​Is Marvel Getting People Ready For A New Generation of Movie Heroes?

Before I start answering this week's letters, I just wanted to let you know that I, as a fake mailman living in the post-apocalyptic future, know everything that's going to be announced and shown at this year's San Diego Comic-Con already. And I'm not telling. Nyeh.


New Avengers

John A.:

With the very public release of the info on the new Thor as a lady, and Captain America as Falcon, (I mean comic news on Colbert now?) and with the knowledge that Marvel is struggling with deals with it's actors like Chris Evans, is this change in the comic sort of Marvel getting ahead of the curve so that if/when those actors decide to leave - the public won't treat it as a direct re-cast and sour to the franchise, but have this seed of them being changeable already in their mind, and for comic-book fans- tied to the lore.

I received a LOT of letters about this subject, and I had prepared a dismissive denial for them. But John A. raises a great point I hadn't thought of before: What if these extremely public character-change announcements weren't about "Hey, look how super-diverse we are!" and more about getting mass audiences used to the idea of different characters playing these roles?

Whether Falcon becomes a new Cap in the movies or a mysterious woman takes the (sigh) title of Thor, as you said, putting this notion out there for all non-comics fans not used to this… flexibility could be a canny move. And maybe it is, but I don't think so.

If I had to guess, and I kind of do, I think Marvel will recast the roles of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, etc., when the relevant actors opt not to renew their contracts. Here's why: Say Don Cheadle's James Rhodes becomes the new Iron Man for another trilogy. What happens when Cheadle is done with the role? Will they have to introduce another new character in Cheadle's movies for him to pass the armor to? That's really unwieldy, and then you end up with a never-ending string of new, random characters — far better to just cast a new guy, say he's Tony Stark, have all the other characters recognize him as such, and move on. I always equate it to a new artist drawing the same character — he looks different, he may even act different, but he's still the same character — and I think mass audiences can handle that. (And don't even get me started on Thor; there's no way Marvel Studios could possibly pull the current comics Thor switcheroo without making mass audiences' minds explode.)

If Marvel doesn't allow new actors to play existing roles, then they pretty much have to reboot their universe, and I don't think they will do that either (or rather, I don't think they should, and I think they're smart enough to realize this). Mass audiences have invested a lot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; to reboot it would potentially lose more viewers than it would gain. The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't nearly crowded enough to be inaccessible to new viewers yet, and the fact that these movies take place in one continuity and build on each other is really what sets Marvel's movies apart. I think — and hope — they'll keep it going for years so than when they do inevitably decide to reboot all these franchises,maybe in 2020-something, it actually feels a needed rejuvenation instead of a desperate attempt to make people pay attention (cough Amazing Spider-Man cough).


​Is Marvel Getting People Ready For A New Generation of Movie Heroes?

Bean Counter

Steph S.:

Sean Bean confirmed R+L=J!!!!! WHY AREN'T MORE PEOPLE FREAKING OUT ABOUT THIS?!!!!

Because he did nothing of the sort — or at least nothing we can prove. For those who don't know, "R+L=J" is the prominent Game of Thrones theory that Jon Snow isn't in fact the bastard son of Ned Stark, but instead the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Eddard's sister Lyanna. You can get more details here.

Here's what Bean said that's causing all the consternation: "I'm obviously not Jon Snow's dad. "

Does this mean George R.R. Martin told Sean Bean Jon's real parentage so he could give the proper performance opposite Kit Harington in the first season of Game of Thrones? Possibly but not-super likely, as we've heard about GRRM discussing ASoIaF secrets with showrunners D.B. Weiss and Davivd Benioff, many times over the years, but no anyone else.

Has Sean Bean maybe read the books, or paid attention to the show, and realized it makes no narrative sense for the super-honorable Ned to have fathered a bastard, or be super-cagey about Jon's mother to both Jon and Robert Baratheon in season one? I'd say this is way more likely.

Yes, he may know the truth. But Bean may have just seen the same clues all the other readers and viewers have seen. There's no proof either way.


Duck and Cover

Robert E.:

Dear Postman,

Recent news that Howard the Duck could have a cameo in an upcoming Marvel movie got me thinking; when the original comic was gaining popularity, Disney threatened Marvel with a copyright infringement lawsuit, claiming that Howard looked too much like Donald Duck. As a result, Howard was now forced to wear pants. Pants on a duck just don't seem right, even if he does wear a hat and smoke cigars. Now that Disney owns Marvel, would they relent and let Howard go pants-free? And speaking of Howard's nether regions — and given your fascination with superhero genitalia — if Howard is anything like actual ducks, he may just have the most impressive junk in all of superherodom. Could this be the real reason he was forced to wear pants?

Disney didn't force Howard the Duck to put on pants because they were bitter, they did it to make sure people — especially kids — could differentiate between the cigar-smoking Howard and their beloved, psychotic duck Donald. That reasoning still stands, even if they tangentially own Howard now. I promise you Disney will force Marvel to burn every Howard the Duck comic appearance in existence before they ever do anything that might even potentially harm one of the main stable of Disney characters.

