Peter Parker, Spider-Gwen, and Miles Morales seen first hearing about the Morbius movie.
Image: Marvel/Sony

Howdy, boys and girls! It’s a beautiful autumn day in the post-apocalypse—the weather is cool but not cold, and the trees’ leaves are turning wonderful colors, as are the mutant cockroach-men of the Northern Wastes. This week: Why the people of the Marvel universe still hate and fear mutants, why Archie lends itself so well to things like werewolf attacks, and more.


Arachnophobia

Russ:

Dear Postman,

My question is in regards to Sony and Spider-man. I think there could be more behind the idea to make a movie like Into the Spider-Verse than we realize. It could be a plan to get mass audiences on board with the idea of multiverses, and of many different Spider-people out there. This way Tom Holland can keep kicking it in the MCU while they launch a new universe. [Sony] could cast its own new Spider-man to fit in with Venom/Morbius/Kraven/Silver & Black etc. as they build up their own Cinematic Universe.

I felt the post-credits scene of Venom being a scene from Into the Spider-verse could be another hint that they don’t need Tom Holland to make a Spider-man movie. What do you think, Postman? Could there be more than one cinematic Spider-man on the horizon?

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There could, but there isn’t. Unless you count Miles Morales and the other animated Spider-People of the Into the Spider-Verse as part of the Sony’s live-action Spider-verse—which you very much should not, because Sony sure doesn’t.

Consider this: If Sony wanted one, just one, Spider-Man to star in its Spider-Man-less Spider-Man Cinematic Universe, which would it be? The answer, without question, is the one currently starring in the infinitely more popular, well-established Marvel Cinematic Universe: Tom Holland. I still can’t fathom what kind of deal Sony made with Marvel Studios that apparently gave the latter the live-action version of the character entirely, even though Sony still controls the character’s movie rights. But clearly this deal exists, because Sony’s long-term plan is to make the aforementioned Spider-Man Cinematic Universe in which the titular hero does not appear. Maybe—maybe—you could justify making a Venom solo movie, but the idea of making movies about Morbius the Living Vampire and/or Silver Sable without including a character people give a shit about is ludicrous. I can’t fathom a world where Sony is actively choosing not to include Spider-Man in these movies.

Look. Into the Spider-Verse will obviously be introducing the idea of a Marvel multiverse to audiences, but it’s an animated action-comedy and thus has no real bearing on anything live-action. Sony has even stated that Spider-Verse is its own thing, and does not connect to its live-action movies. I guess I could still see a quick joke in the film where Miles and his Spider-posse pass through the live-action MCU and very briefly spot Tom Holland, which would very technically combine the two, but not in any meaningful way—just like Sony claims that its Spider-Man-less Spider-Man Universe is some weird hunk of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite the fact that there are no connections other than Sony’s statement.

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This is a shame, because making a second Spider-Man universe where Miles Morales is the central character from which all these other films spin is the easiest, smartest decision in the world. People can absolutely handle two movie Spider-Men at the same time—or at least they can handle it a hell of a lot easier than a movie based on Jackpot. Sony has an awesome Spidey it can use practically sitting on its lap, and instead the studio relegates him to an animated movie..while Morbius the Living Goddamned Vampire is getting a film!

This is nonsense. Maybe if Into the Spider-Verse makes a bazillion dollars some Sony exec will come to the world’s most obvious conclusion. But I wouldn’t bet on it.



Everything about this is amazing.
Image: Archie Comics

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A Riverdale Runs Through It

James M.:

I’ve been really impressed with the quality and diversity of offerings from the world of Archie in recent years. From watching alternate timelines of Archie marrying Betty or Veronica, turning into zombies, werewolves, satanic witch covens, squaring off against the Predator to the joys of the recent reboot under Mark Waid and however you’d describe Riverdale. Why do our timeless friends Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie lend themselves so well to such varying interpretations and adaptations?

