...and with both Blade Runner 2049 and The Last Jedi trailer out this week, I thought now might be a good time to talk to Reddit.

Ask me anything about Blade Runner, Star Wars and the other stuff I've written about (retro video games, Batman and superheroes, Alice in Wonderland, David Bowie) ... or about academia, PhDs, becoming a professor, getting that kind of book published.

Here's some more about me and my background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Brooker

Proof, fresh from my office at work: https://imgur.com/a/NVWzt

EDIT: I've now been answering questions for 3 and a half hours solid, and have 150 still to answer... I'll keep going as long as I can. Thanks for all the discussion so far!

EVERYBODY HATES EDITS: I've been answering questions for 5 hours 15 minutes now and my hands are really taking the strain. I'll come back tomorrow, around 8am GMT, and give it another shot.

I appreciate all the questions, especially the ones asking if I'm 'professor of edge', or in Chemical Romance, or Green Day, or if I'm Draco Malfoy or a scary street magician.

EDIT 3 I've now put in 2 and a half more hours on a Sunday and I'm afraid I have to prepare my teaching for Monday, or my students won't have a good time.

Sorry that I didn't get to all the questions, though I think some of them were repetitions of things I've already answered, or more comments about my hair. I may be able to read and respond more during the week, but I hope you understand I am juggling a lot of work.

Thank you all for making this such a fascinating experience and discussion.

Comments: 1279 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

viborg1344 karma

Respectfully, how much of your Wikipedia page did you yourself write?

willbrooker1365 karma

That's a very fair question, and I am glad I can honestly say that I didn't touch it.

I think it was started by someone in Australia whom I've never met. I looked up the author because I was curious about who would have started a page about me. You can look up the contributors.

I did ask one of my PhD students to add a couple of details, for the sake of accuracy, so the most anyone could say is that by proxy, I made some contributions to it through someone else. But I didn't write any of that -- just said something like 'can you make sure this book is mentioned, and can you correct the bit about where I first studied.'

I don't tend to read it as it feels embarrassing and I'm aware that anyone could add hostile or negative details to it, which I'd rather avoid.

postdochell293 karma

Technically you're actually not allowed to edit your own Wikipedia page

willbrooker496 karma

Exactly, and you definitely aren't allowed to start your own.

TheFinalDeception757 karma

Who is the most powerful force user batman could beat in a fight, and how would the fight go down?

willbrooker1574 karma

With prep, I think Batman would be able to find a way to disrupt and neutralise the Force - using ysalamiri, if we were still in the old Star Wars EU - which would reduce any Force user to simply a very good duellist with a light saber.

Batman is also a great hand-to-hand duellist, having fought Ra's al Ghul with scimitars (I'm not going to be able to provide links and scans here), so I think he would be able to best, for instance, young Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Anakin in his prime, Count Dooku or Maul, if their Force powers were neutralised, and if Batman was also armed with a light saber.

If Batman couldn't find a way to neutralise the Force abilities, I think the strongest he could beat is Vader in A New Hope, as he looks pretty slow and rusty. Even against Vader in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, I think Batman could disable Vader's mechanical suit with an electromagnetic pulse easily enough, rendering him helpless, and could probably even hack into Vader's life support.

Whether this would work against the Vader who seems to be in his prime at the end of Rogue One is a different matter.

Without prep, encountering a Force user for the first time, I think Batman would lose.

With prep, I think he would have a good chance against anyone we see in the official movies, and could 8/10 Darth Vader in all films except Rogue One.

That's my quick answer.

pooptest123826 karma

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

However, your faith in Batman isn't entirely without merit.

willbrooker840 karma

Batman with prep can beat Superman, so I think he is a formidable opponent.

asifnot320 karma

It must be amazing to do for a living what most of my friends do over beers for free.

willbrooker413 karma

True! And I also do it over beers for free!

Comicspedia98 karma

It's true! Will and I once met in Chicago and discussed the Marvel family (DC's Captain Marvel/Shazam) over beers.

willbrooker158 karma

For free!

overthemountain146 karma

Wait, wait, wait.

What's the time span between the end of Rogue One and the beginning of ANH? I don't think they specify but I imagine it's anywhere from a few hours to maybe a month or so at most. How does Vader go from "in his prime" to "slow and rusty" in that time frame?

willbrooker247 karma

It doesn't make sense and to my mind, it's a plot and character gap. Basically, logic was sacrificed for the sake of a bad-ass Vader scene at the end of Rogue One. Your mileage may vary over whether it was worth it. Personally, I love that Rogue One scene but it's hard to explain why Vader became so slow and clunky by A New Hope, except perhaps that he was giving Obi-Wan, his old friend and master, an easy ride.

Mountthemadness131 karma

With prep, Batman

r/whowouldwin just had a collective orgasm because of this.

willbrooker138 karma

I am a regular reader of r/whowouldwin!

coderinc20 karma

Vader ‘in his prime at the end of Rogue One’ is the same Vader from A New Hope ;-)

willbrooker25 karma

I know, but he doesn't seem to fight with the same ability!

workingonaname530 karma

Did Han shoot first?

willbrooker1361 karma

Yes. He shot first in that he literally shot first in the original version of the film.

Also, however much they revise the films, my personal headcanon would always insist that he shot first, because it makes sense in terms of his character arc.

If Han was always a great guy who fights fair and only uses his weapon in retaliation, it wouldn't make sense for him to soften by ROTJ. The whole point is that when we meet him in ANH, he only looks out for himself and his co-pilot, and only cares about money and his own survival.

Naxek79 karma

Isn't it true in the textual scholarship discipline that the most recent form of an author's text is the authoritative one? Wouldn't this mean the revised editions take precedent?

willbrooker277 karma

One important strand of theory insists that the reader's interpretation takes precedence over the author's intention anyway.

I think we also tend to value 'originals' as authentic. It's not as if A New Hope was a draft. It was a finished movie!

h00ter772 karma

Oh so Blade Runner Theatrical Cut or Final Cut?

Reasonable_TSM_fan77 karma

I think you can argue Final cut is the most authentic because that's the definitive director's edition.The theatrical cut was mired with producers having too many hands and opinions on the piece.

h00ter733 karma

I absolutely agree, I just wonder how Mr. Brooker feels about it since it's contrary to how he (and most of us) feel about ANH. Worth mentioning that the rerelease is Lucas's definitive edition as well. But, yes, under very different circumstances came both edits.

willbrooker125 karma

That's a good point. I contradicted myself!

But perhaps there is a difference, as you suggest. The original Blade Runner was, as I understand it, a compromise in many ways, for instance with the addition of the voiceover.

I know Lucas says he was compromised with A New Hope, because the technology of the 1970s wouldn't let him achieve his vision, but I feel that's slightly different. I don't think he was negotiating with the studio in the same way as Ridley Scott.

I don't feel there's any evidence that Lucas really wanted to have Greedo shoot first, and just couldn't film it that way (because of late 1970s technology?) I feel he was tinkering.

Whereas I feel much more convinced that Scott genuinely wanted the unicorn dream, and was only able to reinstate it in later versions.

Seankps259 karma

Do you like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Do you wish more of it was incorporated into the movies?

willbrooker274 karma

I do like it, though I think like a lot of PKD's work, it reads like it was written on speed (which I think is the case). It is full of amazing ideas, but as a coherent story with characters and plot, I think it's technically a bit fragmented and frustrating.

As I remember, the Westwood Blade Runner game incorporated a little more of the novel's ideas (think it mentions kipple?) and the K W Jeter novels, particularly the first sequel The Edge of Human, tried to make sense of the differences between Blade Runner and DADoES, such as how J F Sebastian relates to John Isidore.

