​Why Bad Sequels Can Actually Hurt Good Movies

Greetings, my little postal affiliates! I just want to point out that I'm taking the lack of Comic-Con-related email in the ol' mailbag as a sign that it was kind of a bust, at least for everyone who didn't get into Hall H. Stupid Hall H people, lording it over everybody. This is how cults start, you know.

Corporeal Menace

Tyler S.:

Here's something that's always bugged me. Why do people freak out when bad movies come out? Like, the Star Wars prequels? Even if you don't like them, you still have the original trilogy. The prequels don't make those movies worse.

The same is true of any bad installments. The bad Star Trek movies don't make the good ones less good. Just like a bad comics run doesn't hurt the good runs before it.

So why do people lose their minds over this stuff? Why do people act like one bad film or show or whatever destroys everything?


Well, the real answer to your question is this: Because we're nerds and caring way too much about pop culture entertainment is what we do. But I'm going to present to you the idea that we nerds actually have a point, and I'm going to use math to do so. Weird, right

So say I'm a fan of Star Wars. (I am.) I am a fan of the first Star Wars movie, but I'm also a fan of Star Wars as a franchise — the nebulous idea that contains all of Star Wars in it. Now, when the only SW thing out was the first movie, these two entities were one and the same. But when Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi came out, they became part of the Star Wars franchise. Make sense?

Let me put it in math terms. I love Star Wars the movie; I give it a 10/10. I love Empire Strikes Back, and also give it a 10/10. I give Return of the Jedi an 8/10, because of the Ewoks. To determine my love of the franchises as a whole, I simply add my ratings of the original trilogy together, or 28/30, which averages to just about 93%. So I still really love Star Wars as a whole, and I completely love Star Wars and Empire, but Return has slightly diminished my love of the franchise.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. The Phantom Menace comes out and it sucks, 2/10. Now, my feelings (and more specifically my ratings) for the individual Star Wars movies haven't changed at all, but now my view of the franchise is 30/40, or 75%. By sucking, The Phantom Menace has significantly diminished my love of Star Wars as a franchise, because it's now as part of the Star Wars franchise as a whole.


When Attack of the Clones comes out, at 3/10, now my SW love is down to 33/50, or 66%. And all this has real-world ramifications. Before Phantom, I was one of those dudes who bought all the Star Wars toys I could find and watched the original trilogy at least once a year. When Phantom came out, I still collected the toys but had slowed on watching the movies. After Attack of the Clones, I gave up on the toys and have seen the movies maybe twice over the last decade.

I still love the original trilogy movies. It's Star Wars as a whole that I'm less enthused about. But this formula applies to pretty much any fandom. Bad installments don't somehow delete the good ones, but they can diminish your overall love for a property. The plus side of this is once you've had a certain amount of movies — or episodes, or issues, or whatever — it becomes much harder for a bad movie/show/comic/whatever to lower your overall feelings. For example. If you're a Captain America comic fan, chances are you've read a ton of Cap comics —let's say 100, and your love of Cap as a character/franchise is 800/1000, or 80%. If someone comes along and writes the shittiest Cap comic ever, and you give it a 0/10, that's still 800/1010 — 79%. Only a long, sustained run of shittiness could hurt your overall love of the franchise.


I'm not going to pretend this math formula is perfect and applies to everything, but I think it works pretty well.


Hot Flash

DC Fan:

What are your thoughts on the new Flash tv show and should DC incorporate the Arrow and Flash tv series' into the movies similar to what Marvel has done with Agents of Shield?


I'm very excited about The Flash TV show, although I'm already a big Arrow fan. The idea of making a lighter, brighter, more super-power friendly version of Arrow? Yes please. Basically, if Arrow is DC's TV substitute for Batman, then The Flash will be its Superman, and that sounds fantastic to me. My only concern is regarding the show's limited budget: I know the superpowers will be used sparingly, because sfx aren't cheap, and that's fine. But if the show's stories are based on problems that Barry Allen could easily fix if he used his powers, and the show just ignored this… well, then those become plot holes. But I'm really not that worried. These guys seem to know what they're doing.

As for incorporating the DC TV universe with DC's movie-verse… I'm actually fine with the TV-verse being its own thing. Not having to deal with Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman frees up the TV-verse in a lot of ways. Getting tied in with the movies would probably hamper these shows more than help them. So I'm cool.



Dark Phoenix


Dear Postman,

Please talk me down from the ledge! The current rumors are that Joaquin Phoenix is in "final negotiations" to play the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe. Give me optimism that this misanthrope of the Hollywood scene is right to play my favorite character in comics!

I'll be taking my Xanax and rocking in the corner waiting for your reply from the future!


He's not a bad actor. Sure, he had his moment of being crazy, but he's hardly the first Hollywood star to do that, and he won't be the last either. Doesn't mean he's not a good actor. Hell, we all know Tom Cruise is still totally insane and he completely rocked Edge of Tomorrow.

My bigger concern with Phoenix is that he won't want to be tied down to a multi-movie franchise. But that would be Marvel's concern even more than mine, so either they're going to give him enough money that he agrees to a whatever-# picture deal or they're going to move onto someone else. I'm betting the latter.



Dead on Arrival


Dear Mr. Postman,

Two questions today, following up on some things you talked about last week:

1) Could the decision to cast Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne instead of Janet leave open the possibility of an appearance by Red Queen as a villain in a potential Ant-Man 2?

2) Secondly how do the rights to Deadpool work? If the Fox version doesn't ever get made would the rights revert back to Marvel, who could then make the film with Ryan Reynolds?


