Hello, apocalypteers! Reality is a nightmare, so let’s head immediately into the sweet embrace of pop culture. This week, I explain the many reasons why video games movies don’t work, the difference between Iron Fist and Rogue One’s Chirrut Imwe, what the hell the Super Friends cartoon is in the Arrowverse, and more. Take shelter!
Revenge of the Revenge of the Sith:
Another Confused Rebel:
Dear Mr. Postman,
One thing about Rogue One is that it makes us look at the original trilogy in different ways. Now the exhaust port is a brillant piece of “screw you” to the Empire from Galen Erso. With that in mind, I would assume the Han Solo film is going to take place timeline wise during the prequel trilogy. We do see the Millennium Falcon in Episode III on Coruscant. Do you think there is a way for the Han Solo film to improve the prequels or put a different spin on something from the prequels?
Also, I have a follow-up question to the answer you gave ConfusedRebel last week. If Jedha is destroyed in Rogue One, where the crystal mines are, where does the Empire get the crystals for Death Star II? Are there other mines on other planets? If so then that makes Jedha pretty meaningless, doesn’t it?
The Han Solo movie isn’t going to take place in prequel times. It can’t, actually, unless we’re going to some seriously young Han Solo. While I don’t believe anyone’s age has been officially confirmed, at least in the new canon, Wookiepedia says Han is less than 30 and Lando is about 30 when A New Hope begins. Revenge of the Sith takes place ~19 years before Rogue One, which would make them both about 10 years old—too young to be piloting the Falcon. The person in the Falcon in RotS is someone else, although we don’t know (yet) how Lando got it.
That doesn’t mean the Han Solo movie couldn’t help reframe some of the prequels just like Rogue One did for A New Hope. Maybe a neat but incredibly underused character like Aurra Sing could show up and actually do something cool. Or maybe Han has to smuggle something to Naboo and discovers it’s decimated. Maybe he meets an elderly Gungan. Honestly, if Han met Jar Jar Binks, who had stopped being stupid and was still agonizing over the way he helped destroy the Republic... that would be sort of fascinating.
However, the Han Solo movie probably won’t do this. There are a few reasons, the main one being that Disney seems to be ignoring the existence of the prequels as best they can. At least for now. I think they’d at least see if the Han Solo movie goes well before deciding to take a risk on something more directly prequel related, presumably a future Side Story.
As for your Kyber crystal question, we don’t know where the Death Star II got its crystals. However, it’s a big galaxy out there. No one in Rogue One claims Jedha has the only Kyber crystal mine out there; in fact, they say Jedha has “a” Kyber crystal mine and not “the” Kyber crystal mine, which indicates there are more.
As for other crystal mines on other planets, I don’t think they make Jedha meaningless at all. It could be a convenient location—maybe the source of crystals closest to the core Imperial domain. Or it could be because the inhabitants seemed few and poor, and thus less able to flee and/or tell people about the Death Star. But a gold mine is still a gold mine. Finding a second gold mine doesn’t mean you should abandon the first.
Tomorrow Never Knows
Postman! I gotta say, Legends of Tomorrow’s “everything’s on the table” approach to time travel is a heckuva lot more fun than, well, pretty much anything that doesn’t have the word “Doctor” in the title. Here’s something interesting, though- when Dr. Haywood says he named the Legion of Doom after an old Hanna-Barbara cartoons, doesn’t that imply that the characters on the show are fictional? No one’s gonna care about the loss of Wendy and Marvin, but it sounds like Batman and Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman aren’t in the Arrowverse.
Fun thought, though: if they are in the Arrowverse, then who the heck was on “Super Friends?”
Batman and Robin, Superman, and Wonder Woman are definitely not in the Arrowverse. Or rather, it would take some seriously backtracking for them to suddenly say that any of those three existed.
Remember, when Supergirl arrived for the crossover, everyone was boggled. No one said, “Hey, it’s like a female version of Superman!” or “She might be able to take on Wonder Woman!” Without those two, it’s pretty safe to guess that Batman isn’t around either. More tellingly, no one has ever brought up anything regarding these superheroes, and everyone in every DC/CW show has talked and acted as if Green Arrow was the first superhero on the scene, followed by Flash. The only way to get DC’s Big Three on the show would be to have them start their careers in the present, which sounds terrible. No one wants a world where Green Arrow is Batman’s mentor.
