Greetings, all! This week, your somewhat amiable post-apocalyptic neighborhood fake postman reveals the possibility of a Ms. Marvel cartoon, the return of The Dresden Files, and why all the women in Jim Gordon's life are named Barbara. Shall we?
Across the Universe
Disney is making everything Star Wars official, right? And they have a group of people devoted solely to keeping it all straight. So I was wondering why Lucas made a Star Wars expanded universe at all? Isn't Disney's way better? Won't this just result in a bigger, better Star Wars?
I hate to do this, but it's just too appropriate not to.
Yes, Admiral. Disney's new "everything counts" Star Wars universe is a trap, one that they are going to get caught in it sooner or later.
Oh, it seems like a good idea — assemble a team to make sure everything works together, and make all the ancillary products like Star Wars Rebels and the books and the upcoming games part of the canon, so Star Wars fans feel like they can't miss them, or they'll be missing something integral, something that may factor into a later movie or some such. At the very least it's a bold way to set the Disney Star Wars regime apart from the old one.
But George Lucas knew what he was doing when he drew a line between the movies and all the other Star Wars shit he was releasing. It has two benefits, the first of which is that it prevented him from being limited by the Expanded Universe when it came time to make the prequels. George always knew he might want to make more movies, and he didn't want to be beholden to some mediocre Star Wars novel or some comic or RPG sourcebook. By separating it into the Expanded Universe, he could ignore anything he wanted, while still accepting as canon anything he liked. This gave him freedom and flexibility.
This about this: At some point someone is going to want to make an awesome Star Wars movie, but it will be contradicted by some crappy novel Disney approved in 2016 or something. By legitimizing everything, they have to accept everything they release, and eventually that's going to get in the way of the real moneymakers, the movies.
Say someone wants to make a Jabba the Hutt origin movie (god forbid). But Disney has already published a book that says Jabba the Hutt used to be a circus clown, because at the time no one that it would be a big deal. So either the movie needs to be scrapped entirely because of one shitty book, or the filmmaker needs to work in the insane fact that Jabba the Hutt was once a circus clown. No halfway decent filmmaker is going to want to be beholden to the lesser Star Wars canon, and it's going to end up being a major problem for everybody.
Which leads me to my second point — at some point Disney is going to approve something shitty. Whether the canon committee accidentally allows conflicting information to be printed, or it just publishes something entirely crappy, like a book that says Boba Fett and Han Solo went to elementary school together or something, it can't possibly maintain perfect quality for the potentially infinite amount of time Disney will be making Star Wars content.
Before, Lucas and fans alike were able to let shitty Star Wars products go (to an extent) by knowing it was part of the Expanded Universe, and thus didn't really count. Now the bad stuff will be just as official as the good stuff, and if Disney wants to take it back for whatever reason, they can't just ignore it— they'll have to think of some insane way to explain it away, or retcon it, or whatever.
Really, making everything official is just an invitation to disaster, with no real potential benefits. I know it may seem like making everything official will make fans want to read all the books and watch all the cartoons and play all the games even more, but… the fans were probably going to do that anyways, and the non-hardcore fans aren't going to be anymore interested in Jabba: The Circus Years whether it's canon or not.
I saw your tweet last night and realized you were right — Constantine should totally be on HBO. Or AMC. WHY THE HELL IS IT ON NBC?!!!!
It can't do anything on NBC, it can't be violent (well, that violent) or scary and Constantine can't get into all the really dark shit that made the comics so great. Why didn't DC or WB wait to put it on a network that could do it right?
Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted a longer answer? Here's how this went down: Superhero movies go big and Arrow does well, proving the audience extends to television. Warner Bros./DC starts churning out possible DC TV show treatments, and NBC decides to get in the market for a superhero show. ABC, as part of Disney, has Marvel locked down, so NBC goes to WB/DC, obviously.
DC/WB has a lot of potential projects, but NBC hasn't been doing that well, so they can't afford the still-technically-a-Batman-show Gotham, and The Flash is too dicey for them. However, NBC does have a successful trend of putting supernatural/horror shows on Friday nights, and DC/WB has Constantine — the same type of show, but not too expensive. NBC thinks its perfect for them, and they want it.
