Joss Whedon is fanboy royalty, crafting both original works that find a huge fan base, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, and adaptations that please fans of the source material, like the first two Avengers movies (although particularly the first one). His movies and TV shows haven’t all been huge hits (even if the ones that aren’t huge commercial hits do become cult hits), which means he doesn’t always have an easy time getting funding for his projects. Sometimes, things fall apart – it happens all the time in Hollywood – and we’re left to wonder about what could’ve been. Here are 10 Unrealized Joss Whedon Projects We Want To See.
10 Buffy The Animated Series
Since the Buffy fan base is one of the biggest in genre TV history, there have been a bunch of spin-offs in and out of development since it went off the air. One was Buffy the Animated Series, a cartoon show that would’ve brought back all our favorite characters with a zanier tone. Sarah Michelle Gellar wasn’t interested, but Alyson Hannigan and David Boreanaz were open to returning. Comic book writer Jeph Loeb and Daredevil season one showrunner Steven S. DeKnight were among the writers who worked on the series before the network Fox Kids shuttered and no other networks were interested in developing it.
In the ‘90s, Joss Whedon sold his script for this supernatural thriller for $1.5 million, and yet whoever spent that money on it never got it into production. Its premise sounds deliciously complex, as it revolves around a government scientist who dies and later wakes up with his mind imprinted on the body of a mindless serial killer known as “the Snowman.” The script sounds like it could’ve turned out to be a horror classic if it was in the hands of the right director,
In 2017, Joss Whedon was hired to write and direct a movie about the Batgirl character for the DC Extended Universe. This was after he’d stepped in to finish the Justice League shoot when a personal tragedy forced Zack Snyder to step down from the director’s chair. However, by February 2018, Whedon had dropped out of the project, saying he couldn’t come up with the right story to do the character justice on the big screen. It’s unclear if Warner Bros. will still do the movie with a different writer-director or if it’s just been canceled altogether, but Whedon’s version would’ve been awesome.
In 2011, it was reported that Joss Whedon was collaborating with Warren Ellis on a web series about the apocalypse called Wastelanders. Ellis is a jack of all trades, having written Iron Man’s “Extremis” comic book arc, the video game Dead Space, and the source material of the Red movies. As it turns out, bad timing was the downfall of this project. It was announced right before Whedon was hired by Marvel Studios to make the first Avengers movie. And then right after that, he was signed on to make the second Avengers movie. So, the project unfortunately never materialized.
This is a spec script Whedon wrote in the ‘90s for an action thriller that was described as “Die Hard on a bridge.” While “Die Hard on a bridge” might not sound as awesome a premise as “Die Hard on an airplane” or “Die Hard on a battleship” or “Die Hard in an intergalactic prison,” in Whedon’s hands, it surely would’ve turned out to be something great.
Remember, “Die Hard on a bus” doesn’t sound like a great idea, but it became Speed, one of the greatest action movies ever made. In fact, Whedon did some uncredited script doctor work on Speed, so it’s right in his wheelhouse.
5 Batman: Year One
Before Christopher Nolan successfully revived the Batman movie franchise with Batman Begins, a bunch of people had a crack at doing a reboot. The Wachowski siblings submitted a script that was rejected, Darren Aronofsky was attached to direct for a while, and Joss Whedon wrote a script based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel Batman: Year One, a dark retelling of the Caped Crusader’s origin story. Whedon created a whole new villain for his script, a character inspired by Hannibal Lecter, and he also reportedly depicted Bruce Wayne as “a morbid, death-obsessed kid” who is called into action when he saves a girl from being attacked in an alley.
Ripper is one of many mooted Buffy spin-off projects that have been announced and sadly fallen through. This one was meant to be a spin-off about Rupert Giles, with Anthony Stewart Head signed up to reprise the role, either in the form of a miniseries or a made-for-TV movie. The last that was reported about the project was a 90-minute special. However, that was over ten years ago and all we’ve had in that time is a comic book storyline that was likely adapted from unused material from this project. It could still happen eventually, but it sure is unlikely.
Not a lot is known about Joss Whedon’s script for Goners, but it’s been described as a fantasy thriller with a female lead named Mia. Whedon’s intention with the movie was to revitalize the horror genre: “I’ve been seeing a lot of horror movies that are torture porn, where kids we don’t care about are mutilated for hours, and I just cannot abide them...[Goners] is an antidote to that very kind of film, the horror movie with the expendable human beings in it. Because I don’t believe any human beings are.” Some of the themes and ideas in the Goners script were reused for The Cabin in the Woods, but we’d still like to see Goners.
2 Wonder Woman
The DCEU’s Wonder Woman solo movie turned out pretty fantastic. Gal Gadot is incredible in the lead role and Patty Jenkins did such a great job of directing it that she was on Time magazine’s shortlist for 2017’s Person of the Year as a result of it.
Still, Joss Whedon has shown himself to be a great director of superhero blockbuster movies with the Avengers movies, and he’s famous for writing and directing strong female roles, so it would’ve been interesting to see his take on the character. It would’ve been set during World War II, so his unused material might even have inspired the DCEU’s WWI-set story.
1 Alien 5
Before Ridley Scott decided to make a sort-of-but-not-really prequel to the Alien franchise with Prometheus, the studio was trying to put together a fifth installment to revolve around an adult Newt from Aliens and a resurrected Ellen Ripley. Joss Whedon was hired to write it, having previously written the fourth installment. His script was passed between a few directors like Danny Boyle and Peter Jackson before finally landing in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s hands. For God knows what reason, Jeunet rewrote Whedon’s script as a comedy, Sigourney Weaver hated it, and the whole thing was called off. Whedon’s vision for Alien 5 was probably pretty great.