Why You Can Never, Ever, Ever Make The Biggest Fans Happy

Or, "Why The New Power Rangers Movie Will Never Make Power Rangers Super-Fans Happy, For A Specific Example." It's a more accurate headline, but it was a little wordy, don't you think?


Fight the Power

x84jdh:

Dear Post-Apocalyptic Postmaster General,

I don't know if you noticed, but seconds before the temporal anomaly that allows you to send messages back into the past opened, it was announced that a cinematic Power Rangers reboot is in the works. The reasons for this are obvious: it's been twenty years since Saban first brought his peculiar brand of re-engineered Super Sentai shows to the West, and the dumb kids (all kids are dumb) who grew up on the teat of Jason David Frank are now all in their twenties or thirties and thus have the purchasing power to indulge their nostalgia.

I'm sure the minutia of our discussions here in the dim dark past have long since been lost to time, but I'm equally sure that it will come as no surprise to learn that the announcement was immediately followed by cries of "oh no! My childhood!" since it's de rigeur nowadays to do so. People want to see their childhood properties treated respectfully, and okay, fine, I get that.

BUT

The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was a bad show. A bad, bad, terrible, bad show. In the future annals of terrible television, I sincerely hope it's somewhere in the top 1000 or so.

Barring the possibility of a 30-minute rave-cum-orgy in the middle (you save that for the sequels, obvs), is it even possible to do a reboot that is worse than the show? Wouldn't a reboot have nowhere to go but up, given that the bar has been set somewhere in the subterranean realms of the Mole people?

You'd think, right? I mean, Power Rangers had bad acting, worse dialogue, paper-thing plots, and seriously cheap special effects. Any movie with a half-way decent budget should be able to blow the original show out of the water.

Now here's why Power Rangers fans could still be completely upset with it.

Fandom is a funny, stupid, often insane thing. Sometimes it makes us gloss over the flaws of something we love, e.g. Power Rangers; sometimes it gives us unreasonably high expectations of future iterations of what we love, e.g. a Power Rangers movie.

I can explain it best in terms of my own blinding obsessions with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Now, in previous columns I have fully admitted the cartoon that inspired my love is, and was even when I was watching it as a kid, terrible. I mean terrible. Do you realize that He-Man never once punched a villain or used his sword on a living creature? Go back and check; it never once happens. Even as a kid I knew this was bogus.

But for whatever reason, I became a fan, and fans do stupid things. For instance, I have spent hundreds of dollars every year subscribing to Mattel's Masters of the Universe toy club/subscription thing, even though I don't particular like the figures. In fact, I bitch about them almost any chance I get. But as a fan, I feel compelled to buy them anyways.

So if I think the cartoon sucks and I hate the toys, what am I actually a fan of? The answer is the ideal Masters of the Universe in my head. In my head, there is a perfect He-Man — a semi-mature scifi/fantasy epic full of action, amazing special effects, and an awesome toyline that uses the 2002 He-Man redesigns but they're in-scale to each other and also have better articulation — that all the actual versions of He-Man are but pale imitations of.

I realize this is completely insane, and I realize I am, at best, a lunatic for even hoping for a non-childish He-Man franchise. But that's what I want. That's what I will bitch about until I get, which means that's what I will bitch about forever. I realize I have completely unrealistic expectations in this matter, and yet I am completely unable to temper them (this is also why I'm completely fine if a live-action He-Man movie never gets made).

This is because I am a fan. And I have zero doubt that many of the kids who grew up with Power Rangers feel the same way. They fell in love with the idea of Power Rangers more than the actual Power Rangers, and now that they're older and more mature they would like a new Power Rangers to reflect that growth as well. "Better than the original" is not enough; it's needs to be "good," but "good" according to their new standards.

So get ready for a ton of bitching about the Power Rangers movie, is what I'm saying.


Why You Can Never, Ever, Ever Make The Biggest Fans Happy

Watch the Throne

Joseph L.:

Postman Rob,

1. I guess this isn't really a spoiler but how do you feel about R+L=J ASoIaF theory? I think a lot of people are rooting for it to be true, but is it so obvious you think Martin will go in another direction entirely?

2. If you had to guess, how do you picture ASoIaF finally ending? Is it foolhardy for me to root for a "happy" ending of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen ruling together, be it at Kings Landing or Winterfell with Tyrion as the Hand of the King? Cheers!

1) For those of you who don't know, "R+L=J" is the fandom's abbreviation for the theory that Rhaegar Targaryen, who kidnapped Ned's sister Lyanna Stark, and who died mysteriously after making Ned promise to do something, are the parents of Jon Snow, and Ned has hidden Jon is his bastard kid so the vindictive Robert Baratheon didn't kill the half-Targaryen (seeing as all the others he could get his hands on killed).

I think the theory is true — the reason it's so popular is that the books really do push us in that direction, and because of "The Dragon Has Three Heads" prophecy, which indicates there will be two other secret Targaryens who ride three dragons with Daenerys (Tyrion is usually mentioned as the third, but it's too complicated to go into that here). George R.R. Martin isn't trying to subvert EVERY fantasy trope — again, this is a story that will end with dragons fighting crazy ice zombie-elves — and there's no reason for GRRM to keep Jon Snow's "mother" a secret if she really is just some prostitute.

2) But there's NO GODDAMN WAY A Song of Ice and Fire has a happy ending like the one you envision. I think humanity will survive the Others/White Walkers, at an enormous cost, and I think maybe non-shitty people will sit on most of the thrones in Westeros, but there's no way human greed, brutality, and lust is somehow eradicated. In fact, I'd bet that at least two of the Three Heads of the Dragons don't live to the end (at least).

