Joss Whedon is the well-known writer of the film and television series, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” and the cult classic series “Firefly,” inspiring the film “Serenity.” He also penned the series “Angel,” and has writing credits for the films, “Titan A.E.,” “X-Men,” “Alien Resurrection,” and “Toy Story.” Additionally, Joss Whedon has penned a number of X-Men comic books and is currently developing a comic book based on “Serenity.”
Joss Whedon is a child of the television industry. His father worked as a writer for “The Electric Company,” and for the “The Golden Girls.” His grandfather wrote for “The Donna Reed Show.” Even with these inspirations, Whedon’s initial attempts at screenwriting did not prove immediately successful.
Joss Whedon did not exhibit much promise in his first film “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” Though the film now has a cult fan base, it is primarily enjoyed because everything about it exhibits low production values, unbelievable dialogue, and horrendous acting. Joss Whedon was praised by some critics for making a film that was intentionally awful, to the point of humor. Even with the film’s limited success, Whedon was able to create and market a series developing the Buffy character. Unlike the movie, the series was immediately hailed as something quite special and unique.
With Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, a teenager with a sacred duty to kill vampires and demons, Joss Whedon explored concepts familiar to all teens, trouble with dating, curiosity about sex, popularity, academic success and failure, and the teenager’s relationship to his or her family. The demons that Buffy encountered and defeated were metaphorically associated with the primary themes of the episode. Dialogue was witty and fast, quickly tying in references to popular culture, and often slightly off realistic, with surprisingly humorous results.
“Buffy” drew so much interest that the scholarly community held several conventions to present papers on its thematic elements. Joss Whedon was hailed for his existentialist and feminist themes. His ability to take tough subjects like homosexuality and make them palatable for a wide audience was also recognized.
The “Buffy” series ran for five years on the WB network before switching to the UPN network for its last two years. One episode Joss Whedon penned, “Hush,” was nominated for an Emmy for writing in 2000. The episode contains limited dialogue as demons steal the voices of everyone in Buffy’s town, Sunnydale. Many consider “Hush” and “Once More with Feeling,” a musical episode, as two of the best episodes in the seven-year series.
The “Buffy” series spawned the “Angel” series, exploring similar thematic elements but with a title male character, the brooding vampire with a soul, and Buffy’s true love, played to effect by David Boreanaz. When “Buffy” made the jump to UPN, “Angel” stayed on at the WB network, and much of the synchronous writing of Joss Whedon was lost as there were few crossover episodes.
With “Buffy” ending in 2003, and the WB canceling “Angel” in 2004, Joss Whedon evolved the series "Firefly" for the Fox Network. “Firefly” didn’t last a season, but was enjoyed by a dedicated fan base. Fox was criticized for showing the episodes out of sequence, thus contributing to the series' early demise.
The western-styled sci-fi series convinced Joss Whedon to conclude the story in the film, “Serenity.” Despite expectations of failure, “Serenity,” enjoyed box office success, and improved sales of the series DVD. Most critics, including Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, who gave the film their well known “thumbs up” rating, praising it. Joss Whedon was also acknowledged for doing what was considered impossible: taking a failed series and creating a hit film from it.
Joss Whedon currently has two film works in progress, “Wonder Woman," and “Goners,” with tentative release dates in 2007. Whedon fans much anticipate both works, with particularly strong interest in “Wonder Woman,” which develops along similar lines as the “Buffy” series by featuring a dedicated woman with a duty to protect the innocent.