How Will the Game of Thrones TV Show Affect the Books?

Image: HBO.
Image: HBO.

Greetings from the future! Welcome to “Postal Apocalypse,” io9's admittedly sporadic mail column by me, editor Rob Bricken. This week I’ve got a lot of Defenders questions (from one curious reader), a lot more Game of Thrones questions (from many curious readers), and I explain why you should only be slightly worried about the Captain Marvel more right now.


Book Learning

Sean P. Stephenson:

I’ve been following the HBO version of GoT since the beginning, and have been toying with reading the books, but I had a multi-part question I feel only you can answer.

When GoT concludes next year on HBO, do you think GRRM will incorporate any of the premises presented that have been shown on the small screen that he didn’t originally come up with, and do you think he will change anything he had already come up with because of what was already shown, as in “I thought that was a good idea, but having seen it played out, let’s go a different route.”

It’s impossible to say. Sorry to defer the question, but George R.R. Martin is still writing The Winds of Winter, and has A Dream of Spring left to go (if not more—I still believe he’s going to end up writing three more books all told before he’s done). What he has planned today may change tomorrow, or next year, or the year after that. Or the year after that… or the year after that. You see where I’m going with this.

At some point, GRRM, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss sat down to discuss the end of the story, both A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones. I sincerely doubt he told the showrunners everything he has planned, but there were definitely some story elements just too entrenched into the narrative for the show to skip, e.g. the origin of Hodor’s name. There may be a few others, but unless Weiss and Benioff ’fess up, we won’t know for sure until the books are out.

That said, the show will end up being vastly, vastly different from the books. Part of this is because the show has made its own changes to the narrative over its many years, which can’t help but affect the ending; part of it is because the series is ending in such a condensed timeframe (only this Sunday’s season finale and six more episodes to go!); and part of it is likely Benioff and Weiss’ respect for GRRM, and their desire not to trample on what he has in mind for the books’ ending. But mostly because the books have so many more elements at play than the TV series: the Fake Aegon, Lady Stoneheart, Victarion Greyjoy, Jeyne Poole (whom Ramsay Bolton marries and claims is Arya), and more.

Maybe Martin has something planned that the show is doing that, after seeing it, he’ll change his mind about. But we can’t possibly know until he writes it.


Image: Netflix/Marvel.
Image: Netflix/Marvel.

The Defense Rests

Jess D.:

Dear Postman, I have some Defenders questions. A lot of Defenders questions.

1) Why is there the remains of a giant dragon underneath New York City?

2) How did the monks of Kun-lun get over to North America to build a door that only the Iron Fist could open?

3) If the Substance was so dangerous, why not leave the door locked permanently? Or better yet why not destroy it?

4) Why didn’t the Hand just dig around the door? There was a huge cavern down there. Couldn’t they have dug to any other area and gotten in?

5) Why would removing the Substance destroy NYC?

6) If the Hand wanted to get back to Kun-lun, like they said all the time, why did they only seem interested in getting to that underground place that we know wasn’t Kun-lun from Iron Fist?


I can give you answers to all of these, as long as you don’t mind that The Defenders TV series in no way supports or confirms any of them.

In ancient times giant dragons roamed the earth, and died like any other creature. The monks tasked themselves with protecting the Substance left behind by these dragons to prevent evil people from getting ahold of it. They traveled by boats to North America, and then used their mystical powers both to push the bones deep, deep underground and to create a magic shield all the way around the cavern that now housed them, leaving a door as the only access point. The monks did this instead of destroying the Substance, because they could foresee a time when they were so desperate they might need the Substance themselves, and thus made the key the Iron Fist, who would always be a protector of K’un-Lun… until Danny Rand fucked it up.


Oh, and then the mystical energies of these dragons subconsciously led humans to build cities on top of them. Although, the Hand clearly got to the Substance under Pompeii and Chernobyl, because they said they destroyed them… hmm… the dragon under New York City was the biggest dragon and had the most substance, which made it the one that most needed to be denied to the Hand, and is why New York City is a much, much more major city than Chernobyl or Pompeii. More dragon, more mystical energy, more Substance, more city. And after so many millennia, the Substance became part of the essence of the Earth itself—mystically—and thus removing would effectively cause a cataclysm in the location it was housed.

As for your last question, it’s because… uh… by sealing the area off, the Monks effectively made it part of K’un-Lun, even though it was thousands of miles from the actual mystical city. So Sigourney Weaver and the rest were speaking metaphorically. Yeah.


The Jon Con


I feel there hasn’t been enough discussion about the legitimate reveal that Jon is in fact the legitimate son of Rhaegar and the entire dynamic this imposes on Jon-Dany hook up believers. He is in the direct succession to the iron throne. I honestly cannot see how these two would work if this gets exposed to the whole world.