I think it would be a nice tribute if BR2049 had tried to incorporate more from Dick's novel, but then again, the BR film universe is its own self-contained world now, distinct from our own future, and also arguably distinct from the world that Dick created. If they could have done it in a way that fitted, and didn't seem like a throwaway Easter Egg that disrupted the story-world, I think it would have been a nice touch.

Simon_Magnus91 karma

You didn't notice thematic throwbacks and tiny easter eggs based on the novel in 2049? DADoES is very much about deciding what is real and if knowing is even worth it, something the original BR film never really focused on. 2049, however, embarks openly and primarily upon those themes. The main character has to question his own reality and the reality of his relationship with every single other character in the film.

We even get Deckard not wanting to know if his pet is real or not.

willbrooker76 karma

Thematic throwbacks, certainly, but I didn't really notice tiny Easter Eggs. Of course, the themes throughout the Blade Runner movies are indebted to DADoEs. I'm afraid I haven't read the novel for a while. That's why comments like yours are useful.

Adorno_a_window58 karma

I thought the sheep origami was a reference

willbrooker42 karma

Yes, you're right.

IvanKaliayev245 karma

If you could change one thing about Blade Runner to improve upon it as a film, what would it be?

willbrooker342 karma

OK I answered your question, then realised you were asking about the original Blade Runner... sorry!

I reply below about BR2049, then I'll answer the question properly.

At the time, I thought it should have been cut down a little, and that it was too long. Now, on reflection, I think perhaps it needed that length as it's such an immersive, slow-moving, thoughtful and complex epic.

One thing I still don't love about it is the scene where the rebel replicants step out of the shadow on cue. I think the replicant army seems a little too neat, almost cliched, and perhaps they could have been reduced to just a small bunch of resistant Nexus 8, with a few newer models.

The fact that Luv leaves K in Vegas, rather than making sure he's dead or bringing him back to Wallace, also seems a bit too much of a convenient plot hole.

There are other points I don't fully understand about the movie, but I think it's fine if some of it is ambiguous and mysterious, as was the case with the original.

So, overall I was least fond of the sudden appearance of a bad-ass replicant rebellion group towards the end of the movie.

OK, the original Blade Runner.

This is one movie that I often say is my favourite -- it is hard to pick favourites but that's the one I offer, when I am asked. So I'm so fond of it, I would be reluctant to change anything.

One thing I wouldn't mind seeing added to the original Blade Runner is the scene that was shot then cut, where Deckard visits Holden in hospital.

I think it would be fair to add in something that was part of the original movie, and see how that works.

I don't think I would want to risk changing Blade Runner as while it isn't perfect, its imperfections are what make it so interesting.

strangecan211 karma

Regarding the fact the Luv leaves K in Vegas:

I inferred that Luv was forced to kill and behave violently against her will because she is enslaved by Wallace. In the archives room with K, she asks him a personal question after stating how wonderful it would be to have someone ask you a personal question. She cries more than once when committing violence, and also steals a kiss from K before fatally wounding him. Each of those acts seemed to originate from her true self either instinctively (crying) be or in moments when she had space to exercise her freedom.

Luv leaving K in Las Vegas felt like an act of mercy—she was not ordered to kill him and he was no longer a hindrance to get mission, so she left him alone and alive.

I thought this set Luv up as a thematic foil to K, which makes his choice at the end all the more powerful: he does not follow the order-to-kill of the replicant leader. Instead he becomes aware that he is free (seeing a miracle) and chooses not to kill Deckard. Luv is unable to break her bonds and remains enslaved to Wallace's will.

At least that was my interpretation, would be interested if anyone else felt this way

atarijpb1969115 karma

I think she left him there because she was so arrogant. As she said later “I’m the best one” when she swam back out to the sinking car and she also talked about how small-minded Joshi was before she killed her. The whole bit where she destroyed the scrappers from above exhibited that thinking as well. She was the worst sort of replicant - almost like Sam Jackson’s character in Django Unchained - proud of what she was with no compassion for any others like her who were around her. She reveled in her replicant role.

willbrooker54 karma

That would be also my way of trying to explain her behaviour.

SandwicheDynasty28 karma

And maybe I'm misinterpreting, but I understood her regular crying to be an example of how replicants often don't have a good idea of how to emotionally react to things without the lifetime of learning what emotions are and so they can react bizarrely.

Teutorigos11 karma

Same here. I would compare it to the original movie where Roy would go from being stoic tough guy to having an expression of pure sadness on the verge of crying. They may physically be adults but emotionally they're children.

willbrooker17 karma

Yes, they've technically been born as adults, but they haven't had long to develop social skills, and they mainly seem to mix with other replicants rather than with humans (partly because of anti-replicant prejudice). The Shoulder of Orion podcast u/bladerunnerpodcast made a good point about this recently.

cepxico131 karma

I'd probably change the rapey scene with ford to maybe get the point across better. Looking at it now you tend to lose all the respect for the character, not that he deserves much but it breaks the immersion for me.

willbrooker147 karma

Actually, yeah. That is a great choice! I would go for that instead. It's a weird and disturbing scene, and it makes it harder (for me) to believe that they had any kind of equal, healthy loving relationship afterwards. Rachael seems to be simply repeating what Deckard tells her to say, as if he's programming her.

On the other hand, it is an important part of the original, however uneasy it might make us feel as viewers. I agree, it makes it harder to sympathise with Deckard, in 2019 and in 2049.

droppinkn0wledge46 karma

If anything, 2049 makes this scene feel even more out of place, because we're led to believe in this rather tragic and romantic interpretation of Rachel and Deckard's relationship. The rapey scene doesn't really fit at all with this interpretation, in my opinion.

However, 2049 also hints that Rachel (and possibly Deckard) were literally programmed to fall in love and procreate, regardless of their own free will. So in that sense, the rapey scene is actually at its most poignant and thought provoking.

How do you feel about the infamous, goofy, and tonally out of place "Deckard reporter" scene?

willbrooker42 karma

I think that seems like a reference to a classic film noir, The Big Sleep.


Deliberately or not, I think it works because it echoes this scene where a similar hard-boiled detective puts on a goofy persona, and confirms the debt to classic noir.

TuckRaker224 karma

Do you expect the new Star Wars movies to actually fill in any background on the Knights of Ren or Snoke? Looking back, the original trilogy gave very little insight on the Sith or Darth Sidious. The word Sith was never even used if I remember correctly.

willbrooker303 karma

I really enjoy reading the Snoke = Plagueis theories on Star Wars Speculation here. I find them pretty convincing.

I agree that it would make a lot of sense if Snoke was Palpatine's mentor, rather than just some random big bad. So in a way, I hope this theory is correct, because it would add a nice sense of narrative echo and that 'rhyming' aspect Lucas tried to seed throughout the saga.

It's hard to say how the sequels will play out, because now they are in different hands. If they were under Lucas' control, I would say I think I have enough sense of Lucas, from studying his work, to predict the kind of thing he'd do. But I get the idea that TLJ is meant to subvert our expectations - perhaps partly because a lot of fans found The Force Awakens to be safe and predictable. So while I expect there will be echoes and 'rhymes', I find it hard to get a handle on what the new creative team is planning, and where they're going.

To give a quick answer, I do think we will find out about Snoke's background. If we don't, I think that will be frustrating and feel incomplete. The Knights of Ren, I am less sure about. I don't know how learning more about them will fill a gap in the mythos in a satisfying way. I wouldn't want the next SW movies to be reliant on flashbacks and exposition about the past.

goomiraf49 karma

The Knights of Ren, I am less sure about. I don't know how learning more about them will fill a gap in the mythos in a satisfying way. I wouldn't want the next SW movies to be reliant on flashbacks and exposition about the past.

