Between the announcement of Captain America 3: Civil War, the cancelation of the Fantastic Four comics, and all the other Marvel madness that occurred over this past week, there was of course only one question I could lead off with. On the plus side, though, I get to talk about vampire erections. Could be worse!


What's So Civil About War, Anyways?

Kuma61:

I am getting very concerned about what's happening with Marvel, not just the Movies but also the comics. For the Movies it appears that Captain America 3 will be Civil War which was a terrible series that no Marvel fan really liked. Why choose this for the next movie?

As for the comics they are canceling Fantastic Four and possibly X-Men. I know you said this probably has nothing to do with the fact that Fox and Sony own the movie rights but I don't know why Marvel would cancel these series otherwise.

Are the comics at the beck and call of the movies then? Does Civil War movie mean Marvel may get the rights to Spider-Man? Is Captain America going to die in the movies? Is any of this a good idea? Is this the End of Marvel?!!

Kuma61, first of all I want to congratulate you for submitting the broadest yet most concise email to the mailbag regarding Marvel's recent flurry of news. I also want to tell you everything's going to be fine, but honestly we just don't have enough information now to know for sure how things are going to shake out. But I can set your mind at ease about a few things, I think.

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First of all, the movies: Yes, the Civil War comic storyline was a mess, but it was a mess that got a lot of coverage. I.e., people may not have liked it, but they certainly knew about it. It's a title that has brand awareness, even if that awareness among comic fans is "bleh."

But just because Variety says Marvel is turning Captain America 3 into a Civil War movie doesn't mean we're necessarily going to get a straight-up adaptation. Pitting Captain America and Iron Man against each other is an intriguing idea, but I can't imagine that Marvel would try to turn the uber-beloved Tony Stark character into the complete asshole he was in the comics, mainly because it would greatly affect future Iron Man and Avengers movies if he basically turned evil for this movie. So even if Civil War is the basis of the movie, expect Iron Man to be significantly less awful.

Think of it this way: Avengers 2 is called Age of Ultron, but it has nothing to do with the comics' recent Age of Ultron event, which is good because by all accounts it was terrible. There will have to be some major differences in the movie Civil War — some because movies are shorter, some because Marvel doesn't want to completely ruin America's love affair with Iron Man, and some because they would make no sense in the cinematic universe — as many people have pointed out, superhero registration is a non-issue because there are like six heroes and almost all of them have had their public identities revealed already. So if Cap and Iron Man are going to fight each other, it's probably going to be over something else, and hopefully it's something that makes them both look less silly.

As to your question about Spider-Man, which I assume is because of the Civil War promo image Marvel Comics released on the same day, I can assure you that for the comics. There is no reason to suspect it has anything to do with the Cap 3/Civil War, despite it confusingly getting released on the same day as the movie news broke. It certainly gives us no indication whether Marvel and Sony are getting close to a deal to share Spider-Man in the movies, or if the webslinger will appear in the Civil War movie.

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I can say this with authority because Marvel Comics has been releasing promotions for several 2015 events. See if you can tell what they all have in common: Secret Wars, Civil War, No More Mutants, Age of Ultron Vs. Marvel Zombies, and today we have X-Men: Years of Future Past. There's clearly a theme going on here of Marvel returning to their greatest hits, and if the others aren't tied to upcoming Marvel movies then there's no reason to suspect Civil War is, either. (Also, Cap 3 won't come out before 2016, so it doesn't make much sense to have a tie-in Civil War event an entire year early). Frankly, I'm not even sure that these are all going to be real events — I suspect they might all be promotions for another, bigger event, in which Marvel revisits its biggest stories… but that's pure speculation on my part, although I feel it's bolstered by Age of Ultron Vs. Marvel Zombies, which sounds like the least interesting comic event ever, and I have to think Marvel knows this.

And as for the Fantastic Four and X-Men comics: Yes, the FF comics are being canceled, but they weren't selling very well. That's at least as possible an explanation as crazed CEO Ike Perlmutter trying to punish a multi-million dollar movie franchise a competitor owns by canceling a comic that only sold 30,000 or so copies a month (Marvel frequently cancels books with sales that low). As I've said before, Perlmutter would have to be vindictive and insane to think canceling the comics would affect Fox or the FF in any way — not impossible, but not particularly probable. As for the X-Men, Marvel is not canceling them that we know of — yes, there's theoretically some type of "No More Mutants" event coming up in 2015 along with all the others, but Marvel sells over 20 books per month with mutants in them, or about 25% of their output; if Marvel Comics was forced to cancel all of these series, the results would be catastrophic for the comic side of the company. Also, if Perlmutter was that insane, he'd also be insane enough to cancel the Spider-Man titles to thwart Sony, and of course no one's even hinted at that happening.

