John Hodgman, whose end-of-days comedy special John Hodgman: Ragnarok is currently streaming on Netflix, hadn’t yet seen Man of Steel when he visited EW to take our Pop Culture Personality Test, so he couldn’t weigh in on Superman’s mass-casualty battle with General Zod (Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Shannon) for Earth, or the ending that had everyone talking. “I know what it is: Superman flies around the Earth and reverses its orbit such that time goes backwards and Zod takes a job in the alcohol enforcement division of the IRS and starts busting bootleggers in Atlantic City during Prohibition. Is that what happens?” he said.
Hodgman could, however, dip into the debate about whether Superman (Henry Cavill) needs to lighten up. “Here’s the thing: I am a big Zack Synder fan. I want anything that you take from my mouth to be prefaced by this: I loved Watchmen, loved Dawn of the Dead. I think 300 is one of the most important American movies of the 2000s, without question. I’m not joking. It’s groundbreaking cinema. But if there’s a Superman movie, I want to be able to take my 7-year-old to see it! Just like I want to be able to take my 7-year-old to see a Batman movie. They’re comic books, everybody,” he said. “I loved the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, and I bet you I’ll love the Superman movie, too. That’s because I’m a big, overgrown juvenile nerd. But I equally — and perhaps even a little bit more — love watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoons with my son, because that’s what they’re supposed to be. Thought-provoking — you can do that with comics. Deep, heavy — you can do that with comics. But also entertaining and distracting and not traumatizing for children — another thing you can do with comics.”
For more of Hodgman’s musings on pop culture — including why it pays to have MythBusters‘ Adam Savage, who expertly replicates props from beloved movies in his downtime, as a hero-turned-friend — watch his Personality Test below.
On when he yells at the TV:
I don’t yell at the TV because of content on television, because I know that it’s made up. I’m not a fool. And also, I already read Game of Thrones, so you’re Red Wedding is not gonna surprise me in any way. Because of the way TV is now, I only yell at the TV when the Internet is down or stuttering or the cable’s acting funny. Remember it used to be that you’d turn on the TV, and it’d be on and it would probably stay on throughout the entire time you were watching and wouldn’t just stop and lag while Get Smart was dialing the shoe phone or whatever. But you didn’t get to pick what you watched. It was just Battle of the Network Stars all day long. I watched an episode of Battle of the Network Stars on the television on the treadmill at the gym. William Shatner was looking good, and a young Helen Hunt was working that tug of war. Because you would get, like, Gabe Kaplan and William Shatner and then Ricardo Montalban, and they would be, like, playing Frisbee and doing a tug of war. They made us watch that… and it was the most wonderful thing in the world. When there were only three teams that could battle in the Battle of the Network Stars — ABC, NBC, and CBS, children — they were putting people on and they would become stars, because that was the network saying, “These are the people that we are choosing to be famous for the indefinite future.” And it usually ended up being true. I mean, there were some duds. But for the most part, you still recognize and know those people’s names today. And now, if you had a Battle of the Network Stars, it would be like a thousand-man Battle Royale. That is a good idea. Don’t take that from me. I want to see Pawn Stars fighting the Storage Wars dudes, fighting the most Deadliest Catchers, fighting Antiques Roadshow, fighting the Janoskians from YouTube.
On the person he wrote a fan letter to:
I wrote a fan letter to Henry Thomas, the star of ET… last week. No, when I was a child. “Want to be friends?” “I intend to get into television and movies. How can you help me?”
On why he wanted those Post-it notes from the set of Battlestar Galactica:
The set was so consistent. On that show, in space, apparently pages can’t have corners. I don’t know if you remember that from Battlestar Galactica, but every time that anyone would look at a fax or whatever, the corners would be cut-off so it’d be octagonal. All the medical records, all the daily briefings, down to some prop master had cut off the corners of the Post-it notes.
On passing down his love of “Tubthumping”:
I was driving in the car, and I have two human children, and I said, “Listen, you guys. You gotta hear this song. It was important in the ’90s.” My daughter is 11-years-old. I played it for her, and then there was this long silence where you just heard the wheels turn as we drove up I-91. I remember there was a bit of gravel in the tires, so it was like tick tick tick tick as she just stared forward for a long time after the song ended. And then she said, “Would you play that song again, please?” I’m like, “Yeah. You get it, don’t you?”