Greetings, sports fans! No, wait. Hello, people who like getting in detailed conversations and arguments about nerdy minutiae! Today we're talking about the Fantasticness of certain Fours, how Time Lords handle Time Babies, and the best legal representation in Westeros. (Hint: It's a dude with a sword.)


Brent D.:

Why is everybody freaking out about the Fantastic Four trailer? I think it looks good. And yeah, it looks like a scifi film, but the FF has always been about science and science fiction. It seems like a perfect match! So what is everybody bitching about?


Because it doesn't look like a superhero movie. At all. It looks like a science adventure movie like Interstellar, almost exclusively, and I think people were expecting it to be somewhat comic book-y, you know, being based on a comic and all, which stars four people who get crazy superpowers and fight bad guys.

But I would argue that people aren't bitching — well, of course some people are bitching, it's the goddamned internet — but I think most people are just a bit confused that the Fantastic Four reboot would seemingly abandon its entire genre. Yes, the FF has mostly been about the scifi, but it's always been a superhero comic. And yet the new movie seems to have nothing in common with the Marvel movies, Fox's X-Men movies, or even DC's movies. As some people have mentioned, it seriously looks almost exactly like Interstellar, and it's clear that's what Fox wants it to look like. It's a really interesting approach to take, and one that could work out wonderfully. But it's also one that could backfire spectacularly.

Lets start with the wonderfully: It's possible that the very concept of the Fantastic Four is too goofy for modern audiences. The less serious tone, the family aspect, the lack of coolness — this could be what doomed the first two, most straightforward Fantastic Four movies (no pun intended). By turning it into a hard(er) scifi film and lessening the superheroics, it could be a big a hit as Interstellar was, and for the same reasons.

It also helps Fantastic Four set itself apart from the plethora of other superhero movies. The FF don't seem that cool next to the Avengers and the X-Men, so why even invite the comparison? So turn the FF into pure science fiction. As most people have mentioned, it's a major aspect of the franchise, so we know it jibes with the property.


As for backfiring spectacularly… well, you may have noticed that superhero movies are pretty popular nowadays. People like them. By dropping the superheroics and powers and comic book-iness from the Fantastic Four movie, you have have robbed mass audiences of the one thing (no pun!) they actually want from an FF movie. It's actually pretty hard to make a scifi movie a hit nowadays, and audiences could just ignore the movie altogether. Fans could be pissed because they're not getting anything they want from an FF movie either. There's a decent chance it will bomb, even compared to the first two FF movies.

Personally, I think even if this "dark, grounded" FF movie is a box office hit, it could still fail as a franchise. Is this take sustainable? Can they make a second Fantastic Four movie that takes itself so seriously? Will audiences even want more than one? Moreover, what about its wider popularity? Will kids want to buy action figures for a movie they can't understand, and aren't excited by because it's too "dark and grounded" to show off awesome superpowers and fight scenes? I'm guessing they won't.


That doesn't mean the movie won't be good, though. Like I mentioned yesterday, I didn't hate the trailer; I was just surprised by it. If I had to put money down now, I think the movie will be very good, but only a middling hit, and Fox will find itself with the exact same Fantastic Four problem they had a couple of years ago — which is to say a superhero franchise they have no idea how to make work. We'll see what happens.

P.S. I lied. All those puns were intended.


All You Need Is Love

Josh McD.:

A question which occurred to me quite incidentally as part of a writing project, and now it won't leave me alone. So I'm offering it to you (and by extension to the general io9 community). Which superheroes would be most desirable for a long-term relationship? Of course, most superheroes have good, desirable characteristics — it kind of goes with the job. But many of them have serious personality disorders (again, probably part of the profile), and more than a few just seem to have all kinds of bad luck which all too often sucks their SO in, one way or another.

Of course, any relationship deals with personality vs. drama issues, and a successful relationship finds the right balance between the two. So the question, I guess, comes down to that. Which superheroes hit that sweet spot between good-enough personality traits and little-enough drama to make them good prospects?


Well, most superheroes have bad luck in one way or another. They fight supervillains for a living, which means their loved ones are pretty constantly in danger. I'd say Peter Parker has proven he's a pretty spectacular spouse back in his married days, but his luck is the worst. Green Lantern Kyle Rainer always struck me a very caring character — it's a major reason why he's the White Lantern now — but one of his girlfriends was murdered and shoved in a refrigerator, so that rules him out.

