Joss Whedon is considered one of the most prolific writers, directors and overall creators of Hollywood. He has gone from writing the Oscar-nominated script for Toy Story to creating hit shows like Buffy or Angel and cult classics like Firefly. Nowadays, he is responsible for bringing together a group of characters who had already been very successful with their individual films after writing and directing The Avengers, which is now the third highest-grossing film of all time and was acclaimed by critics. If there was a person who could pull off such a majestic work, that was Whedon. He is currently in London filming its anticipated sequel, but Whedon seems to identify most with the complexity of the characters rather than with the blockbuster feeling that surrounds these productions.
BORN AND raised in New York, he was sent to a boarding school in Hampshire, England, after his parents’ divorce. After graduating from Wesleyan University, he moved to California, and he now resides in a Spanish-styled house in Santa Monica with his wife and two children.
HE DISLIKES the ending of The Empire Strikes Back. “Well, it’s not an ending. It’s a come-back-next-week, or in three years. That upsets me. I go to movies expecting to have a whole experience. If I want a movie that doesn’t end, I’ll go to a French movie.”
DURING HIS TIME OFF between The Avengers filming and post-production, he shot Much Ado About Nothing in his house. “My wife knew I didn’t need to go and see beautiful ancient cities but to make another movie.”
AS A SCRIPT WRITER for many films, he declares his personal victory the line “You’re a dick”, uttered by Wolverine in X-Men.
HE DOESN’T SEE Age of Ultron as a “number 2” movie, but as a different story with the same characters: “Doesn’t mean it will work. It doesn’t mean it will be better. But it needs to be its own thing.”
HE FOUND difficult to re-introduce the characters of the cancelled show Firefly in the movie Serenity, as he wanted to attract a new audience while being faithful to the fans the characters already had. “I was all “I’m never doing that again! Sure, I’ll make The Avengers!” So dumb.”
HIS MOTHER, who passed away in 1992, was a declared feminist and novelist.
HE IS CONSIDERED the first third-generation TV writer, as both his father and grandfather have written scripts for TV shows, including The Golden Girls and The Donna Reed Show.
AS A KID, he showed interesting in acting and was crazy about Monty Python.
TOY STORY earned him an Academy Award nomination for Original Screenplay.
THE FIRST STRONG female character he created was Buffy, who represents everything Whedon defends: a girl capable of defending herself, and who is a hero on her own: “The very first mission statement of the show was the joy of female power: having it, using it, sharing it.”
BUFFY has also served as a trailblazer for strong female characters surrounded by supernatural events, but Whedon considers the “Buffys” who have come afterwards (Bella, Elena, etcetera) too passive and without the focus of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s slayer. They have the aspects of Buffy, but there is no Buffy in them. “A lot of things aimed at the younger kids is just Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie.”
IN 2013, Marvel demonstrated a complete trust in Whedon by handing him the task of creating a spin-off TV show of The Avengers, Agents of SHIELD, starring Clark Gregg, one of his frequent collaborators, as agent Phil Coulson, a role he had played in the Iron Man, Thor and The Avengers movies.
NOT HIS FIRST SPIN OFF, though. He created Angel in 1999, thanks to the success of Buffy. The show centered on David Boreanaz’s character, the kind-hearted vampire in love with the slayer who tries to get redemption from his dark past. He also filmed Serenity in 2005 as a spin-off of the short-lived TV series Firefly, and The Avengers could be considered as one as well, if one takes under consideration all the films that preceded it.
FIREFLY, the acclaimed series cancelled by Fox after one season, was based on a book Whedon read about the Battle of Gettysburg called The Killer Angels.
THE PIECE OF ADVICE Whedon would give to his younger self after this experience would be “never work with Fox.”