Postal Apocalypse: Will Fan Toxicity Ever Get Better?

Hello, all! It’s your friendly neighborhood postman, except I’m not that friendly, there are no more neighborhoods since I live in the post-apocalypse, and also I’m a fake postman anyway. It’s been a year since I last answered your letters, so let’s just get to it—it being the futures of Star Wars: Episode IX, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, She-Ra, and more. The mail’s here!

A Toxic Waste


Greetings, Future Postman of the coming dark times! I trust all is well with you (or as well as can be expected in the post-Trumpocalypse...or is it another later apocalypse? On second thought, never mind.)

In our time, we have reached a level of general fan toxicity that could physically eat through steel. While I know it can get worse (God forbid), can it get better or are we at the no-turning-back point? Your thoughts?


In the sense that anything is possible, it absolutely can get better. And, although I’m a deeply pessimistic person, I do believe it will get better over time. It’ll just take longer than we’d like.

As awful as things are nowadays, it’s worth remembering—and heartening—that what these nincompoops are freaking out about is all the progress that’s been made. Representation and diversity in nerdery has increased so much in the last decade, and continues to do so! The more we advance the more they get upset, and the louder and more awful they get in retaliation. Progress has a cost. (There’s also the issue that this micro section of nerd-dom has been empowered and emboldened by the macro of the current state of the real world, but that’s its own nightmare.)

Unfortunately, that’s not something that will be fixed overnight, or even over a decade, necessarily. But remember that the generation growing up now is seeing unparalleled representation in the movies and shows and so forth. For them, diversity isn’t something new (or scary)—it’s simply the natural state of things. Nerdery may always have this dark side, but one day we will fade away, and what will replace it will be something better.

Thanos casts Meteor.
Image: Marvel Studios/Disney

No Stones Unturned

Michael H.:

Ever since I first read the Infinity Gauntlet series in preparation for the movie, I’ve been struggling to understand how the infinity stones coordinate to wipe out the populace. I could see how the Space and Time Stones allow something to happen everywhere simultaneously, but where do the Mind and Reality stones enter the picture?

On the face I’m for the answer to be “because COMIC BOOOOOOOKS”, but the comics and movies spend so much time getting us to care about these things I feel kind of cheated that there doesn’t seem to be a clever way of stacking these powers to get such a jaw-dropping result.


You’re overthinking it a bit. Each Infinity Stone has dominion over something, but only by having them all did Thanos get the power to pull off something as immense as killing half the universe with a snap of his grape fingers. Basically, by collecting the whole set, Thanos went from having incredible power to omnipotence.

It’s sort of like armor in many fantasy video games. If you wear the Armor of Snazziness, you get +2 to defense. But if you also put on the Gauntlets of Snazziness +2, and the Boots of Snazziness +2, and the Helmet of Snazziness +2 at the same time, you don’t just get a +8 to defense, you get a +15 for wearing the complete set. He needed all the stones to pull it off.


However, I wouldn’t be the Postman if I didn’t explain things that didn’t need explaining. So here’s how each stone contributed to the “spell”:

Soul Stone: Gave Thanos the power over life and death.

Power Stone: Augmented the power of the Soul Stone to affect countless beings.

Space Stone: Increased the spell’s range to encompass the entire universe.

Time Stone: Made it happen not just simultaneously, but instantly—i.e. with a snap of his fingers.


Reality Stone: Further augmented the power, needed to make such a gigantic, fundamental change to reality itself, without reality shattering and perhaps destroying the universe entirely.

Mind Stone: Gave Thanos the internal willpower needed to “cast” the spell and to keep from being destroyed himself (or going insane).


Rey (Daisy Ridley) tries to ignore the creepy old man (Mark Hamill) invading her personal space.
Image: Lucasfilm/Disney

Waking Up the Jedi

Ex BoyWonder:

Will Star Wars: Episode IX continue in the direction of The Last Jedi or return to fan service like The Force Awakens?


Details are hazy from my particular era of the post-apocalypse, but I would bet my bottom dollar that Abrams returns to a more traditional Star Wars experience like The Force Awakens rather than continuing on the fascinating new trajectory trailblazed by The Last Jedi. My hunch is that he wasn’t just trying to make TFA a traditional Star Wars film for franchise re-establishment reasons, but because that’s his vision for Star Wars, period.

I also would bet my mailbag that Abrams undoes/retcons the “answer” to Rey’s parents seen in The Last Jedi. As you may recall, Simon Pegg revealed that Abrams had his own idea who Rey’s folks were going to be, which Rian Johnson chose not to use when making Episode VIII. (Which is fine, although I find it odd that Disney apparently feels okay playing this fast and loose with one of the main plot points of the sequel trilogy.) It’s not that I think Abrams is determined to have his way or anything, but if Johnson can decide not to use Abrams’ plans for Rey, surely Abrams is allowed to decide if he wants to accept Johnson’s answer. I feel confident he chooses to go back to own idea of where Rey’s story is heading.


