He created two iconic television shows, wrote our favorite superhero movies and is generally considered to be the king of all things geek and pop culture. So it’s no surprise that Joss Whedon was recently the recipient of the prestigious Comic Con Icon Award, joining a list that includes Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman and George Lucas. And now that his commitments to Marvel have ended, the world can once again bask in Whedon’s original creations.
As first reported by EW, Whedon is returning to comics with a six-issue miniseries from Dark Horse called Twist. At Comic Con this weekend, we had a chance to chat with the creator prior to his Hall H spotlight panel, where we learned more about his newest creation, as well as his feelings on returning to comic writing and what he thinks about all those television reboots.
“It’s a story I had stuck in my head for the last couple of years that I was finally like, ‘I guess I have time to get this out now’, out of my head and onto a page,” Whedon said when asked how the idea came about. “It’s called Twist, and it’s a Victorian thriller superhero story about a young chambermaid who, bad things happen to her. Needless to say, because it’s something I’m writing, she becomes very powerful because of it,” shared Whedon, who, in addition to calling his protagonist a “Victorian, female Batman” also teased during his panel that her personality might resemble that of Dark Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
When asked about how it felt to create his own comic stories as opposed to adapting characters for television or film, Whedon said, “You know, I was doing all of them at different times. At the end of the day, it’s nice to write something where I don’t have people going, ‘but is that a BILLION dollar idea?’ So there’s definitely less pressure, but it’s the same process every time: Why this story? Why is this on the brain for me? Because of certain moments in her journey that I feel like I understand and am excited to convey. And then you just have to keep doing that, and make it all coherent.”
While Whedon noted that there’s “very little difference” where the different mediums are concerned, he admitted, “I think the biggest difference with comics, particularly, is freedom — and even more freedom than if I’m writing a Buffy comic and have a chance to do something new in a format that people will be excited about.”
In a landscape ripe with reboots of iconic ’90s fare (The X-Files, Twin Peaks), it’s refreshing to hear Whedon talk about his excitement to create new, intriguing characters. Still, as the creator of one of the most influential series in pop culture, it’s not hard to wonder if Whedon would ever consider the idea of bringing Buffy back to television. “I mean, I look at my shows, and part of me is like, wouldn’t it be great if… We always worked in the universe where people could age, so it’s never a worry that, ‘wait a minute. She’s still in high school?!” Whedon laughed. “And then there’s a part of me that’s like, ‘you are going to do something else at some point, right? You do have a new idea, ever?’ And there’s stuff I’m working on besides Twist as well that I actually can’t talk about, but that is actually very different.”
Still, don’t expect Whedon to announce a Buffy reboot anytime soon. “I just sort of check in,” he said. “I look at the things and I worry. My biggest fear about bringing stuff back is the monkey’s paw. Like, what if it’s not as good? Or what if it’s just as good but it’s not new? So it doesn’t give you that feeling you need. That would be the billion dollar pressure of something like that. But I have a knack for assembling sane and wonderful casts, so I think about it. But only I can do it.”
“I see some things in the landscape that were not there,” Whedon continued, referencing the fact that we’re now seeing more female-led projects across the board. “But I also see things that had been there before: Xena, and James Cameron movies and all the things I was building off of. I feel like we were part of a wave — we may have actually been the crest of that wave, but I don’t feel like, ‘You’re welcome, world! This is all me!’ I feel like people were ready for it. And they just needed to know it was okay for them to be ready for it.”
While Whedon would be hard pressed to pick a favorite character from his work, he said, “That’s one of the reasons I love Buffy. I think she’s a character that men can identify with in a way that they’re not allowed to with a male character.” How does that make him feel? “I’m a little proud,” Whedon said with a smile. “But I’m mostly very grateful that I got to do that.”
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