Which Movie Franchise Is the Most Screwed Up?

Image: Skydance

Welcome, my post-keteers! This week’s irradiated mailbag is just heaving with questions waiting to be answered by your equally irradiated postman. Should the DC movies introduce New Gods other than Darkseid? Why is Daredevil’s Stick so badass? Plus, Valiant’s movie efforts, half-Vulcan virility, and more. Let’s get to it!

Term Limits


Hello, Man of the Future -

In reading the news the other day of the latest Terminator movie being dropped from the schedule and the general sigh of relief from Fandom in response, I got thinking: in your opinion, what franchise is in the worst shape? For example, take Alien with one genre-defining movie, one that’s a classic for the ages and three (or five, depending if you count the Aliens vs Predator flicks) that are godawful terrible. So in your opinion which series reached the highest pinnacle only to fall the lowest? And do you think that series could be salvaged?


There are so many potential answers here. I mean, many long-running horror franchises halfheartedly sweep old continuity under the rug. The X-Men movies are a continuity nightmare, but that’s so true to the source material it’s hard to hold it against them. Honestly, you’ve hit the nail on the head with Terminator and Alien.

There have been five main movies of each (we’ll ignore AvP), although obviously Alien has a sixth coming out shortly. The first two installments of each—Alien and Aliens, Terminator, and Terminator 2—were great and successful enough that they actually enshrined them as franchises, ensuring that they would keep getting new installments, regardless of whether they were good or not.

Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection do some very strange, not exactly beloved things to the Alien franchise, to the point that most people, including original creator Ridley Scott, just try to ignore them. But however misguided they were, they were still part of the Alien continuity; they starred Ripley, and they built off the previous installments. There was a throughline. It may have gone some weird places, but at least it took place in the same universe. I’d argue the exact same thing is true with Terminator 3. People didn’t like it, but not because it broke everything people knew and loved about the Terminator universe. It was just bad.

It remains to be seen how Alien: Covenant will fit in—that fact that it’s called Alien: Covenant and not Prometheus 2: The Legend of Michael Fassbender’s Head’s Gold is a good—but Prometheus mostly worked as a direct prequel to Alien. I say mostly is because it literally set up 90 percent of what was seen in Alien, with three or four massive, glaring differences, meaning that technically there had to be a different planet that Ripley and crew found where 90 percent of the exact same things that happened on Prometheus happened there. (But don’t get me started.) It was basically in continuity. Basically.


Meanwhile, Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genysis just took big steaming dumps on everything that had happened in the previous movies to 1) make a post-apocalyptic quasi-Terminator movie that no one wanted to see, or 2) attempt to reboot a franchise that was rooted in a particular time into the present in the dumbest, least plausible way ever, even for a franchise that rewrote its own timeline like every Tuesday.

I have to give it to Terminator, hands-down. The fact that those movies couldn’t even spell “genesis” correctly just makes them even more incompetent.


Death of the New Gods #1 cover by Jim Starlin and Matt Banning

Tales From the Darkseid


I was wondering why I haven’t seen anyone else ask this question about the new Bats/Supes movies: Since they are strongly hinting at Darkseid, do you think we’ll be seeing any other New Gods? How can they not touch upon those characters and still have Darkseid? I would hope Metron would have something to do with Batman’s visions... The “vs” movie was pretty weak but I could get excited to see Orion and Lightray on the big screen down the road. Maybe a quick flashback of “The Pact”. I’m a Kirby geek.


DC has been using Darkseid as primarily a Superman/Justice League villain for ages now, so it’s not hard—in fact, it’s way, way easier—to remove him from the New Gods mythos. He’s an evil dude who lives on the planet Apokolips that wants to destroy free will and rule the universe. It’s once you get into New Genesis and Orion and Scott Free that things get very weird and very complicated. (As for Kalibak, who almost appeared in Batman v Superman and is rumored to be the villain of Justice League, you simply reveal he’s Darkseid’s son and move on.)

