The Postman has returned! For those of you who might not know, “Postal Apocalypse” is io9’s mail column, where I, Rob Bricken, senior editor of io9 and professional nerd for the last 16 years, answer your questions. I settle fan arguments, I solve mysteries, I give advice, whatever. I do this in the guise as the Postman, a simulacrum of the character of the same title in Kevin Costner 1997 non-smash movie.

In the post-apocalyptic film, Costner character finds an abandoned mail carrier uniform, steal it, and then accidentally restarts the U.S. Postal Service. I too have stolen a mail uniform, and am masquerading as a postal worker except instead of physical mail, I receive emails at postman@io9.com, and instead of delivering said emails I read them an answer, which seems completely counterintuitive to the whole process. But that’s the post-apocalypse for you!

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My apologies that “Postal Apocalypse” took such a hiatus, but, barring the actual apocalypse, I believe its back for the foreseeable future. So please send me your letters (emails) to deliver (to myself). No question too big, too silly, too serious, or too nerdy. And now, let the Postman open his mailbag (Gmail inbox)!


On Leia and the Sequels

Eric S.:

I’m sure you’ll get this question 622 times, but it’s a good one for further public discussion: What should be done about Leia in Episode IX? Personally, I’m on Team Recast, vs. Team CGI or Team Kill Her Offscreen. I think it’s more important that the character of Leia have her story arc brought to a satisfying conclusion, than for her to be played only by Carrie Fisher. As an added bonus, we can then forever debate how Carrie Fisher would have done it vs. whoever they end up casting.

Follow-up question, naturally, is who to cast? My weird pick would be Stockard Channing, who apparently has been in The Good Wife but I mostly think of from The West Wing, a talented actress with good range, who if you squint bears close enough of a resemblance to Carrie Fisher that it’d only be minimally jarring.

I did indeed get this question many times, unsurprisingly. Obviously, the answer depends mainly on what her storyline is in Episode VIII and beyond, which we don’t know. But I know what I’d like to happen.

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I just can’t see anyone other than Carrie Fisher play Leia; more importantly I don’t want to see anyone other than Fisher play Leia. My preference would be for Leia to die off-screen near the end of Episode VIII, presumably at the hands of the First Order, and certainly heroically. Possible example: Personally crashing her ship into a Star Destroyer chasing Luke and Rey, in order to let them escape. You see her in control of the ship, but then it cuts to the explosion.

Reworking the end of the movie would probably necessitate some CG Leia, but hopefully not too much, because that also seems inappropriate to me. I want the final scene of Episode VIII to be Leia’s (possibly symbolic) funeral, with the morose cast standing around in tears—but even more motivated to kick the First Order’s ass, and making their defeat in Episode IX more satisfying.

This has the benefit of giving Episode VIII a crushingly downer ending, which of course mirrors (although it also exceeds) the end of The Empire Strikes back. More importantly, I feel like it would treat Fisher’s tragic passing the solemnity it deserves, and treat Fisher herself with the respect she deserves, as an integral part of the Star Wars universe. And then we also avoid any of the bad decisions that would need to be made for Leia’s inclusion in Episode IX.



Super Confusing

Malcontent79:

So my question is actually a matter that has come up in recent comment threads (specifically the one about the Rock and superheroes): What does it take for some character or property to be “superhero”?

Like other commenters were saying how Luke Skywalker has powers, cool outfit, gadgets and is even a cyborg! But not a superhero. And are the Guardians of the Galaxy superheroes? Is Doctor Strange?

I feel like this is like porn: you know it when you see it. But at the same time, it seems too limited to hand down an edict like “has to wear spandex and fight street crime”.

Star Wars is scifi/fantasy first and foremost, as is Guardians of the Galaxy. I would never say Luke Skywalker or Star-Lord are superheroes, although since Marvel publishes Guardians of the Galaxy that is admittedly murkier.

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I think superheroes have to primarily operate on Earth, or at least have primarily operated on Earth. So Doctor Strange is definitely a superhero in that regard. I would also say Green Lantern is a superhero despite a lot of his modern adventures being scifi; however, I wouldn’t really consider any of the non-human Green Lanterns to be superheroes.

