to Avalon at the circle of stones. Dai composes himself and leaves to aid MI-13 in their losing battle against the Reavers in order to redeem himself. Brian finally confronts Stragg, and the two battle, which is intercut with the battle in the town, Dai coming to the rescue of threatened civilians, and Ross and Hussain finally getting through to the army (with a little help from Peggy Carter).
Brian in unable to defeat Stragg with both the Sword and Amulet. Brian, however, realises it was he who was chosen by Roma and the spirits of Avalon; that he was gifted the Amulet and has earned it through the man he has become instead of taking it as Stragg did. Brian is able to summon the Amulet and separate it from the Sword. On an even playing field, Braddock is able to triumph over Stragg. Having interrupted the opening of the gateway by separating the Sword and Amulet, everything has become unstable and is reaching critical mass. Brian decides to combine the Sword and Amulet once more and sacrifice himself to close the gateway. Brian closes it, though, after a flash of green light, does not find himself dead but in Avalon itself. Roma appears before Braddock, moved deeply by having her faith affirmed by how far he has come.
When offered to keep the Amulet and Sword together for himself and sit on the throne of Avalon, Brian decides it is too much power for one man who has only just started to come into his own, and so separates the two once more and returns the sword to Merlyn (who wryly remarks on how crude the Sword of Might is compared to Excalibur). When Roma offers to keep the powerless Stragg imprisoned in Avalon and even execute him, Brian refuses and wants him also returned to the mortal world to face justice and witness the true and just way to save Britain’s soul. Returned to Britain, Stragg, in his failure, is now a broken man. He and Brian talk, Stragg laments all the pain he caused Braddock, and Brian promises that he will better their country the right way; through the path Stragg once tread himself. The Reavers are defeated with the arrival of the army.
In the aftermath of the battle, Brian, now dubbed Captain Britain and made head of the Excalibur Task Force, is heralded as a hero. MI-13 celebrates this victory; Courtney Ross, having forgiven Brian, decides to return to her Romanichal community and use her sharp mind to help others; Dr. Hussain and Dane Whitman serve as Captain Britain’s right-hands and confidants; Stragg, branded a war criminal, is in custody and awaits what will be the trial of the century for Britain; the redeemed Dai Thomas, whose brief betrayal was known only to himself, Stragg, and Brian, leaves MI-13 to return to Scotland Yard. He and Brian shake hands and depart as equals after resolving their issues.
After visiting his family’s burial plot in Essex with the confidence that he has now lived up to his father’s legacy as the man he was always suppose to become, Braddock returns to the Darkmoor circle of stones one more time to silently reflect before MI-13 contacts their new head of the Excalibur Task Force with a new mission. Braddock gears up and makes his way down south again as Roma watches him depart.
Britain Braddock, a hero his country needs and now has, is Captain Britain.
In the ominous mid-credits scene, Aldwyn Braddock meets with James “Jim” Jaspers. Despite the Prime Minister ranting and raving at Braddock, it is clear Aldwyn is the one with the power in this dynamic. Aldwyn informs Jaspers that Stragg’s meddling with Avalon and Dr. Hussain’s research on the Amulet has allowed them to tap into the limitless energy necessary to fulfill their plans, and, consequently, Project FURY is to be resurrected.
- Brian Braddock/Captain Britain: One of the only two Braddocks left, a gifted physics post-graduate, and chosen by Roma to be the champion of the spirit realm of Avalon and the mortal and physical realm they once called Albion. Brian’s arc is almost a reversal of the one Steve Rogers had in ‘Captain America: The Fist Avenger’. Though not a bad man, Brian’s arc is about becoming a truly brave and great one that is worthy of the powers and responsibilities bestowed upon him by Roma. He isn’t as fearless as Steve; he feels fear when undertaking a field operation, but he has to overcome his self-doubt and fear via pain, shame, introspection, wit, and become Captain Britain. There’s a reason he does not don the Captain Britain outfit until the third act.
- Joshua Stragg: The film’s primary villain and leader of the Reavers. His backstory is deeply entwined with Brian and Dai’s and he has preexisting relationships with most of the cast being that he was formerly an MI-13 field operative and head of the Excalibur Task Force. Stragg became what he was because of flaws inherent in the institutions and culture of British society and seeks radical, ruthless means to, in his eyes, revolutionise Britain and ensure no one has to suffer, especially not the way he did as a child born into a poverty-stricken, broken environment and then thrust into an aristocratic one where he was abused with impunity. The Reavers, too, are meant to be a distinct force of men armored and/or enhanced by cybernetics, and Stragg will have two or so henchmen (or henchwomen) in the film that are distinct background characters. It was also deliberate to only have Stragg taken into custody instead of dying; he has a role in the sequel (albeit a much smaller one) and it helps to bridge the two films by lending a greater sense of continuity and consequence to the sequel.
- Dai Thomas/Union Jack: MI-13 field operative, head of the Excalibur Task Force, former Metropolitan Police Service detective, and Brian’s former schoolmate and bully. Dai is of a lower class Welsh background and suffered horribly in an aristocratic environment because of it, which gave him a burning drive to prove himself and go above and beyond. He inherited the Union Jack title from Brian Falsworth, who inherited it from his father and former Howling Commandos member, James Montgomery Falsworth. He and Brian are bitter rival despite being allies, partially due to Thomas doubling down and trying to repress the guilt he feels over how he once treated Brian.
