Joss Whedon had a big Comic-Con. From announcements about Avengers: Age of Ultron to premiering the full pilot for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, the writer/director was all over the event. Whedon talked about most of this when he finally guested on the Nerdist Podcast, but when it comes to his child Buffy Summers and the comics based on her, we just had to get a little more in depth.
We caught up with Joss to get all of the details on Buffy‘s Season 9 from Dark Horse, what the Scarlet Witch might look like, and even if he’d be amenable to someone else taking over his Wonder Woman script.
Nerdist: So Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 was a more down to earth season for Buffy and the Scoobies; Why did you make the decision to scale it all back from the epicness of Season 8?
Joss Whedon: When we first started Buffy Season 8, I was very excited that we could be a comic book, and work in a grand scale and do anything we wanted, and it became apparent pretty quickly that what our readers wanted was for our characters to interact, and to understand their personal journeys, and so for Season 9, we said very deliberately, “Okay, the mission statement has to go back more specifically to what the television show was, which is what is it like for a young woman trying to find her way.” And everything was built around that. And in Season 8, we built our mythology in certain classical comic book fashion. There’s some stuff in there that I’m proudest of and that I still love very much, but on the whole, we lost that little bit of character connection to the audience, so this was about getting it back. Because the question of “what’s it like to be the general of an army?” is not something that a lot of young women are dealing with.
N: I have a question about “Billy the Vampire Slayer” (the recently introduced first male vampire slayer in Season 9): I really like this character, and I’m glad there’s finally an openly gay male character in the Buffyverse, but even though he’s a gay guy, I also feel he’s more of a transgender metaphor. I don’t know if that’s deliberate or not, but the idea that he says, “I’m a slayer because I choose to say I am, whether or not biology dictates that I am” seems like a transgender metaphor.
JW: A little bit; When Drew Greenberg and Jane Espenson pitched it, my only interest was to make sure we didn’t take something away from women. I’d always been very deliberate about why there would never be a male slayer. But when they pitched it, they wanted something that resonated on a certain level that would actually be empowering in that sort of spectrum that is all-inclusive, so I think the transgender thing is a little part of it.
N: I think that in comic books, there are so many female characters who emulate male heroes (Batgirl, Supergirl, etc.), and no one thinks twice about it. Since Buffy is essentially a female superhero, I think it’s cool that we have a male character emulate a female hero for a change. I think you’re probably the first person to do that too.
JW: Umm, yeah, I don’t think there’s ever been a male version of a female hero… yeah, not that I’m aware of, although a lot of things I think I’ve done that are original, later, people are like, “oh, they did that on That’s So Raven.”
N: On to Angel & Faith; now Angel, not even on the shows, has ever tried to make up for any one single bad thing he’s done as much as he’s tried to make up for killing Giles (while possessed by Twilight) in Buffy Season 8. Angel trying to bring back Giles — was that your idea?
JW:That was mine.
N: Because honestly… he’s done worse things in his life than kill poor Giles.
JW: Yeah, you know what? He’s done unbelievably terrible things, the whole thing with Giles… he can’t make up for what he’s done, he can’t go and make a checklist like My Name is Earl and go and get it all done. And so in a situation like that, you either kill yourself, or you go micro, and say “if I can do this one thing, it will give me enough focus and purpose to live through dealing through everything else I’ve done.” And as Twilight, that’s all some pretty inexcusable stuff he’s done, not to mention as Angelus, so the only way for him to deal with it… and I think this a real human truth, it’s that redemptive thing, it’s, “if I can just help that one person, if I can take back that one thing.”
N: And a lot of if I imagine is also Angel trying to get Buffy to forgive him, even if he’d never admit it.
JW:She’s part of his agenda…and no, he doesn’t admit it.
N: I also loved that you included Fray (the Slayer from the future, introduced in the 2001 Dark Horse mini-series of the same name) in Season 8; I’ve always loved Fray a lot, and thought it would make for a great animated show. Have you ever thought about it?
JW:I’ve thought about it. People who tend to think Fray would make a great animated show tend to be you and me on this couch. People who make animated shows have never come to me and said “Hey, let’s do Fray!” Right now, animation in America is just aimed at little kids, and I know there is some superhero stuff, and to take specifically young people, and especially young women, and say, “Oh, they’re gonna go and stab a bunch of things in a dystopian future,” they maybe think they’re not going to sell as many DVDs as they’d like.
N: Speaking of DVDs, will we ever see Buffy on Blu-ray? I know it’s probably not your decision, but I know there is a demand for it.
JW: People have been asking me that a lot, I have no idea if we’re ever gonna see Buffy on Blu-ray, I don’t have like a guy I can call and be like, “Hey, let’s get that Buffy out on Blu-ray.” I mean, I’m for it, I wish they would un-letterbox it. That offends me deeply, because I shot it for 4×3 frame. I’m not the boss of that. But I think it’s a good idea.
N: Okay, I have to ask an obligatory Avengers question; so will the Scarlet Witch have her head thingy in Avengers? I’m probably the only person who cares. I think the head thingy she wears is fierce.
JW:No. She might wear a headband or something that might echo it. The guys at Marvel, the conceptual artists, are phenomenal, and they are so good at taking the essence of what works and interpreting it for the actual human body, and when they paint something you can not only tell how it’s gonna work on a person, you can even tell what fabric it’ll be. They are very specific, very talented. So I’m excited to see the designs. Obviously we want to echo the look that people know, but there’s the classic look and the Ultimates look, but you have to do it in a way that will work. But it can’t be too old school… she can’t wear a leotard.
N: You kind of gave an answer for this on your panel on Friday — you give great panels, by the way, because you know how to joke with the audience without insulting them, which I’ve seen some people do. I’ve seen some meanness.
JW:(laughs) Yeah, I’ve seen a couple people that are funny, but then, suddenly, “there is a lot of hostility going on here.”
N: But on your panel, you said you’d never go back to Wonder Woman, but would you be okay with someone else directing your Wonder Woman script (which Warners still owns), someone like, say, Drew Goddard, maybe?
JW:Yeah, I’d be ok with it, but just don’t see any interest from them to do so.