Joss Whedon

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Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon at the premiere of Serenity.
Born June 23, 1964 (1964-06-23) (age 50)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation writer, director, executive producer
Spouse Kai Cole[1]
Children Arden, Squire [2]

Joss Hill Whedon (born June 23, 1964) is an American writer, director and producer. He was born Joseph Hill Whedon in New York City. He created the well-known television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, and has also written several movie scripts and several comic book series. After graduating from high school in 1982, he went to Winchester College in England. He received a film degree from Wesleyan University in 1987. Whedon is the director of The Avengers (2013).

Television work[change | change source]

After moving to Los Angeles, California, Whedon got his first writing job on the television series Roseanne. After working on movie scripts for several years, he went back to television, where he created three television series. Joss has had a couple of cameos (brief 'fun' appearances) in his series Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. He has also been in an episode of Veronica Mars.

Whedon has been said to be the world's first third-generation television writer. His father is Tom Whedon, a writer for The Electric Company in the 1970s and The Golden Girls in the 1980s. His grandfather is John Whedon, a writer for The Donna Reed Show in the 1950s. His brother, Zack Whedon, is a writer on HBO's Deadwood.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer[change | change source]

The movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, filmed by director Fran Rubel Kuzui after a script of Whedon's, was not well-liked by critics and audiences. Years after, Whedon picked up its idea again and turned it into a hugely successful television series, also called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The episode "Hush" (written by Whedon) got an Emmy Award nomination for Best Writing in a Drama Series in 2000. Another episode that got an Emmy Award nomination was "Once More, With Feeling", written and directed by Whedon. This was a musical episode, in which the actors were singing and dancing.

The series aired on The WB Network for five seasons, then moved to UPN for its last two seasons. It was the first series in television history to change networks between seasons without being cancelled and then picked up by a different network. Though Buffy first aired on Mondays at 9pm, from the middle of the second season it ran on Tuesdays at 8pm. In the musical episode, Buffy makes the comment, "Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday."

Angel[change | change source]

Angel was a spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series was named after Buffy's vampire-with-a-soul boyfriend. It was created by Whedon and David Greenwalt. Tim Minear also helped at times. First shown in September 1999 on the WB, the series was on after Buffy on Tuesday evenings. When Buffy switched networks in 2001, Angel aired in a number of different time slots. The series' last episode had more people watching than the final Buffy episode. Joss Whedon was briefly in the series as the character 'Numfar' in its second season. The WB cancelled the series in May 2004 while it was in its fifth season. As Whedon had not planned to end Angel, he had to change the story and ending of both the final season and the series.

Firefly[change | change source]

The series Firefly did not go smoothly. Fox cancelled it in 2002, after airing only 11 of the 14 episodes and airing them out of order. The original two-hour pilot was the last episode aired. The contract with Fox did not allow the series to be shown by another network. Because of how Fox handled Firefly, Whedon has said that he will not work with Fox again, under any circumstances.[3]

Whedon had been writing a movie script about the Firefly series for Universal Studios. When the television series came out on DVD, the sales of the DVD were good enough to make sure the movie could be produced. In early 2004 Whedon said that a Firefly movie had been accepted by Universal, and shooting started in July 2004. The movie, called Serenity, was in movie theaters in the United States on September 30, 2005. It was well liked by critics and fans, but did not make much money in theaters.

Dollhouse[change | change source]

Although Whedon has said that he would not work with Fox again, it was announced on November 1, 2007 that this was changed. Whedon was hired to create seven episodes of a new series named Dollhouse starring Eliza Dushku[4]. Dushku and Whedon have worked together before on Buffy. The series is about people who have memories, skills and even complete personalities put into their minds for special jobs. After the job, their minds are erased until the next job. Dollhouse tells the story of Dushku's character, Echo, as she starts to remember things about herself even though her mind is constantly being erased. The series is about her trying to learn who she really is.

Dollhouse first aired on February 13, 2009.

Movies[change | change source]

Whedon has written and helped write several movies including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Toy Story, Alien: Resurrection and Titan A.E.. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Toy Story's screenplay.

