Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series accumulated a legion of rabid fans over the course of its seven seasons. Last week, many of them were outraged to learn that Warner Bros. was moving forward with a big screen reboot of the property - and that Whedon wasn't involved.
Despite being hard at work on The Avengers, Whedon quickly drafted an amusing (if not slightly esoteric) response to the news and expressed his frustration over how soon all of this seemed to be happening. Unfortunately, Whedon doesn't own the rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Kazui Enterprises does. He even admitted he doesn't have any legal ground to stand on.
Although the thought of a Whedon-less Buffy probably sounds sacrilegious to fans, Heat Vision is reporting that he was offered the chance to be involved but turned it down. Evidently, Kazuis approached him last year with their plans for the reboot and Whedon decided he was more interested in other projects.
I'm a little surprised by how many people seem to think this means he has no business complaining about the situation. Of course they offered Whedon the opportunity to participate and of course he passed. It's not like they were proposing a big screen continuation of the series. This is a brand new Buffy that eschews established continuity and all of the supporting characters. Why would Whedon want to rebuild the mythology from the ground up when he's already told this story so successfully?
Meanwhile, Hero Complex recently profiled the screenwriter of the Buffy reboot - Whit Anderson. When plans for the film were unveiled and Anderson's script was mentioned, her name raised a few eyebrows. The reaction was understandable considering she's an aspiring actress with a few small roles on her resume, but no produced writing credits (her IMDb page is up 12558% in popularity now, though).
It's impossible to try and guess the tone of her script with no past work to examine, but Anderson says she was a huge fan of the show and of the Buffy character in particular:
"I didn’t really watch much television at all, but I always watched ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.‘ That was the one show I would watch when I got home. I just loved this character. I was the same age as Buffy, and it was so rare to have a female lead character on TV in those days who was strong and capable and smart but also allowed to be feminine."
Anderson also indicates that she's aware of fan skepticism, but uses Batman Begins as an example of how a franchise can be successfully revitalized. She goes on to explain what she believes makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer so unique:
"The thing that was so wonderful about ‘Buffy’ is what made it special was so timeless ... The deep struggle she had with duty and destiny, that tug between what you’re supposed to be doing and what you want to be doing. The fate of the world is on her shoulders, but some days she wakes up, and she just doesn’t want to do it. And are we doomed and destined to love someone? That conflict was very interesting to me. Those are the things I loved about her and her world. She also represents — like all the heroes — something empowering for us. She reminds us of what we could be if we were in our top form, the best of us if we were at our very best, and even then we still see the vulnerability and doubts she has inside. That’s where we all connect."
Clearly Warner Bros. believes that this property still has teeth with or without Whedon. They might even be counting on a whole new legion of fans for the reboot rather than simply trying to appeal to old ones. I previously expressed my concern over another writer trying to emulate Whedon's incredibly unique and specific style, but it's more likely this reboot will be as dramatically different from the series as it was from the original 1992 film.
As a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I have to admit I always thought that Buffy herself was one of the least interesting characters on the show. Creating an ensemble as dynamic and entertaining as Xander, Willow, Spike, and Giles (just to name a few) seems like an arduous challenge. We'll see if Anderson is up to it.