Even if it is after she may or may not get pregnant with a mini incest royalty baby, I cannot visualize a way for the plot to just make this situation okay with Jon. I can realistically see Dany dying after all this simply because Jon will in fact always know nothing. Dany cannot possible just stop her quest for total dominance of Westeros just because Jon gets revealed to be the true heir (at least let’s hope the show writers don’t take the easy way out).


It’s not going to get exposed to the whole world. When Jon finds out—if Jon finds out, he could probably fulfill whatever prophecy Rhaegar heard that made him seek out Lyanna Stark and marry her and throw all of Westeros into civil war without ever knowing—he’s not going to broadcast it. He’ll likely tell Dany, who also won’t tell anybody, for obvious reasons. And Jon will be fine with that, because there is no one who wants to sit on the Iron Throne less than Jon Snow.

Also Jon is absolutely not going to live through the series finale. The Lord of Light brought him back for a purpose; when that purpose is fulfilled, he isn’t going to be rewarded with a vacation. That’s not how the world of Westeros works.


The End Is Not Nigh

James M.:

Game of Thrones has already surpassed its source material and will possibly finish the entire saga before we even get the penultimate volume in book form.

Kingkiller Chronicles is already spinning off televison, movies and video games while we await the concluding volume with bated breath.

Stormlight Archive has been greenlit for movie adaptions and realistically the series will not conclude for another 20+ years.

We have so many wonderful finished works that remain unadapted. Why are we rushing so much to make film and television of works in progress?


Because TV and movie studios need to make money constantly, and to do that they need to make content. They look for what’s hot right now, not what’s finished. That’s a problem for later, and it’s for the creators and directors and screenwriters and so forth—not the studios.

This is true just about anywhere, to be clear. Anime does this a fair amount. Fullmetal Alchemist is the biggest example I can think of—it had a TV show long before the manga was finished, and then just made up its own ending, just like Game of Thrones. Then, once the manga was done, they made another anime TV series called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which actually was a straight adaptation of the rest of the comic from where the first anime series had veered off. It was weird but cool.


Before anyone gets excited, there’s no way this happens to Game of Thrones. First of all, even if GRRM finished the books before everyone was way too old to play their characters, these actors will have spent eight years making this TV series by the time it ends, and many of them will have no desire to return to the role. Kit Harington desperately wants to cut his damn hair.

But… in a couple of decades or so… assuming the final book, A Dream of Spring, is out by then… HBO will absolutely remake the series, and likely do a straight adaptation. It’s simply too popular and lucrative for the channel not to do it again, although enough time will have needed to pass that the current show isn’t fresh in the popular lexicon. But I bet it happens in our lifetimes, so you can look forward to that.


Might Captain Marvel #2 cover by Elizabeth Torque. Image: Marvel.
Might Captain Marvel #2 cover by Elizabeth Torque. Image: Marvel.

Carol in Peril

Bill K.:

Greeting Postman,

Captain Marvel’s debut still seems to seems to be sometime AFTER the apocalypse, but it’s actually less than 18 months away at this point! Adding to my concern:

• They’ve switched writers, and the IMDB page of the new writer doesn’t seem to be cause for enthusiasm

• Supposedly Nick Fury features prominently in this story, but that’s news to Samuel L. Jackson (so are they recasting?)

• Marvel seems to be saying that Carol Danvers makes no appearance in any movies prior to her namesake picture

On that last point, it appears that she becomes Captain Marvel in the ‘90s, gets frozen in carbonite or otherwise indisposed for the better part of 25 years, and we won’t see her on screen until 2019. So no opportunity to build excitement for the MCU’s most powerful hero and first female lead.

I feel like DC may be turning a corner with Wonder Woman while there are warning signs for the MCU.


Depends on what you want to be worried about. First, the new writer, Geneva Robertsen-Dworet, is basically a total mystery. Her only other confirmed, in the works writing credit is for the new Tomb Raider movie, which is a total unknown. This could go either way, but for some reason I have a good feeling about it. Maybe it’s because of the cast, or maybe it’s just because the stories of the Tomb Raider video games have gotten so much better, and I assume the movie will follow suit.

As for Sam Jackson, he may have heard about the news online that Nick Fury would be starring on the film first, but those rumors started before Marvel officially announced his involvement at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. He almost certainly signed his contract before Marvel Studios had honcho Kevin Feige would have confirmed the news to the press—like, 99.999 percent certain—like, Jackson would have to had been in the process of literally signing his name on the contract. If you click the actual source on that above link (the Yahoo video interview) you’ll see that it was filmed before Comic-Con and the announcement, meaning the article you linked was extremely misleading.


