The Vancouver Canucks needed a geek.
Like a beam of light rising above the ruins of a wasted city and calling to a hero, the message reached him in Port Coquitlam.
Well, maybe it was more like a message from a film industry colleague but still, impactful in its own way, explains writer Kody Zimmerman.
Vancouver Canucks creative director Michael Pohorly had an idea for a superhero-themed Canucks video to play on the big screen at Rogers Arena.
“And since I’m the resident geek he knows, he asked for my help,” Zimmerman says. “I dove right in.”
From Arkham Asylum to red kryptonite to the proper pronunciation of Mjolnir, Zimmerman was a perfect fit with the Canucks – well, almost.
“I don’t really follow the game,” he admits, noting he never got around to learning to skate. “I had to tell them: I know way too much about one subject and nothing about the other.”
Despite the fact that he was more familiar with Jason Voorhies’ goalie mask than Thatcher Demko’s, the organization welcomed Zimmerman aboard.
It didn’t take long to draw a parallel between what the team went through last season and what most people went through last year, Zimmerman explains.
“They’ve had a bad year last. We’ve had a bad year as a society. We’ve all felt like we’re kind of in exile in our own homes, away from a community.”
The idea, then, was a homecoming. A return.
In the video a lone figure walks through a desolate landscape that looks like Vancouver after something terrible has happened. The figure, just a kid who somehow survived whatever that terrible thing was, puts out the call.
They’ve been scattered to the four winds but the Canucks respond. There’s Brock Boeser summoning his hockey stick like a certain Norse myth/Marvel hero. Elias Pettersson wields a hockey stick that zaps to life like a lightsaber.
With the exception of an Alfred-like character sharpening skates, the characters are all alone.
As the idea evolved, so did Zimmerman’s role, moving from co-writer to co-producer.
“I was a tick in there,” he laughs.
He was on set, passing suggestions to Pohorly. He was with the visual effects team helping to sculpt an alien landscape befitting a hockey Jedi and in co-production perfecting the sound effects.
Three months after that call from Pohorly, the four-minute film was set to premiere at Rogers.
Zimmerman was in the crowd, watching along with everyone else as the Canucks logo beams over the city and as a post-apocalyptic wasteland is transformed into a thriving city.
“It was just incredible to hear 18,000 people just roaring,” he says.
He also saw reactions on social media where a few fans talked about getting misty-eyed at the end of Vancouver Canucks: Heroes Return.
“As a person who struggles at his desk trying to put words in character’s mouths, trying to figure out how to make an audience feel something,” he says. “That is like a drug to a storyteller to hear when something strikes a chord in people.”
With his job done, Zimmerman was back on other projects. Currently, he’s developing a supernatural thriller called The Hollow Season. It’s a new twist on the haunted house story, he says.
Still, his time with the Canucks has left a mark on him. He’s still not exactly a fan but he’s certainly has an appreciation for the game.
“I’m kind of in awe of what these guys can do.”
Click here to watch the short movie.