Ciao, my cherubic change-of-address forms! So many good questions this week. How the hell did Han Solo figure out Chewbacca’s name if Chewbacca himself can’t even say it? Did Wonder Woman actually need a man to save the day? Why wasn’t Captain America: Civil War called Avengers 3? All that and still more, packed into today’s mailbag!
Oh, once again, if you haven’t seen Wonder Woman:
A Tale of Two Insanities
Dear Apocalyptic Postman: Like you, I am a fan of both Gotham and Legends of Tomorrow and the unpredictable shenanigans each show brings to the table.
One show has had zombie Civil War battles and the seduction of a historical French monarch while the other featured a legitimate department store for criminals and teased the Penguin and Riddler as lovers. However, after watching the penultimate episode of Gotham where [spoilers] Bruce stabs Alfred with a katana, I think I have to give Gotham the edge.
So Mr. Postman, what say you? Which show is superior when it comes to sheer onscreen lunacy?
Very good question! My brain says Legends of Tomorrow—but only season two. I mean, the zombie Civil War is like fifth on the list of the craziest things that happened in the past season: There was Dr. Stein belting out “Day-O” to distract NASA while the Atom was battling Reverse-Flash in Apollo 11; Sara Lance seducing Guinevere in Camelot and becoming Sara Lance-lot; accidentally making George Lucas quit filmmaking in the ‘60s so Star Wars is never made and the team’s scholar and scientist become idiots as they were never inspired to get into their fields which somehow ends up with George Lucas holding part of the spear than pierced the side of Jesus Christ while he was on the cross (my personal favorite); to the fact that they are totally, constantly, ceaselessly absolutely terrible at fixing time travel. Objectively, I don’t think you can beat Legends season two (you can’t count the dour first season) for madness.
But. But! Somehow, my heart says Gotham. Maybe its because its been insane for all three seasons, and thus pound-for-pound it’s delivered more insanity overall. Or maybe I just continue to be shocked every time the show not only sets Bat-canon on fire but puts its ashes on a rocket and launches it into the sun. Somehow I continue to be shocked and delighted by Gotham’s audaciousness—possibly because it’s still ostensibly supposed to end up somewhere normal.
I think the right answer is still Legends, though. That show ended with dinosaurs rampaging through the present after they messed up the timeline yet again. That seems unlikely to happen on Gotham… but I wouldn’t say it’s completely impossible that we see James Gordon riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex one day.
Hello postman from the future. I love your columns and your insight, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.
I love Iceman. Bobby Drake is my favorite comic book character and has been for the majority of my life. I love his powers, i love his personality, and I love that he’s a little underrated. Now, that last bit sounds pretty hipstery, and that may have some truth to it, but the reason i enjoy that part about him is because I relate to him. In my circle of friends, I’m a mainstay, but never the leader or someone people tend to pay too much attention to. So, when I see him in the backround just standing around or making a joke while everyone else decides what to do, I see me. When he was complaining about not being invited to the meeting where Storm and other high profile mutants are deciding to go to war with the Inhumans, it was a scene I’m all too familiar with.
Bobby now has his own solo comic for the first time and I couldn’t be happier for him! His coming out has been a great development for the character. I love the story that it creates and its something that real people have to deal with all the time. I hope it brings more love to the character. However, its not something i personally relate to. It doesn’t change my love for the character, I just don’t see me when I look at him now and that makes me a little sad. Is this wrong of me? I feel terrible even writing that, but its true. I have no problem with anyone who is gay, I’m just not.
I’m actually a little worried you’re pulling my leg with this question, because otherwise you have inadvertently come up with the perfect letter for me to explain the issue here.
It’s not technically wrong of you to feel like you identify a little less with Bobby Drake now. But you know who can identify with the character a bit more now? Gay people. The difference here is that 99 percent of comics feature superheroes who are heterosexual, ever since the medium came into existence. Imagine that—loving comics, being gay, and yet having virtually no superheroes who you can fully identify with, for years. Imagine your sadness, spread out over an entire group of people who want to read about superheroes who are also like themselves.
