Anyone who knows me, knows I love Joss Whedon. Almost every single one of his projects is a big favourite of mine, even some that I didn’t realise were his until years later. So today, on his fifty-second birthday, I’m going to list my life as a Joss Whedon fan in a nice old timeline.
My Age: -2
Joss Whedon project: Toy Story
Who hasn’t seen Toy Story? And who doesn’t love the main character, the Tom Hanks speaking cowboy Woody? Well it was Joss Whedon who gave us the Woody we know & love today, after his writing input for the film’s screenplay made the cowboy an actually likeable character, and made the relationhship between Woody & Buzz way more friendly to become the best buds we know them as today. How crazy was all this success for someone who’d just had his whole screenplay rewritten due to his ‘inexperience’ in the industry? Joss was also nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for this. Take that Buffy movie.
My Age: 1
Joss Whedon project: Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride
This film is my entire childhood. I still regard it as the best Disney sequel of all time, which admittedly isn’t that difficult as most of the Disney sequels are… interesting (aka. bad). It’s about Simba & Nala’s daughter Kiara, and how she befriends and then reunites ex-followers of Scar back to Pride Rock. IT’S ALSO A MASSIVE METAPHOR FOR RACISM!!! Amazing. I only got a DVD copy a couple of Christmas’s ago (I cried when I opened it) and watching it again was so familiar & comforting. Basically I love this film a lot. And Joss Whedon only went and wrote the best song in it didn’t he? Seriously, My Lullaby is brilliant.
My Age: 4
Joss Whedon project: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV series)
Buffy made me who I am today & I will say it’s the best television show to ever have happened for the rest of my days. Honestly this was LIFE CHANGING, for me and so many other people, and though I was questionably too young to be watching the show at the time it was so important for me to see such an amazingly strong woman, who was as tough as she was feminine. It was my cousin who put my family of three onto Buffy, lending us her VHS box sets of series for us to binge watch on weekends and after school. When I was eight or nine we even threw a Buffy themed Halloween party, and assigned characters to our friends who’d never seen it to come dressed as them. It was brilliant. Buffy became & still is a huge part of our lives, and we have the action figures, books and countless childhood drawings to prove it, and watching the final episode was the most heartbreaking day of my life. I cried for hours. I still do every time I see it. If you want to read a massive in-dept post about why Buffy is the greatest thing to ever happen I wrote a big thing on a Buffy anniversary earlier this year which you can read here.
It’s just the best tv show to ever have existed. Watch it.
My Age: 9
Joss Whedon project: Angel
I can’t remember exactly what year it was that I started watching the Buffy spinoff series Angel, but i do remember it was the day I had tripped playing with my sister & my neighbour in the garden & had got a plank of wood lodged in my leg. With a massive gaping wound I was obsiously quite distressed, so once my mum (a nurse) had patched me up, she decided to treat me by letting me watch the first episode of Angel. She’d been watching the series alone herself after deeming it too age inapropriate for us so I felt so privaliged. It was only a few months later I think that we did start it all as a family. We finally finished the series an hour before my little sister’s birthday party, and welcomed all her friends still crying that it was over.
I still have the scar from that fall. But it marks the day I first watched Angel so that’s okay.
My Age: 10
Joss Whedon Project: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the film)
I can’t really remember exactly what age I was when I finally saw the original Buffy film, but I know it was a good while after seeing the tv show. I know I was encouraged to stay away from it because it was so, so bad but we found a video tape copy for 10p in a charity shop and watched it with our very low expectations. It’s so awful it’s brilliant. Almost everything is laughable and I remember us being in stitches watching it. It’s kind of sad knowing that the studio exploited Joss’s idea like that and changed his screenplay until it was barely recognisable but without that film, the series would never have happened.
My Age: 11
Joss Whedon project: Firefly
Firefly brings very happy memories for me because it was the first series we watched together with our next door neighbours, who turned out to be massive Whedon fans too (thank you universe). We would get together every week or so to watch an episode or two and sing along to the theme song at the top of our voices. With the six of us, we all gave ourselves a character too, and I’m very proud to say I was Inara. It’s so sad the show was never able to fully develop as everyone would have liked, but to have the fan following and huge level of respect it does after only 14 episodes in total really shows how great a series it was.
My age: 11
Joss Whedon Project: Serenity
I love just the idea of Serenity alone. It’s a massive “fuck you” to Fox for cancelling Firefly, which is still the most famous series cancellation to this day. The film simultaneously tied up all the loose ends the series never got the chance to do, as well as having an original storyline that people whob had never seen the show could love too. It broke so many records, and will forever be a big cult classic. Also hey, Sarah Paulson and Chiwetel Ejofor are in it! Small world. And I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted to be anyone more than I wanted to be River Tam in that final battle scene. Still wowed by it.
