What Should Joss Whedon Do Next?
He went from cult hits to 'The Avengers.' Now that he's stepped away from that, what next?
Joss Whedon — writer of quips, hero of nerds, lord of the dance, creator of unforgettable characters, merciless murderer of those characters — has had one of the most eclectic careers in Hollywood. He’s done everything from cult hit TV shows to indie Shakespeare films to musical blogs to horror films to one of the most acclaimed giants in Hollywood’s superhero machine that also happens to be one of the highest grossing films ever made. But after making a lukewarm sequel to said superhero movie (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Whedon has stepped away from both Twitter and the Avengers franchise, saying, “I have to do something else.” Yet his IMDB page is looking mighty blank, leaving it ambiguous what that something else might be. Here are some suggestions.
1. Make that Faith show that never happened.
Of all the colorful characters that populated the world of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Faith Lehane was among the most surprising. At first she seemed like a tired stereotype, more caricature than character: One of her early episodes was called Bad Girls. She wore leather, told stories about being naked, took Xander’s virginity, flirted with Spike, said random army catchphrases just because. But as her character arc progressed — aided by a stint on the criminally underrated Angel— she emerged as a fully realized human being with surprising depth and vulnerability. Even if she annoyed you initially, you couldn’t help feeling for her.
As actress Eliza Dushku says above, a plan for a Faith spinoff was in the works but never ended up happening. Her subsequent TV projects never really took off, so if she and Whedon are both available, now could finally be the time. And if My Big Fat Greek Wedding is just now getting a sequel this year and the Mad Max franchise got a hugely successful update 30 years later, you can’t use the argument that too much time has passed since the Buffy days.
2. Make a meta-western.
With Cabin in the Woods, Whedon took a genre he’s done previous work with — horror — and put a devilishly clever meta spin on it, simultaneously satirizing and paying homage to its tropes.
Westerns are another genre he’s played around with in the past — most notably in the cult hit show Firefly. Though the show was canceled after just one season, that move is considered to be one of television’s biggest screwups by industry insiders as well as fans. Whedon’s foray into the Western genre, then, though short-lived, was not a failure. So he should take a leaf out of his Cabin in the Woods book, which successfuly recycled plotlines from Buffy, and recycle some Firefly plotlines. Who wouldn’t say no to a clever meta-western film?
3. In the same vein as ‘Much Ado About Nothing’: Adapt ‘Hamlet’, ‘The Tempest’, or ‘The Winter’s Tale’
Whedon’s treatment of Much Ado About Nothing was one of the best Shakespearean screen adaptations in years. Simultaneously refined and grand, it modernized the story yet stuck to its roots, delivering a take that was pleasing to fans and accessible to Shakespeare skeptics — not to mention gorgeously shot. Plus, he reunited the most tragic of all his tragic couples on the screen, so we could pretend maybe things ended a little better for Wesley and Fred.
Macbeth is already getting some badass big screen treatment and reminding the Shakespeare-skeptical that the Bard is actually cool. There can never be too many versions of Hamlet, so that could be a welcome candidate for Whedon. The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest could both easily match the new Macbeth film’s grit and sweep, yet they’re far too underrepresented on the screen. Whedon should bring his touch to one of these narratives, using his regular cast of actors. Amy Acker as Hermione, anyone?
4. Make a Billy Idol Biopic starring James Marsters
These days, if a movie is not a superhero film, chances are it’s a biopic. Musician biopics in particular are all the rage right now, between Jimi Hendrix, the upcoming Hank Williams biopic, Straight Outta Compton, and even films focusing on fictional musicians. And yet, among the plethora of superstar journeys splashed across the screens, there’s no biopic at present about Billy Idol. Who better to play him than the guy he supposedly stole his look from?
James Marsters can pull off the snarl and the swagger, the attitude and the accent — and fans would go nuts to see him sporting bleached hair again.
5. Make a Captain Hammer origin story.
Every superhero needs an origin story. And the delightfully douchey Captain Hammer is ripe for one. Superheroes are everywhere in Hollywood right now, but how many of them sing?
Whedon and Nathan Fillion have a solid working relationship — Fillion has appeared in many of his projects: Buffy, Firefly, Much Ado About Nothing, Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. They’ve not hit a false note yet.
6. Take a shot at the next ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot.
Just kidding. Even Whedon’s powers have their limits.