Was Joss Whedon right in scoffing at the 'Buffy: The Vampire Slayer' reboot?
When a Hollywood studio remakes "The Wizard of Oz," L. Frank Baum doesn’t have a chance to send out a press release. But the tricky thing about rebooting a property that’s only been gone seven years is that the creator is usually around to say something about it.
That’s just what Joss Whedon did after Monday’s news that a young writer named Whit Anderson, who grew up watching “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer,” would now tackle the new movie.
It was largely a jokey missive that Whedon sent to E! online –- he alluded to his own pillaging of a childhood favorite with his current “Avengers” –- but he didn't exactly contain his annoyance, either.
Whedon sarcastically said he was hoping to remake Batman even as Chris Nolan, of course, is proceeding with his own version, and he said he wished the new "Buffy" didn't happen this soon or without him (though he pointedly avoided addressing whether he was given the opportunity to be involved, which a source familiar with the discussions tells us he was).
“I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don't love the idea of my creation in other hands,” he wrote, then suggested that he had at least thought about getting lawyers involved, before deciding against it. “There is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly.”
As much as Whedon seems justified in questioning the need for one more Hollywood reboot, the idea that a recently ended TV show would get a second life as a movie shouldn’t be entirely shocking to the creator. He did just that with “Serenity,” which picked up three years after his science-fiction series “Firefly” went off the air (though that one of course ended far more abruptly than "Buffy" did).
It’s also understandable why Whedon felt the need to react; certainly, it’s an emotional topic for him. But it also is a savvy bit of positioning. If the movie now doesn’t work or isn’t embraced by fans, Whedon now has put considerable distance between himself and the movie and can say he was dubious from the start. It could also backfire, making him seem bitter that it's going on without him.
Was it a smart move on his part? More to the point, will his statement poison the well for many fans and doom the movie before it's even written? Early skepticism has plagued beloved genre properties before but fans came around when the movie was eventually released (see under: the initial backlash to the “Twilight" casting).
Then again, the Whedon crowd is an ardent one, and this kind of statement means the deck could now be seriously stacked.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: 'Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. Credit: 20th Century Fox
RECENT AND RELATED: