Greetings, folks, and happy New Year's Eve to you all! I'm finally back from my annual winter vacation (sleet and snow will always keep me from my appointed rounds), so let's ease back into the mailbag with a familiar topic — WB/DC probably getting shit wrong. It's like I never left!

For those sick of this topic, my New Year's resolution is to see how long I can write "Postal Apocalypse" without disparaging WB/DC, although of course I am somewhat dependent on what questions you guys send in, and whatever questionable decisions the studio makes. At any rate, I expect to break my resolution before the 15th, but I'm going to try, dammit.

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Weakness in Numbers

Peter A.:

Mr. Postman,

I'm actually very confused. Whenever I see discussions on Batman v Superman, people make fun of how many characters will be in it, particularly how many heroes there will be. At my last count, we had Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman and (maybe) Green Lantern (I doubt that last one). So that's five or six heroes, and we're talking about only 3 as serious characters with the others as cameos.

Meanwhile, Avengers had 6 superheroes in it and did fine, so it seems odd that people would trash one movie for volume while it worked fine in another.

At the same time, Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to have Cap, Thor, Iron Man, War Machine, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, and I might have missed one (Jocasta rumored? I don't know). So that's ten characters, all of whom (except maybe War Machine) are meant to be big pieces in the movie.

How come nobody is talking about how overstuffed AoU is going to be and laughing about how ridiculous it is to introduce five new characters into a movie (Ultron, Vision, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Klaw)? Is this because of the oft-mentioned Marvel Goodwill? I mean, sure, they have some benefit of the doubt, but they're trying to juggle double the number of main characters any of their other movies have had.

Just looking for some small clarity.

Here's why: Because it isn't about the number of superheroes involved, it's about how many superheroes are introduced, coupled with how important those characters are (which includes the villains too, natch).

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Take a look at Marvel. They took their time introducing Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America in their own movies — sometimes even two of them — before throwing them together in Avengers, Heck, not only did they take the time to introduce Hawkeye and Black Widow in earlier movies, the villain of Avengers was also one we'd already seen before. So the movie didn't need to introduce anybody, really — which allowed it to focus on establishing the team and the group dynamic.

Contrast that to Batman V. Superman, which is ostensibly going to be a movie about Batman and Superman meeting and establishing their relationship while somehow finding them time to introduce Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and the new Batman. That's essentially forming a proto-Justice League, and that's going to take some serious screentime. I suppose if Cyborg and Aquaman are nothing but glorified cameos then they won't be too problematic, but it seems like Wonder Woman is going to be a major part of this thing, which seems kind of insane for a movie titled Batman V. Superman. Does the first meeting of Batman and Superman merit its own movie? Doesn't Wonder Woman? Can they tell both of these stories in the same movie without giving one or both of them shorter shrift? It seems unlikely.

And yes, Avengers 2 is going to introduce a shit-ton of characters, but none of them are on the Cap/Thor/Iron Man/Batman/Superman level. None of the characters you mention — Vision, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Klaw — will be anywhere near as major as the ones DC is shoehorning into BvS, and the proof is that Marvel isn't planning to make any movies based around these guys, while WB/DC is planning to turn all of their extraneous BvS characters into their own franchises.

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Basically, Avengers 2 is adding characters to an already established universe where already established characters have formed an already established superteam. Marvel has built a firm foundation on which to add whatever they hell they want. Meanwhile, WB/DC is basically trying to replicate the scope of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe in a single movie, and it doesn't seem likely (or even possible, really) that Batman V. Superman can do all these characters justice, no matter what the goddamned movie's subtitle is.


Ackles' Shackles

Greg Is Not An Alien:

From your vantage point in the post-apocalyptic future, can you assure me that at some point in the relatively near, semi-dystopian future, Jensen Ackles actually leaves Supernatural and gets into some mainstream genre movies? Because I'm sad that a bunch of Chrises like Pine, Pratt and Evans keep getting those parts.

I'd also really appreciate some lotto numbers. Thanks!

Nope! He's been on TV way too long to break into the movie business. Not that I think he couldn't do it, mind you, but at a certain point an actor on TV becomes thought of as a "TV actor," at which point the movie studios never consider them for major roles. Nathan Fillion, for all his popularity, is in the same boat, so Ackles has some decent company.

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On the plus side, like Fillion (and, say, Tim Daly, or Tom Selleck, who only managed a smattering of movies before getting stuck in TV Land forever), he'll never lack for TV work. He's an affable, good-looking dude, and he's talented, and it's clear he'd be an asset to any cop/hospital/crime drama at pretty much any point in time. He'll be the star in several more shows after Supernatural. Some will get canceled after a season, some will run for many years, but either way Ackles and his career will be just fine.