Could it be interesting to explore The Knights of Ren in a separate, parallel movie? Do they play a large enough part in the mythos for that?

willbrooker76 karma

After the Solo movie (assuming they don't mess it up), I would like to see a Kenobi movie, and maybe a Boba Fett movie, and currently those are all the anthology episodes I'd personally be rooting for. But of course, other people will have their own choices.

Harbournessrage201 karma

What do you think about Luke, Han and Leia handling in The Force Awakening movie?

willbrooker495 karma

I'm glad they were included. The Han Solo scenes in TFA were what I connected with most, as a fan who first saw Star Wars in 1977. They were the heart of the movie for me, and I liked the bittersweet sense of nostalgia and melancholy around Han and Leia -- the sense of history, and of mistakes made, and passing the torch down to the next generation.

I found it shocking and upsetting when Han died, but in plot terms, I can certainly see the reasons for it, and I doubt that Ford would have wanted to stay on for three movies.

From what I've seen so far, Mark Hamill is going to give the performance of his life as Luke, just as (I think) Harrison Ford did in Blade Runner 2049. He has matured so much as an actor, and it looks as if he's really enjoying the role.

Leia, obviously, has to leave the saga in the next movie, and I expect they'll be sure to do her, and Carrie Fisher, justice. I imagine her last scene will be very emotional.

thejohnblog200 karma

What is your opinion of so much of The Star Wars EU getting removed from Canon status? Also, what now non canonical story do you wish was still Canon?

willbrooker257 karma

I'm generally against the erasure and suppression of stories. I feel the same way about the way DC Comics decides some stories 'didn't happen' and are written out of history.

I was never a huge EU reader, but I can entirely understand the way fans might feel betrayed by that decision, even though I also think the EU had a lot of variable quality. I don't personally feel every character needed a backstory, and I never felt driven to read the stories set in the far future or the distant past. So perhaps for me, the EU became too 'Extended', but that's just my own preference.

Personally, I loved the Zahn trilogy, and Shadows of the Empire. They offered me quality Star Wars content in the long years between any official movies. If they could find a way of adapting a version of Shadows of the Empire into a movie that took place between episodes V and VI, I think that would be pretty interesting.

I understand that Thrawn is now entering back into canon though, so it seems everything is open to change.

vavoysh159 karma

Have you thought about doing a YouTube series covering similar topics? I love reading about stuff like this but it's hard to share with friends.

willbrooker165 karma

That's a big compliment, thank you, but I just don't think I would have the time for it! If some media company wanted to pay me for it, and organise the production, I would seriously consider it, but I take on a lot of projects at once, as it is, and there is a limit to what I can do without doing some of them badly.

EckhartsLadder35 karma

I have a Star Wars YouTube channel, you're welcome to make an appearance! I'd edit and produce the content! Money comes from ad revenue.


willbrooker34 karma

I did a Skype interview for a podcast this week, so I'm happy to do another interview sometime if you want to feature me.

opinionatedcaboose114 karma

Did you like 2048?

willbrooker316 karma

I liked 2049...

axiomaticAnarchy84 karma

Is Deckard a replicant? Also what do you think of how the symbolism of the unicorn changed in the new movie?

willbrooker149 karma

I answered the replicant question above, so I'll repeat that below.

If you mean the way the unicorn became a horse statue, that's a good question. I've seen theories that the horse seems to have had horn that broke off... but other theories that all the wooden animals in 2049 spell out 'RACHAEL', and 'U' for unicorn would disrupt that.

A horse is a unicorn that's been brought down to earth, and made 'real', so in a sense it's perfect if Deckard, who dreamed of unicorns, gave that to his baby girl... a dream made real.

I think it makes much more sense in terms of interest and complexity for us never to know. However, after seeing BR2049, my overriding sense was that Deckard is not a replicant. He does seem to be an even match for K in a fist fight, but then K runs easily through a wall, whereas Deckard takes the door - that, to me, is a key and meaningful moment. And if Tyrell had wanted to set up two replicants to 'fall in love' and have a baby, he wouldn't surely have had to invite Deckard, a Blade Runner, to his office. He could have fabricated a male replicant and engineered the meeting without involving the cops. It seems to me more plausible that the 'miracle' was a child born of a human and a replicant. But I'm glad the film leaves it open. That's just my impression right now. I've always maintained (before BR2049) that if Deckard is a replicant, he's clearly physically weaker than the Nexus 6, and more sophisticated in that he doesn't know he's a replicant. So he's not like Batty, and also seems more convinced of his humanity than Rachael, who accepts quite easily that her memories are false. As Nexus 8s like Sapper are also incredibly strong, unlike Deckard, he's different to those, too. So if he is a replicant, I'm not sure how he fits into any category produced by Tyrell. Of course, the unicorn dream and the unicorn origami is a heavy clue that he's meant to be a replicant in 2019. We don't know how memories were manufactured in the Tyrell era, so it's hard to know how Gaff could have been aware of Deckard's unicorn dream. In short, it is better left as a mystery, and I tended one way (towards replicant) in 2019, and the other way (towards human) in 2049.

axiomaticAnarchy44 karma

Thanks for the insight. Me and my professor are currently in a rather heated discussion about the unicorn/horse and this insight may bring more to light.

willbrooker50 karma

Well, these are just my current thoughts, but I think that's all anyone has got right now... we are all responding to a movie that only came out last week. I'm glad if my ideas will contribute to your discussion!

521313 karma

But doesn't K basically let Deckard beat him up? K rarely retaliates, and when he does, it looks to be with just enough force to do what he wants (like removing a gun from Deckard's grip)

willbrooker12 karma

If Deckard was a replicant, though, I think his punches would have damaged K more severely. Replicants can punch through walls.

asoneva82 karma

Why were you always so mean to Harry Potter?

willbrooker110 karma

He took the attention away from my glorious hair.

suntorytime6979 karma

if you were put on an island with 5 games of your choice (and the ability to run them) what would they be?

Also, what cut of Blade Runner would you recommend to people?

P.S - Hey from a fellow UEA alumni

willbrooker98 karma

hi, fellow alumnus!

I am proud to say I completed two relatively new video games this year, GTAV and Bioshock Infinite -- which is a lot, for me, as I don't have a lot of spare time to commit to long stories and immersive worlds.

Most of my gaming took place in the 1980s.

I would probably take GTA V, and San Andreas, my 1990s favourite Wing Commander Privateer, the 1980s ZX Spectrum classic Jetpac, and one of the Batman: Arkham games that I haven't played, as I would have time to commit to it and really get into it.

javierjabanero25 karma

Ooh, what are your thoughts on Bioshock Infinite? Mind blowing, or inter-dimensional kitsch?

willbrooker49 karma

I really loved it. I had watched the whole story on YouTube playthroughs previously, but it still affected me to experience the twists personally, within the game.

I know it has serious flaws, like the fact that it feels like walking around a museum rather than a living, breathing world, but the design is fantastic, and even if we can find plot holes in the time-travel narrative, I still think it's really clever.

I admire its ambition, even if it doesn't come off 100%, and I have no problem with the fact that it's mainly about shooting people in a pretty city.

One thing I would have changed about it is the ability to carry more than one weapon.

Heyimcool77 karma

What is your favorite brand of eyeliner?

willbrooker78 karma

Urban Decay, but as a cheap 'dupe', Barry M.

rustyblackhart76 karma

Was it hard to accept the news that you didn't make the cut for My Chemical Romance auditions?

willbrooker103 karma

Do you have the number for my local burns unit?

VaticanTwoTheSequel60 karma

In your opinion, what are the consequences (on a cultural scale) of the "revised" original trilogy?

