Joss Whedon: Our Outsider Makes Good

I became a fan of Joss Whedon around the sixth season of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I’m sure that honest admission at the start might already turn off some readers, but let me add that after getting hooked I bought all of the boxsets of the other seasons and used them to help draw in others, while using all of my skills at peer pressure and bribery (and sometimes even blackmail).

I was living in LA at the time, studying writing at the University of Southern California, and I was startled by the news story that his show was able to jump stations. Now, I remembered the movie and couldn’t believe that this was the same thing we were talking about. That idea? Really? All I remembered about the film was that it starred PeeWee Herman. Yet, the idea, and the accomplishment of such a TV production feat impressed me and led to me turning on the show and giving it a shot.

That old blind Scott feels like a very different person from the Scott writing this. I want to shake my head in annoyance at him, throw something at him or even bitch slap him. In the least, there should be some ridicule and taunts.

Yes, I should have been on this Firefly-class transport ship a long time ago.

What I love about his writing is that his shows are always about more than the bad monster make up and cheesy effects (and sadly they do not age well). They were about the characters and their trials that they experienced on the journey that we call life (a little corny, but you get the idea). And while we are not vampires or demons or space cowboys, somehow we could still relate and say “I completely understand.” (If you are a vampire or demon or space cowboy, let me say congrats and I am very jealous.) Joss got us, each of us; and his work reflected that back each of the weeks one of his shows were on TV.

Yes, Joss spoke for us, the outsiders, the smart alecs who were probably a little too sarcastic for their own good back in school. He spoke our language and we caught every little sci fi and Monty Python reference he would throw at us in his shows. And meeting a fellow Joss fan is like meeting a lost family member; there is a secret mental handshake there, as we test each other on Dr. Horrible lyrics.

When Angel was being cancelled, I remember writing letters. I even drove past the protestors (taking a very long trek to get to work that day) honking my horn in support. Do you remember the story of the guy who cancelled Angel being scared to leave his office that day because of the protestors? That still makes me laugh. Scared of us Whedon fans? Seriously? We were all shoved in lockers when we were young. We are Peter Parker before the spider, not after!

The thing about Joss and being one of his fans is that we feel like we fight his battles with him since he shares so much with us. We all felt the disappointment over Firefly being axed, the Spike TV movie being turned down (that still bothers me).  We saw him try and we would see him succeed (Serenity being made!) and fail (Dollhouse), sharing each of those moments with him. I always liked to imagine him in these moments, arguing and waving his hands around a lot in front of a lot of cold people in suits, people that don’t get him (or us); the writing equivalent of Luke bravely facing off against a room of Emperors. He would get knocked down, but he would keep getting up…. So maybe I should have used Rocky as a description instead. Oh well, too late now…

I admit I dreamt of being his friend around those times, discussing those trials and maybe even attending one of his Shakespeare parties, not having the guts to take on a role, but happy to sit and listen to his company of actors perform the bard.

For a bit there, between you and me, I thought he was done. Dollhouse was off the air, there was no Serenity sequel in sight, The Cabin in the Woods was in limbo, and everything seemed to be about comic books (Not that I dislike comic books, I enjoy them a little, but it’s just not the same for me). Yes, I began to wonder if this was all we would see from Joss- comic books and the occasional internet show.

Wow, was I wrong.

The Avengers is probably the most important comic book movie ever made. It took five movies just to build up to this picture! And that tentpole, that holy grail of super hero films was given to our man Joss. He wasn’t just being asked to write the first draft which would then be rewritten by someone else (Remember how we fans could tell the one line of his in the first X-men film?); no, he was being given the keys to this shiny and important car.


Yet, it’s not like this would be an easy task. No sir.

He would as a writer need to draw together all of the characters from the other films, each left in their own conflict (Captain America being lost in modern time, Tony Stark cut off from the Avengers initiative, Thor stuck off planet, and Hulk… Okay, I have no idea about Hulk), give them a mission worth watching for two hours (with a lot of new and exciting things to see), and lead into a possible sequel for all of the characters solo and The Avengers as a whole.

Wow. It feels exhausting just writing that. But I can’t imagine another writer or director today who would have the skills as a storyteller or the knowledge of the characters to pull it off.

While I am very excited about seeing The Avengers, I am more intrigued to see what this means for his career. As much as I would be happy to see the return to some of the characters I already know, I am more excited to see where he goes next. Seriously, I can’t imagine him returning to TV, but a movie every other year would be pretty cool. He could be our new Woody Allen, except with monsters and aliens (keeping, of course, much of Woody’s insecurities for his characters).

Oh, and by the way, what did Joss do after writing and directing one of the biggest movies ever? He directed a small budget Shakespeare film that he shot around his house with friends. Man, and I don’t say this often about people (especially those I don’t know), but I love this guy.

If you liked reading my article, why not check out some of my books? I had two novels published in the last few years, My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my author page here. Thanks for reading!

1 thought on “Joss Whedon: Our Outsider Makes Good

  1. Pingback: Further Proof of My Nerdom « The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

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