My Age: 12
Joss Whedon project: Fray
This is a bit of a guess time wise. My cousin gave me the complete Fray graphic novel for my birthday I know, I just can’t really remember which one so I’m going for my thirteenth. Who knows, but Fray is my favourite comic of all time. It’s set in the Buffy universe, but years and years in the future where the first slayer in decades (Melaka Fray) crops up in a time of flying cars and social divide and oh it’s SO GOOD. And SO BEAUTIFUL. I’ve read it time and time again, the story is excellent and the characters amazing. Melaka Fray was also my first ever cosplay at 2012 LFCC. And if there’s ever a massive budget hollywood adaptation of the comic, I will be in it.
My Age: 12
Joss Whedon project: Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog
This is just… an experience. A brilliant and beautiful experience that can’t really be explained. It was a web series in three parts starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day telling the story of Billy, a want to be super villain (Dr Horrible) who’s in love with Penny, and his arch neminis superhero (and massive idiot) Captain Hammer. It’s a big spoof but so so wonderful and so so cleverly done on a teeny tiny budget filmed in 6 days – it won an Emmy too.
My Age: 13
Joss Whedon project: Dollhouse
It’s hard to explain this show, but it is brilliant. It only ran for two seasons, but oh it is so so so so good. I think my favourite out of Joss’s non-Buffy universe series. It’s so sharp and clever while discreetly commenting on society and it’s just SO good. Eliza Dushku is the most talented lady alive, and my introduction to Fran Kranz changed me. I called myself a “Frangirl” for years before I realised how embarrassing it was. Lord how i SOBBED watching season two of this. Oh it’s so good really just watch it please it has everything you could ever want in a tv series.
My Age: 13
Joss Whedon project: Glee
Yes you read that right. Joss Whedon directed an episode of Glee. Quite an excellent one too – the one where Neil Patrick Harris guest stars as Will Schuester’s old rival and includes one of the best duets ever to have happened ever in their rendition of Dream On – which I remember best for mine and my sister’s covers of in the car, complete with failed attempts at the high notes.
My Age: 14
Joss Whedon project: Buffy comic series
I wish I had the money to keep up with this, as I only have the first season of the comic continuation. The art is really beautiful, and the idea of seeing what became of Buffy is really amazing. Admittedly, sometimes I have been a little bit…. not so ok with the comics but you can’t deny that they are really really cool. I think I might be protecting myself by not being a huge huge fan of them because I can’t afford them all to be honest.
My Age: 15
Joss Whedon project: The Cabin in the Woods
The thing about this film is, I was so excited to see a Joss Whedon film in the cinema that I didn’t really check to see what said film was about – and I still had a huge zombie phobia at the time. So the fact that I really enjoyed this film despite a good half an hour of zombie torture from the Buckner family shows how good it is. Co-written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard this film reinvented the horror genre, however over dramatic that sounds. It’s got a pre-fame Chris Hemsworth and Dollhouse favourite Fran Kranz in it, as well as cameos from other Whedon favourites Tom Lenk & Amy Acker. It was, and is still one of my favourite films.
I also remember my family having to sneak my underage sister in to see this film too which was excellent. She played the moody teenager role perfectly, even replying to our question of what popcorn she wanted with an eye roll and a “I don’t care.”. Truly stunning.
My Age: 15
Joss Whedon project: Avengers Assemble
This was the biggest thing to ever happen to me. Oh my god I was so excited and so overhwlmbed with pride that Joss Whedon got this gig, even if the studio kind of maybe wasn’t so great to him (he made more money from Dr Horrible). The whole experience was amazing, and the success gained from it was overwhelming. It’s still the most successful comic book film of all time, and broke all sorts of records. What I loved about it was how you could see Joss’ style in it. It even had tiny little things that felt like easter eggs for fans of his previous work – Enver Gjokaj’s three second cameo made me & my sitter literally fall off our seats in the cinema because we loved him so much in Dollhouse.
Also ps. Joss didn’t have anything to do with killing off Agent Coulson. That was all Marvel executives – just fyi.
My Age: 16
Joss Whedon project: Much Ado About Nothing
This is the most beautiful film you will ever see & I wept & wept after seeing it. It was filmed entirely in Joss Whedon’s house with a whole collection of actors from his previous projects as well as some new ones, and is just really really simply brilliant. It’s all in black and white, using the original Shakespeare script but in a modern adaptation. It’s so funny, clever and touching, and is a film that both lovers of as well as people indifferent to shakespeare will love. And it finally gave us a happy ending for Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker.
I’m leaving it there, as that’s all of my favourite Whedon things exhausted.
Joss has had a lot of stick recently, mostly since last year’s sequel to Avengers. A lot of people blamed him personally for the Marvel executive’s decisions for the film and following that hate he even deleted his twitter account – the creation of which in the first place was one of the best things to ever happen to me. He even tweeted me once when he’d just been on a few days, and I think I remember being the first person he replied to. It’s the only time I’ve ever run round a room with happiness.
Joss Whedon has created project after project of brilliant and life changing shows. He’s brought us amazing characters, story lines and worlds, and introduced us to some of today’s greatest and most talented actors.He has sneakily been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I truly think he is one of the most brilliant minds of our time.
Happy Birthday Joss!