Greetings! Looks like you guys have some political stuff happening, which I know enough to not comment on. All I'll say is that in the future, donkeys and elephants still battle each other — mainly because we built a special donkey-elephant Thunderdome. The donkeys generally don't do well there, either.


Open Thor Policy

David S.:

Dear Postman,

The Age of Ultron trailer delighted us with a little scene of Cap' trying to lift Thor's hammer – and nearly succeeding by making it jiggle a little. The question, however, is why can't Cap' lift it fully? Can we truly trust Mjolnir's idea of worthiness? Let's compare the two men –

Steve Rogers is a normal kid from Brooklyn, who despite being regularly mocked about his stature, never gives up – to the point where he would do anything to participate in the bloodiest war the world has ever known, most likely dying within minutes of deployment – simply so he can be a part of the fight against evil.

Steve is always honorable, always fights for the greater good and always stands up for truth and justice possibly more so than any other comic character ever created (Superman is not human, so doesn't count).

Thor, in the meantime, is born into a celestial ruling family with a head of state known as the "All-Father" (beat that title, North Korea), and is due to inherit the throne. He is arrogant, pontificating and frequently dumb (Rogers would notice a speck of dandruff on the President's lapel, while Thor can't even see that his own father was replaced by Loki).

A scrawny, poor city boy with a heart of gold and a bourgeois brute birthed by royalty and blessed with a perfect body. How does Mjolnir judge worthiness again? Or is the hammer just as much a tool of the state as Thor? Cap' may be Mjolnir a little taste of American values in Ultron and that's why it jiggles.

Mjolnir has been wielded by enough people in the comics — including Captain America — that really you can make a case for just about any good guy being worthy of Thor's hammer. But generally speaking, since generally only Thor has the power to wield his signature weapon, we have to examine what sets Thor apart from Cap.

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To my mind, it's that Thor is a warrior, while Captain America is a soldier. What I mean by that is that while both men are heroes, Thor enjoys fighting and relishes the glory of battle. That's not to say he wants to start fights just to get some action, so to speak, but he takes pride in his work, and his work is smacking bad guys with a big-ass hammer.

Cap, meanwhile, would be perfectly happy to never fight again. He's a soldier, so he fights when necessary (and it's often necessary) but he's not enjoying himself. You say he'd do anything to participate in a bloody war, but that's kind of misrepresentive — he'd do anything to help save people, and he'd fight in the bloodiest possible war for that reason, but he wouldn't do it just to sock bad guys in the face. Cap fights because he feels he has to, while Thor fights because that's just what he does.

Now, saying that Thor enjoying battle makes him "worthier" than Cap is a little weird, but even Marvel's weirdo version of North mythology posits them as a warrior culture, where fighting is something glorious and honorable. Meanwhile, Cap will always look for the most peaceful solution to conflict. It makes sense to me that Mjolnir prefers someone who isn't shy about swinging it.

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P.S. — Thor's dead-eyed look of burgeoning panic when Steve manages to make Mjolnir move a little, from last week's Age of Ultron clip, delights me to the core of my being.


Rebel Yell

Jason H.:

Postman! Hope all is well!

I don't know if you remember the "Star Wars: Rebels" show, but me and the missus are digging it. The kids, though, not as much. I realized with some horror this weekend - as my son was cracking up about something "Chopper" was doing- that there may be a market for something akin to the *shudder* 80's "Droids" and "Ewoks" cartoons. Disney owns Star Wars, they like money, and there's an under-fed need right now (aka, Star Wars cartoons specifically for the ankle-biters). But is this a vacuum that the loud-and-proud fans would allow to be filled?

I find Rebels pretty kid-friendly myself, but maybe it's going to deepen itself over time, just as Clone Wars did. However, I think Disney has backed itself into a corner with its new policy of "EVERYTHING IS CANON NOW." Because that means if they made a Star Wars Babies or some kind of very young kid-friendly show, it would have to actually work in their larger universe.