My question not only concerns the addition of new and/or "improved" scenes, music, and special effects, but also Lucas's suppression of the first three films in their original form. Last time I checked, it was very hard to find these anywhere.

As an aside, while talking with a guy in his early 20s a couple weeks ago, I was stunned when he casually referred to the originals by their "episode" numbers (i.e. IV, V, VI). To my recollection, we just didn't do that in the 80s/90s -- so it stands to reason Lucas has been widely successful in pushing his "new and improved" original trilogy.

Thanks for doing this AMA!

willbrooker139 karma

Thanks for your question!

I am strongly opposed to the attempt to bury and erase the original Original Trilogy. I've said this in interviews before. I think it goes against all concepts of film history and archiving to essentially pretend that something didn't exist, and make it hard for people to access it.

I think it's vain and selfish of Lucas to try to suppress them. The 1977 Star Wars is an essential cultural artefact, and it seems ridiculous to substitute a 1990s remake for a 1970s film, just because the director prefers the CGI in the more recent version. Obviously the revisions involve changes beyond the purely cosmetic, such as whether Han shoots first, and the actor who plays Anakin's Force ghost -- and the inclusion of Naboo at the end of Return of the Jedi. So these re-releases are attempts to rewrite character, story and mythos.

Overall and in short, I think it's a very bad idea. Star Wars is not George Lucas' personal possession. It belongs, at least in part, to the broader culture and to the generations of fans who love it, and I think it's ethically wrong for him to try to replace older versions with whatever tinkered-with reboot he currently prefers.

VaticanTwoTheSequel39 karma

Agreed 100 percent. There's something very unethical about it all. Thanks for your answer.

May I ask a followup question? Do you think the original, unadulterated trilogy will ultimately survive Lucas's suppression?

willbrooker67 karma

It is certainly possible to suppress media, especially as media forms now change so rapidly, become obsolete and inaccessible. If the original versions of the movies are only available on VHS, then literally there will come a point where few people are going to be able to play them.

It would, ironically, fall to 'rebel' archivists and fans to make sure the originals are preserved... just like the heroes of the films, keeping code safe and passing it around secretly. And of course, that casts Lucas in the role of the evil, repressive, censorious Emperor. He should think about that!

I think if Disney or Lucasfilm, whoever now holds the power, realises that it's best for them in terms of profit and public image to make the original movies freely available on the latest format, then they'll do that.

So I think it would depend on whether fan protest is making them look bad, and whether they think there's a market for it. I can imagine them selling expensive special editions of the original films, for collectors.

joshtothemaxx56 karma

As a former professor myself, I believe the academy is woefully broken. Dysfunctional systems like tenure review, cronyism, nepotism in hiring, rampant ignorance toward student loan problems, and outright lying from administrators killed my passion for academia... so I left.

What do you seen as the biggest problems facing academia, especially the humanities, right now?

willbrooker71 karma

Personally, in the UK, I think one of the biggest problems is the reliance on student fees, which are extremely expensive and plunge young people into debt. This means universities have had to become more like businesses, providing value for paying customers. This wasn't what university was about when I went, because I was lucky enough to attend as an undergraduate when many students received a grant, and nobody paid fees.

Because of this, I think there's now much more pragmatism and a sense of university being a means towards a specific end - getting a 2.i or First as a result, to ensure a 'graduate job'. There is less of a sense of exploring knowledge and ideas for the sake of it, and immersing yourself in a subject. Students now have to work part-time, and have less opportunity to read around a topic and experiment, as I did. They are more focused on simply and narrowly getting a good grade for the classes they're taking.

Moreover, I think it's taken a while for university managers to catch up to the fact that they are now, unfortunately, running businesses, so there's been a period where some universities struggle, lose students (which means losing money) and try to adapt to these challenges. The university sector is now much more competitive and pragmatic itself.

At the PhD level, there are far too few jobs in academia for the PhDs who are graduating. This really concerns me as I feel I'm personally part of a system training talented young people for a market where there simply aren't enough opportunities.

I'm sure there is corruption, ignorance, mendacity and nepotism in academia, as there is in other fields. There are going to be selfish individuals. But there are also a lot of passionate, hard-working, ethical and kind people.

My concern really about academia is on a more structural level, as I've suggested.

psychogasm55 karma

Professor Brooker, what do your colleagues think of your current research area? Also, when something new comes out about Star Wars, do you have more students in your office hours to discuss that as opposed to their studies?

willbrooker79 karma

I think some of my colleagues think I try to be a bit of a 'rock star' academic... I do some slightly unusual things, like the year of immersion in David Bowie's life, and writing and producing a graphic novel. I am sure I have some kind of reputation as a guy who does the media-friendly, pop culture, flashy stuff. But my colleagues are very nice people and nobody is unkind about it.

When there's new Star Wars stuff out, I usually can't resist mentioning it in class. Last Monday, I got very excited and offered to show the new trailer -- students told me they didn't want to see it as they were avoiding spoilers, so I waited and watched it at home.

I do use a lot of examples from Star Wars, Blade Runner, Batman and other popular fiction I enjoy to try to illustrate theory, and sometimes I wonder if I overdo it.

Ras_Du_Fa19 karma

Hey Mr Brooker, since all The Sw and Br are taken can you expand on your knowledge about David Bowie ? He Is one of My biggest inspiration and one of The reasons Im following My path in music, Im curious about his influence in other art fields and básically anything David did I find amazing. Favorite récord ? Cheers from México City!

willbrooker17 karma

My favourite Bowie LP is probably the LOW album. I think it is a wonderful piece of work, which demonstrated Bowie's capacity for going in unexpected creative directions and which remains influential.

In other art fields, Bowie's most significant contribution is probably to cinema.

I could go on at length but unfortunately I have so many other questions to answer! I would encourage you, if you think you'd find it interesting, to look at my book FOREVER STARDUST: DAVID BOWIE ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, which I hope you can get from Amazon.

Most of my knowledge about Bowie is in there, much more elegantly phrased than I could express it right now.

CCTider52 karma

Have you ever decided to end your childhood rivalry with Harry Potter?

willbrooker63 karma

I now focus most of my attention on my beloved son, Scorpius, who I am glad to say has inherited my beautiful hair and sense of gothic glamour.

shembop48 karma

Considering the comparitively low initial figures of BR 2049, do you think it has the same chance as the original of becoming a cult classic?

willbrooker98 karma

Yes, I do. I actually would prefer that to a franchise of BR movies, which I think would threaten to dilute the mythos, and lower the incredibly high standard set by BR2019 and 2049 so far.

I was against the whole idea of a sequel. I think BR2049 pulled it off, but it would be so hard to sustain that quality for a series of further movies, and I think it would be a great idea just to leave it, perhaps for another thirty years.

BR2049 has already attracted incredibly close, devoted and detailed attention, to an intense degree. People are obsessing about it. It could be argued that it's becoming a cult classic already, within a week.

OG_Hotrod38 karma

How do you feel about the fan theory that Jar-Jar is actually a powerful force user?

willbrooker70 karma

I think it's convincing, in a fun way, and if anything it makes the prequels more interesting. I admire the detail and thought that people have put into it.

geltoid36 karma

Hi there!

How did you get involved in writing media for two very popular sci-fi franchises, and how were you able to make them considered canon by their respective owned companies?

willbrooker55 karma

Thanks for your question! The answer is that my work, as academic commentary, is outside official canon and independent of those franchises. Fortunately, we have academic freedom to write about popular culture which is someone else's copyright -- I'm only really restricted in terms of using images. So I didn't have to seek permission from DC or Lucasfilm to publish my books, and they are about those fictional universes, rather than directly contributing to them.