DC/WB wants money,so NBC gets the show. Does it matter if NBC is the best network for the project? Not at all. Does DC/WB realize that it could make more money if HBO or FX bought the show? Certainly, but HBO and FX aren't buying Constantine right now — what are they going to do, wait for them? Of course not, because who knows if or when they'll ever be interested? DC/WB has a buyer with cash on-hand, they make the sale. Boom. Done.
Really, it all comes down to timing. If DC/WB had developed Constantine a year or two earlier, maybe HBO or Fox would have been looking for a show like that. A year or two later and NBC's Friday night line-up may be full, and they wouldn't want Constantine, and maybe DC/WB would have to hold onto it until someone else was interested. Constantine was ready at the right place and the right time for NBC to pick-up, and thus we're getting the coloring book version of Constantine — it's not childish, I just mean it's a greatly simplified version of what made the original comics so great — instead of a more nuanced take. It's kind of a bummer, but honestly if NBC hadn't taken it it might never have gotten made at all. NBC's Constantine isn't great, but it's a fun Friday night show, so at the end of the day I'd rather have it than nothing.
I read comics (way out of order) as a child before losing interest through high school and college before recently picking them up again. Catching up on all of the storylines I missed has been awesome, and being able to get them all in trades/collections/graphic novels has been a godsend as I am way too lazy and unorganized to get and maintain issues one at a time.
Of course, Batman has been one of my favorites to go through and I've basically been hitting up a wishlist of stuff my friends have recommended and things that are well reviewed (Snyder, Miller, Moore, Loeb, etc).
Admittedly, part of my problem may be reading so many different continuities so quickly, but I have to ask: What the hell is up with having multiple Barbara Gordons?! There is Barbara, Jim's ex wife/wife. Then, there is Barbara who becomes paralyzed/Oracle, non paralyzed Batgirl Barbara, and she's sometimes Jim's Daughter, sometimes his niece.
The differences in her origin or paralysis I do not have so much trouble with, but more having the mother and daughter share the same name. While I know this could be possible in real life, it makes it frustratingly difficult sometimes to tell who Jim is crying "Dear God, I have to warn Barbara now!" about.
Anywho, any clarification on if or why this is the case, and why DC would choose to run with 2 characters so closely named so close together would be helpful. To me it seems as confusing as renaming Mary Jane to Aunt May.
The reason the Gotham TV show has named Jim Gordon's special lady friend Barbara is because that's what Gordon's wife is named in the Batman comics, including Frank Miller's Year One, which as a prequel of sorts is definitely an influence on the show. So the question is why the comics would name Jim Gordon's wife Barbara when he was also going to have a daughter named Barbara, and the answer is a fucking mess.
The first time Barbara Keen is mentioned by name is in Detective Comics #500, which was supposed to take place on an alternate Earth, where all the characters are 20 years younger than normal. Writer Alan Brennert and artist Dick Giordano named Gordon's fiancée Barbara as an homage of sorts to Batgirl, who did not exist in this particular Elseworlds tale. It's kind of an awkward reference, but again, it wasn't supposed to be official continuity, so who cares, right?
Flash to 1987, when Frank Miller writes Batman: Year One. It's a prequel, but canon, and Miller has young Gordon married but having an affair with another cop named Sarah Essen. Miller names Gordon's wife Barbara, which one would think would have to be because of Detective Comics #500, although Miller later claims he named her randomly and never saw that issue.
Year One was such a massive seller and became such an integral part of the Batman canon that it stuck, and suddenly Jim Gordon's wife and daughter had the same confusing name, and now Gotham is using it too. All because someone thought it was a fun Easter Egg for a one-off Elseworlds tale. Oh, it also helped that Gordon's wife was only mentioned once or twice in the Batman comics' 50-year history, and never by first name — since no one had ever said differently, it became the new canon. Fun fact: Miller also decided Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon was Jim's niece in Year One, but that didn't stick because it was contradicted by several decades of evidence to the contrary.
Why isn't Disney/Marvel immediately pulling the trigger on a Ms. Marvel cartoon. Kamala could bring in tons of little kid dough. Its the whole Muslim thing isn't it?
