So immediately upon re-opening up the mailbag last week, I got sick. Turns out maybe you shouldn’t leave a bag in an irradiated wasteland for a year and then immediately start sticking your hand in there. But no matter! This week: How to protect your budding nerd children, a Star Trek special effects dilemma, and the chances of the comics Aquaman ever getting Momoa-fied.
Across the MC Universe
Oodles of people:
What will the Marvel Cinematic Universe look like after Avengers IV? And how will Marvel integrate the X-Men into the MCU?
The multi-billion-dollar questions. This is tough to call, because Marvel Studios has been suspiciously quiet about the state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Avengers 4. We know there will be a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie (although maybe not in the way any of us expected, given the ongoing James Gunn fallout), Black Panther 2, a Black Widow movie, and then a second Spider-Man film, but the fate of main franchise stars Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor is unknown. Hell, we don’t even know if the actors are staying in the roles at all. If not, are other characters replacing them, e.g. Bucky or Falcon taking over the mantle of Captain America? Or are these heroes going to be recast?
Any guess about what the hell is coming is just that—a guess—but I do have one, so let’s see how right (or wrong) I get it. The biggest draw of the MCU is its connectedness, and the main part of that is its continuity. I don’t see Marvel completely resetting everything in Avengers 4, because that would wipe out the franchise’s greatest strength. Honestly, it’s exactly like a comic book when it does a new #1 issue—sure, it’s a place for new readers to jump in, but it’s also a good place for current readers who may be tired with the title to stop. Except with the movies, everyone in the world is already watching these things. There are practically no new viewers to attract to these films, so there’s nothing to be gained by a reboot.
Marvel Studios is not going to reboot its cinematic universe except in terms of resurrecting all the characters Thanos killed, and we know this because it’s keeping all the same stars for the upcoming Guardians, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Black Widow films, and now Loki and Scarlet Witch and whoever else is getting a limited series on Disney’s upcoming streaming app.
So the next question is what happens to the MCU’s main three (since Marvel seems to have no interest in another Hulk film)?
Another solo Iron Man film is clearly off the table and has been for a while. As for Thor, Chris Hemsworth seems game for more…although a Thor movie with no Asgard in it seems awkward, to say the least. (Maybe when the Avengers fix the universe, they also bring back Asgard? But then who else would they bring back? Seems messy.) Finally, by all accounts Chris Evans has been ready to drop Captain America’s shield for a while, so he’s most likely stepping down. If Marvel was thinking about recasting any of these roles with new—keyword “new”—actors, we’d have heard rumors by now.
So this is a wild and specific bet, but here’s where I’m placing my money:
• The Thor movies are done. Chris Hemsworth may play a big supporting role as Thor in other Marvel movies, though, much like Ruffalo’s Hulk did in Ragnarok.
• Ruffalo will also still pop up places, but less than Thor.
• Evans is done with Cap…but of all the main Avengers solo films, his is the most successful solo franchise. So Steve Rogers will pass the mantle to Bucky for a fourth Captain America film after Avengers 4. It also helps that Bucky’s been a major part of the Cap movies from the very beginning, which will make the transition much easier for audiences.
• I can’t decide whether Robert Downey Jr. will keep making an occasional appearance or is out, but I’m leaning toward out. That begs the question of whether Marvel will put Don Cheadle’s Rhodey in the Iron Man armor instead of keeping him as War Machine. My guess is that he stays War Machine, but dons the Iron Man suit at some emotionally impactful moment in a future film, like Avengers 5.
The Avengers movies won’t go anywhere, because they’re Marvel’s number one franchise. Plus, it’s already been shown that the members can get added or rotated, and with an established core—Vision, Scarlet Witch, Bucky-Cap, maybe Thor—Marvel can add Spidey officially, and/or Ant-Man and the Wasp (I feel very confident Ant-Man and the Wasp will join the Avengers full-time, because they were founding members in the comics, although there were different people in the suits).
Which finally brings us to the X-Men. Marvel will absolutely reboot them—if they did it for Spider-Man, they’ll definitely chuck the super-messed up timeline craziness of the current X-Men franchise; I mean, for sure Sophie Turner will not be putting on make-up to play a 40-year-old Jean Grey in the modern MCU. Marvel will handle them the same it did Spidey, and have these X-movies focus on never-before-seen enemies (i.e. not Magneto, finally). The X-Men are big enough that they’ll get their own film or two to get established, although expect a few small MCU cameos.
And then expect Avengers vs. X-Men the movie in…let’s say 2022. I’m very serious.
Respect the Trek
Star Trek canon is probably one of the most divisive issues out there in TV fandom right now, in part because of how adherence to a particular design aesthetic was used to build believability in the universe over its 52-year history—and internal history. Design choices updated the look in canon, according to the passage of time within the series. A certain adherence to looks, materials and ships etc was always something that bound it all together perfectly before the Marvel cinematic universe was even conceived.
What are the real reasons for the recent changes to Star Trek design on TV in what is supposed to be the Prime Universe? Are they artistic choices by CBS? Why does it piss us off so much? I guess it boils down to this: Is the old Star Trek actually gone forever?
If you mean, “Will the new Star Trek ever truly honor the series’ visual continuity, which includes plywood spaceship sets and rubber mask monsters from the original 1960s TV series?” the answer is a firm “no.”