I think it’s tough to create a strict definition, as you said, because there are exceptions to every rule. Wearing spandex is often a sign, but it’s not strictly necessary. Being created by a comic book publisher is another, but again it’s not absolute.

Perhaps the best question to ask is this: Have people called them superheroes for years and years? If so, then they’re a superhero. Like you said, most people might not be able to define them, but they too know a superhero when they see one.



We Have Mixed Emotions About the ‘80s

Jason C.:

Given how long the wait has been for Robotech, will we ever see any of these “middling” properties from the 80’s turned into big live action films? Rumors have been around for years about Voltron, Masters of the Universe, Robotech etc.. Which of these hot 80’s properties will finally cross into reality, and which ones will end up dying in Hollywood hell never to be made?

Here’s exactly how this is gonna go down: Hasbro is going to make a G.I. Joe reboot. It will do just as middling as the other G.I. Joe movies, which will make them doubt all their other ‘80s properties, and basically kill that “Hasbro Cinematic Universe” they were talking about last year. That, and the Jem debacle, will also keep other studios from taking a chance on the even riskier ‘80s properties, like these three.

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If one of the three does ever get made, it will be Masters of the Universe and it will use that rumored script where it’s been turned a very shitty comedy where He-Man is a dude from Earth and I will be furious.



Seriously

Paxon E.:

I have been bored to tears by all of the Marvel Netflix shows so far. Am I just missing the point, or is the effusive praise they receive a little over the top?

They are by no means perfect, but just like when Marvel and DC first started doing “mature” and “serious” superhero comics, it’s exciting for people to see “mature” and “serious” superhero stories on TV.

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By “serious” Marvel mainly means “brooding” and “tortured” and “heroes don’t wear costumes.” That could be a reason why you’re not enjoying them as much as other superhero shows. “Serious” doesn’t always mean better, although that’s certainly what Marvel thinks. Here’s TV head honcho Jeph Loeb discussing their Netflix series while throwing shade on the DC/CW roster of shows to Entertainment Weekly:

“I think the other part that separates us from, let’s just say, our distinguished competition” — obliquely referencing DC shows like Arrow and The Flash that populate The CW — “is that we take place in a very real, grounded world.”

Two things: 1) A bunch of unkillable ninjas showed up on Daredevil last season, and also there’s a giant 20-story hole inside a building somewhere that the show never even began to address. Let’s not get full of ourselves. 2) By deciding not to be “real” and “grounded,” The Flash put Gorilla Grodd on TV. I’d say watching a superhero fight a giant evil telepathic gorilla is somewhat more entertaining that watching Matt Murdock wallow in his own self-hatred for two full seasons. After all, these are shows about superheroes. Not putting a giant evil telepathic gorilla on TV isn’t necessarily a badge of honor.



Bazinga

John A.:

Can The Big Bang Theory be killed?

What is dead may never die.



The Most Erotic Head Tentacles in the Galaxy

Ian:

So I recently started watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Netflix and I’m about three seasons in, it’s pretty good! But I realized something weird. Whenever Star Wars needs a sexual character (bar maid, dancer, “dancer,” etc) they go Twi’lek. Jabba’s palace, the underworld clubs on Coruscant. Even the Twi’lek Jedi, Aayla Secura dresses pretty skimpy compared to all of them (except Ashoka, which, sidenote, is kinda weird she just wears a tube top. Shaak Ti dresses pretty conservatively as most Jedi do.) So my question is: Why are Twi’leks the “sexy” race? Just human enough for people not to feel too weird but alien enough to make them exotic? Is there some in universe reason?

Well, Oola in Return of the Jedi is the real reason. She was a sexy female Twi’lek, so of course everyone who’s made Star Wars afterwards—including George Lucas, who bestowed Aayla Secura, the most underdressed Jedi, upon the prequels—has considered them to the go-to for sexy characters. It’s certainly easier than thinking of a new sexy alien.

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If you’re looking for an in-canon reason, well, the new regime hasn’t given much detail on the Twi’lek/sexiness connection other than when the Empire took over, a lot of them were sold into slavery and the women were bought by gross dudes who made used them for sexy, gross purposes. The old expanded universe didn’t give much of a reason why either, just that everyone in the galaxy considered female Twi’leks sexy, so most people want to get a piece of those sweet, sweet Lekku tentacles.