This is exactly—exactly—why representation is so important! Everyone deserves a chance to see themselves in any medium. So I know you’re feeling a bit of loss, but I hope you can see how many people have gained by the change, and how meaningful it is for everyone to have what guys like you and me have enjoyed our entire lives.
But there’s a gain here for you, too. One of fiction’s best aspects is how it allows people to experience another point of view. You’re getting to see and understand what many people who have come out to themselves experience as they try to navigate their new life. In a world where so many people deliberately refuse to consider people who aren’t exactly like them, this isn’t just a good thing, it’s so, so important, too.
We all know everyone in Hollywood wants to replicate the sustained success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some of the attempts make a lot of sense but several attempts have recently imploded. How many franchises have to fail to launch before studios realize that a cinematic universe is not the same thing as a guaranteed gravy train or a recipe for revitalizing otherwise unsaleable ideas. (I’m looking at you ROM Spaceknight.)
It’ll just take one, but it’s a specific one: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As long as something makes a studio large amounts of money in Hollywood, there is going to be another studio—or, more likely, several—trying to copy the exact same idea. And they’ll keep trying, at least until they fail so bad and lose so much money they can’t financially risk fucking up again.
Turn Off the Dark Side
In Return of the Jedi, Luke bails on his friends on the Endor moon to go see Vader. He knows it’s a long-shot, but he tells Leia that he believes there’s still good in him, and that he might well turn away from the Dark Side. We know how that turns out—Vader says it’s too late, the Emperor is his new master—they fight and Anakin finally redeems himself. But what if Luke was successful in turning his father there on the platform?
Let’s assume they still manage to blow up the Death Star. How the hell does Anakin Skywalker get to rejoin the Rebellion/New Republic? I mean, the guy personally slaughtered hundreds of people, including a roomful of children. He led forces responsible for millions more deaths. Can he and Luke just walk in and say, “Whelp, he’s not evil anymore. Sorry about all that mayhem.”? Maybe they decide to make Anakin stand for war crimes, and maybe he even walks because they can blame the Dark Side, Palpatine, midichlorian overload or whatever. But he’s still walking around in that freaky suit, right? Who invites that guy over for dinner?
The vast majority of the Star Wars universe did not ever know Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker. It’s not like it was just being kept a secret from Luke and Leia; only a handful of people—the Emperor, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Bail Organa—knew the truth. It’s actually part of the canon. In Bloodline, the novel that details what Leia was up to between RotJ and TFA, it’s somehow revealed that Darth Vader is Leia’s real father, which freaks everybody totally out, and basically ends her political career in the Republic.
But immediately following the destruction of the second Death Star, it would be pretty easy to bring the “recent resurfaced” Anakin Skywalker to New Republic parties, assuming they could give him a life-sustaining suit that didn’t look like his Vader armor. But that’s not what would happen. The scarred, guilt-ridden ex-Sith would want as little to do with people as possible. He would undoubtedly find a quiet planet—maybe he’d go back home to Tatooine, maybe he’d go to Dagobah—and live his life in solitude in recompense for his many, many sins. And Luke and Leia would visit once a month and try not to tell him about those times they kissed.
Pleading the Fifth
Dear Postman –
A friend and I have had a disagreement over The Fifth Element. To wit, my friend doesn’t like the movie because Leeloo requires a man’s love in order to save the world. “It is a story about a woman who was created to save the universe—but she can only manage it if a man will tell her that he loves her.” She says Wonder Woman has the same problem.
I suppose it doesn’t matter if a 20-year-old movie is feminist, but Leeloo is badass and I love the movie, so I want this argument to work out in my favor. I say that Leeloo wanting love is not so bad, because it demonstrates that she has agency. She doesn’t have to just save the world because it’s her design, she seems to have a choice, and she chooses to save it because she experiences love. Please help!