So all this leaves is heroes whose identities are secret, who aren't so popular or powerful they have to run off every time there's a crisis, who don't have a history of their loved ones being attacked, and who are also compassionate, well-adjusted human beings. That narrows the playing field pretty considerably.


Dick Grayson and Green Arrow come immediately to mind as caring and well-adjusted, and I don't recall either of them having their romantic partners brutally murdered. Of course, Green Arrow cheated on Black Canary a bit, but for most of their relationship he was pretty solid. Actually, that makes Black Canary the better prospect, so let's say her. She-Hulk is normally well-adjusted, fun-loving and doesn't get in too much danger… but occasionally she freaks out and goes on a Hulk-style rampage, which isn't good.

Hmm… The Thing is very caring and managed to date/keep alive Alicia Masters for a good long while. He doesn't seem to be super-in-touch with his emotions to me, and would be a bit gruff and slow to open up, but he's a pretty good candidate if you can ignore the fact he's made of orange rock. And the Invisible Woman has been an amazing, supportive spouse to Mr. Fantastic, even though he's often a supercilious dick.


Honestly, I think your best would bet is just to examine the greatest, healthiest relationships in comics, and hope something terrible happens to one of them: Black Bolt and Medusa, Ralph and Sue Dibny, Bigby and Snow White from Fables, and most definitely Marko and Alana from Saga. Sure, all of these couples have had ups and downs, but all relationships have them, and it's the couples that can weather those storms that you should be envious of.


Time Lords and Ladies

Eleanor S.:

Hello Mr. Postman,

With the recent news confirming Steven Moffat thinks the next Doctor should be a woman, do you think the next Doctor Who show runner should be a woman as well? In my mind if you want to get a female Doctor right and not have her end up as a piece of eye-candy, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have someone with ovaries at the helm.


While it feels a bit reductive to say a female Doctor absolutely needs a female showrunner — surely there are some men who could do the job — it's absolutely fair to say that many, many, many men who can't write female characters for shit. I would say the odds of a female showrunner improving the quality of the show while starring its first female lead is considerable.

But it should be pointed out that I think a female showrunner would likely benefit Doctor Who with anyone as the Doctor, because they could potentially bring a fresh perspective to a show that I feel like is treading a lot of the same ground. Your mileage may vary regarding the Moffat era, but I frankly would love to see Doctor Who pushed in some new directions and stories, and a female showrunner could be a major, major asset in achieving that.



Gone Baby Gone

Thomas R.:

As an enormous fan of Doctor Who, I realy hope the show is still going on where you are. You've probably reached the 23rd and first mutant zombie Doctor after tackling all the other groundbreaking firsts like female, black, dog and transgender.

But since the groundbreaking revelation of last season's finale (namely the true identity of Missy) I was wondering: if a Time Lady gets pregnant and regenerates before the Time Baby gets born, what happens? If she regenerates into a Time Lord, do we get a Arnold Schwarzenegger-sized Junior situation? Or does disaster strike and does (s)he loose the baby?

And since we're talking about Time Lord sexuality and you're sorta the expert on fictional penis sizes: which Doctor would have the biggest...lets say Time Piece in his Gallifreyan trousers?

Thanks and please keep the spoilers of any comming Moffat fuck-ups to a minimum.


According to the unofficial Doctor Who wiki, it has been decreed that Time Lords are sterile and basically reproduce through artificial genetic manipulation and thus Gallifreyans don't have families. Of course, that was mentioned in an older Who books, and since then the Doctor and other Time Lords have talked about fathers and children and grandkids, which indicates there are families, and very possible regular pregnancies too.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if a Time Lord is killed while pregnant — and female, as we've seen nothing to suggest male Gallifreyans give birth — then they always regenerate into another woman in order to keep the baby.


Admittedly, it seems plausible that when the Time Lord dies, the baby would die; it also seems plausible that it wouldn't have the powers of regeneration yet, and thus simply cease to exist during regeneration, allowing the Time Lord access to either gender. But that's pretty fucking dark, even for Moffat's Doctor Who. So let's go with my first answer.


Silver Age Linings


Dear Walking Warrior,

Been watching Marvel's cinematic universe slowly coalesce on the silver screen since 2008. It's been said that Marvel has a plan in place regarding these films, and clearly that plan is to reconstruct their Silver Age. Hank Pym, the Hulk, and Thor were created in 1962. Doctor Strange and Iron Man was created in 1963. The Black Widow, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were created in 1964. Captain America was revived in 1964.The Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D. were created in 1965. The Black Panther was created in 1966. Carol Danvers and the Vision were created in 1968. The Guardians of the Galaxy were created in 1969.

