Joss Whedon-Writer/Director Spotlight
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly,” “Angel,” “Serenity”, “Dollhouse,” “The Cabin in the Woods”, and now “The Avengers”… we have Joss Whedon to thank for all of these. He created each of the above TV shows, wrote each of the films, and directed Serenity. His biggest film yet, however, is The Avengers. Let’s take a few moments to learn more about this prolific writer and director.
Joss Whedon was born to be a writer. His grandfather wrote on “The Donna Reed Show” in the 1950s, his father wrote on “The Electric Company” and “The Golden Girls” in the 1970s and 1980s respectively. His mother was an unpublished novelist and his younger brothers are both writers: Zack Whedon has written on “Fringe,” “Rubicon,” “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog,” and “Deadwood” while Jed has written on “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” and even married a screenwriter (Maurissa Tancharoe).
Joss has been writing for TV since 1989 (as long as I have been alive). His first writing job was on “Roseanne” for which he wrote 4 episodes. He then wrote 3 episodes of a show called “Parenthood” starring Ed Begley Jr. His first foray into the feature film world came when he got his script Buffy the Vampire Slayer produced through 20th Century Fox. He stuck around in the movie world for a little while with his most notable films being Alien: Resurrection, and he was one of the seven writers on the first Toy Story.
In 1996, he made a name for himself by taking his film Buffy the Vampire Slayer and creating a TV series from it. Everyone knows of “Buffy” even if they never watched the show. It garnered a huge following on the WB for five seasons and moved to UPN for two more seasons. Even his spinoff “Angel” had a successful 5 season run. His next two TV ventures didn’t pan out so well. ”Firefly” was cancelled after 11 episodes (even though they had filmed 14) and many of those 11 episodes were aired out of order. ”Dollhouse” didn’t last long either, being cancelled after two seasons because of low ratings.
Despite it’s short life, “Firefly” led to Joss’s feature film directorial debut: Serenity. He had done his first directing in 1996 on his show “Buffy.” He also directed many other episodes of the shows he created. After Serenity, he got the chance to direct episodes of “The Office” and “Glee.” Writing-wise, though, Joss has stuck to features since “Dollhouse” was cancelled. He wrote and produced the critically acclaimed film The Cabin in the Woods and, most notably, co-wrote the story for big-budget blockbuster The Avengers with Zak Penn (X2 and X-Men: Last Stand). He also penned the script himself.
Directing The Avengers is probably the biggest opportunity of his long career and almost certainly the most lucrative as the film has already made over $280 million overseas (a record setting number) in only one week! That, by the way, is more than the lifetime, worldwide gross of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. Spider-Man 3 held the record for biggest opening weekend haul ever (in 2007 at just over 150 million) and it is likely that The Avengers will beat that (based on ticket pre-sales). Since then, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 pulled in almost 170 million in it’s first weekend… I guess we’ll see if Joss Whedon’s superhero mash-up can beat that.
After The Avengers we will certainly see more of Joss. He has two films coming up: Much Ado About Nothing (a modern retelling of the Shakespeare classic) which he is also set to direct, and In Your Eyes (a sci-fi romance). Here are a few more fun facts about Joss Whedon.
- The production company he created to produce “Buffy” and “Angel,” Mutant Enemy Productions, had offices located on the 20th Century Fox lot that were made out of glass bricks. The offices closed soon after Angel was cancelled.
- The mini-series he co-created with his brothers, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog,” starred Neil Patrick Harris
- He cameoed in episodes of “Buffy,” “Angel,” and “Firefly.”
- He wrote uncredited drafts of Twister, X-Men, and Speed.
- His latest writer/director effort, Much Ado About Nothing, was filmed in just 12 days on location in Santa Monica, CA.