Aquaman, on the other hand, could be introduced very easily—he could be a new character, or he could have been doing his crimefighting underwater to date. He doesn’t have the same baggage of Supes, Bats, and Wondy.
It’s also important to note that thanks to Kara’s casual mentions of her cousin Kal-El’s team-up with a “gadget-obsessed vigilante,” we can guess that Batman is currently operating in the Supergirl universe. And we can also guess Wonder Woman probably isn’t, because it would be weird for a female superhero with Kara’s powers to arrive but for no one to ever bring up Wonder Woman in comparison, or even just conversation. Still, I’m hoping that the “gadget-obsessed vigilante“ is Batwoman.
As for Super Friends, I always like to imagine that in DC universes only Marvel comics exist, and vice versa. So the Arrowverse’s Super Friends would basically be the Avengers, with the Legion of Doom consisting of their villains, led by Doctor Doom... because it’s his legion. Boom.
The Game Is On
Fuck it, I’ll ask: why don’t you think a good video game movie is possible?
(I always appreciate it when you guys ask questions I basically asked you for.)
The main problem with adapting video games into movies is that video games rarely have the right kinds of stories. They almost never have something that can translate exactly into a two-hour movie, but the reasons why are myriad.
Sometimes the plot is too thin and screenwriters need to add (or feel they need to add) new plots and characters, like the old Tomb Raider and Resident Evil films, which fundamentally alter the property. Sometimes the plot is wildly overcomplicated, and not never be properly conveyed in a way that fans would enjoy, like most epic RPGs (although Warcraft is unique in that it decided to try to convey the MMORPG’s giant amount of lore, which had the effect of being impenetrable to people who weren’t fans of the game). Sometimes a video game essentially has no plot and Hollywood needs to invent one whole cloth, at which point it’s not an adaptation but something that shares a title, like Need for Speed. And then there’s all the times that incompetent people make the movie, which can be an additional problem. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, Doom, Dead or Alive, all those Uwe Boll films… the list goes on and on.
And sometimes—and I think this is pretty key—is what people love most about a video game isn’t its story, but the story of their own play experience*. And that’s something a movie can never, ever replicate.
Example: I really love the Hitman and Assassin’s Creed games, but not for their (increasingly goofy, spiraling out-of-control) plots. It’s the open world, the historical recreation, the running like hell, the jumping constantly off tall buildings—and most importantly, doing the assassinating myself. I could watch Michael Fassbender and Timothy Olyphant assassinate people all day, and it would never give me the same satisfaction that I get while playing the games. I imagine watching people get scared in the Silent Hill movie is also not nearly as getting terrified yourself while playing the games, too.
And although Uncharted and The Last of Us may have stories and characters that translate better into movies than any other games in recent memory, I suspect fans would find them lacking something as well. There are plenty of movies about action-adventure heroes and badasses traveling with small children. What makes the games special is that there, you’re the star.
(* This line 100 percent cribbed from Evan Narcisse.)
On Danny and Chirrut
Last week someone said Rogue One “was enjoyable even with the stereotype of having an Asian character know martial arts.”
Yet when Iron Fist was cast as a white guy this site decided that was racist too? Is it always a lose-lose?
I know it seems like the same issue, but it’s actually not.
The premise of Iron Fist is that he’s a martial artist. That’s immutable. Him being a white dude is not. I know a major aspect of Danny Rand is also that’s he an outsider who comes to a strange land and becomes the best magic martial artist ever, but that same aspect would be served exactly as well if Danny was an Asian-American.
Moreover, the character of Iron Fist is a textbook example of the White Savior trope, i.e., the white guy who enters a foreign culture and becomes or is automatically superior to the people actually in it. The concept of Iron Fist is based on this racist trope. Marvel could have fixed that and helped mitigate its stunning lack of diversity by making Danny Rand an Asian-American, but they didn’t take it. So Iron Fist as a character is inherently problematic, but since the character was originally white, it wasn’t actually racist to cast Finn Jones in the part. It was disappointing.
