SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. SERIOUSLY. DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE.

Look, I fully realize that offering alternate story ideas is A) the lowest form of criticism, and B) what fanfic is for. But just hear me out because I feel like I’m a crazy person because none of this happened in the movie.

The film kicks right off in the crawl with a big shocker: Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is not only alive, he’s been sending a message to the entire galaxy threatening the return of the Sith, the…


Q: Hi Alex, big fan, mainly because I’m you writing this question. I just got out of seeing the new movie Captain Marvel, and was wondering whether Captain Marvel and Captain America are related?

A: Hey, thanks so much, you’re very kind! And great question. Yes, they are related.

Captain Marvel’s Mom is first cousins with Captain America’s Dad, which makes Captain Marvel and Captain America second cousins. That’s, of course, why they have the same first name, which is Captain. They are also related to Captain Planet, who is also second cousins with them and also has the same first name.

Anyone with the first name Captain, which is a first name, and not a title related to rank, is related. They are all second cousins.

Again, appreciate you writing in, and hope you enjoyed the movie!


The pungent smell of human feces coming from the great hall of Hogwarts was so strong, Barry Winkle’s eyes began to water. It wasn’t anything new, of course. The wizarding world was used to waste being smeared everywhere: on robes, in hair, on walls. Naturally, Hogwarts would be no different. Yet secretly, Barry had held out some hope that for the next seven years he might find a way to not wake up retching every morning.

Resigned, he trudged into the main room and sat down at a long table stacked with other first years. He had just turned…


For the past decade, I’ve been composing this story in my head. I’ve been putting it off, because writing down on paper what I feel about Stan Lee, what he gifted to the world, would mean I had put him in the rear-view mirror.

It’s a little ridiculous, because I work in entertainment journalism, and prepping obits is part of what we do. I could have saved a lot of time and effort by writing it all down in advance. But I couldn’t do it. …


In the smaller green room off the great green room

There was a toy phone

And a deflated balloon

And a picture of

A calf jumping over the moonmoon

And there were three 8-Sunbears (which are the smallest species of bears) sitting on baby chairs

And two munchkin cat kittens

And a pair of minuscule mittens

And a miniature toy house

And an African pygmy mouse

And a dollhouse size comb and a dollhouse size brush and a bowl full of mush

And an even quieter old lady next to the quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”

Goodnight roomroom


For the past twenty years, Reginald Thelman has been waiting for a high five that has never come. Scientists and psychologists alike have been baffled about what happened, why it affected Thelman so deeply, and what it will do to him when — later on this week — he finally gets that hand slap he so desperately wanted, two decades earlier.

Because Thelman has been holding his hand up in the air since 1998.

It started innocently enough, as these things often do: Thelman saw a friend, thrust his hand up high, and said, “Don’t leave me hangin’, bro.”

Whether…


It started off innocently enough.

If you’re not familiar with the “holiday” that is “May The Fourth,” the idea is pretty simple:

  • May is when Star Wars movies usually used to be released.
  • “May The Fourth” sounds like “May The Force…”
  • So people started celebrating “May The Fourth Be With You” day every year.

It actually started in an even weirder way, with Margaret Thatcher’s election (I wrote an explainer about this in my MTV news days), but that’s not why we’re here.

The short version is, I thought it would be funny to keep tweeting the date, a.k.a. …


Hi, I just watched the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, and it looks awesome! Can’t wait to watch all of these superheroes together in one movie. I only had one question, since I didn’t see him in the footage: is Batman in the movie?

Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? Are you actually kidding me with this? Is this really the only question you have about Infinity War, because I cannot believe that you are still asking this question. I have been explaining, so very patiently, for years that Batman is a DC Comics character. Years. Decades, even…


Trevor sat in the high school’s old basketball court and listened to the wind howl and moan through the loose, unsecured windows of the gymnasium. He had retreated there to think, as he often found comfort in the relative loneliness of the enormous room at night.

The city had grown too loud, too aggressive and had led to his most recent breakdown (at least that was what the doctors had told him). …

Alex Zalben

Author of “Thor And The Warriors Four” for Marvel. Comic Book Club Live! for Nerdist. Sketch comedy with Elephant Larry. Formerly MTV News/UGO/AMC. Other stuff.

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