Image: Marvel Studios.

I’m back, my bulk mail brothers and sisters! I am also now 40 years old, which means if you enjoy my opinions and mail column, I officially have the wisdom of age on my side. If you don’t, no worries, because death is coming for me. This week: Baby Groot hate! Mutant-Inhuman hybrids! And—gasp!—the merits of The Big Bang Theory?!


Square Groot

Matias D.:

I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, it had its flaws, but it was super enjoyable regardless, mostly because it had super cool characters.

Now I’m looking at everything they’re showing from GotG Vol.2 and I see Baby Groot all over the place, it’s looking to me (sorry for saying this) as the Jar Jar Binks of this movie—in the sense that someone thinks it’s going to be huge with the kids and it’s going to sell a crapload of merchandise.

I know people loved Baby Groot at the end of the first movie, but I also believe it was a one-time gag, and being around the entire move it has the potential of becoming super annoying. Am I worrying too much?

Well, given how Baby Groot sold a crapload of merchandise after only a couple of minutes of screentime during the credits of the first movie, I guarantee everyone thinks Baby Groot is going to sell a crapload of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 merchandise. Looking at what’s already available, or soon will be, a lot of companies obviously think so as well, although it might cheer you to know Baby Groot isn’t egregiously dominating the movie’s merch.

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But I don’t think you need to worry about Baby Groot getting shoehorned into the film just to sell merchandise. While Marvel Studios always manages to add new characters and put established characters in new costumes—thus allowing for all new merchandise for kids (and adults) to clamor to buy—the latter have basically been cosmetic, and the former have always felt more like they exist to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not shill toys. (For instance, there’s only so much Mantis merch I expect people to buy.) But most importantly, while Marvel may have played Doctor Strange strangely safe, it’s been very good—shockingly good, actually—at letting directors like James Gunn and Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi make movies their way, and I feel supremely confident Gunn wouldn’t overuse Baby Groot just to sell toys.

All that said, I do think Gunn will let Baby Groot dominate Vol. 2 because most people loves the hell out of Baby Groot. The merchandise sales are a result of his insane popularity, and it’s very probable that the little sapling is going to get a ton of screentime in the sequel also as a result. Rocket stole the show in the first movie, which was completely intended; I’d be very surprised if the same thing wasn’t planned for Baby Groot now.

So you’re probably right to worry that there’s going to be too much Baby Groot than you’d prefer in Vol. 2—and honestly, I feel much the same—but you can take some solace that if he is, it will not be because of the crass desire to sell merchandise. Also, even if it has an abundance of Baby Groot, I bet the movie will still be pretty damn good and overall you’ll enjoy it. The Ewoks may have annoyed many, many fans, but they never kept any of them from watching Return of the Jedi.



Image: Marvel Comics.

Skinny Genes

Gabby:

Dear Postman,

Since you’re living in the future, probably with mutant making radiation, can you answer a question about the Terrigen Mist? Would it be possible to have a mutant who has a high healing factor be exposed and Inhuman/human lineage to the Terrigen Mist and become a Mutant/Inhuman hybrid? Would the mist overpower the mutant gene or simply not manifest any Inhuman derived powers?

No go on mutant/Inhuman hybrids. The two gene sets cancel each other out, which we know because Quicksilver and member of Inhuman royalty Crystal had a baby named Luna, and she ended up a regular human... well, until it turned out that Quicksilver wasn’t a mutant at all but a Mutate created by the High Evolutionary, making Luna a human/Inhuman hybrid, which is basically an Inhuman, and she got exposed to the Terrigen Mists and got some mind powers. But the rule that you can’t have both still stands! (Except in a few alternate universes. Comics, everybody!)

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Now, whether that means people with mutant DNA can’t be infected by Terrigen Mists, or if people with Inhuman DNA can’t develop mutant powers, or if there are tons of people running around with both mutant and Inhuman DNA but are thus completely normal humans so no one’s noticed, I don’t know. I do know this: for a while, the Beyonder—a godlike being who chooses to take human form as ‘80s David Hasslehoff—was believed to be a mutant/Inhuman hybrid, which Professor X “discovered” when he mind-scanned him. Except it turns out it wasn’t true, and Professor X is just kind of a dumbass.



Image: Lucasfilm.

Running a Tight Starship

Preston S.:

Greetings Mr. Postman! Please settle a dispute my cousin and I have had for years now (and will continue to have long into the apocalypse that is your present).

Darth Vader’s personal flagship is the super cool Super Star Destroyer Executor. How do you pronounce it? I say it’s pronounced just as it says in the dictionary, since Vader is the executor of the Emperor’s will. But my cousin seems to think it should be pronounced closer to “executioner.” His reasoning is that Darth Vader is a badass who executes people, not some bureaucrat in charge of Palpatine’s estate. It’s decent logic, but I refuse to believe Vader’s flagship sounds like it was named by a 12-year-old reading a Spawn comic.

“Executor” is one word with one pronunciation. Eck ZEK yoo tor. If Lucasfilm had wanted it to indicate someone who executes people and not things, it would have named it Executioner. There’s no need for them to purposely mispronounce a common word for its name.

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To be fair to your cousin, I had spent the last 40 years of my life also believing it was ECK ze kyoo tor until you made me research it and realized it was wrong. I think it’s an honest mistake; the Empire names 99 percent of its shit like a 12-year-old reading a Spawn comic. Read this list, which includes: Assassin, Aggressor, Annihilator, Conqueror, Chokehold (!), Decimator, Enforcer… and that’s only up to “E.” Sure, some of these are part of the old Expanded Universe, but that doesn’t change the fact that Imperials drove around in Star Destroyers while building two Death Stars.