Part of it is CBS. Obviously, it wants to please the fans with Discovery, but if only die-hard Trek fans watched it, there wouldn’t be enough viewers to justify making the show. It needs to attract more viewers—and that means giving people a show that looks like it was made in 2018. You could replicate every cheap set and effect from the original series with CG, but it would still look lame in comparison to…pretty much every sci-fi, fantasy, or superhero entertainment we’ve watched in the last 15 or so years? If Star Trek wants to attract new fans—and it has to, to survive—it needs to look good by modern standards. Plus, the J.J. Abrams films showed people a vision of what the original series would look like if it had been made in the 2010s. For many, many people, that’s their defining idea of Star Trek—and getting these people into the old continuity means giving them something visually striking...and familiar.
As for why it pisses you off, it’s because Star Trek fans have been extraordinarily lucky when it comes to continuity. From 1966 to 2001, when the prequel Enterprise premiered, you enjoyed a franchise that was for all intents and purposes in chronological order. The evolution of set design and special effects evolved with the timeline of the show.
But here’s two questions for you: 1) Would you rather have a new TV series set in the Prime universe that looks incongruous to the originals, or would you rather have a new Trek show set in the new movies’ Kelvin universe, where things can basically look however? And 2) given how real-life technology has evolved since 1966, what looks more like what you’d expect a realistic starship bridge to look like in 250 years? This…
Honestly, they’re both pretty goofy, but whatever you choose, neither Discovery nor future Trek shows will be downgrading their visuals just for continuity’s sake. Resistance, as they say, is futile.
I’m the father of two children with very strong pop culture interests. My daughter, the youngest, just turned 13 and is learning Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering. I was thinking of taking her to a Friday Night Magic event at our local comic book store after she has been playing for a while. Then, I remembered that the current environment in fandom/gamer culture has some pretty nasty pockets of trolls and there is a non-trivial probability that I am leading my daughter into one.
My question to you, Wise Postman, is what responsibilities do we as older geeks have in nurturing the younglings into healthy pop culture fans? Should we make a point of engaging with younger people at events and, if the occasion arises, maybe point out that harassing women on Twitter is not cool? Or am I just overthinking this and making a creep out of myself?
Given the stakes here, it’s worth thinking a lot about, and you’re certainly not being a creep (always be mindful of reactions though when approaching strangers). I’m very glad you asked the question.
You have the same responsibility to improve geekdom that you have—that we all have—to society at large. If you want it to improve, then you must help improve it. That doesn’t mean being an asshole to those that are assholes themselves, but it does mean leading by example—and particularly, calling out assholes for being sexist or racist or gatekeepers or whatever. Silence excuses them and empowers them. By confronting them about their awfulness, you force them to acknowledge their own behavior and beliefs. You probably won’t show them the light, but they may think twice about being a shithead next time, and someone, somewhere will experience a little less intolerance. That’s a win.
Most of the awful nerds you meet in real life keep their awfulness to themselves, because they’re cowards who allow themselves to be reprehensible online because they can be anonymous, and spewing their hate and inflicting pain there has no consequences for them. Certainly, given the times we live in, more nerds have been emboldened to bring their idiotic garbage to public spaces, but I have to believe that if someone was bullying a kid in public, most nerds would tell that guy to get the fuck out. I also think that your daughter’s chances of getting harassed are significantly less with you there, because then they’re not just attacking her, they’d be attacking an adult man, and you’re most likely far more intimidating to them.
Obviously, there’s a risk. And maybe I’m even being optimistic here. So the thing to do is go to these events by yourself and get the lay of the land. If there are women and/or other marginalized folks there already, that’s a good sign—but it won’t hurt to ask them what they’ve experienced. If there aren’t, that’s not great…but a couple of sessions there by yourself should give you a sense of the vibe, and how your daughter would be treated.
But if it’s bad, lead by example and say something. Because if someone doesn’t, it’ll never get better.
With comic-book movies influencing so much of what we see in comic books themselves, when the heck are we going to see comic-book Aquaman look like Jason Momoa? Will it take the film making a killing or will comic-book Aquaman always be a blonde haired, blue eyed Atlantean?
Even if Aquaman rocks the box office the same way Wonder Woman did, and goodness I hope it does, I don’t expect we’ll ever see the comic book Aquaman rock long black hair and some massive tattoos. Unlike Marvel, which often likes to incorporate bits and pieces from the movies in their comics, adding a bit of accessibility for movie-goers to get into the source material, DC has never really bothered with it. If it had, stuff from Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy would surely have made it over—especially the instantly iconic iterations of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Tom Hardy’s Bane.
DC’s interpretations of its characters can be malleable, to an extent—in Aquaman’s case, there’s been the seahorse-riding square, the long-haired surly king with the hook hand, and the eternal Atlantean outsider, to name but a few—but I just can’t see the publisher taking the “bold” step of coloring the hair of one of its top-tier legacy characters, or drawing little tattoos on him (let alone explicitly giving Aquaman part of Momoa’s Pacific Islander heritage).
Which is a shame, because there’s a real opportunity with Aquaman and his movie. Even beyond the ever-present need for more diversity and representation, Aquaman is still trying to shake off the chains of being a pop-culture joke for the last 30-plus years. If Momoa shows up and redefines the hero for mass audiences, from a dude who has conversations with fish to a sexy aquatic badass, DC should absolutely try to capitalize on that new-found success and characterization. But until the next New 52-level reboot, I doubt DC would ever consider it.
Postman, I’m so glad you’ve returned. Here’s my question. Is there any way Star Wars: Episode IX makes the fandom happy? The Force Awakens was criticized as being a carbonite copy of A New Hope while The Last Jedi had its arms ripped from the sockets for being too different from the original trilogy. Is it possible to make a new movie in the Skywalker Saga that will actually please diehard fans?
Have a nerdy question? Need advice? Want a mystery or argument solved? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org! Remember, no question too difficult or dumb! Probably!