I don't think Disney will mess with it, at least for now — they already have plenty of programming for that age-range on their various TV channels, and they can afford to keep Star Wars aimed at the 8-and-up set. But if they changed their mind, for whatever reason, the fans couldn't do shit. We may bitch — actually, we will bitch, mightily, especially if the adventures of Boba Fett going to third grade or whatever going to be part of the official continuity — but what does Disney care? It's not like we're going to not buy tickets for every Star Wars movie they make.

As for Chopper, Chopper is awesome. Basically, Chopper is R2-D2 if Artoo finally just admitted he was an unrepentant asshole. Chopper literally threw shit at Ezra until he fell off the roof of a spaceship while it was several thousand feet in the air. Chopper tried to murder a kid and was not sorry about it at all. Chopper is a dick. He's great.


Spoiled Rotten

David S.:

Dear Postman,

What's your take on story predictability?

George R.R. Martin admitted that there's a correct theory floating around out there about the ending of Game of Thrones. And recently, the Internet got one step ahead of the usually inimitable Steven Moffat to not only guess the identity of Doctor Who's latest villain – but, the exact manner as to how the name was revealed.

One could say that the creators in these instances did not try hard enough and the fact that fans could pluck plots from their minds is a sign of weak storytelling. I feel, however, that predictable stories create a more realistic world and it's a satisfying experience for fans to successfully unravel mysteries posed by their favorite fiction. After all, we endlessly debate about world affairs, elect politicians on the basis their thoughts towards policy outcomes and so on. Every day we make decisions based on a possible result (for instance, me spending twenty minutes on this letter hoping for its publication).

On the other hand, stories that become so complex they're impossible to predict are unfair to audiences. Look at Lost – every mystery was either addressed by a new plot or the introduction of a new character. After weeks of online discussion, how could we predict a brand, new character or plot – which was neither seen nor alluded to? To me, that's not fun.

It's an unwinnable game for writers. Readers desperately want to figure out all the secrets of a series like A Song of Ice and Fire, but then they're disappointed if they turn out to be right. They want to be surprised, but they work incredibly hard at trying to figure out every possible surprise beforehand, collaborating with other fans, sharing theories, pouring over the text.

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What's more, for a super-popular series like Game of Thrones, so many people are guessing that literally somebody has to be right. There are only so many ways the books can go, and if you have thousands of people trying to guess what's going to happen for the last five or more years, yes, eventually someone will guess correctly, even if they don't know it yet.

This is limited even further by the fact that literature generally works a certain way. Certain things have narrative weight, but we know this. Given how coy ASoIaF has been about Jon Snow's heritage, obviously something is going on there. Narratively, there has to be, and anyone who's read enough to know how literature works knows this. And so we have mountains and mountains of fan theories about who Jon's parents are (one of which is prevailing), and yet some people are already complaining that the narratively satisfying answer is too obvious.

So what's an author to do? Make his book worse just to surprise people? I mean, it could turn out that Jon Snow is an alien whose rocketship landed in Westeros when he was a baby, and was found by Pa Stark. That would be a twist no one saw coming. It would also be really, really shitty.

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Look, I love theorizing about this stuff as much as anybody, but I do not think GRRM or anybody should alter his/her work for fans. And if we're going to spend all day thinking of every twist that could possibly occur in this work, we're being jerks if we're angry or disappointed because one of our guesses was right. If GRRM or whoever wants to throw in a new character or plot, he/she should be able to. It's his work, and he shouldn't be writing it for fans. He wasn't writing for fans when he started A Song of Ice and Fire, and that's how we became fans of the work. To write specifically for fans changes the work — and the irony is that there's every chance we would like the books less if they were being written specifically with us in mind, because it would be different from what we originally became fans of!