Mammothhair31 karma

What's something you would like to write about, that people wouldn't expect you to write or even know about?

willbrooker57 karma

This is a great and tough question. As I've been lucky enough to mainly publish on things I have liked since I was a kid, I think anyone who's looked at my books has a sense of the things I enjoy, and have enjoyed for most of my life.

I haven't written much so far about retro video and computer games of the 1980s, and that's something that fascinates me, which I hope to write about more in the future.

I have a project in the works about JFK and Nixon, which might be unexpected for anyone who knows I write about Batman, Star Wars and other popular culture.

And also I'd love to publish fiction in the future - fiction that begins in verifiable fact and then moves from there into invented territory.

dude_illigence31 karma

How do you find time to write and still play keyboards for Duran Duran?

willbrooker41 karma

I published my last book on Batman in 2012, and we worked on Paper Gods for a 2015 release... then my Bowie book came out in January 2017. It was a busy time! Simon and the guys understand that I'm trying to hold down another job, and they're really good about it.

Pairdice30 karma

Do you think it was possible for Jodorowsky's Dune to have been made, thus superseding Star Wars as the definitive science fiction movie of all time?

willbrooker55 karma

I have been to an exhibition of production designs for this version of Dune, but I don't know a great deal about it beyond that, and it would take someone more expert than me to say whether it could have been made, sorry.

From what I've seen, I would certainly like it to have been made - though I also think Lynch's Dune is flawed but fascinating, and I think Villeneuve's Dune would be fantastic.

However, one thing I can answer is that I don't think an adaptation of Dune would beat Star Wars as 'definitive science fiction movie'. I think Star Wars, much as I love it, is really space opera or space fantasy, not strictly speaking science fiction. So I think they're in slightly different genres, and not in direct competition.

Pairdice21 karma

Thank you for your reply.

It's the "opera" factor of Star Wars that makes it so fun, coupled with the over the top special effects that creates such a powerfully popular piece of cinema.

willbrooker26 karma

Personally, I also have a soft spot for the Flash Gordon movie, which is another amazing space opera.

I_stole_this_phone29 karma

How can i get a phd in spiderman?

willbrooker66 karma

You would come up with an original idea, which shows that you're aware of all the existing scholarly literature on Spider-Man and other superheroes, but that you've found something new and different to say.

Then you would write to the research office at universities where you would like to study, and ask them for their PhD proposal guidelines.

You'd write a strong proposal and submit that, and they might be able to match you up with an academic who could supervise your Spidey PhD.

Then you'd have to try to find funding for at least three years of full-time study.

But it sounds like a good idea! I would read an academic book about the cultural history of Spider-Man.

Manny-Pearce27 karma

What was your favourite aspect of the production design added to Bladerunner 2049? I'm talking in a world building sense

willbrooker66 karma

A great and difficult question. I'm trying to answer all of these quickly, so I'm just going to give the first answers that come to me.

My first answer is the 'Joi' technology. I think it added an entirely new dimension to have a form of identity that's distinct from, but similar to, the replicants - a type of human-simulating technology that even replicants look down on, and see as a product. It was a wonderful echo of the 'real boy', 'are replicants human' theme to have Joi apparently developing emotions and more of an autonomous personality. So I think that really added an additional level of complexity to the issues that are at the core and heart of both Blade Runner movies.

On a more visual level: K's coat, the new Spinners, and the Las Vegas statues.

DanielPlainview_66626 karma

After seeing both Blade Runner and 2049, does it make more sense for Deckard to be human or a replicant? Either way, it's a 'miracle' that Rachel got pregnant, but I'm curious as to where you fall on that debate.

willbrooker24 karma

I think it makes much more sense in terms of interest and complexity for us never to know.

However, after seeing BR2049, my overriding sense was that Deckard is not a replicant.

He does seem to be an even match for K in a fist fight, but then K runs easily through a wall, whereas Deckard takes the door - that, to me, is a key and meaningful moment.

And if Tyrell had wanted to set up two replicants to 'fall in love' and have a baby, he wouldn't surely have had to invite Deckard, a Blade Runner, to his office. He could have fabricated a male replicant and engineered the meeting without involving the cops.

It seems to me more plausible that the 'miracle' was a child born of a human and a replicant. But I'm glad the film leaves it open. That's just my impression right now.

I've always maintained (before BR2049) that if Deckard is a replicant, he's clearly physically weaker than the Nexus 6, and more sophisticated in that he doesn't know he's a replicant. So he's not like Batty, and also seems more convinced of his humanity than Rachael, who accepts quite easily that her memories are false.

As Nexus 8s like Sapper are also incredibly strong, unlike Deckard, he's different to those, too. So if he is a replicant, I'm not sure how he fits into any category produced by Tyrell.

Of course, the unicorn dream and the unicorn origami is a heavy clue that he's meant to be a replicant in 2019. We don't know how memories were manufactured in the Tyrell era, so it's hard to know how Gaff could have been aware of Deckard's unicorn dream.

In short, it is better left as a mystery, and I tended one way (towards replicant) in 2019, and the other way (towards human) in 2049.

delayT322 karma

How similar do you think our present is to the dystopian future presented in the original Bladerunner?

willbrooker42 karma

Good and interesting question!

Los Angeles does not look much like LA 2019, as far as I've ever experienced it. I think this is partly due to the fact that the film's location shifted from East to West coast during pre-production (and was originally San Francisco, I believe).

While we are (mostly) more concerned with environmental issues now, we've obviously not experienced the kind of environmental disasters that lead to the climate of BR2019. I can't say whether contemporary LA has as much Asian influence as LA 2019 seems to in Blade Runner. Unfortunately, of course, we don't have Spinners, though it could be said that VR enables us to explore and investigate 3D space like Deckard's ESPER viewer.

In terms of technology, ironically I think we are far closer to the Joi type holograms now than we are to replicants. As such, I think BR2049 actually comes closer to our present. We don't seem a long way from having our own versions of Joi, but I think bioengineering human life is a long way off.

So, ultimately, I think Blade Runner is more of an alternate universe than a future dystopia now, but BR2049 seems to have quite close echoes of our current society.

Maybe, ironically, Blade Runner has more in common in some ways with 1982 than it does with 2017?

AllynSea22 karma

How did you go about shopping for your first publisher?

willbrooker35 karma

I wrote to two publishers I think - publishers who seemed new, 'young' and open to the kind of thing I was writing. This was in 1999, when I was trying to get my PhD thesis about Batman into print.

Back then, it was considerably harder to publish academic books about popular culture, especially about superheroes. Now, that kind of book is much more common, even with more traditional publishers.

I found the relevant contact from the publishers' websites, who would have been the editor for film and popular culture books.

All publishers should have a set of guidelines for a proposal, including what they want to see for a new book. So I wrote a brief proposal - a pitch describing the book briefly, suggesting the potential readership and the competition, giving a chapter outline and so on - and sent that to the editors at both publishers, with a sample chapter.

I think only one of them got back to me, and fortunately he was very enthusiastic based on the proposal and sample chapters, and asked me to talk to him in person, over coffee. I sent the whole book manuscript to him, he shared it with his colleagues, they probably asked for some external reports on it, and they gave it the go-ahead.

So really, I think I was pretty lucky. But the key is

a) looking for publishers who are likely to take on your stuff, based on what they already publish

b) asking them for proposal guidelines and writing a proposal which follows their specific instructions, not a generic one that you're also sending to other people

c) having a good sample chapter (or a solid previous record of publishing)

MrNezbitt19 karma

Who is your favorite side character in the Star Wars universe? General Ackbar, TR8R, etc.

willbrooker39 karma

Tough question! If Lando counts as a side character, I love Lando.