Spoiler Mourning

James M.:

I was driving my nephew (11) and his friend (12) to an activity and they started discussing a YA series. My nephew just started book 3 and his friend had just read the first chapter of book 1. My nephew began telling him about some major revelations from book 2 and I told him not spoil things for his friend. He replied that what he had revealed wasn’t that big a deal - however I’ve read the entire series and know that come books 4 and 5 those revelations take on much greater importance and even hint at possible plot lines for the currently unpublished book 6.

I shut my mouth on the subject but is there a good way to diffuse spoilers as they are being discussed without highlighting them? Or should I just accept that we live in an age where spoiler warnings are a thing of the past?

If your nephew’s friend didn’t care, there’s no reason for you to care. He’s 12, which I would say is above the age where he can consent to being spoiled or not. That makes it his responsibility to tell your nephew to shut up. Besides, some people like spoilers; plenty don’t mind them.

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You can, however, make sure your nephew asks before spoiling stuff for people. Tell him it’s the polite thing to do, but also some people go absolutely insane when they even think they might have been spoiled. If you need to show him proof, I can point you to several hundred io9 comments sections.



Crisis on Infinite Crises

John W.:

Why does DC keep rebooting their comic universe? When does it end?

Here’s why: Because Crisis on Infinite Earths worked so well in the ‘80s, they feel it’s their solution anytime the DC universe needs a jumpstart.

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Marvel, on the other hand, just sort of ignores anything it feels is inconvenient at any time, i.e. the existence of the original Captain Marvel—particularly his role in regards to how Captain Marvel got her powers. It makes a shambles out of continuity, but it’s overall less jarring. Although Marvel does have a very similar addiction to giving established series new first issues when it wants to give sales a bump.

I don’t think one technique is better than the other, but the issue with DC is that they kept ignoring certain problems, or accidentally creating new ones, or were dissatisfied with the reboot they’d made, or were having sales issues and needed to make a splash, one or more of which has happened increasingly frequently since Crisis in 1986.



Too Soon

Mikey:

Question #1: Now that Trump is president, how many months are we from catching up to your apocalyptic timeline?

Question #2: We’re getting so many nostalgic reboots for show’s long past? What are the odds of my beloved-but-forgotten Alias getting a breath of fresh air?

Alias is more likely to be rebooted than get a sequel, as I’m pretty sure Jennifer Garner prefers smaller projects so she can spend plenty of time with her children, which, more power to her. Victor Garber is busy on Legends of Tomorrow, and Ron Rifkin is 77, so I’m not sure he’s looking to be on a 22-episode show. (He recently had a small but truly embarrassing role on Gotham as some kind of killer monk whose cult was existed because their ancestor got cockblocked by an ancestor of Bruce Wayne like two years ago.) Oh, and VBradley Cooper was on Alias! I nearly forgot. He’s not coming back to TV. Besides, Alias started great and turned into a weird show about vampires. Best to just start over.

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As for Trump, well, according to the movie remember Tom Petty is mayor of Bridge City in the Postman’s time, so it can’t be too far in the future. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I’m not looking for mail uniforms oby the time 2020 rolls about.



Mustafar’s Hidden Cost

Sean O’C:

Anakin’s penis—did it survive or had he been unable to get any sexual release since Revenge of the Sith? That would explain a lot of anger we saw in the original trilogy.

Gone baby gone. Remember, he was lying on volcanic rock that was so hot it set his clothes on fire. Cotton burns at 400 degrees. Third-degree burns happen with a six-second contact with something only 140 degrees hot. Anakin was lying down on the rock for at least five minutes before the Emperor picked him up.

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Lying face down. On his junk. Directly on what was essentially a lava beach.

By the way, this was the first letter I received after announcing the postman’s return. Glad to see even though the Postman had to leave for a while, you guys never did.


Remember, send in those questions to Postman@io9.com, as I need a lot of mail to (not( deliver each week! And I’ll see you next Thursday, post-apocalypse willing!