Yes, you are allowed to hate Iron Man

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The post-apocalypse is getting chilly as the winter comes. If you manage to survive whatever vague Armageddon wrecks the world, here's a helpful tip: Make friends with the biggest nerd you can find. He may be annoying, but man, his complete run of Rom: Spaceknight and a Bic lighter will see you through many a cold night.


Ironing Bored


Hello Mr. Postman! Thanks for your service throughout the recent apocalypse.

I feel very much alone in my opinion and I don't know why; Am I the only person who doesn't like Iron Man?

It wasn't always this way. After Iron Man 1, I dug Iron Man and Tony Stark both but slowly I've fallen out with them. Iron Man is more and more absent and Tony Stark just annoys me the more I see of him. I also find Iron Man's solo stuff full of nonsense and the Avenger was far too Iron Man centric. Having seen Thor 2 and found it much more fun and a better movie than IM3 or 2, why does Iron Man still get all the attention?

Am I the only non-Iron Man fan? Am I crazy? Wrong? Right?

I doubt you're the only person who doesn't like Iron Man, Zepren, although you're not exactly part of a national movement, either. But you're not crazy, and not wrong — you're allowed to not like whatever you want. Do you find Iron Man to be Batman without the pathos? Do you find Tony Stark to be smarmy and over-privileged? Do you think his villains are lame? Do you think his movies have a weird lack of coherent storytelling? All of that is fine.

But that doesn't make you right, either — it's just a matter of personal preference. Some people like Iron Man, some prefer Thor. Some prefer DC over all the Marvel movies (admittedly, I don't know anybody personally who feels this, but they must be out there somewhere). You've clearly watched all three Iron Man movies, so it's not like you made up your mind without giving it a try. There might be a little of the old "everybody likes it so much that it's getting on my nerves so I'm going to hate it even more" going on here, but maybe not, and even if there is I'm not judging because I've done exactly that for way too much of my adult life. In summary: It's your opinion. Your opinion cannot be wrong.

As for Iron Man's popularity, you can blame Robert Downey Jr. for that one. People have forgotten that before the 2008 Iron Man movie was made, Iron Man was hardly Marvel's most popular character. Oh, he was an Avenger, sure, but he was nowhere near the level of fame that Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, the X-Men, or even Thor had. Some people thought Marvel was crazy by making their first Marvel movie about the character. They also thought they were crazy for casting Robert Downey Jr. in the role, because this was like his fourth comeback after drug rehab.

But it worked, and now Iron Man (and RDJ) is basically the biggest star of the Marvel movie-verse (which is why Avengers was so "Iron Man-centric," as you put it). It was a combination of RDJ's charm, Iron Man's humor, and the fact that the Iron Man movie looked like it was part of the real world more than any other superhero movie before it. It's hard to explain, but Iron Man looks plausible in a way that Spider-Man, X-Men, and even the Dark Knight movies don't. Maybe it helps that Tony Stark basically has no superpowers, and his costume is a lot more reasonable than Batman's. At any rate, Iron Man set the template for the entire Marvel movie-verse in this way, and it's obviously worked like gangbusters.

By the way, all the Iron Man movies do have massive story problems, 2 and 3 especially. I didn't really care because again, I really enjoy RDJ as Tony Stark and am happy to just watch him charm his way through the films. If you don't care for Stark or RDJ, I can easily see why the Iron Man movies do nothing for you.


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The Direct Approach

Orlando G.:

Dear Mr. Postman

Back when we had civilization, there were tales of giant bio-mechanical beast piloted by young children to fight Angelic Creatures for really confusing reasons. Unfortunately, these children and their handlers were all fucked in the head. And everyone turned into Tang.

There was talk of a live-action movie, but Pacific Rim happened instead. And it was amazing, but not in a box office way.

With those dreams squashed, I wonder, who would make a good director for Evangelion? For a while, Peter Jackson was on it, and it would've been sweet and epic.

But... Given story and mood, I think a more appropriate director would be Lars Von Trier. If you've seen Anti-Christ or Dancer in the Dark, you could see the emotional depravity and utter despair he could bring to Evangelion.

