10 Things I Learned About Joss Whedon At Comic Con 2013

Last year I had the pleasure of attending a number of absolutely amazing events at San Diego Comic-Con, from the Breaking Bad panel to Marvel Studios announcing their plans for 2013 and beyond, but few were able to stack up against the Joss Whedon panel in Ballroom 20. Not only has he consistently proven himself to be one of the greatest geniuses working in Hollywood today, the fanhood that he has inspired puts electricity in the year and few people can work a crowd as well. Walking away from the panel I was filled with all kinds of insight about Whedon’s past and future works and I was absolutely floored. Tonight I was lucky enough to experience that again.

Standing by himself on stage with a microphone in one hand and a coffee in the other, and taking a stream of fan questions, Whedon is once again responsible for one of my favorite panels at Comic-Con. But what did I learn this year? Read on to find out!

Dr. Horrible 2 won’t be happening any time soon.

Sadly, this is the exact opposite of the awesome news that Whedon shared at last year’s Comic-Con when he announced that he and his brothers Jed and Zack and Maurissa Tancharoen were all reuniting to make a sequel to their hit 2008 webseries Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog. This evening he was asked what was going on with the project, and his response was that it’s been put on hold for the moment. Apparently they were going to make it this year, but Whedon ended up getting sidetracked by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and the rest of his commitments to Marvel Studios. As of now it sounds as though Dr. Horrible 2 won’t be coming until at least 2015 (the year that Avengers 2 is released and his current contract with Marvel ends), but he’s not planning anything beyond that date “because [he] will have died.”

The “And shawarma after” scene in The Avengers was partially inspired by the death of Fred in Angel.

We learned last year that Tony Stark’s shawarma line in The Avengers has its origins in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, as it was a joke that Nicholas Brendon made when he was auditioning for the part of Xander, but apparently the actual scene after the credits where the heroes share a meal came from back when Whedon was working on Angel. The showrunner and actors Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker had just completed filming the horribly depressing season five episode “A Hole In The World” – where Acker’s character, Fred, dies and turns into the demon known as llyria – and they all decided that they needed a drink. Rather than being chatty, however, the three of them simply sat at a table in silence just looking and feeling depressed. And the inspiration was born!

Why didn’t Giles fly out for Xander and Anya’s wedding on Buffy?

Because tonight’s panel and conversation was completely driven by the fans, it was inevitable that there would be at least a few insanely nerdy questions being asked about Whedon’s previous properties. My favorite, however, was when a guy walked up to the microphone and asked why on Buffy The Vampire Slayer Giles didn’t fly back from England for the wedding of Xander and Anya in the show’s sixth season. According to Whedon, the explanation for this comes in two parts: 1) knowing Xander, Giles never believed that he was actually going to go through with getting married, and 2) “He doesn’t like them that much. Let’s face it.”

The watchword for The Avengers 2 is “Red.”

Recognizing that Whedon can’t say too much about The Avengers 2 without a sniper from Marvel Studios pointing a red dot on his forehead, a fan asked if the writer/director could sum up the sequel in one word. After a joke response to the question (“movie”), Whedon answered it legitimately with an allusion to Dr. Horrible. Citing the fact that Neil Patrick Harris’ character goes from wearing a white lab coat to a red one when he “loses his virginity” of evilness in the final moments of the webseries, the filmmaker said that the word “red” in that sense could describe what we can expect in his next Marvel film. And if you think that sounds ominous, you’re 100% right.

Joss Whedon once had lunch with George Lucas at a Hooters.

There really aren’t any more details to add to this one, but thought it was too amazing not too share.

If he was given a blank check to do anything, it would be more with the crew of Serenity.

While things have certainly changed in a major way in the last year or so, one of the biggest tragedies of Whedon’s early career was that he not only had a really hard time getting his stuff made, but that when his stuff actually did get made it was typically short lived. A prime example of this is Firefly, which only lasted one season after it premiered back in 2002. While he did eventually get the chance to revisit that sci-fi world, writing and directing the 2005 movie Serenity apparently it’s still what he would do given the opportunity. Asked what he would do if he was given a blank check and the chance to work with any characters of his own creation or in pop culture, his response was rather simple. “If it’s anything, probably get the crew of Serenity back together.”

Drew Goddard helped out writing Loki for The Avengers.

Whedon and writer/director Drew Goddard have worked together for years, collaborating on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and, most recently, The Cabin in the Woods, but apparently Whedon also had his friend’s ear when working on Marvel’s 2012 blockbuster. During the panel a fan asked about crafting the sibling relationship between Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and Whedon revealed that he actually had Goddard as a resource about the movie’s main villain back when he was working on the script. Apparently at the time Goddard was insistent that if his friend was having any trouble writing for the Norse God of Mischief that Whedon should give him a call immediately. Given how great Loki turned out to be in the final film, I think we can all agree that the project definitely benefited from their collaboration.

Feminism isn’t about perspective – it’s about equality.

Buffy. Willow. Cordelia. Fred. Zoe. River. Inara. Echo. Black Widow. The list goes on and on. Even people who are only tangentially familiar with the works of Joss Whedon know that he has spent his entire career crafting strong, independent female characters. But still there are some that scoff at the idea that he’s a feminist simply because he’s not a woman himself. According to Whedon, however, this is backwards thinking. Rather than seeing feminism as being about seeing the world through female eyes, what’s more important is simply not seeing them on a different level than men. Said Whedon, it’s about “One half of the human race being treated as well as the other half of the human race.”

He would love to do an animated feature, but finds that CGI animated movies are all the same.

During last year’s panel Whedon revealed that he would one day love the chance to stage his very own Broadway musical, but this year he talked about another medium that he would love to try his hand at: animation. But while he recognizes that there are some great stories being told in the world of CGI animated films, he finds that most of them “all feel similar.” Instead, he would want to tackle something more adult-oriented, tougher and less wacky. Citing some of the work that’s coming out of Japan – making special reference to the great Hayao Miyazaki – the filmmaker believes that the time has come for studios to come to the realization that adults want to see animated things too.

X-Men’s Cyclops and Buffy were almost cousins…in the strangest way possible.

One of Whedon’s greatest contributions to the comic book world has to be his work on Astonishing X-Men, but what you may not know is that the comics almost included a Buffy The Vampire Slayer nod that would have blown people’s minds. Talking about the Buffy episode “Normal Again” – where Buffy begins to believe that she may not actually be a vampire slayer but rather just a patient in a nuthouse – the writer/director said that in the X-Men comics he almost had Cyclops (who shares a last name with Buffy) reference a cousin of his who was in a mental institution and believed that she was a demon hunter. He ended up not being able to find a good place to include the line in conversation, so it was eventually scrapped. But it’s still strange to think of what might have been…

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.