As for lotto numbers, I have a very good feeling about "2."


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Star (Wars) Power

DNL:

Postal Man of time beyond,

What are the chances Disney gives Star Wars the Marvel Treatment and we get the Agents of Shield equivalent in the Star Wars Universe?

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You just mean a live-action Star Wars TV show? I give it 50/50. I mean, Disney desperately would love to put a live-action Star Wars show on the air, just like George Lucas wanted to — that's why there's a warehouse with like 200 TV show scripts hanging around somewhere. The only problem is making this show is that it's prohibitively expensive to make. Let's face it, it would need some genuinely good special effects, and lots of them — and that takes money, way more money than the show could possibly earn from advertisers, DVD sales, merchandising, etc. This is exactly why Lucas never managed to make his show.

Right now, and for the foreseeable future, Disney is only going to be worried about the Star Wars movies. Maybe once they get a few of those under their belt, and they have the SW film factory running smoothly and churning out regular blockbusters, they'll start to look into the feasibility of a non-animated TV series, but the hang-up will still be the sfx budget. But say someone figures out how to animate TIE fighters and X-Wings for pennies on the dollar tomorrow; even then, I'd say Disney might air such a show at some point in the 5- to 10-year range. Hey, it took Marvel five years to go from Iron Man to Agents of SHIELD, and that's a show about people in suits running around Earth.


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Dooooomed Part XVII

Doctor Victor Von Doom:

Greetings Postman!

Doom requests an audience with you. Now, Doom does not usually need the counsels of a miserable postman, but Doom's time cube was sabotaged by the thrice-cursed Reed Richard and Doom is too busy with his next scheme to repair it himself, so he tasked his minions, who proved to be incompetent. Now that they have been suitably punished, Doom will use you.

Doom wants to know why movie studios can never capture the awesomeness of Doom. Doom thinks this should be simple - Doom is a master sorcerer, a technological genius, and the rule of Latveria. Now, Doom knows magic is incomprehensible to unwashed masses, but surely any sniveling Hollywood cockroach can understand the genius and ruler part.

So why is Doom always mocked and diminished in movie adaptations? Last time, they transformed Doom into a generic greedy executive with random metal growths. And now they turned Doom into a blogger. A blogger? Doom rules a entire country and they make him a blogger? Why?

Tell me Postman, what is it in Doom that Hollywood cannot grasp? Doom needs to solve this conundrum in order to build a device to solve this problem. Doom appreciates your help.

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As you, Doctor Doom, probably suspect, it's all Richards's fault, if not the fault of the entire Fantastic Four. See, whenever Fox tries to build a Fantastic Four franchise, they feel they have to start with an origin story where we see the FF get their powers — it's the easiest way to introduce the characters, like I was talking about before. Likewise, Doom also needs to be introduced, and the laws of storytelling dictate that these two origin stories be tied together, so you don't waste half your movie on this stuff and because Doom needs a reason to be involved with/mad at the FF in the first place.

Now, once you've gone through this thought process, and you think you need to figure out how to connect Doom to the FF's origin, it becomes inanely hard to figure out why the dictator of an Eastern European country would be hanging around four American scientists, let alone how to mesh the FF getting their powers from cosmic rays/weird alternate dimensions while Doom somehow gets a suit of armor and the ability to do magic. The first FF movie decided to make Doom a rich scientist sponsoring Richards' fateful space trip, and made his armor a side effect of the cosmic rays. It didn't work out particularly well, as you might recall. So for this new FF movie, they've completely abandoned the comic character and turned him into an evil blogger, and god knows how he'll get his armor, if at all.

To be perfectly fair, this is not unreasonable. It would be genuinely difficult to write a good Fantastic Four movie where the FF get their powers and then suddenly realize there's a madman in a suit of armor over in Latveria taking over the world. That's not efficient storytelling, and it would likely seem disjointed. Plus, there's the very real problem that a bad guy literally named "Doom" is too comic book-y for mass audiences, even for a comic book movie.

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But what Fox doesn't understand is that Dr. Doom's glory is how damn ridiculous he is. His name is Victor Von Doom, for fuck's sake. He got a doctorate in Doom. He's basically Stalin wearing a suit of Iron Man armor, but he also knows magic because his mom's soul is trapped in hell. Instead of trying to make Doom "realistic," Fox should be reveling in Dr. Doom's craziness. Frankly, I think Fox should be stressing the Fantastic Four's "comic book-iness," for want of a better term. You can make Spider-Man, Batman, and even the Avengers reasonably grounded, but the FF have always been kind of out there, and Dr. Doom, as impressive as he is, is part of that. The FF is not subtle; they're cruising around space and other dimensions and fighting mole men and Fin Fang Foom and extra-dimensional bug demons. Don't try to make them "realistic" like every other superhero, because you're not making them more interesting, you're making them less interesting… and less unique. Same holds true with Dr. Doom.