Back in the day, when I used to play with the mini-action figures and make up adventures for them, two of my favourites were Walrus Man and Hammerhead (this is before they were called Momaw Nadon and Ponda Baba). I also love Bossk - his design and costume, and his brief appearance in ESB, captivated my imagination.

So, I'm going to say the Cantina creatures and Bossk. I would also love to see more of Dengar in the Han Solo movie.

eetadeek18 karma

If Batman reprogrammed and weaponized R2D2 and C3PO would they be able to infiltrate the Joker's hideout defeating him and his henchman?

willbrooker62 karma

No, because I think part of the point about Joker is he doesn't have a hideout... he is the opposite of Batman. He doesn't have a Joker-cave. Joker is everywhere and nowhere, and can't be tracked down to any one place.

But yes, they could do that to Penguin.

minas_morgul16 karma

Here is something I’ve been wondering for a while and i never could find an answer: Why do lightsabers switch off when dropped or when their handler is killed? I am only seeing two exceptions, in ROTS and ROTJ when Yoda and Vader throw their lightsabers to an opponent, with the blade ignited. Thanks!

willbrooker19 karma

That is a good point, and I don't think I'm expert enough on sabers to answer it. The answer below is better than mine!

I would have assumed that they are sensitive to pressure, and that a SW visual encyclopedia, or Wookieepedia, would have a decent reply to this question. If I did answer, I'd just be looking it up there first, as I don't know off the top of my head, sorry!

SoundsKindaRapey14 karma

What point in your life did you decide to go full final fantasy character?

willbrooker20 karma

I think that's a decent compliment, thanks! It wasn't intentional. I am aiming more for Duran Duran and an 80s aesthetic.

goochnorris14 karma

Is Alan Moore a genius, a crazy person, or both? How does this designation (whichever it may be) shape how we look at his comics?

willbrooker32 karma

Well, Alan Moore and I 'have history', in that he was quite hostile over something I said a few years ago, and I wrote a response to it online.

I think his work from the 1980s, apart from The Killing Joke which I think is overrated, is pretty much without peer. I think he was the best writer of superhero comics during that period, and I don't know if anyone has ever written more important superhero stories in the decades since. So I have boundless respect for his work during the 1980s.

More recently, I haven't enjoyed his work nearly as much, and while I don't want to speculate too much about someone I don't know, I get the impression that the way he has been treated by the industry has made him feel bitter and isolated.

If I had written WATCHMEN and had to watch DC bastardising it the way they have with BEFORE WATCHMEN and DOOMSDAY CLOCK, believe me, I would be extremely bitter.

So I think he's an extremely talented writer who made a more important contribution to comics, particularly superhero comics, than anyone else I can think of during the 1980s. I still value, respect and enjoy his work from that period.

I don't think he is 'crazy', either. I don't agree with a lot of what he's said in more recent interviews, and I don't love what he's written creatively in more recent years, but so be it. That often happens with creators: that we love their work from a certain period, and feel less connection with other periods.

Personally I enjoy him, and his work, for what he was in his prime.

JediwilliW13 karma

Thoughts on The Clone Wars animated series and what it contributed to the Star Wars canon?

willbrooker14 karma

I must admit I haven't followed the animated series. Sorry! I know this is an oversight on my part. It's a question of how much time I have, and I've just shamefully neglected this aspect of the Star Wars canon.

prettyslowtocatchon13 karma

Have you read any Star Wars novels by other authors? If so, which were your favorites?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

willbrooker16 karma

Thank you!

I've read the Zahn trilogy, Shadows of the Empire, the adaptations of the Original and Prequel trilogy movies, some oddities like Tales of the Bounty Hunters and a few other novels (like Young Jedi Knights) just for research on my 2002 book. I also read a lot of fanfic.

I really enjoyed Heir to the Empire and Shadows of the Empire.

padmenaberrie12 karma

Who do you like best out of the new characters in TFA and why?

willbrooker52 karma

They all feel pretty young to me, which is why I was glad Han Solo popped up in TFA - it's harder for me to connect closely with characters who are the age of the students I teach (or younger).

I think the new primary characters in Star Wars are all attractive, energetic kids, and I wish them the best, but we are of a totally different generation.

If I had to pick, I would say Rey, because although we don't know much about her, and I find her almost frustratingly blank, as a character- she really is presented as a nobody, a scavenger from a desert planet - I think she is going to have some unexpected and interesting character development, and occupy that grey area between light and dark sides.

SkorpioSound19 karma

I personally am of the opinion that Rey will turn out to be a Skywalker. My theory is that she was built with Luke's DNA, however, rather than born. Luke's lightsabre that was lost on Bespin shows up in TFA, so it stands to reason that his hand that was holding that lightsabre was also found in the same place. It would explain her force sensitivity, it would explain her reaction to touching the lightsabre for the first time, it would explain the connection that was portrayed between Luke and Rey in the final scene of TFA, it would explain Rey's lack of parents. Plus it would keep the whole "Star Wars being a soap opera mostly about a single family but in space" theme going.

Do you think the theory has any merit? It's not one I've seen discussed at all, but with what I know it seems to make enough sense to fit.

willbrooker19 karma

I just don't know what precedent we have within the Star Wars universe for characters being 'built', not born. We have cyborgs, sure, but not bio-engineered human beings. (That's Blade Runner!)

This theory seems closer to the 'clones' of the Timothy Zahn Star Wars trilogy. I'm not saying it isn't interesting, but I'm not sure if I can see it coming true.


bulgokovfrog11 karma

Given your success in academia, developing a research agenda around things you love and also landing reliable teaching positions, what advice would you give to current graduate students? (Like, say, someone getting a PhD in contemporary lit and going on the job market in a year or two... Asking for a friend, of course)

willbrooker19 karma

The market is unfortunately tough, and maybe getting tougher. There are more people gaining PhDs now than there were when I got mine, so there's more competition.

The obvious advice would be to load up your profile with relevant experience beyond 'just' getting a PhD (which I know is a huge achievement in itself).

So, an article in a peer-reviewed journal is great. I would suggest trying, if possible, to not take too much directly from your PhD, as I think it's good to publish the PhD as a book. However, having published one chapter from it as an article won't hurt, and could conceivably help. I wouldn't suggest that you publish more than one chapter from your PhD as articles, as I think that does weaken the chances of getting the whole thing published as a book.

Conference presentations and invited talks. You can write to heads of department and ask if they could use an unpaid talk about your research area (they might pay). You can make contacts and expand your network at conferences. Discuss the challenges you're facing with people on your level, and if they're senior, it's great to have mentors and guidance outside your own university. You will always need people to write you a great reference and to give you independent advice, so if you find someone senior who seems nice and helpful, I think that's really valuable and a contact to cherish.

Experience working on journals. I set all my PhD students to work on Cinema Journal as assistants. If anyone you know (one of the contacts mentioned above) works on or edits a journal, you could ask if they could use assistance. This is great experience, again, and helps to build useful contacts.

Teaching. To get a job as a lecturer, you have to have proven experience of success as a teaching assistant, lecturer or similar. Again, I would advise doing this for free if you have to, as it will help you get a job later.

Those are some pretty bare-bones basics, but if you'd like to follow up with another reply, please do.

WorkStudyPlay11 karma

I want to get into Star Wars but don't understand the story too well. What order do you recommend I watch them? I've only seen one or two so far.

willbrooker22 karma

I would say watch Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) first, and if I were you, I would try what's called 'machete order'.

SirNomoloS9 karma

How much flack do you get from people who claim you have a “Mickey Mouse degree” and how do you deal with it?

willbrooker14 karma

I don't, any more. I used to get more of that kind of thing, when I was completing my PhD, which was a cultural history of Batman.