It's lots of reasons, actually: 1) Ms. Marvel is still very new, and as wonderful as the comic is, it's still a bit too early to know if she has the pop culture clout to carry a full TV show. 2) Ms. Marvel is somewhat dependent on knowing who Captain Marvel is, and Captain Marvel has zero pop culture awareness… for now. Hopefully this will change when her movie drops. 3) The cartoon industry can be phenomenally stupid when it comes to animated shows with largely female audiences. 4) I'm sure some network executives wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of putting a Muslim superhero on television, but no one at Disney is dumb enough to admit that outloud.
I don't know, I weirdly think this could work, especially once Captain Marvel comes out. More weirdly I think it's kind of plausible. I can literally see Disney making a Ms. Marvel cartoon following the Cap movie. I think I need to lie down or something, and recharge my natural pessimism.
Call Me May-Be
Alright, Sony may be planning an Aunt May movie – let the Internet join in collective fits of laughter for a moment – okay, everyone done? Now, let's discuss this seriously.
Women are underrepresented in entertainment as it is. We all know that, so it's not worth discussing. However, let's not also forget the fact that female actresses face very different careers than men. Men can grow old and still be strong, sexy heroes – who in their right mind would dare to cross the 62 year-old Liam Neeson, for instance? It's true that we have a fair share of older actresses who continue to wield a powerful presence (Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Glen Close) – but, at the same time, they're not allowed to be sexy (Go ahead and Google a young Helen Mirren, yowza!)
The fact is, an Aunt May movie (if it's indeed about the current May and not her younger self), could be potentially awesome, while allowing us to address an important issue about women in Hollywood. Current May, Sally Field, is only six years older than Liam Neeson – and like him, she's no stranger to dramatic roles.
So bring it on Sony. Let's see a widowed, old woman headline the next blockbuster comic book film – instead of some hipster teenager and his struggles with super puberty.
When we mock the idea of an Aunt May movie, we do not mock the idea of a movie starring and centered around an older actress. The problem isn't Sally Field, the problem is the character of Aunt May. The only interest people have in Aunt May is due to the fact she's Spider-Man's aunt, but the character is not a superhero, gets in no action scenes, fights no supervillains. To make her the focus of her own movie is to make a movie for Spider-Man fans that has basically nothing that Spider-Man fans want out of their movies. It wouldn't work, and it wouldn't make money.
I'm all for giving Sally Field and other actresses more starring roles, and I have zero doubt that they can and should be getting more work (can you remember a time when Helen Mirren or Judi Dench didn't make an awesome movie? I can't). But Aunt May is not the character that will provide them such an opportunity.
Files Not Found
Whatever space/time continuum antics allow you to correspond with us in the not-so-distant past, I hope they continue long enough for you to discuss Avengers 2 with us without spoiling anything.
Anyways, 2 very serious areas of inquiry:
1) With Constantine becoming a pretty decent network show, do you think it's possible we'll see a reboot of a Dresden Files show, either as a mini-series or a regular series? I feel that the Syfy version was so awful and the source material so good that it deserves another chance. But then again, with Dr. Strange coming to MCU, Constantine traipsing around NBC, and lesser shows like Supernatural and Once Upon a Time taking up space and refusing to die, there may not be room in modern entertainment's fantasy/supernatural lineup for Chicago's Only Professional Wizard. What does post-apocalyptic history say about the multimedia fate of these stories?
2) Does Superman's poop have any special properties? Is it super tough or impossible to flush? Did Pa Kent have to constantly repair the plumbing on the Kent Farm due to this? I know he's powered by sunlight and all, but surely he's eaten stuff in his life. Something had to happen to this food once it made its way through his gut.
1) I think the odds are very good. Hell, I know Syfy wants to get back into the scifi/fantasy game — maybe they'll pick it back up for a reboot, although I'm sure that would cause many of you fans to scream in agony. It may take a few more years for executives to forget it only ran a season — as if it was the source material's fault instead of the adaptation's — but frankly it's just too popular a franchise to stay dormant in this golden age of nerd TV.
2) Superman does have super poop, much like all his other bodily fluids and substances are super. Superman could likely shit through the planet's core if he wanted to, but just as he can walk around not crushing people's hands to a pulp when he shakes them, he can also choose to poop like a normal person.
I would like to point out I feel very weird that someone asked me about Superman's shit and I basically had to reply "I've already answered that."
Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the firstname.lastname@example.org! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!