Screenwriter. Director. Producer. Composer. Comic book writer. Joss Whedon has proven himself to be the jack of all (Hollywood) trades. His impressive arsenal of talents has continually served him well and as a result, he has bene responsible for some of the biggest, most fan-friendly and most culturally appreciated films and TV shows of the last 20 years. The November, the highly anticipated Justice League will be released, for which Whedon has received a co-writing credit and served as the director during extensive reshoots. It’s fair to say that the DC Universe has had a rocky start, but Whedon’s long and involved history with comic book properties is a promising indicator that the critical and commercial fate of Justice League is in good hands.
Writing is a profession that runs in Whedon’s family as his father, Tom, was a screenwriter for The Golden Girls in the 1980s and his grandfather, John, worked in The Dick Van Dyke Show during the 1960s. In 1987, he graduated from Weslayan Univeristy and had the idea of “Rhonda the Immortal Waitress” – that idea would eventually be developed into the 1993 smash-hit, trope subversive Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Before he began to write his own material, Whedon worked as a staff writer on several sitcoms and acted as a script consultant on blockbuster movies – he even co-wrote Toy Story for which he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Whedon’s outspoken feminist views have translated into his work as a film-maker. During a Q&A, he was asked, “Why do you write these strong female characters?” to which he bluntly replied, “Because you’re still asking me that question.” The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer established his intent to bring three-dimensional female characters to the forefront of entertainment, portraying the titular character as independent, capable and certainly not a damsel in distress. In a touching Instagram post celebrating the show’s 20th anniversary, actress Sarah Michelle Geller thanked Whedon “for trusting me to give life to one of the greatest female characters ever created”. Whedon is also arguably accountable for the immense popularity of Avengers team member Black Widow, a S.H.I.E.L.D agent with a rich and complex history. Scarlett Johansson stated of her The Avengers director, “He wants his female characters to be dynamic and competitive and assured and confident.” However, Whedon faced substantial criticism from fans for his depiction of the character in Avengers: Age of Ultron as he embroiled her in a controversial relationship with fellow Avenger Dr Bruce Banner aka the Hulk and crammed her dense backstory into fleeting dream sequences.
The backlash from fans and the demanding nature of the work resulted in Whedon stepping down from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, he clearly has not fully itched the superhero scratch as he has jumped ship to the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) and will write and direct a long awaited for live action Batgirl film.
• Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
• Firefly (2002)
• The Avengers (2012)
• Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
• The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
• Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
By Evie Brudenall