Now I think it's fairly obvious that I am doing alright for myself, so it's harder for people to say I wasted my time and money (which they used to!)

I think if you believe in something, and think what you're doing is worthwhile, you don't get seriously affected by anyone putting it down.

And if people say things that make you doubt your choices, that's a healthy opportunity to reflect, examine your decisions, and think about it. You could either conclude that yes, you made the right choices, or that no, you made mistakes, and could do differently in future. Either of those results would be positive in a way. If you are confident, you can welcome criticism, as it makes you think. I don't mind people having different views about my work, as long as they aren't gratuitously insulting.

samwise9708 karma

Hi professor, thanks for doing this AMA. Just my opinion but it's full of tons of quality answers even to questions with few up votes.

I have a question about 2049, and Joi specifically. When K first meets Mariette, the prostitute, he's outside, Joi is in his pocket and not visible, but later she remarks that she could tell he liked Mariette. This implied that she's in a sort of 'always on' state, as does her initial introduction, where her and K have a conversation before her hologram turns on.

After the sex scene, we see Mariette slip a tracking device (I assume) into K's jacket. Immediately after, Joi becomes visible, tells Mariette that she can go.

My question is, do you think it's possible that Joi saw the tracking device? To me that seems to make more sense than this otherwise incredibly intelligent program not being able to tell what's happening in a ~400 square foot apartment. If she did see the device, and didn't inform K, wouldn't that change her character substantially?

willbrooker15 karma

I think the Mariette and Joi situation is incredibly ambiguous and confusing.

Did Joi really invite Mariette to the apartment, or is she just saying that because K wants to hear it?

It does seem that Joi sounds her 'ringtone' whenever other women are around, as if she's declaring her presence and possibly warning them off, being possessive and jealous about K.

I don't think Joi's responsibilities involve scanning the apartment to know what's going on. Her basic job is to entertain, please and reassure K - to be a good companion to him. I don't know whether we see her warning him of danger, or pointing out risks to him - does she do that in San Diego, for instance? I know she tries to rouse him from unconsciousness.

So I'm suggesting that we don't know if it's in her programming to alert him to things like a sex worker replicant putting something in his jacket.

Maybe she saw it and didn't think K wanted or needed to know about it. Maybe she saw it but was in an emotionally confused state because of Mariette's presence. Maybe she trusts K to know what's best.

But yes, ultimately you're right. If she saw it was a tracking device and didn't tell K, that affects our view of her character.

The reason I am trying to find reasons around it is because otherwise, I think Joi's character is very consistent -- she serves K, she wants to make him happy, she's affectionate and attached to him -- and I don't see how her character, as we perceive it, would fit with her deceiving him and not informing him about something that could lead him into harm. Though her personality develops and she evolves more consciousness and independence, I don't see how it would fit that she deliberately neglects to tell him something so important. So I'm trying to work out excuses for her behaviour.

rKwKdKs8 karma


Do you think Joi came up with te name "Joe" for officer K from some program, or did she actually pick it because she had grown to know him? Did she actually love him, or was that also just an algorithm?

willbrooker14 karma

I think it's part of her default programming, which is what makes it sadder.

But also I think the story has less meaning if Joi doesn't evolve and develop over time, so I think it's also tempting to conclude that she did form more of an independent personality.

That doesn't mean she genuinely loved him. I think she was working within her programming, not resisting it. I imagine she still had default subroutines (or whatever we want to fall it) that formed part of her vocabulary and the way she communicated and related to the world. So even if she was developing feelings, I think it's likely that she could only express them through the emotions and the dialogue she had available, like calling someone a 'Joe'.

Sixty-to-Zero8 karma

I've been a fan of the Blade Runner universe for a long time now,and with 2049 it was revitalized in a very good way.

However I did not feel the same way about Force Awakens.

How did you feel about The Force Awakens, and do you feel that it will be openly criticized in the future as the prequel films?

Also have you gone to /r/Prequelmemes? It's a wonderful place.

willbrooker16 karma

I felt The Force Awakens was a pretty safe movie, though I can understand why they would take that route. It needed to reassure fans of one thing, essentially: this is not like the prequels. It was about rediscovering the old characters, activating that Original Trilogy nostalgia, and covering many of the same beats as the first film, while also bringing in new viewers through younger and charismatic actors, and accessible space-opera action. So, commercially, I think that made a lot of sense.

I understand that The Last Jedi aims to be much more unpredictable and to subvert our expectations, which also makes sense. TFA was a success, it provided a safe basis, and now the new team can branch out into more creatively experimental, independent areas. It's a longer movie, the trailer is clearly designed to keep us guessing, and from what I hear, the character arcs are going to cross over into grey areas between clear-cut good and evil.

I don't feel TFA will be criticised in the same way as the prequels, but I think it will be acknowledged that it was a relatively unadventurous movie.

I do enjoy r/prequelmemes. It's the best thing about the prequels.

wklink8 karma

What's wrong with George Lucas? I mean, like, what happened to him? You talked about shooting first already, and of course you're right. But what made Lucas think it was necessary, or even ok to change that?

willbrooker10 karma

As with Alan Moore, I think it's a bit rude and risky to speculate about a person I don't know.

My sense is this: that he sees Star Wars as his own project, to tinker with and improve according to his own personal preferences, as if it's some hobby diorama in his garage, or something from r/worldbuilding.

I don't think he realises, perhaps, that Star Wars has become a folk myth that in a way, belongs to its fans... to generations of fans, who have handed it down to their children and no doubt now also to their grandchildren.

My sense from interviews is that Lucas is very obsessive about controlling as much as he can in the creative process. I also suspect he doesn't have many people saying 'no' to him. I think he should have recognised where his strengths and weaknesses lie, and be more humble about giving some tasks, like writing dialogue and directing human beings, to other people.

As for specifically why he would have changed the Han and Greedo scene... I don't know. Because he could? Because he realised he had the technology that could make Han shift sideways in a shonky way, and wanted to try it, the way you might experiment with Photoshop? That's the only justification I can see for most of the changes to the original trilogy in the Special Editions. Let's add a funny animal in the background, because we can. Let's put Hayden's face in there, that might be cool. I can only imagine a guy tinkering around with his dioramas, the way I used to with Star Wars figures, experimenting just for fun, and forgetting that he's messing with a mythos that means a great deal to millions of people.

YenEuroDollarSign7 karma

Do you think off-world should be depicted in a future Blade Runner sequel? Aesthetically I think the polluted Earth is a perfect backdrop to the decay of humanity.

willbrooker13 karma

If they are going to make another sequel, I admit that does sound like a good idea. I think sometimes though it's best to leave the audience curious, and not to show us everything. Remember what happened with the Star Wars prequels! To my mind, it was better when I had to imagine young Obi-Wan with Anakin, rather than watch Attack of the Clones.

Chacu7 karma

Do you think the main storyline of the Star Wars will finish with episode IX?

willbrooker20 karma

I think the main saga is the story of the Skywalkers, so I think it should end with IX, yes.

That also means that either Luke has to be in IX, or that Rey has to turn out to be a Skywalker (maybe the first option is more likely).

I see Star Wars essentially as a family saga.

Barnowl796 karma

I got into an argument about blade runner a few days ago. I said that it asks an important philosophical question about what it means to be human - if the AI could find a certain beauty in destruction, wonder about his own mortality, and make apt metaphors, well what more would you want as proof? He said bs. Thoughts?

willbrooker17 karma

Well, yeah, I think that is exactly what Blade Runner is about -- what it means to be human. Without those philosophical questions, it is a good looking but slow moving action flick.

