Few fan communities (other than, it would appear, RED camera acolytes) are quite as vocal as those with a love of the work of Joss Whedon. The writer-director became a public figure with the success of the TV version of his own film script, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and, with the show coinciding with the early years of the internet, Whedon has had a vociferous, powerful following ever since -- they managed to keep "Dollhouse," an interesting failure at best, on the air for a second season, despite rock-bottom ratings, and even persuaded Universal to greenlight "Serenity," a film version of another little-seen Whedon show, "Firefly."
So the news that a new version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" would be going ahead was always going to lead to a reaction in the community akin to the one that would result if you refused to give Mel Gibson head, and fans were indeed furious when it was announced a couple of weeks ago that Fran Rubel Kuzui, producer of the original film and rights-holder to the character, would be pressing forward with the film at Warner Bros, and were appointing unknown screenwriter Whit Anderson, who apparently had a distinct take on the source material, to write the new version.
Whedon responded graciously, and with his usual self-deprecating humor, initially saying that "This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths -- just because they can't think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers idea that I made up myself," before admitting that "I don't love the idea of my creation in other hands... there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly." But Whedon was leaving out one key fact: he was offered the chance to be involved in the new version, and turned it down.
Heat Vision reports that, 'according to studio insiders' (let's face it, almost certainly someone from within the Kuzui camp), the producers approached Whedon last year, and he decided to pursue his own projects instead. If true, it was a little disingenuous of Whedon to suggest otherwise, considering we're sure he was aware of the outrage that would result from his fans.
But at the same time, we don't blame Whedon too much -- even if he had nothing else on his slate, we can't imagine that going back to the well would hold much appeal, particularly after having been able to enact his pure vision for the character across seven seasons of the show (as well as a sequel comic book, known as Season Eight). Maybe if Kuzui had asked him to pick up where the series left off, he might have been tempted, but we can't see him taking it otherwise. And on the plus side, whoever does direct at least won't try and cast Eliza Dushku in it.
Besides, Whedon has perhaps the biggest job in town right now, writing and directing Marvel superhero team up movie "The Avengers," which has to be a dream come true for the long-time comic fan, so we're sure he's not doing too badly. We don't have the same kneejerk reaction of hatred to the news that most of the internet went through last week -- it's entirely possible that Anderson genuinely has a fresh take on the character that could happily sit alongside Whedon's version (which, after all, isn't going anywhere). We are obviously suspicious of the motives, but we're prepared to withhold judgment until we know more. Whedon, meanwhile, begins filming on "The Avengers" in April, with the film hitting theaters on May 4, 2012.