By Drew Taylor | The Playlist June 4, 2013 at 1:44PM
A Straight-Up Musical Adaptation
It's no secret that Whedon is a total theater queen – he has overseen a musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (something Ryan Murphy called "one of the great musical episodes in the history of television"), a ballet episode of undervalued 'Buffy' spin-off "Angel," an episode of "Glee" and an award-winning musical web series called "Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" that featured Broadway stalwart Neil Patrick Harris in the title role (not to mention the "Marco Polo" Disney project). So clearly the dude knows his shit. And it would be fascinating to see him take on one of his favorite musicals, especially considering the amount of successful Broadway musicals that have either a) never been tackled cinematically or b) haven't been remade for literally decades, is kind of staggering. In the same way that he refashioned one of his favorite Shakespeare plays for a modern audience while keeping much of the original text, Whedon could redo a musical (even one that's musty and covered in wig residue), contemporizing it and upping the number of witty quips. There isn't one particular musical that stands out as being ripe for the Whedon picking, but that makes the possibility even more exciting. It's a shame that Disney's big adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" is being mounted during Whedon's extended tenure at Marvel U because that would have been perfect for the filmmaker (Whedon is a huge Sondheim buff). Alas. Superheroes punching each other called.
Whedon's "Firefly"/"Serenity" is first and foremost a sci-fi tale, with zooming space ships and cannibalistic mutants (or something), but it's also very much a western. Part of the shock of the series was just how much of a western it was, complete with people riding horses, a kind of lawless frontier aesthetic (both thematically and design-wise) and a honky tonk theme song. It would be fun to see Whedon tackle, in a more pure fashion, a genre he clearly loves, taking all of the hackneyed trappings and inverting them in a way that only Whedon can do (he's a filmmaker constantly celebrating genre while also deconstructing it). Whedon is also clearly obsessed with period settings, with some of the most effective episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" being flashback-intensive ones (his run on ace Marvel comic "Runaways" also featured an extensive time travel angle that sent the main characters back to a steampunk-y New York). He's already comfortable with horses, which is always a requirement.
It would also be nice to see Whedon tackle a straight-up horror film, since "Cabin in the Woods" (which he co-wrote and produced) sometimes felt more like a heady thesis project than an actual scare-the-shit-out-of-you chiller. And it might be nice to see Whedon return to the action genre – he famously co-wrote (without receiving screen credit) Jan de Bont's masterful "Speed" and sold a $1 million spec script called "Suspension" about a terrorist attack on a bridge (it was never actualized and was, at one point, considered for a sequel to the Sylvester Stallone disaster movie "Daylight"). Also, it'd be interesting to see if DC and Warner Bros. try to woo him back to that universe, following the contentious development of a Whedon-helmed "Wonder Woman" project (felled largely due to producer Joel Silver's unhappiness with Whedon's script). If he did that, he might as well be called the superhero whisperer. Or something.
Thoughts? Where do you want to see Whedon go next? "Much Ado About Nothing" opens this Friday, June 7th.