Happy holidays, folks! It's just about time for me to shack up with Olivia Williams in our annual winter vacation, so this is the last "Postal Apocalypse" for a few weeks. Do not weep, for I'll return on December 31st, so keep on sending your letters and I'll try to have an extra big mailbag to make up for it.
The SWTFA trailer is awesome, but I'm having a hard time imagining Star Wars without George Lucas involved. For all the problems with the prequels, Star Wars is his universe, he created it, right? So shouldn't he get to say what goes and what doesn't? Can any committee of Disney executives in charge of his creation match his creativity, or will they just try to create a soulless product to sell merchandise at Disney stores in malls across America, can it?
I see your issue, and I understand it. I fully support creators' rights, and I'm still kind of nauseous over DC's Before Watchmen shit, which I think was truly awful even if it was well within their legal rights to do.
But I wouldn't say Lucas' and Alan Moore's situations are exactly the same. For starters, Lucas willingly sold his beloved Star Wars franchise to Disney. He knew — or had to know — exactly what Disney was going to do with the universe he created, making more movies, shows, products, etc., all without his guidance. And in fact, I'm dead certain that if Lucas had wanted to stay on board, be kept apprised, and have input into what Disney's plans were, Disney would have let him, happily. No one tricked Lucas or forced him out; he willingly and happily walked away. Besides, Lucas created a universe designed to tell as many stories as possible; Alan Moore created one story, with a fixed beginning and ending, with no intention of anything else being added to it. And despite Moore's wishes and eternal rage, DC went ahead and made Before Watchmen anyways. Sure, Moore walked away, but he did it because he'd felt DC had screwed him already. That doesn't justify DC screwing him again.
While it's true that the new Star Wars movies are being at least partially plotted by new Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy — and that sounds worrisome in the extreme — I'm actually not too worried because I don't see her role as significantly different from what George Lucas had been doing the last 15 or so years. He's been a steward of the franchise more than anything. Yes, he took it upon himself to write and direct the three prequels, but I think we can all acknowledge that we kind of wish he hadn't. It's not like Kennedy is planning the sequels herself; she's working with writers and directors in order to make a decent story. Frankly, as long as she's collaborating on the movies' plots at all, she's seeking more input than Lucas did on the prequels.
And, Kennedy is mostly worried about the bottom line, and that probably includes making sure every movie sells a shit-ton of new merchandise. But is that any different from what Lucas did? Lucas was basing the Star Wars movies around Star Wars toys at least as far back as Return of the Jedi's Ewoks, and merchandising obviously heavily informed every aspect of the prequels. Could Disney really be more worried about selling toys than Lucas was? It's certainly possible, but it doesn't seem particularly likely to me.
Look, I'm not saying this new system is going to be better or worse than the Lucas regime — it could be either, and we won't know for sure until the movies come out. I just don't think the new system is inherently worse than the Lucas regime. Moreover, since Lucas was so intrinsically tied to Star Wars, basically no one ever said "No, giving the Jedis rat-tails is a bad idea" to him, having a new steward — one who is potentially more open-minded, or at least not working exclusively with yes-men — could be a very good thing indeed. We'll see.
A Superfriend in Need
Has anyone ever tried to reconcile the difference in power levels between the DC Universe from the perspective of the Justice League and the perspective of Gotham City?
I know it's not a new complaint - Batman can outmaneuver Darkseid when he's with the League, but on his home turf he can barely hold his own against a bunch of unpowered mental patients. He's completely committed to wiping out crime in Gotham City, but it wouldn't be fair to let his Superfriends lend a hand. He has to do this alone. He's Batman.
It makes a better story, certainly, but has it ever made sense?
It's just one of those things that you can't think about too hard or else superheroes comics just fall apart. In the same way you can't start putting actual dates and times to superheroes' careers or start wondering why Superman doesn't just throw Doomsday into orbit, rendering him completely harmless, you can't really ask why Batman doesn't ask his Justice League buddies to come over to Gotham and spend a long afternoon stopping all crime. The key here, as you mentioned, is that this makes a better story, which is all that's important.
If you're looking for some kind of explanation, however, the idea in my head is always that crime in Gotham City is so endemic that even if, say, the Flash rounds up all known criminals and throws them in jail, there will be more criminals popping up a few hours later. Plus, the Flash has his own shit in Central City to deal with, as Superman does in Metropolis, Green Arrow in Star City, Green Lantern in space, Wonder Woman wherever the hell she's at, and so on.
Also — and this may just be something I made up — is that I've always had the idea that Batman's foes are smarter than most of the criminals that the other members of the Justice League faces. Most of their enemies are strong or have powers; most of Batman's foes are simply devious. Yes, Wonder Woman or Green Lantern could come in and try to stop the Joker's latest rampage, but chances are he'd see them coming and figure out how to neutralize (and/or kill) them. Now, this doesn't really explain why Superman doesn't call Batman's big brain over every time Lex Luthor starts scheming something, but it's a way to have some kind of superheroic parity.