The New Gods will not be in any DC live-action movie for… a long time. Maybe ever. Yes, they’re wonderful, but they’re the epitome of the legendary Jack Kirby at his most wonderfully bonkers, and if by chance WB/DC has a coherent enough cinematic universe that it starts working through DC’s mid-tier heroes, by the time the New Gods make it to the front of the line it’ll be far past time for Warner Bros. to reboot it.


It’s a shame we’ll never get to see a movie that truly captures Jack Kirby’s imagination at its most incredible, but to be fair almost no one would see a New Gods movie. They have virtually no pop culture recognition outside comic fans, and if WB somehow did make a New Gods movie, it would change them so much to potentially be accessible to mass audiences you would barely recognize them. There might, however, be a direct-to-DVD DC Animated movie about them at some point? Warning: It will almost certainly have them hanging out with Batman the whole time.

Image: Disney/20th Century Fox

Master and Blaster

Jeff R.:

So if laser bolts (beams?) are just energy, when a TIE fighter misses an X-Wing fighter, does the bolt just continue to go forward forever? Objects in motion and all that jazz, plus there isn’t any friction to slow it down. Wouldn’t this make space travel even more dangerous? You’re flying to Jakku from Tatooine because they just have different grades of sand and all the sudden BAM! Random laser bolt in the viewscreen.


“Lasers” is sort of a catch-all term for Star Wars weapons, but it’s not strictly accurate. The weapons of choice in the Star Wars galaxy are blasters, which are not real lasers. We know this for a fact because lasers move at the speed of light, which Star Wars blasters obviously do not.

Blasters fire “bolts of intense plasma energy.” Plasma is basically a high energy gas, so it has matter, and like a gas, it dissipates over time and distance. That’s true whether it’s fired at Kylo Ren on the surface of Jakku or from a Star Destroyer at the Tantive IV deep in space. Think of it this way: the sun is also a big ball of plasma energy, and it shoots off blasts of itself all the time. If that energy didn’t weaken and deteriorate along the way, we’d have all been cooked eons ago.


So you could be hit by a stray laser blast, but, like a bullet, you would need to be in the vicinity. I’m sure someone somewhere has done an exhaustive mathematical study about the receding power of blaster fire if you want to track it down, but this is all the info your humble Postman can provide.

Image: Netflix

Stick It to Ya


Since you live in the future and have seen Daredevil after season two, can you weigh in on this?

Despite being an old dude, Stick is the one who trained young Matt Murdock in fighting while blind. In fact, he seems to be as capable as Daredevil in combat even though he doesn’t have the radar ability? How?!

Conversely doesn’t this mean that DD is not really living up to his potential if he has a legit super-power yet can still get beat down by his mentor?


You’re looking at this the wrong way (er, no pun intended, seriously). Stick is a blind-fighter, someone who has trained specifically to fight people using his other senses which are heightened—not to a superhuman level, but to that level traditionally gifted in fiction to badasses who lose their sight. He’s like Rutger Hauer in Blind Fury, the blind samurai Zatoichi, oh, and Chirrut Imwe in Rogue One (yes, he worshiped the Force, but it wasn’t doing him any special favors in melee combat).

Obviously, Stick has trained Matt Murdock to fight blind too, but Matt’s superhuman abilities give him additional advantages. He can hear people’s heartbeats to the point he can recognize them and tell if they’re lying. His touch is so sensitive he can read traditional print by feeling the ink on the page. If a bunch of people are coming to kick his ass, he can smell them from hundreds of feet and potentially even several floors away, and knows how many assailants there are, too. He also has that radar sense where he can “feel” things moving toward or at him. Stick can probably do this a little—probably in the sense he’d hear a dagger whistling through the air if it was thrown at him—but Matt Murdock could play a Major League Baseball game.


Image: CBS/Paramount

Spocked Up

John R.:

Dear Postman:

I cannot give you any reason why I was thinking about this, but here we are: Is Spock sterile? High school biology class teaches us that a hybrid of two different species (such as a mule, the offspring of a horse and donkey) cannot itself then reproduce. (I realize there are exceptions, but they exist primarily among plants.)