1) Red Queen, for those who don't know, is Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne's daughter Hope, who becomes the titular supervillain in the crazy alt-universe Marvel comic A-Next. I would be shocked if Marvel Studios uses Hope as anything other than a surrogate for Janet, a.k.a. the Wasp. I especially don't see them making her a villain, any more than I'd expect them to make Jane Foster a villain in Thor.

2) Sorry, Deadpool is part and parcel of the X-Men movie license as a mutant. As long as Fox makes X-Men movies every once in a while, they retain the rights to all the mutants. Deadpool never has to have a minute of screen time, and yet they'll have his movie rights until the end of eternity.



Where the Heart Was

Chris M.:

After reading your recent response to "smart zombies", I became curious about something. If I were to be bitten and on the verge of death, and were somehow able to have myself placed on life support, a dialysis machine, the whole nine yard, do you think I could rise as a rational zombie? I've wondered why zombies always came up mindless creatures of feeding instinct, and figure it's due to the brain damage that takes place between time of death and rising.

If they haven't already tried this in the apocalypse, you could always give it a shot if you end up being bitten. If it works, will you be one of the nice zombies or the asshole zombie you mentioned?

Your hate of Man of Steel leads me to believe it'll be the latter.

Anyone more familiar with how zombie viruses actually affect the physiology of the brain may correct me, but I believe the zombie virus actually destroys your brain cells when you contract it. It's not a matter of it cutting off oxygen to your brain or your heart not pumping blood — your body is still breathing while it kills you, after all — it's that the virus destroys the actual infrastructure of your nervous system and your organs. Even if you artificially kept the heart beating and oxygen flowing, the brain would be destroyed, and you'd still have a mindless zombie on your hands. I guess having them hooked up to a dialysis machine when they turn would impair them a little bit so you could get away, but that's the only advantage I can think of.


Even if I'm wrong, and people will somehow keep their personalities after they turn undead, I think we all know death isn't going to make me any less of an asshole.


Macrossing the Line

Brendan Tynan Buck:

Dear Mr. Postman,

I was wondering if during your time crossing the wastes you found any evidence pointing out the culprit for why the Robotech Academy Kickstarter failed. As a Macross fan, I wasn't exactly rooting for it's success or anything; though I can respect Carl Macek's role for bringing anime to a wide audience, I think Harmony Gold is a group of money grubbing scumbags whose only reason for existence at this point is to prevent the release of any of the newer Macross anime. However, even I have to admit that Robotech nostalgia has been a strongflowing, frequently fished current for decades. So what happened? Did Harmony Gold ask for too much money? Did Robotech fans get too old? Is Robotech a dead franchise and if so, where does Harmony Gold go from here? (You know, short of a big enough lawsuit that they raise the funds for Academy that way.)


I don't know if Harmony Gold asked for too much money; I don't know how much 30 or so minutes of animation costs nowadays, or who they wanted to hire to make it, or how grandiose their plans were. (Half a million did seem a bit high to me for a pilot funded by Kickstarter, though.)

But while the original Robotech has plenty of fans, no Robotech fan is really clamoring for more. That's partially because most of the Robotech sequels have failed horribly. The one sequel that did get made, Shadow Chronicles, was fine but hardly recaptured the magic. To be honest, even the second two parts of the original RobotechSouthern Cross and New Generation — were pale shadows of the first section, Macross, so Robotech has basically been a series of diminishing returns since 1986.


Robotech fans don't need a sequel, and even if they wanted one, none of the evidence Harmony Gold has ever provided over the last three decades indicates they could make a particularly good one. Combine that will the crazy ill-will some extremely vocal Macross fans have for the company, and yeah, that makes it hard to raise money.

As for what Harmony Gold does now… well, they've somehow managed to exist solely on trying to make Robotech sequels for most of the last 30 years, despite only putting out a single direct-to-DVD movie in that time. I don't know how they managed that before, but I assume that's what they'll continue to do in the future.


'Til Death

Adam McC.:

Greetings "future" "postman" i have a simple question for why do people only seem to get mad when DC heroes kill people? I mean supes kills one guy and the internet is up in flames but theres nothing over the huge body counts cap, iron man, GotG and too a lesser extent Thor have in their respective series. I can understand black widow and hawkeye having high body counts since one is a former KGB operative and the other is in special forces but the other heroes counts seem a bit much. Am i just not reading the right DC comics or have Marvel heroes always been more violent?


Marvel's characters have always been more flawed, more fallible. They make mistakes, they have weaknesses. Now, most of DC's characters are the same, but their main superheroes — especially Batman and Superman — tend to be more all-powerful and mythic, and as such the no-death rule is more important to them because there's literally nothing else stopping those characters from being invincible.

More specifically: Superman can do anything, but it's his unwillingness to compromise his morals that prevents him from just snapping every supervillain's neck he sees, which is how his stories have conflict, which is what makes them interesting. Despite being a human mortal, Batman for all narrative intents and purposes can also do anything. Both these guys could bring peace on earth in 30 minutes by murdering their rogues gallery if they let themselves. Btu they don't let themselves, because it's morally wrong to them — and also because it would make for shitty stories.


And that's the other thing: There are thousands of other comic superheroes who kill bad guys, even if they hope to avoid it. Pretty much all of them do. But Superman and Batman don't, and it's part of what makes them so special, so iconic, and so popular. Why would DC want to make their biggest, most special characters do what all these other, lesser comic characters are doing? I've never heard an answer to this that made sense to me.

Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!


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