If you're asking whether Roy Batty is human because he reflects on his experience in the 'Tears in Rain' speech: I disagree that this proves he is human, but I don't think that's the point about Batty. In many ways, he is superior to humans. He's stronger, faster, better looking. He's an intellectual. He also saves Deckard's life, after Deckard had killed Batty's companions, including his lover, Pris. So he shows empathy beyond what any human being in the film demonstrates. To me, the question isn't whether Batty is human, it's whether he's a better 'person' than Deckard, despite being artificial. It's about what it means to be 'more human than human'.

But absolutely, I think both Blade Runner films are essentially about humanity and identity.

apprenticeicebaby6 karma

Have you ever touched a real, female boob?

willbrooker10 karma

I've touched a bag of sand, if that counts. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.

8urfiat6 karma

How do you feel about Disney erasing The Expanded Universe?

willbrooker4 karma

I answered this above, so I hope you don't mind me repeating it here...

I'm generally against the erasure and suppression of stories. I feel the same way about the way DC Comics decides some stories 'didn't happen' and are written out of history. I was never a huge EU reader, but I can entirely understand the way fans might feel betrayed by that decision, even though I also think the EU had a lot of variable quality. I don't personally feel every character needed a backstory, and I never felt driven to read the stories set in the far future or the distant past. So perhaps for me, the EU became too 'Extended', but that's just my own preference. Personally, I loved the Zahn trilogy, and Shadows of the Empire. They offered me quality Star Wars content in the long years between any official movies. If they could find a way of adapting a version of Shadows of the Empire into a movie that took place between episodes V and VI, I think that would be pretty interesting. I understand that Thrawn is now entering back into canon though, so it seems everything is open to change.

Seek2476 karma

What was House Slytherin like?

willbrooker13 karma

Best years of my life. The house of winners.

-Badger2-5 karma

How do you feel about other media in the new canon changing the context of things in the movies?

Like the Clone Wars series making the clones commit Order 66 because of a chip in their brains, or changing Darth Maul’s death.

Or the comics having Luke meet Vader for the first time before their showdown on Bespin?

willbrooker7 karma

Personally, I feel a little annoyed when stories in other media change the movies. I don't think we should have to read a load of other stuff to understand the main narrative. I think they should provide us with extra, bonus material, but we should essentially be able to get everything from the movies.

I'm fine with the idea in theory, and I understand that creators want to explore and experiment, but I feel irritated when it alters movie canon. I think movie canon should be top-level and lower levels of canon should just expand the background and provide more detail.

CeeArthur1 karma

Is Deckard a replicant?

willbrooker1 karma

I've answered this one, so I hope you won't mind me copying in my thoughts from a previous reply?

I think it makes much more sense in terms of interest and complexity for us never to know.

However, after seeing BR2049, my overriding sense was that Deckard is not a replicant.

He does seem to be an even match for K in a fist fight, but then K runs easily through a wall, whereas Deckard takes the door - that, to me, is a key and meaningful moment.

And if Tyrell had wanted to set up two replicants to 'fall in love' and have a baby, he wouldn't surely have had to invite Deckard, a Blade Runner, to his office. He could have fabricated a male replicant and engineered the meeting without involving the cops.

It seems to me more plausible that the 'miracle' was a child born of a human and a replicant. But I'm glad the film leaves it open. That's just my impression right now.

I've always maintained (before BR2049) that if Deckard is a replicant, he's clearly physically weaker than the Nexus 6, and more sophisticated in that he doesn't know he's a replicant. So he's not like Batty, and also seems more convinced of his humanity than Rachael, who accepts quite easily that her memories are false.

As Nexus 8s like Sapper are also incredibly strong, unlike Deckard, he's different to those, too. So if he is a replicant, I'm not sure how he fits into any category produced by Tyrell.

Of course, the unicorn dream and the unicorn origami is a heavy clue that he's meant to be a replicant in 2019. We don't know how memories were manufactured in the Tyrell era, so it's hard to know how Gaff could have been aware of Deckard's unicorn dream.

In short, it is better left as a mystery, and I tended one way (towards replicant) in 2019, and the other way (towards human) in 2049.

clothy1 karma

Where can I buy your books? Can I buy them in Australia?

willbrooker2 karma

Yes, certainly! You can buy them from Amazon. I just looked on https://www.amazon.com.au and they are available there.

The ones I'm mainly discussing on this thread are THE BLADE RUNNER EXPERIENCE, USING THE FORCE and BFI FILM CLASSICS: STAR WARS.

AlphaBish1010151 karma

Two truths and a lie?

willbrooker2 karma

My first published work was in 1988

I own everything that the pop band Girls Aloud have released

A significant part of my left eye and cheek is actually metal, under the skin

michaelmcabando1 karma

Who’s the real best superhero?

willbrooker2 karma

It's Batman?

sweet-tuba-riffs1 karma

What is your favorite film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland? I like the Hallmark one with Tina Majorino, but am fascinated by darker renditions. What do you think a really good adaptation needs to perfect the story?

willbrooker11 karma

My favourite is probably the Jan Svankmajer Alice, which is mainly stop-motion puppetry, and is very dark and sinister.

It's not literally 'faithful' to the original but I think it certainly captures some of the spirit.

I also really enjoy the 1960s black and white BBC adaptation by Jonathan Miller, which has adults without any masks or costumes playing the animals and other creatures, and Alice wandering through them - I believe it was shot in an abandoned hospital for the mentally ill. It's got some very dreamy, trippy aspects, and is also quite haunting and melancholy.

Dennis Potter's film about the 'real' Alice, called Dreamchild, is also very imaginative, 'dark' and sinister.

What makes a great adaptation is a very complex question, but based on my answers above, I'm going to say a film that captures something of the spirit, rather than trying to remain absolutely faithful to the original.

I think an adaptation should recognise the fact that it's working in a different medium, and use the different creative capacity and potential of cinema (or television, or games, or comics, or whatever form it's being adapted to), rather than trying to be just a filmed book. I hope that makes sense.

babywipes20200 karma

why did you do it? What do you teach?

willbrooker1 karma

I teach mainly undergraduate classes in Film Studies, at Kingston University in London. I also supervise PhDs in cultural studies, which are (at the moment) mainly about comic books and superheroes.

valid_n0 karma

What are your thoughts on the Star Wars prequels? I myself do not consider them legitimate parts of the Star Wars stories. Why do you think that Lucas' storytelling changed so vastly between trilogies?

willbrooker2 karma

In general, I think they have some 'good bits', but overall I think they are incredibly disappointing, and wasted opportunities.

Like most people, I like the Darth Maul duel, for instance, and Order 66, but really dislike the Gungan slapstick comedy, and the badly-written, badly-acted romance scenes.

I am usually against reboots and revised versions, but I wouldn't mind seeing the prequels remade and improved. I think they could have been much better, and as a lifelong Star Wars fan since 1977, I, like others of my generation, was hoping for much better. I think most fans could have written something better.

As for Lucas, we have to remember that he didn't direct two of the original movies, and as I recall, the genius of Empire Strikes Back, surely the best of the saga, is due partly to a script by Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett.

Lucas is good at the broad strokes of mythology, but I don't know if he's ever proved himself to be a director who is good at working with people, or a good writer of dialogue. I think with the prequels, he may have developed the idea that the saga was always for children, and have been pitching it at kids. I don't think A New Hope was ever meant exclusively for kids. It succeeded because it connected with adults, too.

Edited to add: I do enjoy r/prequelmemes, which is probably the best thing to come out of those movies.

suitcase88-14 karma

Would you rather be addressed as "Professa Dickface" or "Professor"?

willbrooker9 karma

Second thing sounds better.