So what you say, Il Postino? Would a Danish master of Despair and Nihilism trump the New Zealand master of spectacle and wonder?

Or maybe we could have Todd Solondz turn it into a black comedy?

Keep Civilization alive!

Honestly, about the only reason I'd want a live-action Evangelion movie is if someone held a gun to my head and told me the only way to survive was to appoint a director for it. I really don't think Evangelion would gain anything by being transferred to live-action, and the potential for what it might lose in the translation is staggering, Of course, I also think the recent animated Evangelion movies are pretty and fun, but don't compare at all to the brilliance of the original TV show, so maybe I'm not the best one to ask (I also think the original, completely insane, super-cheap Gainax-ran-out-of-money-in-episode-24 ending is the best Evangelion ending, but that's an answer for another day).


So, gun to my head, I'd say Duncan Jones of Moon fame, as well as the upcoming Warcraft movie. Assuming Warcraft doesn't blow, he'll have experience with an epic requiring tons of CG, and given his prior movies, I think he would not only present Evangelion authentically, but he'd keep it from becoming a straight-up CG action fest (i.e., Pacific Rim with weirder kaiju). Lars Von Trier is a good idea, and he could obviously develop all of Evangelion's themes, but I have no idea how he'd do with the action, and the action is what makes all of Shinji's whining scenes even slightly bearable.

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Walking Hard

Ken P.:

In the last Postal Apocalypse (TM) your speculation about how Walking Dead would end had me thinking. I think eventually every fan of the series will give in to zombie fatigue and quit the show, much like the shows characters will inevitably be overcome by the hopeless zombie plague.

I also think the answer to this problem lies in a similar apocalypse man kind had to face in Battle Star Galactica. BSG characters had an achievable goal (specifically finding Earth) which gave them something to do other than survive. More importantly, it gave them hope.

Do you think giving the Walking Dead characters a concrete, achievable goal would effectively thwart viewer zombie fatigue? If so, what suggestion would you give the writers as a goal?


I think the characters of The Walking Dead do have a discernable goal, and that's "survive." It's something they're always working towards, while countless obstacles get in their way. Hell, basically everything gets in their way, so they're struggling at least as hard as any other protagonist, maybe harder.

Now, you may say this is the same goal as in every zombie movie, but here is The Walking Dead's genius — The Walking Dead is a zombie movie that never ends. No matter how bad things get in a zombie movie, the end arrives around two hours later — maybe the survivors are rescued, maybe everybody dies, maybe a cure is found. But no matter what, the story ends.


But on The Walking Dead, the story doesn't end. The characters have to keep surviving, days, weeks, months, years after the world basically ends, and that's a very different story. The Walking Dead isn't interested just in scares, but it wants to know how people react when an omnipresent threat like zombies never, ever goes away, and that's an interesting story (in theory; certainly seasons 1-3 put it to the test).

I think giving the group a final goal — reach this place of ultimate safety, find a cure, etc. — would negate most of what The Walking Dead is really about, and definitely what makes it unique. Maybe they'll use something like it at the end, but even that seems weird to me — it seems like it would be far better to let the struggle continue past the final episode.


As for viewer fatigue, despite no discernable goals other than surviving and with three mediocre-to-crap seasons so far, The Walking Dead has a jillion viewers and is still more popular than most network shows. Clearly, the mass populace isn't fatigued quite yet.

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Would Skynet be better off not travelling back in time? When they sent back Arnold, they made Sarah Conner aware of Skynet, they also forced the humans to send back Kyle Reese to make John Connor. If they never bothered to kill Sarah, John would never have existed therefore solving that problem. Then again in the second film they try to kill John, they make him aware of Skynet, he now knows his Mother was not crazy. They give away their plan by trying to kill John. Assuming they still go with the first movie, they should have learned a lesson: If they never bothered to kill John he would be untrained, unprepared and unaware of the future, maybe just some bum or in prison, or if he's lucky an IT guy. Anyway most likely dying in the first nuclear attack.

I hope you can fix Terminator for me!