But back to the main question: Is Marvel going insane? It's too early too tell. I can tell you that making a Civil War movie seems like a bad idea now, but so did trying to make stars out of the nth-tier scifi team Guardians of the Galaxy, and that seems to have turned out pretty damn well. I have to give Marvel Studios the benefit of the doubt here in that they'll come up with a version of the story where audiences don't boo and hiss because Tony Stark has turned into a mustache-twirling fascist. As for the comics side, like I said, I suspect something else is going on, if for no other reason than I can't imagine Marvel trying to pull off five or more big events next year and expecting them all to sell. Let's just take a deep breath, sit back, and wait and see what happens next.


Gotham Shitty?

Zach:

Dearest P.A.P. –

For people that claim to be "comic (book, TV show, movie) fans," I'm noticing a lot of wait-and-see approaches to WB's new series (Flash, Gotham, etc.). With VoD, torrents, and original airings, why are people waiting? Go watch the damn thing! Why not, I don't know, watch the show yourself and draw your own conclusions? It further irks me that people want to shit all over Gotham without even watching an episode. Am I being petty when I feel this way, should I just relax, or am I (somewhat) justified?

I understand the concept in theory — I've been burned on enough shows that sometimes if I'm not sure about a specific one and I have other stuff to watch, then I'll wait around to make sure it doesn't crash and burn. I did this a lot in my Anime Insider days when I was watching dozens of shows at a time and needed to make the best use of my time by avoiding crap.

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But if you read io9 — and more to the point, if you're reading this ridiculous mail column — chances are you are a nerd, and Gotham, The Flash, everything else, this is what we've been waiting for. Watch it. If it sucks and you don't like it, stop but what the hell else are you watching? What else are you doing that you can't give these new comic book TV shows a try now while networks are trying to decide whether to keep these shows or not?!

As for people who hate Gotham… I've already announced this on Twitter, but as The Guy Who Like to Hate Everything, I find myself weirdly charmed by Gotham. I'm really enjoying it. I think people dislike it because they were expecting Nolan Batman: The TV Series Prequel, when instead Gotham is much closer thematically to the 1989 Batman movie, which I find delightfully refreshing. It's not afraid to get comic book-y and a bit silly, without reaching the point of absurdity like Batman Forever (or even Batman Returns' more indulgent bits). It's not perfect — it has several glaring flaws, including the useless Barbara character and the fact that Wayne Manor only appears to have a single room — but I like Gordon, I love Donald Logue as Bullock, and Robin Lord Taylor's Oswald Cobblepot is the show's best creation. Any show that can turn the Penguin into a compelling character is must-see TV, in my opinion.


Quick as Lightning

Will S.:

i've got a mutant physics question here. one thing that always bothered me about days of future past was how quicksilver could he have listened to his music while he was running so fast? he definitely had his headphones on and played music but wouldn't the audio waves be moving a lot slower? was he pressing fast forward the whole time? and i get that he moves fast but what about his clothes and hair. wouldn't they have been moving slow too?

I wish I could give you a super-geeky answer that would satisfy all these criteria, but I'm afraid Quicksilver's headphones by themselves are so problematic that it's effectively a moot point. Even if he somehow had a Walkman in the '70s that played music so fast as to be audible to him at top speed — which is unlikely, even in the X-Men universe — and besides, Quicksilver has never had the ability to run his eardrums at superspeed, at least that I know of.

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As for his hair and jacket… well, you know how he just barely touched the guards and they flew around like they'd been punched by the Hulk? Obviously that's because the speed Quicksilver was running, the kinetic energy he was transferring was still massve — an actual punch probably would have made a dude's had explode. Assuming Quicksilver's hair is part of his body and thus subject to his mutation which keeps the rest of his skin from flying off when he runs at top speed, by moving in his jacket it should basically have been shredded the minute time appeared to resume. It's like if you put his jacket in a wind tunnel at 500mph or so for half a second. Unless the jacket has its own mutant power, this doesn't track.

However, given that the movie is about old Professor X and Magneto telling Wolverine to get their two younger selves to cooperate to fight the Sentinel menace, that it can only be beat with the two of them working together, but it turns out young Magneto is a dick who is not helpful at any stage of the plan, Quicksilver's jacket is not X-Men: Days of Future Past's biggest plothole.


The Trek's in the Mail

Wil:

May the wind be at your back, and the odds always be in your favor, good traveler.

