SDCC '13: Dark Horse: JOSS WHEDON - LIVE!

Dark Horse September 2013 solicitations
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Before Joss Whedon was the writer and director of the massively successful 2012 Avengers live-action movie, he created TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly — which have since endured as comic books at Dark Horse.

The publisher is giving him a platform Saturday evening at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and we'll be there with live coverage. Keep hitting "refresh" for the latest details.

We're starting! Dark Horse editor Scott Allie opens the panel, saying that work has already start on Buffy Season 10.

And here's Joss! Whedon thanks the fans for coming, and for his "white knight" in Season 9 — Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book series writer Andrew Chambliss.

Whedon says he doesn't really have any announcements — and mentions that Much Ado About Nothing is still in theaters. Looks like he's going straight to audience Q&A.

First question: What was the original plan for Fred and Wesley? Whedon says it was essentially to continue the Illyria/Fred identity issues, and its emotional toll on Wesley.

Next fan up: "We know you like to kill people. What was your favorite death scene?" Fred's.

Next person up: "You've conquered many things: movies, TV..." Whedon: "Poland." Fan: "But do you think you'll conquer Broadway anytime soon?" "Not anytime soon, because to do something on Broadway takes lots and lots of work, and unfortunately I am already booked for many, many years of work. Would love to and want to, but it's not going to be super-soon. But yeah, duh."

What scene gives Whedon "warm fuzzies"? "Honestly, let's go back to the death of Fred. Because of the work those guys were doing, and the day we had... that whole day was kind of magically exhausting." Whedon says the shawarma scene at the end of Avengers was inspired by the end of that day of shooting.

Does Whedon prefer writing for his own creations, or shared characters? "It's all good," Whedon says, acknowledging that there's a particular "buzz" in writing dialogue for a character like Captain America, but "at the end of the day, it's all good stuff."

Here's a tough question: Why wouldn't Giles be able to fly in for Xander and Anya's wedding? "He doesn't like them that much, let's face it," Whedon says. "He's a continent away. 'Do I really have to?' Plus, he's Giles. He knows Xander isn't going through with it."

What was it like directing a movie he didn't write — Much Ado About Nothing? "It was very relaxing, actually," Whedon answers. "Not only was it not written by me, it was written by that guy," which means he was able to concentrate on other elements of the film.

What was the reasoning behind Dr. Horrible changing his costume at the end of the feature? "He's wearing a white costume, then he's wearing a red costume, which means, he's lost his virginity," Whedon replies. "He went dark, bro. I don't have very complex ideas."

If you could describe Avengers 2 in one word, what would it be? "Movie." He continues: "Remember how Dr. Horrible used to have a white coat? The one word I have for Avengers 2 is 'red.'"

Will SWORD be in a Marvel Studios movie or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Whedon says he doesn't know, but it's a "really cool idea." Ideal Abigail Brand casting? Whedon said he hadn't really thought about it, but "the first person to come to mind would be Julianne Moore."

Does Whedon have interest in genres other than action/sci-fi? "I love all genres," Whedon tells a fan. "I get stymied by the family drama — I don't necessarily know how to approach that. But besides that, I like many things that don't involve explosions."

What project Whedon pursue with a speculative unlimited budget and access to any property? "If it's anything, we should probably get the crew of Serenity together." That gets a very loud cheer, as you might expect.

Does Whedon have a very favorite character of his to write and/or watch? Whedon mentions Illyria, but says, "at the end of the day, I pretty much fall back into Buffy."

Whedon tells a fan that his role as a consultant on the various Marvel Studios films as a whole is "really fun," because he gets to dip his toe in different Marvel properties beyond Avengers.

A fan asked if Whedon is planning on killing Fitz and Simmmons from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whedon says he has "no intention of killing anyone from the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot." Someone from the crowd calls him a liar. "I'm going to kill them because you said that." Whedon continues, saying that he doesn't create characters to get rid of them, but sometimes it has to happen for story reasons. He says he killed Wash due to an issue involving Alan Tudyk's agent, but he then realized it had value to the plot.

"I do like to do it to someone you care about it suddenly, because that's how it's happened to me, that's how it's happened in life, and the fact that you guys give me so much sh*t about it — means I'm probably doing something right."

What was it like evolving the Thor/Loki relationship in Avengers from where it was in Thor? Whedon says it was interesting because Loki was in such a different place in Avengers than he was in Thor.

How does Whedon respond to the notion that he can't be a feminist because he's not a female? "I just don't think that's a valid comment," Whedon says. "I think there's a perspective I can never have, and I'm aware of it," but ultimately, it's about "wishing that one-half of the human race could be treated as well as the other half of the human race."