(Note: Origin stories and stories that introduce characters are often one and the same, but they don't have to be. You can introduce a new superhero without revealing how they got their powers, especially if everyone on the goddamn planet already knows their origin story, like Spider-Man or Superman, or if the origin isn't particularly fascinating, like the FF. Anyways.)


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Dark Knightfall

HPHatecraft:

Hey, what's your opinion on whether or not Batman could take down Superman or any of his other super powered colleges? I mean I've seen a lot of people lately claim he'd get his ass handed to him, and while I don't think he'd win for sure, I do think he'd at least have a chance. I mean he held his own in the Dark Knight Returns, and it's been said several times that he's so over paranoid that he has plans for what to do if he ever has to go up against a teammate. So, thoughts?

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The general consensus among nerds is that given enough time to prepare, Batman beats everybody, because while he doesn't have any superpowers, he's still smarter than the rest of the Justice League put together. I can get behind that; when you can run at a bazillion miles per hour like the Flash or are invulnerable like Superman, your need for planning and tactics is considerably diminished. Meanwhile, as part of the League, Batman still has to fight monsters like Darkseid and Mongul and all the other evil heavy-hitters of the DC universe while basically armed with a bat costume, and the only reason he's still alive is because of brains (which are likewise responsible for his gadgets and resources and so forth). If Batman can take on the entire Crime Syndicate, it makes sense that he could take on the Justice League, too. On the other hand, for all that Batman seemingly kicked Superman's ass in The Dark Knight Returns, it's extremely clear that the only reason he was able to do so is because Superman was playing nice and trying to defeat his former friend without hurting him.

As usual, these kind of nitpicky nerd discussions — which, obviously, I completely approve of because I more or less make my living with them — fail to recognize that basically any superhero an do anything as long as it makes a decent story. So yes, you could argue that Superman could fly into orbit, where Batman can't possibly reach him, and give the Caped Crusader a heat vision lobotomy no matter where on Earth he's hiding, but you could also argue that Superman would never, ever, ever do that (he wouldn't do that to Lex Luthor, for pete's sake). And you could argue that if some bad guy turned Supes evil and told him to murder Batman, he could try that, but that Batman has a plan in place just for such an eventuality, and has a lead-lined hidey-hole somewhere and a kryptonite laser-equipped WayneTech satellite dish somewhere in space just in case.

However, the key point here is that Superman frying Batman's brain from space or Batman killing Superman with a single laser blast would both be shitty, shitty stories. So they won't happen. But as long as Batman is DC's #1 character, he's basically invincible.

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Issues at Hand

Matthew W.:

Greetings from the days before!

You mentioned, some weeks (months?) back that buying single issues of comics is a terrible plan. As someone who's been doing so for almost a year now, I am starting to agree with you! Any tips on how to switch from single issues to trades? 1) Are there any services that will send me new trades whenever they are released, or will it require paying more attention to the comic book release scene than I've managed so far? 2) And what can I do about all these single issues I've got stacked around me now?

3) And since this question is a little more plain than your usual fare, you've done plenty of comic book dick sizes, but how about Star Wars cast? Not the people playing the roles, but in the characters.

Things I never thought I would ask about.

1) Not to my knowledge. Personally, I have a Word document of all the series I buy, so I don't accidentally forget a series, with the release date of the next collection listed, so I know when its available. It's low-tech but it keeps me on track. But surely someone in the comments has a better, less 1998-esque method to suggest.

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2) I send my single issues to soldiers overseas via Operation Gratitude. It seems to me to be a better use of them than selling them to a comic store or just recycling them — I hope they've helped a few guys get a few moments of entertainment. Here's the address:

Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard

17330 Victory Boulevard

Van Nuys, CA 91406

Attn: Angel Cuevas/Receiving (800) 651-8031

And there's more information here, if you're so inclined.

3) Star Wars character dick size, from smallest to largest:

• Emperor Palpatine — clearly compensating

• Lobot — has erectile issues from the computer in his head

• Boba Fett — Cloning issues

• Chewbacca — in a sheath like a dog's

• Obi-Wan Kenobi

• Luke Skywalker

• Anakin Skywalker, pre-Darth Vader — he clearly had to be packing something to make Padme forget about all the children he kept killing

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• Lando Calrissian

• Nien Nunb — don't ask

• Han Solo — Obviously.


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!

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