Much ado about Joss
“I’m not sure I have realised that yet,” he says. “If you are writing too closely to an agenda, that can show through. But, right away, the people who wanted it understood it. I hoped people would have a good time and we’d sneak in a genuinely good show. We thought, maybe, people would enjoy themselves, but not get the metaphor. Instead, they all got that immediately. Critics and fans got it. The response was way more intelligent than I had feared.”
Whedon’s career then passed through an odd trajectory. Angel, a spin-off from Buffy, did pretty good business. But Firefly failed to find a substantial audience. His science-fiction show Dollhouse only managed two series. The Cabin in the Woods, Whedon’s very amusing post-modern horror flick, got caught up in the collapse of MGM films and sat in the vaults for two long years. Yet, through it all, he retained a fanatical following on the internet.
“Well, most of us stay off the internet as much as possible,” he laughs. “We do that to maintain our sanity. Yesterday I happened upon a thread saying I was a misogynist. There is always going to be toxic stuff too. But there is also criticism you should listen to.”
He acknowledges that most of the banter has been positive. So, is it true that support from the Browncoats, as Firefly fanatics were labelled, allowed the series to rise again as Serenity? “It was not as cut and dried as that,” he says. “But it sure helped. I was with Mary Parent, an executive at Universal, and somebody stopped us on the street to rant about Firefly being cancelled. That helped.”
Did she think that he’d hired the Browncoat? “I can’t say money didn’t change hands,” he chortles.
At any rate, it seemed unlikely that Whedon would have to wait long for another smash. Marvel fans were, for the most part, delighted when he was hired to write and direct The Avengers. Now, he finds himself second only to James Cameron as a generator of movie dollars. For all his immersion in pop culture, the project must have been daunting. He had to observe Marvel house style while making the film his own. “That part for me was a no brainer. My style was partially formed by reading Marvel. I got my visual rhythms from that. I do remember thinking: my God, there are just so many characters. Can we make a movie where they co-exist that doesn’t seem completely bonkers? The sheer tonnage was unbelievable.”
Well, he seems to pull it off.His next task is a TV series based around S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s paramilitary crime-fighting body, but he has been sworn to secrecy on any plot details. After that, he sets into Avengers 2. Then, one imagines, he can do whatever the heck he likes. We should all be so overlooked and helpless.
Much Ado About Nothing plays at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on Saturday, February 23rd