Well, I could give you some big spiel about how time isn't really linear and Skynet will have always sent Arnold back into the past to kill Sarah Connor, because the events in the future are just as set in stone as those in the past, but I won't. Here are two less esoteric things:

1) Skynet wasn't sentient when the previous Terminators were sent back, so they have no idea what really happened. All they know is that in the future, John Connor is being a asshole by failing to succumb to the robo-revolution, so they send their Terminators back into the past to kill him and his mom, never realizing that they themselves are helping to bring about the events they're trying to prevent. Silly killer robots! They don't understand how time works!


2) If you'll recall, the only reason Skynet exists is because it sent the T-800 back in time in the first movie, and Cyberdyne got a hold of the Terminator's arm and was then able to reverse engineer it, thus being able to create Skynet in the first place. So Skynet had to send at least the first Terminator back into the past, or it wouldn't have existed either.

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Format & Function

John K.H.:

Dear Mr. Postman,

Recently, a friend & I attended a showing of Ender's Game, at one of the fine cinemas still dotting our pre-apocalyptic America. My friend was a huge fan of the book. I was completely unaware of it's existence until it was released as a film. My friend... we'll call him "Matt", as that is his real name...liked the movie, but felt it merely brushed across key story elements. I also enjoyed the movie, but felt it was completely lacking in gravitas at the climax of the film.

I put forward the idea that Ender's Game would have been better served, had it been adapted as an HBO series. Such a format would have allowed the series to go greater in depth on the story elements that Matt felt were only touched upon, while also taking the time to properly build up all the characters, not just Ender.

.... then, I went nuclear! I declared that film was dead, and that the series format used so successfully by HBO, Showtime, AMC, and F/X was superior in adapting literary works involving large casts of characters. While film was still worthy of telling small tales, which centered on three or four characters, a larger ensemble would only suffer under the limited time constraints of a two hour movie.

Marvel's deal with Netflix would seem to indicate that they agree. Serialized stories should be adapted into a serialized format. So, my question is... do you think comic book, science fiction, fantasy, and horror properties have a better future pursuing series over movies, or do these genres still need the bigger budget of a movie studio to truly bring them to life, even if that spectacle is at the cost of story and character?


You're asking if the nerd genre (if you'll pardon the term) is better served by movies or TV shows, but the answer isn't that simple. They're just formats, and you can have a great superhero movie, or you can have a great superhero TV show, or you can have a shitty version of either. Saying TV shows are inherently better than movies is like saying forks are better than knives — they're both good at their own thing.

You're right in that generally movies usually value spectacle over character development and storytelling — especially the nerd genre — while TV can rarely afford the spectacle, but has enough time to really dig into characters and plots. But there are plenty of stories suited for both types. The spectacle is a large part of superhero movies' appeal, while more thoughtful scifi like Star Trek is better served by TV. You may enjoy TV more than movies — certainly there's some damn fine TV on nowadays— but some stories are still going to be better as movies than shows.


For instance, superhero stories are generally going to be better as movies, because only movies have the budget to truly bring the sensibilities of a comic to life. You say that Marvel's Netflix deal implies that Marvel is choosing TV over movies, but that's not true — I guarantee you that if Marvel thought it could make movies out of these lesser-tier characters, it would in a heartbeat. Think about this: Do people really want to see Luke Cage and Iron Fist slowly develop a friendship over the course of 10 episodes, or do they want to see them take on the Wrecking Crew in an epic 30-minute brawl? The character development would be nice, but I'm betting they'd chose the latter. But since a movie is too risky a proposition for these characters, Marvel's hedging their bets and going with TV shows for them.

As for Ender's Game, think of it this way: a TV show would have been able to delve into the characters more and tell a more complicated story, but then the battle room would look like hell and the final battle would have been played on a Super Nintendo, because TV just doesn't have the money to match those special effects. You could argue that Ender's Game would have been better served as a TV show, but a hell of a lot less people would have watched it, and at the end of the day that's what matters to the people who make these things.


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




Sorry, Iron Man is more plausible than Batman?

Do tell how? I said that out loud and three people gave me the strangest look I've ever seen. Addendum: two weren't comic book people.