Which one of Whedon's own creations would he put on the Avengers? "It's going to be Andrew," Whedon says, because of the prospect of an Andrew/Thor scene.

How does it feel to have gone from first creating Buffy to being a "god of Comic-Con?" "How does it feel to have succeeded in the things I've wished to do? I feel just fine," Whedon says, but he does say he laments not having enough energy for certain things, like signing items for fans at Comic-Con. But ultimately, he says he's very positive about what he's achieved — being a writer who has attracted 5,000 people at the  convention to hear him speak. "Beyond my wildest dreams? Yeah."

Whedon says he took too much on which meant that the Dr. Horrible follow-up has been delayed.

Does Whedon have interest in writing and directing an animated feature? "Oh yeah, all my life I've wanted to do that," Whedon answers. "I feel a little bit that all the CGI-animated films are the same film. The rhythms, the sidekicks, and the parent issues — I would love to see one of these movies made as more of a PG-13; a tougher, more adolescent adventure story, that's not, 'We're wacky!" 'We're wacky, too!'" While he does say that some are well-done and beautiful, he feels there is a sameness, and that the "time has come" for grown-ups to get to enjoy animation too, pointing to the work of Hayao Miyazaki as an example. "I'd love to do it. But since I'm busy, someone else should."

What does Whedon geek out over? He says he's mostly "incredibly calm," but a lunch a years back with George Lucas was one of the most surreal experiences of his life at the time. (He also geeked out meeting Bernadette Peters.)

Are there other franchises Whedon would like to take on? Acknowledging the irony of someone who has done both Avengers and Much Ado About Nothing saying this, Whedon says, "I do feel we are in desperate need of new content," continuing that there are too many projects based on not even nostalgia, but "recognition."

Would Whedon consider going back to a Wonder Woman film project? "No," Whedon says, succinctly, before adding, "It's not a total no, but it would be very hard. She's a tough one to crack. I don't like to go back to things, so much, and I also feel like there's plenty of room for a new icon. So let's look to the future."

Will Cobie Smulders be a S.H.I.E.L.D. series regular once How I Met Your Mother ends? "We don't have that planned, but hopefully she will grace us with her presence at some point," Whedon says, and adds that he's not sure she'd want to take on another show after HIMYM wraps, but they're open to her returning if she can.

Does Whedon have any interest in adapting any Dark Horse properties? Whedon says the last comic he read that he felt he really wanted to put his spin on was Wildstorm's Global Frequency, and then found out that a show was already in the works. (A pilot was made in 2005; it didn't get picked up.)

If legal restrictions weren't in place, which Marvel characters would Whedon like to add to the movie Avengers? "I'd take them all. Are you kidding? Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage. Then I will shoot myself, because I have 20 characters to write."

Fan asks where the idea for Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Normal Again" came from. "It came from a lot of different places," Whedon says. "We, for years, wanted to do a 'Buffy's in a mental institution, it's all a trick,' just as a teaser. For me, it became fascinating, because it was about the creative process, to an extent. Positing the idea that she had created this world meant that we could examine the world we created."

Whedon discloses that he did have an idea while he was writing Astonishing X-Men for Cyclops — Scott Summers — to mention that he had a second cousin in a mental institution, but he couldn't find a way to make the dialogue work.

How did Whedon make Avengers — with several characters from ostensibly different worlds — work? "I think the appeal of the Avengers is that it doesn't work. Everybody knowing that going in means that we can have the fun of [the characters] knowing it, too... I grew up reading the book, and also read it in my later years, when they did The Ultimates. They were in my vernacular. My favorite books were the team-up books. I think a lot of directors in some superhero movies that don't necessarily work as well have to talk their way into it. 'I guess I could find a way into this... Green Lantern character.' But for me, that step is eliminated. It makes perfect sense to me. All I have to do is get you guys on board, translate that for you. I don't have to create that for myself. The combination just made perfect sense. (Whedon clarifies that he thinks Martin Campbell "kicks ass," but Green Lantern wasn't the right fit for him.)

Whedon says he's "desperate to do another Dr. Horrible," but not as desperate as he is to do something he's never done before. (Though either will likely have to wait until after 2015 and Avengers 2, he says.)

What inspired him to do Much Ado About Nothing? Whedon says the suggestion came from his wife, after him talking about it for 10 years. It was about a month from her bringing it up and production starting, he says. What other Shakespeare project would Whedon want to take on? Hamlet.

Last question asked Buffy's lesbian experience in Season 8 of the comic books. "We thought she's always had this block against romance, and it would be interesting to see a different aspect of it. It might have been a little out of character, but that was the point — she was trying to do something a little out of character."

Whedon wraps things up by thanking the fans. Keep reading Newsarama for more coverage all weekend long.

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