People Are (Doctor) Strange
Hello Mr. Postman,
I can't understand why people are upset Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as Doctor Strange. While not my favorite actor, he certainly is more than adequate for the role. It could have been much worse. It could have been Johnny Depp.
What confuses me the most are the people that are upset than a non-white, non-male actor wasn't cast. Ummm, last time I checked Doctor Strange was a white guy. And it's not like there aren't other roles in the Marvel canon that a non-white, non-male actor could be cast in.
Captain Marvel comes immediately to mind. Instead of Carol Danvers, why not do the Monica Rambeau version of the character? There a plenty of black actresses who would be fantastic in the role.
Yeah, I was kind of surprised at that myself. I'm as pro-race and gender equality as anybody, especially in my superhero entertainment, but there seemed to be a crazy amount of vitriol the first time Benedict Cumberbatch was announced to have the role. I agree that there's nothing about Dr. Strange that requires the character to be played by a white dude — and I agree that it would have been a great opportunity to bring some diversity to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but people were super-pissed, as if Strange was their only chance of a person of color coming to the MCU.
I'm assuming that most people were pissed because at the time Cumberbatch was first said to have the role, Marvel hadn't announced the Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies yet, and thus people were upset because the Strange casting seemed to be Marvel's continued lack of diversity. Once we heard that we were actually getting movies with a black superhero and a woman, the Strange furor died down, because Marvel had finally addressed the problem, at least to a degree. So before the massive Phase 3 announcement, the Dr. Strange casting was yet another sign of Marvel's continued lack of diversity. After the Phase 3 movies were announced, Strange became just another casting announcement. Make sense?
As for Captain Marvel, I see your point, but it's the character of Carol Danvers that Marvel has been pushing in the comics and will want to push in the movies. I actually have a great fondness for Monica, but I can't see her joining the MCU anytime soon; it's much more likely that Marvel would cast a black actress as Carol instead, and there are still plenty of fantastic actresses who would be fantastic in the role.
But that's probably not going to happen. I assume Marvel would like to see how Black Panther and Captain Marvel will do before they make the "crazy" jump to potentially casting a woman of color as a superheroic lead.
Tales from the Krypton
Obviously, the major empires of the Marvel universe are the Shi'ar, Kree and Skrull. Would the people of Krypton be powerful enough to stand up to any of these empires or would they be a footnote in the Marvel universe?
Krypton barely had enough resources to shoot a single baby into space; there's no way they could stand against the galaxy-spanning empires of Marvel's three big alien races. The Shi'ar, Kree and Skrull all have a ton of armed space ships, while the Kryptonians don't even have Superman's powers, because they're situated next to a red son. Marvel's aliens wouldn't even need to step foot on the planet they could just bombard Krypton from orbit until someone raised a white flag.
Masters of Deconstruction
I noticed the past couple of weeks has seen some He-man related questions and it got me thinking. Do you think there is any chance that He-man could have a reboot movie (assuming you count the Dolph Lundgren atrocity as cannon)?
If a He-Man movie ever gets made it will absolutely be a reboot. There's no sense in trying to tie it to the ancient '80s cartoon, the much improved but not nearly as popular '00 cartoon, the strange and only semi-popular DC MOTU comics, or anything else. Even if it didn't make more sense to start from scratch in order to make it as accessible to mass audiences as possible, there's no good options to base it on. Especially the 1987 movie, which didn't even do that well back in He-Man's heyday.
But if you're asking if there's a chance there will be some kind of live-action He-Man film in the future, the answer is "yeah, probably." The reason it's taking so long is because the basic story and setting of He-Man is in direct contrast to what movie executives think audiences want and can handle. A world of science fiction and sorcery? Too confusing! A powerful barbarian named He-Man? That name is too dumb for modern audiences… and yet it's also the name of the goddamned franchise.
At some point, the stars will align, a script will get approved, and it'll get made — probably with a budget of a modest $50 million or so, because the studio doesn't have confidence in it but still think maybe it can make them some money, never realizing that no one wants to see a cheap He-Man movie, not even crazy fans like me. Also, the script will be insane, and He-Man will be a kid from Earth or Skeletor will be a robot or something.
It'll be completely godawful, and I will cry big, bitter tears.
Is any of the old star wars expanded universe stuff being saved for disney's new time line? Some of it ties into the movies like darth bane and the whole rule of two thing or the darth plaegus ( not sure on the spelling ) novel. Also I'm not happy at the thought of a world where knights of the old republic doesn't count anymore.