Meanwhile, Rogue One had a blank slate. All the established characters played minor roles, so Donnie Yen could have played anybody (or anything). They immediately cast him as a warrior-monk, a role he’s played a million times in both Chinese and American movies; the only real difference is that this time he was in space. Lucasfilm could have made Chirrut Imwe anything, but they chose the stereotype. It was certainly disappointing, but it was also typecasting, which is somewhat racist.
Yes, casting an Asian-American as Danny Rand would in one sense have been succumbing to the same sort of stereotype, but I would argue that adding diversity to a major franchise—especially a lead character—supercedes that. At least Donnie Yen had the chance to play one of the leads of a Star Wars movie. Meanwhile, Marvel Studios seems to have a real hard time not casting white dudes.
Every Christmas I re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’ve been doing so every year* since I first read LOTR as a 15- or 16-year-old (I’m 42 now). Do you have any long-standing nerd traditions? If so, what’s your favorite?
(* I cheated one year by watching the extended edition of all three movies on DVD.)
I used to have a bunch. I would always watch the original Star Wars trilogy once a year, would watch both Mystery Science Theater 3000 Christmas movies just before the holiday, and I read David Edding’s Belgariad series repeatedly in my youth.
As I’ve gotten older and time seems to move inexorably faster, it feels like I have less separation from these things—i.e., even a year later, it feels like I just watched those MST3K episodes. So it’s not as enjoyable to watch or read them again. I don’t think I have any yearly traditions anymore, although there are certainly things I like to revisit. (I did just re-read the Belgariad, but it’s probably been a decade since I last picked it up.)
I’ve sort of depressed myself.
I Have Mild Affection for the ‘90s
Good to know that you weren’t eaten by mutant crab monsters. We were worried.
Its no secret that lots of people on the internet are very preoccupied about which 1980's cartoons are going to get remakes as part of Hollywood’s desperate attempt to cash in on all nostalgia ever. However, on behalf of all 90's kids I’d like to make the observation that sooner or later we’ve got to move beyond the 80's. They’re already remaking Power Rangers, if that does well could they perhaps decide that color-coded power armor is “in”?
What I’m basically asking is will we one day get the live action Dragon Flyz movie of our dreams? Or will they decide that the millennials are a more lucrative audience and jump straight to making a dark and gritty reboot of Mona the Vampire?
Sorry. Other than Power Rangers and Pokémon—both of which never actually went away—nothing in the ‘90s hit the same level of cultural cache as ‘80s toy/cartoon/property juggernauts. I’m not trying to be a smug ‘80s kid and say your stuff was terrible, it’s that there were fewer options for kids entertainment in general back in my day, so all those series—Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-Man—all managed to pervade pop culture. So if you’re looking for Tiny Toons, Freakazoid, or Gargoyles movies, you’re going to be disappointed. Also, it’s worth remembering that of all the ‘80s reboots on Michael Bay’s Transformers movies have been successful, and that’s because it jettisoned almost everything about the series other than the basic concept and some character names.
But there’s more hope on TV, where the lower stakes allow Hollywood to take a chance on ‘90s properties. I mean, DuckTales is coming back. If it does well, and I sort of feel it will, I bet we’ll see a few other ‘90s cartoons will get a revival. I wouldn’t mind more Animaniacs, personally.
With Great Power Comes Great Opportunity
Hello dear Postman! I hope everything’s okay in the awful post-apocalypse I inhabit... also I hope you’re fine, I guess.
Here’s one for you: which of the canonical “stock superpowers” (strength, speed, flight, invisibility, invulnerability, etc.) could be used most effectively and efficiently to make a profit for the individual user? Let’s say, for instance, The Flash got sick of fighting crime and working as a CSI and hanging out with the SuperSTARs and wanted to purely maximize his personal wealth. How could he do that most effectively?
Mind control. The Flash could pick a lot of pockets and rob a bunch of banks without being caught, but mind control one billionaire and have him write you a check and you’d be set. Use your powers to control the brokers and the stock market and you could add to your net worth ad infinitum.
Of course, if someone had the ability to control a billionaire’s mind, I think we could find more useful things for him/her to do at the moment.
Have a nerdy question? Need advice? Want a mystery or argument solved? Keep those emails coming, and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org! (Three weeks in a row! Not bad, right?) Remember, no question too difficult or dumb! Probably!