He also wrote helped edit and rewrite the scripts of Speed, Waterworld, Twister and X-Men. Except for Speed, not much of Whedon's work stayed in the final versions of any of these screenplays. He has said that he had a good script for Alien: Resurrection, which was ruined by its director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. His Waterworld script was thrown out. Only two of his lines were kept in the final script of X-Men.[5] Even the Buffy movie was very different from what he originally wrote.[6] According to Graham Yost, the writer of Speed, Whedon wrote most of its dialogue.

He wrote and directed 2005's Serenity, based on his television series Firefly. Serenity won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

In 2006, Whedon was scheduled to write and direct Warner Bros.' version of Wonder Woman. He eventually stopped working on the script. Universal Pictures agreed to a script by Whedon called Goners which he will also direct.[7]

Parts of the storyline in the movie X-Men: The Last Stand are very similar to what he wrote in the Marvel comic book Astonishing X-Men. The idea of a cure for mutation was his story. The scientist who finds the cure in the movie is named Dr. Kavita Rao. This is the same name as the scientist in the comic book. Simon Kinberg has said someone at the studio who had read Whedon's comics asked the writers to use a mutant cure idea in their script[8].

In an interview with Empire Online, Whedon said he would like to direct a Harry Potter movie. However, he has not seen any of the movies and will not watch any until J.K. Rowling is done writing the series[9]

In 2012, two movies produced by Whedon were released. The horror movie Cabin in the Woods was released in April. Whedon wrote the script for the movie with director Drew Goddard. On May 4th, the Marvel Comics superhero movie The Avengers was released in the United States.[10] Whedon wrote and directed the movie. The Avengers was released internationally one week before it was released in the United States. This release did not include some of the largest international markets, including China, Russia and Japan. It still made $185M[11] in it international opening week. It was the 9th highest foreign opening ever.[11]

Comic books[change | change source]

Whedon has loved comic books all his life. He wrote the Dark Horse Comics series Fray. The story takes place in the far future of the Buffyverse.

He was also involved with the Buffy comic book series. He wrote the main storyline of the five-issue mini-series Tales of the Vampires and three stories in the Tales of the Slayers. One of those stories was about Melaka Fray from Fray.

The three-issue mini-series Serenity: Those Left Behind was based on the Firefly series. It took place just before the movie Serenity. It was released from June to August of 2005. The first two issues sold out before going into a second printing.

Whedon has said that more Serenity comics are planned for the near future. Whedon and other Buffy writers write more for the Buffy series. These stories would take place after the final episode. They would be considered "Season 8". The first 6-issues are due out in March 2007. Both projects will be published by Dark Horse Comics. In August 2007, Dark Horse Comics began a series on online comics on MySpace. One of the series shown, Sugarshock, is written by Whedon[12]

Whedon is also writing Astonishing X-Men in Marvel Comics' popular series about the X-Men. This has been one of Marvel's best-selling comics in 2006. It has been nominated for many awards. It won the award for "Best Continuing Series" in 2006.

It has also been said that Whedon helped writers with the ending to the comic Civil War.

Whedon will become the new writer of the Marvel comic Runaways when series creator Brian K. Vaughan finishes his run.[13] Whedon is actually a fan of the series. He had a letter published in the first volume. The letter was included in the Volume 1 hardcover version.

Common themes and motifs in Whedon's writing[change | change source]

Feminism[change | change source]

Whedon sees himself as a feminist. Feminist themes are common in his work. The best example is what he says is his habit of writing about "teenage girls with superpowers". This is seen in Buffy, Firefly, and Serenity. Whedon says his mother is the reason for his feminist idea. When Roseanne Barr asked him how he could write so well for women, he replied, "If you met my mom, you wouldn't ask." [1]

The character Kitty Pryde from the X-Men comic was an early model for Whedon's strong teenage girl characters: "If there's a bigger influence on Buffy than Kitty, I don’t know what it was. She was an adolescent girl finding out she has great power and dealing with it." [2] Many of Whedon's young female characters went through the same type of thing. Whedon has now come full circle, writing the character of Kitty Pryde in the Astonishing X-Men comic.

Homosexuality[change | change source]

Whedon is interested in the homosexual community. He is strongly for LGBT rights. In his works, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he has gay characters as both the major and the minor characters. In Buffy, he used scenes that suggested that either Xander Harris or Willow Rosenberg might be homosexual. At the time, he did not know which character he wanted to be gay. He decided that Willow would take part in a lesbian relationship with another young woman, fellow college student Tara Maclay. Two more minor characters in the series, Larry and Scott, were also homosexuals. In Angel, the script hinted at a homosexual experience between Spike and Angel. In Firefly, Inara Serra was shown as being bisexual. She accepted both male and female clients.