Looking over that list, there seems to be only one Silver Age foundation stone left to place... Ka-Zar, the Savage. With all the world building Marvel has done/is planning to do, surely they don't intend to omit the Savage Land. Not with it's rich deposits of Vibranium, hostile tribes of non-human creatures, and plethora of pre-historic predators. I think we can all agree that Ka-Zar should not be forgotten. It's Calvin(Ka-Zar) and Hobbes (Zabu) with dinosaurs. Who doesn't want to see that? So...when's it going to happen?

It wouldn't kill Marvel to think about Machine Man, either. Just saying.

You're overthinking it. Marvel isn't consciously trying to replicate their Silver Age. The company effectively started in the 1960s, so it makes sense that most of its major characters would have premiered in that decade. It was just beginning, it needed to create a stable of characters, and once their cast had been established and was successful, they could concentrate on stories instead of making new heroes and villains. (A company that eventually became Marvel was publishing in the '40s and '50s, yes, but pretty much everything that made Marvel Marvel debuted in 1960.)


So unfortunately for Ka-Zar, there is no editorial mandate to get the Silver Age onscreen, just a mandate to get its most popular characters in movies — and unfortunately that doesn't include Ka-Zar. He's had four series, which total less than 100 comics. He's more a guest-star than a star, which is why he basically only shows up when people travel to the Savage Land. Unfortunately, Ka-Zar is pretty much just a Tarzan-type who lives with dinosaurs, which is kinda cool, but not so much when compared to the Avengers.

Basically, you can tell what Marvel wants to put onscreen by seeing what it's been pushing hard for the last few years — which obviously includes their top characters like Iron Man and Thor, but also the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Inhumans, and the new Captain Marvel. If Marvel puts out a new Ka-Zar series, and it does really well — both of with a pretty unlikely — then maybe it has a shot.


Although Ka-Zar grabbing his saber-toothed tiger's ass in the picture above probably won't help.


One-Eyed Monster

Jason S.:

A friend of mine maintains that Cyclops is the coolest of the X-Men. I believe saying that is like saying the coolest member of Delta House (in Animal House) is Hoover.

How can I get my stubborn, misguided friend to see the light?

Jesus. Is your friend on drugs? Is he unwell? Do you really want to be friends with some who refuses to accept reality like that?


If he's open-minded enough to listen to an argument on the subject, then you could point out that Wolverine has many more series and appearances and been infinitely more successful than Cyclops on every conceivable level, which is as close as you can get to imperial proof that the rest of the planet finds him more interesting that Cyclops. You can explain that Cyclops' dad is a fucking space pirate and people still think he's boring, which should be impossible. You can mention that Cyclops sucks so hard that Jean Grey has died like a dozen times just to get away from him.

But chances are you should just forcibly commit your friend to some kind of psychiatric hospital. The man is sick in the head.



Guile by Combat

Joseph L.:

Postman, if you were sentenced to die in Westeros (and demanded a trial by combat), who would you want to represent you? Living or dead, past or present.

Ser Barriston Selmy? Jaime Lannister? Brandon Stark? Oberyn Martell? Gregor Clegane? Khal Drogo? Arthur Dayne? I'm sure I'm missing some other notable names. Thoughts?


According to everything I've read, the biggest sword-wielding asskicker in Westeros was Sir Arthur Dayne, the Light of the Morning. Pretty much everyone who saw Dayne remember him and not only the best swordsman they ever saw, but also the deadliest, and between Ned Stark, Catelyn, Barristan Selmy, Jaime and a few others, in the fights they saw most of the other people you mentioned fight, too. For those who don't remember who Arthur Dayne was, he was Rhaegar Targaryen's best friend —Daenerys' older brother, who kidnapped Lyanna Stark and kicked off Robert's Rebellion and set the events of the show/books in motion. Dayne was guarding Lyanna at the Tower of Joy when Ned Stark came and things got super-mysterious. Still, the only way Ned and his men won was by having more than twice the number of knights as Dayne had, and even then it was pretty close.

I will say, however, if Dayne isn't available (being dead and all), I think I'd ask TV show Brienne. After watching her fight with the Hound last season, I'm pretty sure she could take anyone, including Gregor Clegane. If nothing else, she wouldn't fuck around wasting time talking.


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!

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