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I think it’s because Archie is so basic—and I absolutely don’t mean that as an insult—but also eternal. Its main characters have hardly changed since Archie and his pals debuted back in 1941: Archie’s still a good-hearted goofball caught in a love triangle with kind girl-next-door Betty and rich snob Veronica, Reggie’s the prototypical jerk, and Jughead’s always a weirdo who wears his paradoxical hat. There may be a few bumps along the way (I recently learned there was a brief time Jughead turned into a skateboarder with what looked like cornrows), but they have always essentially stayed the same for over 75 years.

These characters are so archetypal, and have been around so long, that it actually gives creators more license to mess with them than they would have otherwise, since Archie Comics execs aren’t worried about experimentation hurting their brand. The Archie brand is so established it’s practically fossilized, so the franchise can take wild chances and have Archie and pals meet KISS, get hunted by Predator, turn into werewolves and zombies, and so forth. In fact, these crazy Elseworlds-type stories are even more interesting because it’s so fun to put these classic (in every sense of the word) characters in strange situations, the more seemingly inappropriate for them the better.

As for the reboot, well, that’s a different thing because it actually brought Archie and pals to the modern world—but these characters are still so quintessential that they’re just as understandable and familiar to people as they were in the ‘40s. There’s a reason why people were still reading Archie Comics in 2015, before the reboot took place. And it’ll probably keep people reading for another 77 years, too.

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Pictured: A metaphor.
Image: Marvel Comics

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X-Treme Prejudice

Nathan:

I’ve only ever been an intermittent Marvel comics reader, but one thing I could never square, is why exactly do people hate and fear mutants in world that has all sorts of beings with powers?

I get the metaphor as it’s laid out in the movies, but mutants are entirely unique in that world. In the comics, why would normal people single out those with mutant powers from all the other heroes and villians? The average citizen seems on board with Spider-man, but would they know he isn’t a mutant?

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Ha ha, it’s stupid, isn’t it? It was technically stupid back in the ‘60s, when there were also already plenty of super-powered folks running around Marvel’s comics universe, and it’s extra-stupid now, given practically everyone else running around has also been genetically modified or has different genes, so hating on mutants is pure hypocrisy. I mean, everyone who got superpowers from the Terrigen gas bomb that enveloped the planet in 2013 because they were descended from Inhumans had distinctly non-human genes lurking inside them. (They’re called Inhumans, for pete’s sake.) And Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain Marvel, and more got their powers through science accidents/experiments that messed with their genes. But also there are plenty of aliens running around Earth as heroes, and Thor is also certainly not human.

If you want me to do my patented “figure out an answer to close the loophole” maneuver, I’ve got one, although it’s a bit of a bummer, because it’s straight out of real life: Human beings are also very stupid, and prejudice doesn’t need to make sense to exist, in comics or otherwise.

Mutants are born different. They’re a different species—Homo Superior, as Magneto snappily dubbed them—and what is Different tends to be feared by people, who often process that fear as hate. It doesn’t help that mutants had superpowers or looked inhuman (lower-case “I”) or both; these powers made/make humans feel weak and threatened, and the latter only made mutants scarier and thus more hated.

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Still, you’re very correct—it makes very little sense for prejudice against mutants to exist in the modern Marvel universe, after decades of non-human or no-longer purely human heroes running around…but it is also tragically realistic for prejudice to survive for generations, and for parents to pass it down to their children. Fear and hate are hard things to overcome, because they aren’t logical. Which means all those years of proof that mutants are just people who happen to have superpowers often isn’t enough to make people realize the obvious truth.



The original ThunderCats cartoon was both ridiculous and bad, so let’s all keep that in mind.
Image: Warner Bros (apparently

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Cartoon Rework

Micah:

Hi, Postman of the depressingly near-term future,

I want to know about the animation styles new cartoons have. They’re all, shall we say, non-realistic. When I was a kid, GI Joe, Thundercats, Gargoyles, TMNT, He-Man and She-Ra all looked, to varying degrees, “realistic.” Now that those cartoons are being resurrected, why are they going with completely different animation styles? Are kids today not interested in realism? Are they too faint of heart to see something realistic fight?