Dialogue[change | change source]

The dialogue in Joss Whedon's series and movies is notable. It is often very witty and has many pop culture references. Some are easy to notice other are more difficult. He also likes to turn nouns into adjectives by adding a "y" at the end of the word ("Vampires are fangy"). According to one of the Buffy writers, "It's just the way that Joss actually talks." [14]

Death[change | change source]

Many characters die in Whedon's series. This is very true in Buffy. It is common for extras and even minor characters to die in action-based series and movies. Whedon also kills off main characters. He gets the audience to care about the character before their death. It is a part of "doing [his] job". On the 'Serenity' DVD commentary, Whedon says that he'd rather have fans say 'Why'd they kill (that guy)? I liked him!' than 'Oh. He's dead. Turn the page'. Whedon often kills off characters right after something very good happens to them.

Relationships[change | change source]

As seen in Buffy, Firefly, and Angel, nearly all of the romantic relationships Whedon series end badly. One member in the relationship will usually end up dying or turning evil. The break-up will end up being very painful.

Family[change | change source]

There is a strong theme that family is the group of people that a person lives their life with, not the people who raised them as a child. This is a major theme for the main characters in all of his television series.

Fatherhood[change | change source]

Whedon often shows fathers in a bad way. Most of them are not around. Wes' father was shown several times to be abusive. While mothers play a big part in his works, characters rarely talk about or seem to be ever affected by their fathers. Whedon's characters often find someone to take the place of a father in their lives.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Joss Whedon Biography". The Buffy and Angel Trivia Guide. http://www.restlessbtvs.com/trivia/joss-whedon/. Retrieved 2006-10-27.
  2. "Hang on in there". Timesonline. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,2774-1729034,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-28.
  3. "Completely completed SERENITY screens at Comic-Con! And...". Ain't It Cool News. 2005-07-25. http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=20781. Retrieved 2006-06-24.
  4. Michael Schneider (November 1, 2007). "Joss Whedon preps Fox series". Dollverse.com. http://www.dollverse.com/index.php/Latest/Joss-Whedon-preps-Fox-series.html. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  5. "Whedon uncut". Infocus Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-4-17. http://web.archive.org/web/20070417070251/http://www.infocusmag.com/05augustseptember/whedonuncut.htm.
  6. Tasha Robinson (September 5th, 2001). "Joss Whedon - Web Exclusive". AVclub.com. http://avclub.com/content/node/24240. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  7. Michael Fleming (September 23, 2005). "Whedon's a goner for U". Variety.com. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117929558?categoryid=1236&cs=1&s=h&p=0. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  8. Sean Elliott (July 8, 2006). "Screenwriter Simon Kinberg Talks X-Men: The Last Stand - Part 1". If Magazine. http://www.ifmagazine.com/feature.asp?article=1525. Retrieved 2008-02-17. "That was actually a studio executive's idea. One of them had read Joss Whedon's gifted run with the mutant cure in it and thought that would be an interesting quandary for the characters."
  9. "Joss Whedon on Directing Harry Potter". The-Leaky-Couldron.org. August 25, 2005. http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/index.php?articleID=7488. Retrieved 2008-02-17. "They would have to wait until all the books come out, as I refuse to see any Potter movie till I've read them all, because she writes better movies tha[n] anybody shoots. When she's done, I'll go back and watch them and wait for the call to direct number seven."
  10. "Marvel's The Avengers". BoxOfficeMojo.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=avengers11.htm. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Overseas Total - All Time Openings". BoxOfficeMojo.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/intl/weekend/opening/. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  12. MySpace.com Dark Horse Presents:Sugarshock
  13. "Joss Whedon To Take Over Runaways". Marvel.com. 09-12-2006. http://marvel.com/news/comicstories.628. Retrieved 2008-02-17. "But great news has arrived as Vaughan has helped handpick his successor, the superstar writer behind the best-selling Astonishing X-Men – Joss Whedon"
  14. Season 4 DVD Commentary, Season 3 DVD featurette

Other websites[change | change source]