Crisis in Infinite Movie Theaters

Knytesong:

Dear Postman, Two questions for you:

1) Here in 2014 it is the Halloween season....in the future, do you celebrate Halloween like we do? or have zombies taken the fun out of the holiday?

2) Recently, Marvel and DC announced their movie release dates up through 2019. They have each announced 2 or more movies per year (normally more) plus the TV shows, which means we can look forward to 4 or more superhero movies each year. While I am ecstatic that superhero movies and TV shows are mainstream and plentiful, I worry that the glut of superheros will overload the market. I fear that within a few short years (by 2018 at the latest) the mass movie go-er/ TV viewer will get tired of Marvel and DC products. I would hate for the third Avengers movie or Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to come out and people to say "I am bored with superheros." Do you see this overload happening?

Let me answer your second question first: There are a crazy shit-ton of superhero movies coming out, but I don't think you need to worry. After all, it's not like people have gotten tired of comic books over the last 75 years, and I don't see why comic book movies would be any different. Plus, being a visual medium, comics are tailor-made for movie adaptations, and we've gotten special effects to the point where we can pretty much put anything on screen. And seeing that special effects movies are basically what's driving the movie industry right now — because it's much more exciting to watch the Hulk and Iron Man fight on a big screen instead of at home on your TV — I think people will almost always prefer to see comic movies in theaters first, to see men flying, giant robots, crazy magic, distant worlds, alien starfish, etc., etc. in all their glory.

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There's a reason we have a million comic book movies coming over the next six years, and that's because they're really popular. And about the only reason they would stop being popular is if they get repetitive and boring, and stop showing people new things. Given that we have 75 years of stories and characters and plots to choose from, I think it'll be quite a while before this well runs dry, if ever — it's not like comic publishers aren't writing new, awesome stories that would look amazing as live-action movies all the time.

As for your first question: Here in the lawless post-apocalypse, we do have a special time where people can put on masks, come to your home, and threaten you if you don't give them something. It's called ALL THE FUCKING TIME.


Genital Genisys

Chris P.:

If terminator skin ages (to explain old Arnold in Genisys) does that mean that, as my limited medical knowledge leads me to believe, one day all of the fleshed terminators will suffer from saggy scrotum? And as a follow up, what do terminator "units" look like? Is there a basic mold so that all of the T-800's are packing copies down to the exact vein structure, or did Skynet allow some creativity to seep into the designs and figure that every dick is like a snowflake? Are they "larger than life" for an inevitable intimidation factor given all the nude time travel? And how would this affect the terminators modeled after the fairer sex?

Excellent question. There's no way the Terminators — at least those of a particular line — have unique junk. If Skynet thought it was fine to churn out a thousand Terminators that look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, it would be fine to let them all have the same ballsacks. I mean, it probably did a cost-to-benefit analysis first, and decided the likelihood of two Terminators somehow needing to have different testicles was too low to justify the extra time and energy it would cost to change that particular mold.

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As for size, obviously the Terminators are packing heat — at least the T-800s are. Skynet decided it wanted to make it's first human-looking Terminators to be huge, muscled, intimidating dudes; why would it give the T-800s a body like that but give them a tiny dong? It just doesn't make sense. And while it's incredibly unlikely two T-800s would be together with their pants down, the chances of a Terminator needing to have a penis for some reason is a real possibility. Maybe it's needs to pee to disguise itself. Maybe it needs to have sex with someone for information. Maybe it needs to give someone something to hold before they fall off a building of something, but both its hands are being used to shoot guns. It may not be likely either, but it's still possible.

And yes, they sag. Skin sags, and Terminators have skin. It's why the T-800 in the truly awful-sounding Genisys will look like modern-day Arnold Schwarzenegger. If there were a female model Terminator that didn't have the appearance-altering abilities of the T-X from Terminator 3, and they were kicking around for a few decades, their skin would also sag. The T-X, however, can just readjust her ladybits as necessary. She's her own wonderbra!


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!