Here's Why Superhero Movie Romances Suck

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Greetings, little letterings. It's been a tough week here in the post-apocalypse, but looking at the date this column is going back in time to I can see it's been a tough week for you guys too. Take solace in this: It'll be years before President Brett Ratner has Joss Whedon executed for being so much better than him.

Bad Romance

Ellen C.:

What's up with superheroes' girlfriends and sequels. The first movies usually spend time building relationships and chemistry and end with the two characters getting together, and I'm okay with that. But why do sequels always feel they need to erase what happened in the first movie. Either they've broken up and the hero has to re-win the girl, or it's with a completely new love interest. (just look at every spiderman and batman movie ever made) Why do writers and producers feel the need to scrap the relationships they spent a lot of time building and start over after each installment? Can't we just have well adjusted people supporting one another or going through the normal struggles of a relationship?


A few reasons: 1) Romances are generally shoehorned into these movie for female audiences. Mass female audiences, I should specify — not the many lovely nerd women who go see these films, but for the many, many non-comic-interested women who just want to see the latest summer blockbuster. Having some kind of romance between Star-Lord and Gamora helps keep people invested in the story when they don't know who Ronan the Accuser is or really care what the hell he's supposed to be doing. And this isn't just true for superheroes movies, obviously — every major summer movie has some kind of romance aspect in it, for this exact reason.

2) As for why these relationships always have to start over: That's because movie execs think watching people fall in love is interesting, watching people in love is not... which is generally correct. Wondering if a couple is going to get together is dramatic and interesting, but if Batman begins Batman Returns waking up next to Kim Basinger in bed then this conflict has already been resolved and it's harder to wring drama out of that


Now I know there are plenty of movies about on-going relationships, but it is much more difficult to write a compelling plot about people in love than people falling in love. And even if a writer has an idea for such a romance, superhero movies neither have the time nor the inclination to bother. It's much easier — and usually better for audiences — to have Jane Foster super-pissed at the beginning of Thor 2, and let the God of Thunder's abs slowly win her over during the course of the movie.


Taming of the Crew


During the time between finishing filming of The Avengers and the editing of same, Joss Whedon put together an entertaining little Shakespeare film. With filming of Avengers 2 pretty much wrapping up, what do you think he should do with the break this time?


I'd take another Shakespeare film, actually. His Much Ado About Nothing was pretty great, and it was fun to see the various Joss Whedon Players together. Any of the comedies — As You Like It, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Twelfth Night, maybe a hilariously low-budget The Tempest... Anything except A Midsummer Night's Dream, because everybody does it.


Take a Bow

Eric W.:

Hello from the past,

As someone living in the irradiated wasteland that was our heartland I'm sure you've developed an appreciation for the simple things in life, like not being eaten by packs of feral dogs or more feral Hill People.

Along those lines, you'd figure simple, classic weapons would be really popular. A bow for instance.

That is a roundabout way of getting to my question. I was reading the Future's End event and something popped into my head. Why is it the go-to move for so many DC events is to maim or murder Oliver Queen? Seems like he's always getting bumped off or losing significant parts of himself. Why is that, do you think?

Is it just that he's an easy target, being a sort of second string hero, redundant (from his inception he's always pretty much been Batman with arrows), and just a normal guy therefore easier to explain his death away?

Or is it something to do with comic archers in general? Hawkeye getting his ass kicked has become so much of a running joke that it essentially became the entire plot of his latest standalone title.

Really, I'm just curious why Oliver must die so often?

It's all of those things. It's because he's a second-string hero, because he's seen as weaker than most other superheroes, and because he's only human (the other alternative is Batman, and he's obviously not going to be killed, probably because he's a main character in whatever story is being told). Plus, other than a bit of sleeping around, Oliver Queen is one of the most morally upright heroes in the DCU — his injury/maiming/death is an easy call to action for the other heroes to get their shit together.


I don't think DC realizes how often they do this.


Chasing the Dragon

Fi P.:

GRRM admitted someone on the Internet guessed the ending of A Song of Ice and Fire. Which theory is it?