Man, this She-Ra image makes me happy.
Image: Netflix

Princess of Ponder

Steph and Chris:

We’re super-excited for the She-Ra reboot, but we saw your tweet. How do you think the new series will bring in Castle Grayskull? If it doesn’t exist on Etheria, like in the original [cartoon], why is she saying it? And is this just a way to bring He-Man in later? 


Showrunner Noelle Stevenson and her crew have been tight-lipped about the story details of the reboot, other than that She-Ra has the same origin: Adora was stolen as a baby, taken to the planet Etheria, raised by the Horde, and then realizes she’s working for the bad guys and gets her She-Ra on. The fact that she was born on Eternia, He-Man’s home planet in this cartoon (there’s zero reason to make up a new home planet for the show), implies that Castle Grayskull will still reside there.

While the show could just have the Sorceress use her magic to FedEx the Sword of Protection (as named in the original series) to Adora, I have a hard time imagining that the new She-Ra will be yelling about the honor of Grayskull without ever seeing the castle. The Sorceress might send her a vision of it in a dream, but that’s not particularly exciting. It would be much cooler if both Eternia and Etheria had Castle Grayskulls (and maybe other planets did as well!). Or if the Sorceress could project the castle to Etheria, briefly, but long enough to give Adora the sword and a class in She-Ra 101. (This is all assuming the voice in the new trailer speaking to Adora is the Sorceress from Masters of the Universe, who gave He-Man and She-Ra their swords in the originals, and not someone else.)


Look, bottom line: “Grayskull” is a super-fantastic fantasy proper noun, and “For the honor of Grayskull!” is a super-badass thing to shout, even if the castle inexplicably never shows up. Also, the showrunners have said He-Man will not be stopping by, and I know Mattel is basically ceaselessly looking for a new way to reboot Masters of the Universe, likely as its own thing. However, if the She-Ra cartoon does well—and signs are looking good—I wouldn’t entirely rule out Adora’s twin brother making a cameo in season three or so.

Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), ready to walk away.
Photo: Marvel Studios

Gunning It

Oodles of People:

What does James Gunn’s firing mean for Guardians of the Galaxy 3, the MCU, and Marvel? How will Disney handle it if Dave Bautista refuses to come back as Drax? Is there any chance Gunn will be hired back?


Let me tackle the last question first: Not likely. Disney made a snap decision to fire him, but mega-corporations don’t usually reverse their decisions and send out a press release stating “Oops, we acted rashly, our bad. We take it back, sorry for the confusion.” Plus, there’s the fact if Disney did hire Gunn back, all the coverage and controversy would immediately stir back up, and that’s what it wants least. A new director and a new Drax are likely preferable to the company.

Which, while a bummer, aren’t the biggest deals in the world as far as Disney’s concerned. Despite Gunn’s manning of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Marvel Studios knows what it wants the third movie to do in terms of exploring more of the MCU’s cosmic corners anyway, and it’s not like there’s a dearth of good directors out there. Plus, it’s really only we nerds who are invested in Gunn’s involvement. The larger portion of the gigantic audience who watches these movies just wants to see the movie. Most of them probably never notice who directs these things.


As for Drax, I am completely certain Disney is ready to call Dave Bautista’s bluff. Oh, I’m sure it’ll see if it can pay him off, but the GotG movies have already established the team as having a fluctuating roster. Marvel can replace Drax with some other character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 with little to no problem. His whole deal was that he wanted to kill Thanos for murdering his family/home planet, so just say he left to go chase Thanos to get his revenge for his family. Or, if Thanos actually dies in Avengers 4, have him retire off-screen. Or leave him dead. Easy-peasy.

Actress Hailee Steinfeld, agog that someone remembered the original Bumblebee was a VW Bug.
Image: Hasbro/Paramount

On Bumbling and Bumblebee

Joel F.:

Why did it take (quickly IMDBs because I haven’t watched the last few) SIX Transformers movies before they:

A) Made Bumblebee an actual VW Bug

B) Made a movie I actually want to see (based on the trailer) out of more than loyalty to childhood nostalgia


I don’t want to blow your mind, but:

A) Hasbro/Paramount finally let a director who gave the tiniest shit about the Transformers make a Transformers movie.


B) See answer to “A.”

The broader reason is that as little as he cared about the franchise, the characters, or, frankly, even robots that transform, Michael Bay’s Transformers movies made a shit-ton of money. But between the facts that Bay’s movies have had diminishing returns, and because it’s obvious Bay is increasingly half-assing them (these two facts are not unrelated), Hasbro and Paramount have been looking for new ways to mine the franchise for more cash. A spin-off—and a de facto Transformers cinematic universe, opening the door for even more movies outside of the main series—was the most obvious solution.


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About the author

Rob Bricken

Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, and currently writes the column "Nerd Processor" on Medium. It, like everything else he's ever written, is about nerd stuff.