This is just more proof that if Lucasfilm named it the Executor on purpose. If there’s a Death Star, there’s zero reason why Darth Vader couldn’t travel on an Executioner if he wanted to.



Image: ABC/Disney.

Hulk Crash

Nick L.:

The Hulk is one of my favorite superheroes. I love the comics, from the classics by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, to the modern storylines. I love the old Bill Bixby / Lou Ferrigno television series. I love the various cartoons. I love the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe portrayals of him — even the Ang Lee movie had certain charms in my eyes.

Whatever happened to the Guillermo del Toro produced live-action Hulk TV series that was in development? And will the great filmmaker ever have a chance to bring his vision of the Hulk to the screen (big or small)?

If anyone can tell a great story about the Hulk and make it visually amazing, it’s Mr. Guillermo del Toro. Looking back from the future, please tell us if he ever has a chance to let his creativity play in that gamma-infused sandbox.

He’s not. Ever.

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Sorry. Guillermo del Toro announces projects constantly—some of them repeatedly—and only about 10 percent seem to actually come to fruition. Since his Hulk show was announced back in the halcyon days of 2012, it’s pretty much as dead as can be.

It was always a long shot anyways. Why would Marvel relegate one of its biggest characters to TV? Sure, Marvel doesn’t seem to want to make any more Hulk movies, but as Thor: Ragnarok shows, it still thinks he’s a star—just not one who can carry his own film. Besides, how insanely expensive would the SFX for a Hulk show be? Marvel Studios couldn’t go too cheap, because audiences are used to a certain level of CG, thanks to all the movies.

If it makes your feel better, I’m sure del Toro will announce 18 more superhero movies and/or shows over the next five years that he’ll be part of, and one of them will actually get made. Probably!



Image: CBS.

Big Bang to Rights

Alex L.

Dear Mr. Postman, I hope the radioactive monkeys in the future have been treating you well.

My question concerns Big Bang Theory, which seems to get a lot of hate on io9. I understand that its characters are generally nerd stereotypes - but a) that’s not such a terrible thing and b) the show has been doing an excellent job the last few seasons to develop its characters in realistic ways.

I still enjoy the show, and as a woman who loves science I find it really inspiring in a lot of ways. It shows women scientists in the lab and at work, and most of the women characters make more money than their husbands. It shows that becoming a scientist is much more likely to be a successful and fulfilling career than becoming an actress. Could it do more to advocate for how cool it is to be a scientist? Sure. But it does a much better job than the other shows I watch.

Yes, the characters are often stereotypes of nerd-dom, but more often it shows how popular nerd culture has helped the characters learn about relationships and the world. And in the last couple seasons, all of the characters have really grown and their relationships have become more developed.

So my question is, do you think Big Bang Theory deserves the criticism it often receives on this site? Or would you urge readers to give it another chance?

You raise a fair point, and a good one. Whatever The Big Bang Theory’s sins, it definitely has its good points. It’s a TV series almost entirely about nerds! It has a positive representation about women in STEM fields! It’s developed the characters and their relationships well, you said, and I trust you!

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My problem with the show has been its reductive portrayal of nerds as beings who basically can barely interact socially with human beings, especially members of the opposite sex. While I’m sure that has changed somewhat over the years—it’s had a million seasons, it would have had to—whenever I watch, I dislike that it wants its viewers to laugh at the characters simply because they’re nerds, implying that watching a grown man care about, say, Green Lantern, is itself the joke. In my defense, the laugh track seems to back me up on this, since it plays anytime anyone even just saysStar Trek.”

I think The Big Bang Theory does deserve its criticism, although I admit the hate it gets here—from me, primarily—is often done for dramatic effect. But clearly the show does have its good points, and it’s good to recognize that too. There’s actually a great example of this.

So many of you may remember when Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ incredible comic Saga got mentioned on TBBT. The show used its first hardcover collection, which features a close-up of an infant breastfeeding, for a “HAR HAR NERDS LIKE COMIC BOOBS” “joke” and I basically lost my mind. Saga is a fun, funny, heartbreaking, epic, brilliant, imaginative, and yes sexy comic, and to see it reduced to “LOL IT’S GOT A BOOB ON THE COVER”—a cover that was created in response to criticism of the first cover, which also including a scene of a baby being breastfed by its mother, which essentially said that displaying breastfeeding was offensive—infuriated me, and was the ultimate representation of everything I loathe about the show.

But! After writing that article, Saga artist Fiona Staples tweeted at me she didn’t have the same problem I had. In fact she said simply (and politely) that she was very pleased that Saga had been introduced to a new audience of literally millions of people.

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Fiona Staples makes Saga. (Also, she’s very, extremely, tremendously talented.) Obviously, her opinion on the subject means a great deal more than mine. But does that mean I was completely wrong to be upset? Did the good of the publicity outweigh the bad of the representation?

Staples made me think about it, and I’ve come to the decision that the two feelings aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m very glad she was happy with it, especially as Saga’s co-creator, but as a fan, I still can’t help but be angry that the comic was portrayed as its primary quality being that it shows breasts.

It’s a microcosm to the macrocosm. The Big Bang Theory has good and bad in it; it can have a positive representation of women in STEM, and be a poor representation of nerds in general. You can enjoy the overarching relationship development and find it compelling, and I can never get a chance to enjoy it myself because I find the show so unfunny. It can be all these things, maybe simultaneously, to any of us.

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In the end, it’s how you feel that matters, just like how I feel is what matters to me. I just happen to have a very large venue to share my opinions. But it’s definitely good for me—and everyone— to remember that just because you may hate something doesn’t mean it’s wholly without merit for someone else.


Have a nerdy question? Need advice? Want a mystery or argument solved? Email them to postman@io9.com! Remember, no question too difficult or dumb! Probably!