To me, when you are resurrecting a beloved cartoon from the past, you’re hoping for nostalgic adults to watch at least as much as new kids, but I just can’t get past the new look She-Ra or the new look DuckTales to even give them a chance (don’t even get me started on the new ThunderCats). Am I just an old coot now?

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Let me first disabuse you of the notion that kids today are too “faint of heart” for realistic action. After all, Star Wars, all million superhero movies, and almost any action-adventure film is rated PG-13 (I mean, even the damn Jumanji sequel was PG-13). These are what parents are taking their kids to see, and kids are completely fine with all of it. These films aren’t Saving Private Ryan, of course, nor are they supposed to be, since they’re made with the intention of being viewable by kids—the primary purchasers of accompanying merchandise—while also attracting teens and everyone else on the planet into theaters.

That said, today’s kids clearly don’t care about “realistic” animation, and we know this because so cartoons don’t use it anymore. The closest they get is the realistically-proportioned-but-not-actually-that-realistic designs of shows like Star Wars Rebels, which sits right next to the more traditional anime-style of Voltron: Legendary Defender, from which it’s a short step to the cuter, somewhat chibi-er new She-Ra: Princesses of Power, which in turn leads to the more traditionally cartoon-y Steven Universe, and heads almost immediately to the extremely stylized Adventure Time. Then you get super-simple things like Amazing World of Gumball and We Bare Bears and so forth.

The old-school “realism” you speak of isn’t necessary to attract young viewers or tell a compelling story anymore, and honestly, the immense popularity of Adventure Time and the shows it inspired is a pretty solid indication that kids prefer these simpler styles. (I’m also pretty confident that these less-elaborate character designs are at least a bit easier, or at least quicker, to animate than more the elaborate styles of the past, but maybe an animator in the comments can confirm that for us.) So yes, you are essentially an old coot, and remember, all these cartoons are primarily made with a young audience in mind, not coots like ourselves.

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I’m only going to give you grief about one thing, and that’s DuckTales?! I get what you mean about “realistic” ThunderCats (which, by the way, was pretty terrible and does not hold up in the slightest), because most of the anthropomorphized characters’ bodies matched the designs of shows like G.I. Joe, and then TMNT, because humans like April O’Neil looked kind of regular. But…DuckTales?! There are no people in DuckTales, and only a marginal amount of anthropomorphization. They’re just bipedal animals—there’s no realism to be found on any level.

More much importantly, here’s what the old DuckTales looked like:

And here’s what the new DuckTales looks like:

The only difference I can see between the two is that the new DuckTales looks a hell of a lot better? Because the character designs are practically identical. I believe you’re trapped in some kind of horrible duck-blur situation, sir, and I pray for you.

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I feel like Mxylptlk must somehow be responsible for this.
Image: DC Comics

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Wasting for Superman

Frank:

Is there a law against wasting Superman’s time? (Or the time of any superhero). It’s against the law to cry wolf or waste the time of 911 but that’s partly because that’s also wasting taxpayer dollars. Superhero are private citizens but the disasters they prevent could be much worse than something you’d call the fire department for. Are there legal consequences to feigning distress just to get an autograph? I could see legislators passing something like this just to protect the sanity of a beloved figure.

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No, because passing such a law would require legislation for Superman himself, dictating what he does, when, and where, and Superman—and most other super-heroes—have no desire to deal with that. Many heroes, of course, hate and distrust authority (not invalid), but some, like Superman, aren’t going to wait around for a government committee to approve him fighting Doomsday or something when the villain shows up.

Still, it’s this isn’t as big a deal as you might think. Some heroes just fight crime/evil as they encounter it; some, like Batman, monitor police radios and 911 calls and cell phone calls and whatnot so they can respond to the situations that most need superheroic assistance; and Superman is… well, super. If he hears someone around the world screaming “OH MY GOD IT’S DOOMSDAY” then he also has the super-hearing to pay a bit of attention and tell if, in fact, Doomsday is there tromping around and being an asshole.


Have a nerdy question? Need advice? Want a mystery or argument solved? Well, I’m running a little bit low on letters, so go ahead and send them to postman@io9.com! I have the answers! I know, I’m as surprised as you are!

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