Spock, as we know, is the son of a Vulcan father and a human mother. And as McCoy’s frequent complaints remind us, Spock’s physiology is different from a standard human’s in ways that go beyond his ears. So I wonder: could Spock reproduce?

(I understand the real answer is “Yes, if the writers wanted him to”. But I find myself wondering nonetheless.)


He can. io9’s almost concerningly knowledgeable Trekspert Katharine directed me to a bevy of mixed-mixed-race beings in the Star Trek universe, include Simon Tarses, who was the son of a human and a human-Romulan, making him quarter Romulan. More to the point, in one of the Trek novel miniseries Spock does indeed have a son named Zar with a woman from Sarpeidon named Zarabeth, making his offspring one-fourth human, one-fourth Vulcan, and one-half Sarpeidonian.

If you refuse to take a random Trek novel as proof, Spock was originally going to impregnate Saavik (the Vulcan played by Kirstie Alley in The Wrath of Khan) although the plot was dropped. Additionally, because things in Trek can never be simple, there was also discussion about Spock being scientifically and genetically created instead of the standard operating procedure, which theoretically could (or did) allow him the ability to drop logically minded babies all over the universe. Yet another explanation is that science had advanced to the point where different alien races could create offspring together without future concerns or sterility.


So you can pick one of three answers: 1) Yes. 2) Yes, because Spock is special. 3) Yes, because science! Your choice.

Harbingers cover art by Mico Suayan

A Valiant Effort

James M.:

Dear Postman,

Over the past year or so, I’ve come to really enjoy Valiant comics and have read most of what they’ve published since the relaunch. I know everyone and their dog want to start a Cinematic Universe and start making Avengers-sized paydays at the box office and I think Valiant has a lot of potential. However, they are launching with Harbinger and Bloodshot leading into the Harbinger Wars. These were some of the titles that absolutely did not do much for me (with the exception of Zephyr / Faith.) I want to see Archer and Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Ninjak or Rai brought to the big screen. I think a film about the Anni-Padda Brothers could be epic and hilarious. I know if Bloodshot and Harbinger do not get sales then there is little chance for other pictures being made. Do I need to suck it up and pay to see movies of characters I do not particularly care for in the hopes they will make films of those that I do?


It’s much like voting. You may be confident your $10 movie ticket to watch a Bloodshot movie won’t make a big difference to the box office or the Valiant cinematic universe’s larger plans, and you may be right, but if you don’t spend that money then you’re also adding a small detriment to getting these other movies made. Maybe these few bucks are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but if you really care abut the hope of more Valiant movies, there’s not much you can do to help other than buy tickets to see Bloodshot. Well, you can buy the trade, which is like casting another vote for the popularity of your favorite series.

So you can give up and not try, or you can do your part, as little as it may be, and know that you did what you, personally, could to get these movies made. It may not work, but I bet it helps you sleep a little more soundly at night.


Image: Syfy

The Hard Sell

Michael D.:

Mr. Postman,

I absolutely love The Magicians, both the novels and the SyFy show. For me, it strikes a perfect blend of serious and hilarious, of hopeful and heartbreaking, with just enough dick jokes to tie it all together.

But I always have trouble recommending it. The natural comparison is Harry Potter in college, but from there it’s tough to say that the show is both more and less serious. I can talk about how much I love the characters, but I have to include an asterisk that they’re often awful people and make really bad decisions (as depressed young adults are wont to do).

How should I go about recommending a series that’s nuanced and crude without over- or under-selling it?


Perhaps you could direct them to your favorite website.

Dear postal pals—my apologies, but “Postal Apocalypse” will be on hiatus for two weeks as I take a much-needed vacation. (Not from “PA,” of course, which didn’t return that long ago, just everything else in my life.) Barring something catastrophic, it will return Thursday, April 13.


As punishment for neglecting my duties, I can only suggest you send as much mail as possible—questions, advice requests, arguments that need settling, you know the drill—to me at postman@io9.com, forcing me to do a double-sized column when I return. I would ask that you have mercy, but I know I’m talking to people on the internet, so I’m pretty confident I’m doomed.

xoxo, Rob


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About the author

Rob Bricken

Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.