I don't think Disney's decided what, if anything, is still canon. Honestly, I think they're figuring it out as they go — they're making the new movies and Rebels and taking what they want out of the previous expanded universe as they go. Also, I'm almost positive Rebels takes place in the same universe as the Clone Wars cartoon did, which makes everything that happened in Clone Wars part of the new canon a well. And of course Rebels used a lot of Expanded Universe stuff. Basically I think if it showed up in Clone Wars, you can pretty much consider it canon.
Knights of the Old Republic, however, is probably gone, whether deliberately or just because Disney is going to concentrate on the "present" Star Wars universe for the time being. The good news is that this means there probably won't be any material that directly contradicts the Old Republic stories, meaning it can all still technically count as part of the new universe. The bad news is that it will only technically count, and Disney won't decide whether the Old Republic material stays or goes until sometime far in the future, when they decide to mine that ancient history of the Star Wars universe for a book, comics, game, or even a movie.
One thing I am curious about: You guys either extremely hate movies or absolutely love them. Let me give you an example.
Here is what you hate:
Star Wars Prequels
New Star Trek
Man of Steel
Here is what you love:
Star Wars Originals
Marvel Cinematic Universe
And that's about it. You even hate movies (Fantastic Four) and make your mind up about it before it even comes out.
So my question is: Can you not appreciate someone's film and story even though it's not what you expected?
Let me correct you on something before I get into my likes and dislikes Playboy bunny-style. I haven't decided anything about Fantastic Four. I will only make my final decision about the Fantastic Four reboot when I see it in theaters. Likewise, I do not love Star Wars: Episode VII, because I have not seen it. The trailer made me happy and excited, and it seemed to indicate some very positive things about the movie, but it could still suck. I have seen all the movies you listed in my hate column, and have judged them not very good, but I have done so through clear evidence with reasons I have articulated many times.
I may pre-judge things before they come out, but I don't make my mind up. This isn't wrong of me. What is a trailer but an attempt to make people "pre-judge" a movie positively? They aren't showing a collection the coolest scenes and best lines for their health, you know. They're trying to set up expectations for the film, expectations like "hey, this movie may not be a pile of shit."
Now here's the wacky part: Any information on a film prior to its release can also create expectations. So when we see a first look at a costume? Hear rumors about fighting on-set? Learn script details like Doctor Doom has been changed from a technomage dictator of Latveria to a surly blogger? All of that informs our expectations of said movie, for better or for worse.
Do you go see every movie that comes in theaters? Of course not. But how do you decide which movies you want to see? Well, because you have expectations of whether you'll like them or not. Do you love historical romance dramas? No? Well, then you're probably going to skip seeing The Theory of Everything because you have an expectation that it's going to be a historical romance drama. That's certainly how the movie has presented itself in all of its ads, right? Without having some kind of expectation, you would be required to go see the movie before making your decision whether you enjoy the film or not, and chances are you'd waste your time and money.
Expecting a movie to suck is not the same as declaring it sucks before it comes out. Believe it or not, I am completely open to the possibility that the Fantastic Four reboot will be great. I don't expect it to be, and the news that Dr. Doom is an evil blogger gives me a very decent reason to expect the movie to suck. Things exceed (or fail to meet) my expectations all the time. I thought Batman Begins was going to be amazing, and yet I didn't care for it. I was really excited about the Conan reboot starring Khal Drogo, even after it got panned, but when I saw it I realized it was shockingly boring for a Conan film; as much as I wanted to love it, I couldn't. I had supremely high hopes for The Flash and they've been tempered by a decent superhero shows with some good points and some serious problems. I couldn't believe The Lego Movie truly lived up to the hype and was pleasantly shocked when it did. I thought Speed Racer was going to be a disaster and it turned out to be a completely uncommercial masterpiece. I thought Gotham was going to be a disaster and have weirdly charmed by it. I think I thought Agents of SHIELD was going to be amazing, and it was actually pretty terrible for a while; then, when I expected it to stay crappy, it began the HYDRA stuff and became awesome.
I expect that the Fantastic Four movie will not be good because I'm guessing if they made the decision to turn one of Marvel's greatest villains into a blogger they probably will have made other bad decisions as well. I may be wrong. I won't know until I see the movie. Then my expectations will turn into a definitive opinion, which may or may not match my expectations.
Smart people have expectations. It's what keeps us from sticking our fingers in lightsockets — I expect that it will be painful and dangerous. Now, I haven't done it before, so I don't know for sure. But thanks to the magic of expectations, I don't have to try it to find out.
Remember, your friendly neighborhood post-apocalyptic fake mailman and "Postal Apocalypse" will return on December 31st. See you then! Assuming Olivia and I aren't snowed in.
Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the email@example.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!