Honestly, other than that, I literally have no idea how A Song of Ice and Fire will end — but that's one of the reasons I like it so much.


Why You Can Never, Ever, Ever Make The Biggest Fans Happy

Rebel Yell

Andrew S.:

Let me begin by saying that I completely understand the fan-apathy which exists towards the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Wars. He doesn't have an inspiring track record with Star Trek, the casting is a bit stunt-y, doesn't include enough ladies, etc. I am excited about it, but I'm not STAR WARS EXCITED about it, if you get my drift.

My question is why are we seeing the same kind of apathy directed at Star Wars: Rebels? For every trailer I've seen, there's a slew of comments underneath deriding the characters, the quality of the animation, the association with Disney, and so on.

The irony is that Rebels is coming from the same team which made Clone Wars: a visually and emotionally compelling drama using the characters and plotlines from the Star Wars prequels - an achievement akin to making the Mona Lisa out of a macaroni picture. My feeling is that given the quality of its antecedent, along with the creative freedom allowed by the new setting, Rebels is probably going to be the Star Wars that we all remember. Am I wrong?

There's a few reasons: 1) people really liked Clone Wars, and they were sad when Disney decided to shutter it to make a new cartoon, and 2) Rebels looks — on the surface — to be ho-hum. I mean, there's a kid with a slingshot, a manic pixie dream girl in Mandalorian armor, a histrionic droid… compared to Anakin Skywalker and the badass clones of Clone Wars, Rebels doesn't seem that enticing. But I do think Rebels will be fine, and I think it'll have its fans; it'll just take some time to win them over.

It's worth remembering that the Clone Wars cartoon was a massive pile of shit when it first began. Seriously, the movie that opened the series? With Stinky the Hutt? And Truman Capote the Hutt? It was godawful. And then it became good! I sincerely doubt Rebels will start off quite so dismally.


Why You Can Never, Ever, Ever Make The Biggest Fans Happy

I, Zod

Mike B.:

I was watching Superman Returns and everything is set up that this movie takes place after Superman and Superman II. We have Lois having a child after getting pregnant after Superman gives up his powers, Lex getting out of prison and going straight to the Fortress of Solitude and little homage scenes like his flying towards the Eiffel Tower.

But there is something missing, actually three somethings and all of them are Kryptonian. What happened to General Zod? Why are there no references to Zod , Ursa or Non? There is a wall of newspaper headlines at the Daily Planet, but no "President kneels before Zod", no TV news report mentioning the completion of the restoration of Mt Rushmoore, nothing that refers back to the main villains of Superman II. Why did they leave them out?

Wait a second. Are you telling me you're upset that Superman Returns didn't have MORE direct references to the first two Superman movies? You maniac.


Why You Can Never, Ever, Ever Make The Biggest Fans Happy

Foreign Affairs

Brian L.:

Dear Postman.

I live in the UK. Now this unfortunately means I get my most of my TV shows much later than in the USA (we didnt even get season of Legend of Korra until almost a year after it originally aired). And this sometimes mean I watch my tv through questionable means. But does it really matter the view count of a show in a foreign country.

For instance Pan Am (the show) didnt do all that well in the USA but here in Europe it was pretty popular, but regardless it was still cancelled. So does it matter where or how I watch things like Agents of Shield if the only thing keeping it a float is where or how people in the US watch it? Do ratings here even matter?

Nope!

I'm sorry, you wanted more details? American networks need American audiences so they can watch American advertisements. They license the shows to foreign markets for a fraction of the cost; even if, say, Agents of SHIELD did twice the ratings in the U.K. as it did in America, ABC wouldn't see any of that money. So they don't care.

Theoretically, an American studio could make a show that tanked in America, but was popular enough around the world to make a profit. Even then, they still wouldn't bother, because it would be smarter to use that money trying to make a different show for America. Think of it this way: The rest of the world's television markets are nickel slots, while America is a $1 a pull. You have an equal chance of hitting the jackpot at either slot machine, but the $1 pull has a much larger payoff if you win, and American studios have plenty of dollar bills. Why bother with the nickel slots?


Why You Can Never, Ever, Ever Make The Biggest Fans Happy

What's in a Name

eyesandwings:

Hello Postman,

I have a question that's been bugging me. What is the correct spelling (and why) of our favorite web-slinger: Spider-man, Spider-Man, or Spiderman. I don't understand why this character needs a dash but Superman, Batman, and the like do not. At the same time, I just realized I can't think of aMarvel superhero that has a -man suffix without a space or dash, so maybe the lack of a dash is a DC thing? Curious of your thoughts.

It's Spider-Man. Supposedly, Stan Lee added the hyphen to make sure no one accidentally confused it with Superman. Spiderman is also a traditionally Jewish last name — emphasis on the "spi," not the "man" — and the hyphen also helps distinguish that yes, this is a man who is a like a spider.

As for why some superhero "-man" names are one word, some are two words, and some are hyphenated, there's really no rhyme or reason. The publishers spells them like they want, and custom takes over from there For examples:

• DC: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Power Girl, Aquaman, Hawkman

• Marvel: Iceman, Spider-Man, Wonder Man, Iron Man, Invisible Woman, Ant-Man, Squirrel Girl

If there's a clear set of rules governing these names, I can't figure it out. At least right now, as I'm being chased by mutant bear-men.


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!