Think superfriends in tweed. A collection of fictional characters culled from 19th-century literature -- the Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll, and Dorian Gray, among others -- band together in a secret crime-fighting society to save Victorian England from a nefarious genius bent on (what else?) world domination. ''My first response to the script was that it was a bit far-out,'' remembers Sean Connery, who leads the pack as swashbuckling adventurer Allan Quatermain. ''But that never stopped me before. It didn't stop me from doing 'Zardoz.'''
'Zardoz,' though, didn't cost $90 million-plus -- nor was it an epic hassle to shoot: Floods in Europe last summer sank many of the production's most lavish sets, including, ironically, Nemo's submarine, while the relationship between Connery and director Stephen Norrington was even stormier. On the other hand, ''League'' does have a built-in cult audience since it's based on the 1999 comic book by Alan Moore. Make that loosely based, with several additional characters wandering into the story by way of Hollywood. ''Basically, I'm the American,'' explains Shane West, who plays Tom Sawyer, now a grown-up Secret Service agent. ''They added me into the script because there were no Americans in the comic book.''
West may be playing the American for some time: Twentieth Century Fox is hoping ''The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen'' (excuse us, ''LXG'') will launch a new action franchise and has signed most of the cast for at least one potential sequel. That includes Connery, who, according to producer Don Murphy, accepted the part with the following quote: ''I got offered 'The Lord of the Rings,' and I turned it down because I didn't understand it. I was offered 'The Matrix' -- twice -- and I turned it down because I didn't understand it. I don't understand this movie, but I'll be damned if I'm going to turn it down.''