I've recently been discussing with thousands of people the eventual return of Star Trek to television. Even if it takes another 20 years, I suspect we're all on the same page that CBS and Paramount will eventually decide that there's been enough time since the alternate universe trilogy, and green-light a pilot which is guaranteed an audience, at least initially.

While many issues have been raised about how poorly Star Trek has tackled issues like gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity—and I certainly hope that we eventually get to see Federation citizens pursuing gay relationships and trans* individuals with no one batting an eye—it's inspired me to wonder about how Star Trek could get out ahead of modern civil rights to tackle something our progressive civil rights movements have not reached yet. We've seen this in limited fashion with AI like Data and the EMH, where we explore what it is that constitutes an individual with equal rights and privileges, but I'm wondering about what might come after that. Hive-minds? The transfer of biological consciousness to a synthetic medium?

What's the next, next generation of science fictiony rights issues that Star Trek could tackle when it someday returns to the small screen? What shape could egalitarianism take on in the 25th century?

Great question! Assuming that a new Star Trek show would include the optimistic egalitarianism of the previous series, and hoping that it wouldn't just be a "gritty" Nu-Trek rehash of one of the other series, then it would be fascinating and wonderful to see how it might perceive our future (especially since everything seems pretty fucked nowadays). A world — a galaxy, even — of complete tolerance and acceptance would of course be wonderful to see on screen.

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I think you've hit the nail on the head with the next generation of personal rights. A new Trek could explore whether a hive mind counts as an individual or a collective, what rights a mind uploaded to, say, a computer could reasonably expect, and perhaps even what the rights of a scientist who builds a sentient robot might have over his/her creation.

But beyond rights issues, a new Trek could take a look a bit further in the future to explain social issues humanity may be facing next. How will society adapt as life expectancy continues to grow? How will we control our population when the time comes? What happens when we meet aliens who are completely beyond our ken, like a sentient bacteria or something?

Obviously, I am not remotely qualified to answer this question (even less so than all the other questions I get asked), so I hope that this will lead to some major discussion in the comments. Let's make sure whenever next generation of Trek show writers are randomly Googling things to come up with script ideas, they find this treasure trove.


What's at Stake

Ginger S.:

Last week's Postal Apocalypse was pretty heavy on the solid career advice for nerds. This week, I humbly suggest it's time to return to the postman's roots - namely, answering absurd questions about sex. For your consideration:

I recently discovered that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is on Netflix, and have been re-watching the series. This time around, a thought occurred - there is a lot of vampire sex, pretty much all of it involving a male vampire and a female human. I haven't watched Twilight or True Blood but I understand there's a similar amount of sexy undead action. So my question is: at least in the Buffy universe, it's very clear that vampires do not have a heartbeat, meaning (I would assume) no blood circulation. Since boners are, essentially, the pooling of blood in the penis, how does a vampire get a boner - or get rid of one after the deed is done?

BLESS YOU MY CHILD.

Okay. Vampire erections — or vampirections if you'd prefer — are a widely discussed topic and usually any vampire franchise that involves sex has tried to at least come up with a half-assed answer for how vampire penises — or vampenises (I'm on a roll!) — engorge when needed.

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If should surprise no one that True Blood may have the most thought-out answer, since they generally spending more time fucking than drinking people. Vampires do have blood — it's why they bleed when they're wounded and cry, and how they make vampires — by giving a drained victim some of their blood. Fucntioning circulatory system or not, the blood is in there, and it can clear be moved into the dick area when needed (which is frequently).

Twilight's answer, from an actual FAQ made by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, is batshit insane:

"The normal reactions of arousal are still present in vampires, made possible by venom-related fluids that cause tissues to react similarly as they do to an influx of blood (Erection). Like with vampire skin-which looks similar to human skin and has the same basic function, fluids closely related to seminal fluids still exist in male vampires, which carry genetic information and are capable of bonding with a human ovum."

EDWARD CULLEN HAS A VENOM DICK. Well, of course he does.

As for Buffy, it's never fully explained, but since vampirism is a demonic curse, which is essentially magic, you can easily assume fornication (being demon approved) would be part of the gift package. On the other hand, my most basic understanding of vampire boners — I'm guessing from the Vampire: The Masquerade RPG — is that a vampire drinks blood and then spends it like an energy source to use awesome powers, which I would presume include boners. If they haven't drank anyone recently, they don't have the blood to spare for their dicks. It makes sense to me.

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Hey, am I the first person to ever write "my most basic understanding of vampire boners"? I hope I am.


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!