- Aldwyn “The Saxon” Braddock: The imperious Director of MI-13 and Brian’s uncle. He has a bitter relationship with his nephew and resents his deceased older brother and Brian’s father, James. “The Saxon” moniker comes from his days in the Royal Marines and as a MI-13 field operative. Aldwyn is presented as a man that uses considerable will to control the rage within himself and has his own agenda.
- Courtney Ross: Brian’s unspoken romantic interest and fellow post-graduate physics student. Ross is of Irish-Romanichal background, and has been persecuted by National Front thugs because of it. Her family worked hard to give her educational opportunities, though she still feels connected to her heritage (a lack of connection and/or shame over heritage is a problem Brian, Stragg, and Dai all deal with) and has a strong sense of justice. Before having a more apparent plot utility in the latter half of the film, she forces Brian to actually have considerable introspection that spurs on his development as a character. Her own character develops due to her time at MI-13, which informs her decision at the end of the film to live among Romanichal communities for a time.
- Dane Whitman/Black Knight: A New Englander and scion of an old money colonial family, this American MI-13 field operative has adopted the Black Knight moniker after a Late Medieval English ancestor and has some insights into Britain informed by his status as an outsider. Whitman has a strong inclination towards the mythical and is the only other member of MI-13 to have had some form of contact with the Avalon spirits before being recruited into the organisation. He forms a close bond with Brian and the two prove be excellent, dynamic partners in the field.
- Dr. Faiza Hussain: A physicist for the Excalibur Task Force, Hussain and Brian conduct research on the Amulet after it is retrieved by MI-13 and bond other their shared prowess in the field. She is an older than some of the other heroes like Brian, Whitman, etc. (i.e. she is late 30’s to early 40’s), has suffered persecution like Ross (which later spurs on a bond between the two), and forms a platonic and almost maternal relationships with Brian, Whitman, etc.
- Alistaire Stuart: Senior Scottish member of MI-13 that is an inventor/tinkerer for the Excalibur Task Force (I’m sure many of you will see the parallel to Q of James Bond) and eventually help design Brian’s sophisticated quarterstaff to use in the field. Whilst not having as much depth or as deeper relationships to other characters, the intention is to have him be memorable via screen presence and his dry sense of humour.
- Alysande Stuart: A former British Army officer, head of research at Darkmoor, brother of Alistaire Stuart, and friend of Peggy Carter. Alysande has collaborated with MI-13 before and she, along with Carter, ensure the army intercedes in the last act to defeat the Reavers (MI-13 hold down the Reavers, a superior force, before their allies, the British Army, can arrive to overwhelm the enemy force, which parallels Waterloo and the forces representing the Anglo-Allied army, the French, and the Prussians, respectively).
- Slaymaster: This Pakistani Muslim agent of MI-13 is menacing, a man of few words, and Aldwyn’s right-hand and enforcer. He became infamous for the murders and assassinations he committed during the Partition of India. He was captured by British and Indian authorities but spared execution after Aldwyn Braddock saw promise in him and gave him a new lease on life as a top agent within MI-13. Slaymaster is therefore fiercely loyal to Aldwyn Braddock and his deadly efficiency gives off Winter Soldier vibes.
- Jack “Jacko” Tanner: Brian’s close friend, both at Falsworth College and Thames University, where he is a fellow physic post-graduate student. A relatively minor character, Tanner is more relevant in the sequel. He is a idealist with political goals, and detests the current Prime Minister.
- James “Jim” Jaspers: The current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and former Head Master of Falsworth College. Jaspers was very much responsible for making Stragg and Dai the men they became because of his abuse of them at Falsworth. I’m unsure whether the abuse should be implied to be sexual, but there are some very dark implications surrounding this character nonetheless. He is representative of the type of abuses of power that exist within British institutions that are not stamped out due to privilege and connections. As Jaspers is a flat out vile human being (and will have more relevance in the sequel), the character must have actual screen presence in order to make him memorable. He is as pathetic and petty as he is vicious and shrewd. Jaspers also possesses telekinetic abilities via an experimental army serum he took that reacted to his specific physiology (which is to be a subtle reference to the X-Gene).
- Mastermind A.I.: The wry A.I. for MI-13 that is to that organisation what J.A.R.V.I.S was to Tony Stark. I envision Mastermind to be voiced by someone like Stephen Fry, which would add a lot of charm and wry, sarcastic humour to the film without being derivative or overbearing.
- Roma: An Avalon spirit and the dark-haired, pale, beautiful daughter of Merlyn with very slight clairvoyance abilities. Roma clearly chose Brian for reasons to be revealed in the sequel, but, in this film, shows deep care for her champion. She gives us insights into the Avalon and the fact both connected realms are equal and codependent via a system of checks and balances. Scenes with her, Merlyn, Avalon, etc. lead to some of the most visually striking and abstract imagery in the film, with light pale green being a staple of them.
Keep in mind that the bulk of this discusses plot and characters, so many things cannot be conveyed in this first draft, i.e. the specific structure of the film and when flashbacks kick in, dialogue, or even how I would envision the direction of certain scenes. For example, there is a flashback early in the film showing Brian being bullied by Dai and Stragg, shouted at to stay down, and he does this whilst sobbing and cowering. In the third act, when Dai and Brian fight, Dai shoots and stabs Brian several times, he collapses, Dai screams at him to stay down, and Brian refuses, rises, and keeps fighting. I would have the shots of those two scenes mimic each other to really convey the parallels and how far Brian has come as a person and in terms of courage and heart.