As for Howard, I couldn't tell you if his anthropomorphism includes his penis, or if it's a larger version of the terrifying corkscrew dicks regular ducks have.

Whatever its nature, I do know Lea Thompson seemed pretty ready to handle it, so I imagine we should all be grateful he's wearing pants.


​Is Marvel Getting People Ready For A New Generation of Movie Heroes?

Image by Mike Rollerson.

Brain Powered

Jude K.

Sir - I recently began reading a manga called "I Am A Hero". It has an interesting hook, that zombie-ism is a spectrum disorder akin to autism. You've got your traditional, full - Dustin Hoffman Rainman mindless killing machine zombies. However there are also zombies that still have something going on in their head, their own agendas. I guess they'd be at the Aspergers end so to speak. So you having expertise in this area, which would you want to face? The type stumbling around and moaning for brains can't be negotiated with but they also can't outsmart you. Pseudo-zombies on the other hand, well... I worry if things go wrong you've got an undead Hannibal Lector on your hands. Obediently yours!

Holy shit. Literally the only advantage I would have over a zombie is my (questionable) intelligence; if that were taken away as well, I'd be eaten even faster. Please, lord, when the zombie apocalypse arrives, let them be dumb.

Also, perhaps this is prejudiced of me, but I can't help but think even an intelligent zombie would be difficult to reason with. They want brains, you have brains, civilization has ended and polite society is no more, so I doubt "please" is really going to sway most of the undead.

Even if I'm wrong, and say only one out of every five zombies you meet is an asshole (which is arguably optimistic, given the ratio of assholes-to-polite people you meet prior to the zombie apocalypse), how long is it going to take you to run into a fifth zombie who refuses to negotiate? Not long at all.


​Is Marvel Getting People Ready For A New Generation of Movie Heroes?

Awe & Order

Ignacio G.:

dear Postman,

My daughter has find a recent interest in Star Wars. Obviously I'm planning to show her the complete material, including the cgi (perhaps not ALL the material, because, you know... Christmas Special…). I have watch the movies a a lot of times, but i only watched the Tartakovsky´s Clone Wars and i thought i may take a chance on the cgi.

But, with the cgi movie and series (and now the new Rebels series) and the Tartakovsky series between episode II and III i have no idea how to watch them. I'm not talking about the chronological order (i read that the are cgi chapters before the movie and now i get less than before) but a suggested order.

¿Can you help me? (and yes, we have to watch episode I and II).

The famous Machete order — watching Star Wars, Empire, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and then Return of the Jedi works for a lot of reasons, but it's obviously missing The Phantom Menace — often a good thing, but if your child is young enough, she'd probably love a lot of it. But if you add The Phantom Menace, then you have three big-ass movies between Empire and Return of the Jedi, and that seems like too long a wait to me.

I don't have any postal babies running around, but I have thought about this problem in case I did: My vote is to start with the original trilogy. It worked for me, it stands on its own (as opposed to the prequel trilogy, which needs the other three movies to tell a full story) and it has a happy ending.

If she enjoys that then you can move to the prequels. After The Phantom Menace, watch Genndy Tartakovsky's first Clone Wars series — it's set between Episodes I and II anyways, and it's completely awesome, so even if she's bored senseless by TPM it should renew her joy in the franchise.

Next Attack of the Clones, and then the CG Clone Wars. Again, chronologically it makes sense, but it also deepens the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan, which gives a lot of the emotional weight needed in Revenge of the Sith that Clones fails to provide. And it gives the Clone Wars itself the epic feel that makes their conclusion in RotS feel meaningful, too.

But before you watch Revenge, finish up with the second season of Tartakovsky's Clone Wars — it leads directly into the beginning of Sith, and it's also completely awesome, which should help excitement build for the final volume. And then of course watch Sith.

The only problem with this order, of course, is that it ends on a huge downer. Which is why, having watched everything else, you are now ready to rewatch the original trilogy, allowing her to see how everything fits together and how the entire character arc of Anakin/Darth Vader is suppose to begin and end in order!

But that is just one fake mailman's opinion. Surely others will have different thoughts, which they may share in the comments?


​Is Marvel Getting People Ready For A New Generation of Movie Heroes?

The Song Remains the Same

Sixwhirled:

Hello Mr. Postman,

Recently George R.R. Martin implied that he had every confidence he would finish "A Song of Ice and Fire" before he died.

That being the case, is he still alive in your indeterminate future time?

Still alive, and still working on book 10. But he swears this will really be the last one.

When our vague but devastating apocalypse happened, a group of industrious nerds used the last vestiges of civilization to track GRRM down and kidnap him; he's been locked away and forced to write A Song of Ice and Fire until it's finished. It's not a Misery situation; he's got decent living quarters, a professional chef and personal trailer to make sure he stays in great health. GRRM is not their bitch, but he is their prisoner.


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!