Well, your friend’s point of view is certainly valid. There’s no question that Leeloo needed to learn about and receive love from a man to save the world. It’s pretty much the epitome of the “Born Sexy Yesterday” trope (so wonderfully detailed here).
However, if you squint a bit, there is a bit... less problematic way to look at it? Leeloo is the only one with the power to save the world, but the reason she doesn’t do it immediately is because she’s decided humanity sucks and isn’t particularly worth saving. She doesn’t need love as much as she needs convincing. In a sense, someone could have told her about how awesome ice cream is and handed her a double-scoop cone and she might have decided to save the Earth, too, meaning Bruce Willis was technically—very technically—not absolutely essential here.
But I’m concerned about your friend who seems to think Wonder Woman needed Steve Trevor to save the day? Here’s what Diana needed Steve for: 1) informing her if the situation, and 2) getting her places where she thought Ares might be. He was basically Wonder Woman’s good-looking chauffeur. Sure, he helped save the day in that he was a sterling example of the goodness in humanity, which in turn convinced her not to kill Dr. Maru, which in turn led to Diana to accessing her even more badass compassion powers, but again, they didn’t need to have fallen in love or have hot sex for her to do so. And let’s be clear: At no point does Diana tell Steve she loves him. (She may not even hear it when Steve tells her, as she was deafened.) It’s entirely possible Diana just liked Steve because he was a good guy; she’d still be understandably upset when he sacrificed himself.
I Do It for the Wookiee
Dearest Postman of the Future -
One of the things I really hope will be included in the upcoming Han Solo prequel movie is some small bit concerning how Han learns to understand the Wookie language, which the internet has informed me is called Shyriiwook. This is something that has plagued my mind since the early ‘80s when I first saw the original trilogy. How can Han understand what Chewy is saying? When did Chewy learn to understand English - even if he can’t articulate the words? I have been informed that Chewy is over 200 years old, so he could’ve learned at any time, but were there classes? Is there a “Wookie to English Dictionary” somewhere? Do wookies even have a written language?
Furthermore, wookies obviously don’t call themselves “wookies” in their own language - they can’t even say the word “wookie” if all they can do is growl. What do they call themselves in their language? Chewbacca literally can’t say his own name. Did he have a different wookie-name before he left Kashyyyk? (Can they even say Kashyyyk?) What growly wookie-name did his mother give him? When he went out into the universe, did some English-speaking person with no respect just arbitrarily give him the name Chewbacca?
Let me answer the Han question first. As per usual, the new canon has not provided an explanation for this little mystery yet. In the Expanded Universe, Han Solo was actually raised by a wookiee named Dewlannamapia, which I can’t tell you how much I doubt this will make it into the new canon, let alone the Han Solo movie. I would guess Han has basically picked up Shyriiwook just by hanging out with Chewbacca all these years, although he might have learned it earlier on Corellia. It’s just like Luke has no idea what the hell Artoo’s beeps and whistles mean when they first meet, but eventually he gets the sense of what Artoo is saying even without speaking beep boop.
Meanwhile, Chewbacca almost certainly learned Galactic Basic Standard on Kashyyyk. It’s a major galactic stopover in the Core Worlds and part of the Republic, so a great many Wookiees would need to understand Galactic Basic Standard to be a functional part of the galaxy. No doubt Chewbacca learned it there, either deliberately taught by his elders or picking it up from all the Standard speakers who stopped by Kashyyyk over the two centuries he’s lived—or he was forced to learn it when the Empire enslaved the planet after the Clone Wars.
As for his name, it’s not a big mystery: Chewbacca real name is some weird, crazy growl, which Han Solo—and/or others—have interpreted and put into their own language as “Chewbacca.” Everyone does this all the time in their own language. It’s no different, really, when the Japanese pronounce my last name as “Bu-ri-ken,” or when English speakers try to pronounce many, many Asian names. We all try to make sense of foreign names (and foreign words, for that matter) in our own language; it’s just extra true when you’re pronouncing a name that is a growl that your human voice cannot begin to replicate properly.
