Tor.com content by

Emily Asher-Perrin

Zombieland: Double Tap Delivers the Same Fun of the Original, Which Is All It Needs to Do

It’s been an entire decade since the release of Zombieland, which was a disgusting, action-packed laugh riot that answered zombie comedies like Shawn of the Dead with a decidedly American brand of humor. Now we’re back for seconds—which the film makes a meta nod to within its first minute—and ready to find out how our found family of four misfits has weathered the apocalypse together.

[Minor spoilers for Zombieland Double Tap]

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The Joker Can Fit Any Story You Prefer to Tell

As the song goes, “Everybody Loves A Clown”… Well, everybody except the Batman. And all the Robins. And the GCPD. And Gotham City. But the clown keeps coming back, regardless of who wants him hanging around. He always will. The Joker is now starring in his own origin film, so audiences can have another glimpse at the Clown Prince of Crime. His legacy is nearly as old as Batman’s cape and cowl.

Questions surrounding the character’s enduring popularity have raged for decades, but his appeal perhaps isn’t so hard to reconcile when we note what separates him from other DC villains—namely, in a universe where all the bad guys build their personas on schticks, the Joker is a cipher. The clown getup stays the same, but who he is entirely depends on what the story requires.

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Batwoman Finds a Way to Make the Caped Crusader Fun Again

Remember when Batman was fun to watch? Certainly, the figure goes through eras where he’s more dour than usual, but with the popularity of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, it seems that the character has been on a decidedly grim bent on screen. Still, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who’s getting tired of sad, angry, existential Bat-plots. So how do we make Batman fun again?

It turns out, you just hand Ruby Rose a Batsuit and let her take care of everything.

[Some spoilers for Batwoman, episode one.]

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Joker’s Dismissal of Pop Culture Narratives Is Precisely What Brings It Down

Joker garnered a lot of positive buzz after its first showing at the Venice Film Festival, where it won their Golden Lion Award. The early premiere gave the film plenty of time to bask in this glory without a wide audience, which is an odd situation for a superhero movie in this day and age. Typically, these projects care more about fandom’s reaction than anything, but Joker was very clear about projecting a different image: It was Art, not something the masses were meant to group in with dreaded popular entertainment.

That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have worked. But Joker doesn’t display the intention needed to pull it off.

[Some spoilers for Joker below.]

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9 Characters I Love Because They Are Hurting (and So Am I)

Due to personal reasons, I am incapable of talking about pain without humor. It’s a defense mechanism, I admit—when you’re dealing with it a lot (chronic pain is a thing I’ve been accustomed to for the majority of my life), sometimes it’s easier to make light of it. But the other day I realized something about how I apply this lens to fiction: Many of the characters I adore have their own issues with chronic pain, and this specific difficulty is tied to how much I care for them. My baby, I think to myself. No one should ever be cruel to this sweet glazed doughnut. Don’t you touch their aching heads.

Here is a list of people who have Been Through Enough Hurting. Kindly leave them alone, for my sake.

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How Boba Fett Escaped the Mighty Sarlacc, and Other Tales From Jabba’s Palace

The title of this anthology should really just be “It’s Tough to Be A Gangster.” (Or maybe, “If Your Criminal Life Doesn’t Work Out, Become A Bodiless Monk.”) Because if you ever wanted the secrets behind all those characters in Jabba’s entourage, all you really need to know is pretty much everyone wants him dead. In fact, if he hadn’t given Luke and Leia a reason to come after him, it probably wouldn’t have changed his Date of Expiration by that many dual sunsets.

Also, monks built his palace way before he came to live there? Monks that keep their brains in jars attached to droid spider bodies? I know. It’s madness. But it’s all true.

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Turncoat ‘Droids, Vengeful Wookiees, and Other Star Wars: Tales of the Bounty Hunters

Fact is, there aren’t that many background characters in The Empire Strikes Back to latch onto. There are some rebel pilots (half of whom die) and random denizens of Cloud City? They live on a city in the clouds—who honestly needs to know about what they do all day?

But those bounty hunters… they might be worth a second look.

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How Do You Visualize Stories?

Inevitably, when someone is trying to advocate reading over watching things on screens, some variation of this old joke gets made: “Books are like movies inside your head!” This assumes everyone can—and does—create a full mental picture when they read, complete with sets, landscapes, costumed characters, and easy-to-follow action.

But that’s not how it works for me.

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How Do Robots in Science Fiction Talk to Each Other?

Technology-based lifeforms have to communicate, just like any other living beings. And just like living beings, science fiction has come up with a variety of ways for them to do so. Keeping tabs on the way robots, computers, and A.I. convey information in genre fiction offers an fascinating glimpse into what humans think the future might look like—and how we would prefer to interact with technology ourselves.

When looking to science fiction for sentient life created by artificial means, there are plenty of possibilities to choose from. A.I. and robotics are some of the oldest hallmarks of the genre, and there are countless ways to render characters that fit the bill. But with those characters come a number of questions about how they move through the world (/galaxy/universe) and who they interact with. Were they created for a specific purpose, or to exist as they will? Do they have a community of their own kind, or are they restricted to humans and aliens and other organic matter? And if they do have their own communities… doesn’t it stand to reason that they would have their own traditions, their own philosophies, and even their own forms of communication? And what do those forms look like?

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Spock and the Myth of “Emotion Versus Logic”

Look, I’m just saying that Spock was wrong.

Not about everything, of course. But about his developmental crux, the war going on betwixt his delightfully pointed ears. People love to talk about Spock’s struggle to reconcile the two natures within him—the rational, staid pragmatism of Vulcan and the wild, untempered emotionality of Earth. The half-vulcan half-human spends his entire life trying to accommodate these halves, and seems to wind up somewhere in the middle. He takes what’s best from both of his ancestral cultures and knits them together beautifully, evolving into a mature and centered being.

Except that’s not what happened at all.

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