I will say I do wish Captain Marvel was appearing in Infinity War, because introducing a character in a supporting role then give them their own movie worked out so well for both Wonder Woman and the MCU Spider-Man. While I understand Infinity War already has a billion characters, and it would be tough to wedge yet another hero in there, Captain Marvel doesn’t have the name recognition of either of those characters, and could certainly use the boost more than them.

But I’m still really, really excited for a Marvel movie with a female superhero in the lead, and after Wonder Woman’s incredible success, it appears audiences will be, too. That may be enough. (Also, regarding the filming dates, Tomb Raider started filming this past January, and will be released in March 2018. Given that visual effect pre-production on Captain Marvel probably started a year or more ago, a year and a quarter is enough to start the actual filming.)


Less SHIELD, More Sword

Benjamin P.:

Hello Mr. Postman,

I watched seasons 1-3 of Agents of Shield as they aired, but took a break with season 4. I just finished watching season 4 recently on Netflix and enjoyed it, but it made me start to question their morality (if any). It seems to me, that unlike traditional “good guys” in shows like Star Trek, or Doctor Who, where the leader (Captain Picard, or the Doctor) try to do all they can to avoid killing or doing the same types of things the bad guys do, the Agents of Shield seem to have no problem shooting first and asking questions later.

They got all upset about Ward in seasons 1 and 2, but then have no problem killing him in season 3. As for season 4, when May wakes up from the Framework and meets the Russian, Ivanov for the first time Coulson just says she can shoot him with no explanation and she does. Then later Simmons and everyone talk not about “How can we stop Aida” but just jump to “How can we kill Aida.” They don’t want to see anyone redeemed, they just want to kill. It seems like they are acting almost the same as their Hydra counterparts in the Framework.

Am I being too harsh on them, or are they just a bunch of murderers? Are the Agents of Shield of the comics also kill-crazy? Thanks for the insight.


Generally, American audiences have accepted the idea that while superheroes shouldn’t kill people, people who work under a government aegis can. Call it the James Bond effect: A government job, like SHIELD agent, is about stopping threats to the populace, and not about morality. It’s about getting the job done, and usually these jobs are done by regular people without powers against people much more powerful than them. Case in point, Aida had crazy superpowers that they just couldn’t cope with, so you could make the argument that killing was their only option (although truer superheroes should have been able to find a way). Of course, the SHIELD agents do use their little knock-out guns that don’t kill people… most of the time. Ivanov was straight-up murdered, though, and Coulson definitely intended Ward to die before the Hive alien took his body over.

Despite my assertion that the most super of superheroes shouldn’t intentionally kill anyone, if you’re a regular dude or dudette employed to fight evil people with superpowers it becomes a bit more palatable.


In all honesty, it’s probably time for me to face the truth that nowadays an increasing portion of the populace wants to see their heroes murder the bad guys instead of merely stopping, capturing, or redeeming them. It’s… part of where we’re at as a nation. It’s profoundly depressing.

Iron Lantern #1 cover by Paul Smith and Atomic Paintbrush. One of the Marvel/DC Amagam comics of 1997. Image: Marvel/DC.
Iron Lantern #1 cover by Paul Smith and Atomic Paintbrush. One of the Marvel/DC Amagam comics of 1997. Image: Marvel/DC.

Reasonably Easy Being Green


Greetings from the past!

Your recent post about the less than stellar recruiting standards of the Green Lantern Corp got me thinking. If a set of various colored lantern rings somehow made it to the Marvel universe, who would be the best to wield each one? I’m thinking Daredevil and Hulk for green and red respectively, but are there even better choices that I’m not thinking of?


Let me give you two candidates for each. (Well, most of them.)

Red (Rage): Hulk or Wolverine

Orange (Greed): Doctor Doom or Kingpin

Yellow (Fear): Moon Knight or Punisher

Green (Willpower, which is still not an emotion): Captain Marvel or Black Panther


Blue (Hope): Pre-Secret Empire Captain America or Wasp

Indigo (Compassion): Miles Morales or Ms. Marvel

Violet/Purple (Love): Squirrel Girl

Two notes: 1) It’s times like this when I really remember that Marvel doesn’t have anything close to an equivalent to Wonder Woman, although bless them for trying with Captain Marvel, although they keep messing it up; and 2) I get way too many questions about Green Lantern, given my obvious disdain for it.


I’m way low on mail again, guys. It’s probably my fault for “Postal Apocalypse” being so sporadic, but being the editor of io9 means I don’t always have time to get it done on time. Please forgive me! And then please send your queries, mysteries, disputes that need resolving, advice that needs to be given, etc. to!


Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.



I haven’t read the books, but my understanding is the Brienne and Tormund’s thing is totally a creation of the show, right? If so, that’s about the only thing I think could make the transition, given how much love it’s received...