Fun fact: Katharine told me that in the Expanded Universe there was a Wookiee senator named Ralrracheen who had a speech impediment that made his growls more easily understood by humans. For some reason, this makes me very uncomfortable.
Bow Out and Arrow
Question: with Arrow going into its sixth year, how do you see the Arrowverse ending? The first season of all the shows are staggered , so will Flash, Supergirl, Legends (and maybe in the future Black Lightning?) continue on if Arrow runs its course or will they all finish at the same time in like Arrow’s 10th season or something? One factor is that The Flash’s ratings are basically double all the others so would they carry on with one show and axe the rest if they all slip enough even for the CW?
It would just be weird for The Flash to be on but no Arrow or Legends, or even Supergirl with the crossovers.
Oh no. The shows will all end when they end, whether it’s because of declining ratings or because the stars are leaving. Arrow may have begun the DC CW-verse, but it isn’t in charge of it. It’s expanded far beyond its inaugural series, and no one show is dependent on another. And I promise the network would be very upset if it lost four of its most popular TV series at once.
Besides, say Stephen Amell gets bored of making Arrow in season seven and decides to quit. Even if he gives a full season notice—which is by no means a given—why would you end the other shows if they’re still successful and making money? Why would you basically fire the staffs of Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow just because Amell quits? It doesn’t make financial sense, and it’s actually sort of cruel.
They Did Basically Disassemble
“The exceptions here are the Avengers movies and Captain America: Civil War, which for all intents and purposes was Avengers 3.”
The above is a sentiment I’ve seen around a lot, and has left me to wonder: If it was Avengers 3 for all intents and purposes, then why didn’t they just make it Avengers 3 officially? Was it just too soon after the second one? And if so, would it really matter if it was delivering the same thing but for the name?
There are several reasons, none of which are particularly killer. First, although plenty of the Avengers show up, it is primarily a Captain America/Bucky/Iron Man story, and a direct continuation of The Winter Soldier. Second is that Marvel is trying to keep all these franchises going, and, as you said, there’d recently been an Avengers flick, but it was time for a third Captain America film. Third, the Avengers basically break up during the movie, so there’s a certain validity in not calling it Avengers 3, since they’re defunct for half the film.
There’s honestly also something with the contracts Marvel has had all its actors sign where Chris Evans was required to make a third Cap movie, maybe by a certain amount of time, and/or Marvel was planning a third Cap movie for this specific date before determining that it was going to be Civil War. All in all, I don’t think there was any major benefit to calling it Avengers 3—the marketing made it abundantly clear practically all the Avengers were going to be in it—and it’s possible that releasing three Avengers movies in four years could potentially have led to a bit of audience fatigue for movies with Avengers in the title, as fully arbitrary as that is.
The Future Is Now, Unfortunately
Mr. Future Postman:
A while back I had a conversation with a friend about our respective tastes in science fiction. He said he prefers sci-fi that’s dark and dystopian, because he considers it more realistic. I prefer sci-fi that’s optimistic and presents a hopeful view of humanity’s future, since it gives us something to shoot for. I’m not asking you to settle our disagreement, since I realize there are a lot of people out there who fall into each camp and I respect people’s rights to have their own tastes. But as a post-apocalyptic future mailman, you probably have a unique perspective on this topic, and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.
Living in a dark and dystopian time (is he pretending he’s the Postman living in the future or is he talking about the present? No man can say!) I am more inclined to enjoy more optimistic science fiction at the moment. In previous times I have enjoyed many a dystopian book/movie/etc., and often thought, “This is a stern warning about what could happen if humanity isn’t vigilant!” Nowadays if I happen upon fiction with a dark future, I think, “Well, this could potentially happen in the next several years, and very well might.”
Basically, I’m depressed enough right now. Avoiding entertainment that will depress me further seems like the right call.
You guys did a great job of flooding me with letters this past week, but I really enjoy making them fight to the death so only the best survive. So please keep it up! Send your questions, concerns, arguments that need settling, pleas for advice, whatever the heck you want to firstname.lastname@example.org!