The one where Dany's three dragons merge to form a giant robot piloted by Dany, Jon Snow and Tyrion. What? It's a theory on the internet… now. It could be right!


Flash Back

Joseph L.:

A Stephen Amell and others have mentioned, it appears as though the DC television and film universes will be kept separate for better or for worse. Still, I find it curious that The Flash hasn't been cast yet for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, given he's probably the most popular Justice League member right after the Trinity.

Do you think The Flash will appear in future films or do you think Warner Brothers/DC will avoid casting the character, given the upcoming TV show?


Well, the rumor is that one of WB/DC's many, many TBD movies is a Flash/Green Lantern team-up. Even if it wasn't, the Warner Bros. movie team is way higher on the corporate totem pole than the TV team. If the movie team thought it would help their Flash movie to make the TV Flash wear a sombrero for a full season, I guarantee we'd see Grant Gustin in a sombrero immediately

The movies are so just much more profitable than TV shows, so they get to call the shots. About the best the WB TV guys can hope for is that the movie division ignores them and lets them do their own thing. That's what we should be hoping for too.


Famous Last Words


Mr Postman,

Apparently there's some question about what "BFG" stands for.

Who decides who gets dibs on a phrase like that? Does the apocalyptic future have a court to handle the case of Dahl v Doom?


Society at large gets to decide phrases like that. When Roald Dahl's book came out in 1982 and coined the abbreviation (short for Big Friendly Giant), it reigned alone and supreme. When Doom came out in 1993 and sold a bajillion copies, its BFG (Big Fucking Gun) entered the arena, and between the ubiquity of the game and the fact that it became a franchise which stayed in public discussion, it kind of trampled Dahl's book.

But Steven Spielberg is directing a movie of The BFG, due to come out in the next few years, that should help put the Big Friendly Giant meaning back in contention — if not back on top, because Spielberg movies are always so huge. But yeah, usage is what decides over time. That's why "literally" now means "not literally."


On Guard

Chris V.:

There has been a lot of theories around why Guardians of The Galaxy has been a big success but the main one that seems to be being batted around at the moment is that the MCU is the new Pixar (i.e. It doesn't matter what the film is about, trust is so high it will almost always make over $200m domestic). Whilst I'm sure this theory is true with the core audience I'm not sure how well it works for the general moviegoing population.

The reason for my cynicism is that I am constantly surprised by how few people seem to know which movies are from which studio. I can't be the only person that has had to explain, on a fairly regular basis, why Spider-Man can't turn up in The Avengers or why Magneto couldn't be a villain in an Iron Man movie (for example). Most people just see the Marvel logo and assume it as all one and the same.

My personal view is that was well promoted and it simply looked funny and was unusual enough to stand out in a summer which lacked strong family and comedy films. What is your take?


I do think there's a general perception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I mean, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy ads had enormous text reading "FROM THE STUDIO THAT BROUGHT IRON MAN, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA" — mass audiences remember liking those specific films and safely assumed that Guardians would be on par.

Sure, these audiences members probably couldn't tell you which studio owns which Marvel characters — and they probably don't care — but thanks to the interconnectedness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they do know Thor, Cap, Hulk, Iron Man and Avengers are all linked somehow. Marvel was very clear about positioning the Guardians as part of that universe, even if the connections haven't been revealed yet. That doesn't mean that general audiences understand why Spider-Man can't pop by and say hi to the Avengers, but I think they do understand that the MCU is something unto itself.


So I say there is a brand trust in the MCU that doesn't require a knowledge of who owns which characters. But it definitely helps that the Marvel marketing and promotion team is pretty fantastic at their jobs. And I don't think GotG's uniqueness hurt either, at least to get people into theaters.


Cat Power

Gary F.:

Do ThunderCats use litterboxes?

They have special toilets with sand in them instead of water. And instead of a roll of toilet paper they have a bidet that's just a giant robotic tongue. That licks their buttholes. In case that somehow wasn't clear.


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