Joseph Hill Whedon (; born June 23, 1964) is an American film director, producer, writer, and composer. He is the founder of Mutant Enemy Productions
, co-founder of Bellwether Pictures
, and is best known as the creator of several television series. These include ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer
'' (1997–2003), ''Angel
'' (1999–2004), ''Firefly
'' (2002), ''Dollhouse
'' (2009–2010), and ''Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Whedon co-wrote for the Pixar
animated film ''Toy Story
'' (1995) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
), wrote and directed the ''Firefly'' film continuation ''Serenity
'' (2005), co-wrote and directed the Internet miniseries ''Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
'' (2008), and co-wrote and produced the horror comedy film ''The Cabin in the Woods
'' (2012). He wrote and directed the Marvel Cinematic Universe
superhero films ''The Avengers
'' (2012) and its sequel ''Avengers: Age of Ultron
'' (2015), and also co-wrote the script for the DC Extended Universe
superhero film ''Justice League
'' (2017). He also served as director for ''Justice League'' on re-shoots, replacing Zack Snyder
(who retained directorial credit).
Actors Ray Fisher
, Charisma Carpenter
, Michelle Trachtenberg
and Amber Benson
have complained publicly about Whedon's behavior on set. WarnerMedia
investigated Fisher's allegations and announced that they had taken "remedial action" in December 2020.
Born in New York City as Joseph Hill Whedon,
and also being a third-generation TV writer,
he is a son of Tom Whedon
, a screenwriter for ''Alice
'' in the 1970s and ''The Golden Girls
'' in the 1980s, and a grandson of John Whedon
, who worked on ''The Donna Reed Show
'' in the 1950s and ''The Dick Van Dyke Show
'' in the 1960s, as well as writing for radio shows like ''The Great Gildersleeve
His mother, Ann Lee (née Jeffries) Stearns, originally from Kentucky
, was a teacher at Riverdale Country School
as Lee Whedon,
and an aspiring novelist.
His parents both acted, and appeared in a play together at the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club
Whedon is the younger sibling of Samuel and Matthew Whedon and the older sibling of writers Jed
and Zack Whedon
. At a young age, he showed great interest in British television series shows like ''Masterpiece
'' and ''Monty Python
Whedon attended Riverdale Country School in New York City; his mother taught history at the school.
Next he spent three years at Winchester College
where, taking note of omnipresent bullying, he concluded, "it was clear to me from the start that I must take an active role in my survival".
Whedon graduated from Wesleyan University
in 1987, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters
There, he also studied under renowned academic Richard Slotkin
After leaving Wesleyan, Whedon came up with the first incarnation of Buffy Summers
, "Rhonda, the Immortal Waitress".
From 1989 to 1990, Whedon worked as a staff writer on the sitcoms ''Roseanne
'' and ''Parenthood
As a script doctor
, Whedon was an uncredited writer on films including ''The Getaway
'', and ''Twister
''X-Men'', on which Whedon worked on an early draft, contained at least two dialogue exchanges of Whedon's contribution,
while the final cut of ''Speed'' left in most of his dialogue.
While he was script consulting, he also wrote ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer
''—the film that would precede the series—''Alien Resurrection
'' and an early draft for ''Atlantis: The Lost Empire
'' and co-wrote ''Toy Story
'' and ''Titan A.E.
'', the former of which earned him a shared Academy Award
nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Whedon has expressed strong dissatisfaction with the released versions of the films ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'', ''Titan A.E.'' and ''Alien Resurrection''.
He became one of the highest paid screenwriters when he sold his ''Afterlife'' script to Columbia Pictures
for $1.5 million.
''Buffy the Vampire Slayer''
In 1997, Whedon created his first television series, ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer
''. The series depicts Buffy Summers
, the latest in a line of young women called to battle against vampires
s, and other forces of darkness. The idea came directly from his aversion to seeing the Hollywood formula of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie".
Whedon said he wanted to subvert the idea and create someone who was a hero.
This conception came from "the very first mission statement of the show, which was the joy of female power: having it, using it, sharing it".
The writing process came together from conversations about the emotional issues facing Buffy Summers, and how she would confront them in her battle against supernatural forces.
Whedon usually directed episodes from his own scripts that held the most cathartic moments in Buffy's story.
The series received numerous awards and nominations, including an Emmy Award
nomination for writing for the 1999 episode "Hush
The 2001 episode "The Body
" was nominated for a Nebula Award
and the fall 2001 musical episode "Once More, with Feeling
" was nominated for a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo Award
and a Best Script Nebula Award.
The final episode "Chosen
" was nominated for a Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Hugo Award in 2003.
All written and directed by Whedon, they are considered some of the most effective and popular episodes of the series.
A. Asbjørn Jøn, an anthropologist and scholar, recognized that the series has shifted the way vampires have since been depicted in popular culture representations. Since the end of the series, Whedon has stated that his initial intention was to produce a "cult
" television series and acknowledged a corresponding "rabid, almost insane fan base" that subsequently emerged. In June 2012, ''Slate
'' identified it as the most written about popular culture text of all time. "
re than twice as many papers, essays, and books have been devoted to the vampire drama than any of our other choices—so many that we stopped counting when we hit 200".
Whedon, a lifelong comic book fan, authored the Dark Horse Comics
'', which takes place in the far future of the Buffyverse
Like many writers of the show, he contributed to the series' comic book continuation, writing for the anthology ''Tales of the Slayers
and also for the main storyline of the miniseries ''Tales of the Vampires
Whedon and the other writers released a new ongoing series, taking place after the series finale "Chosen", which he officially recognizes as the canonical eighth season
He returned to the world of ''Fray'' during the season eight-story arc "Time of Your Life
''Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine
'' was published from August 2011 to September 2013,
for which Whedon wrote "Freefall, Part I–II" (with Andrew Chambliss
As a result of the success of ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'', Whedon was given the opportunity to make ''Angel
'', his 1999 spin-off series of the show. David Greenwalt and Whedon collaborated on the pilot which was going to be developed for The WB
During the series' early expansion, efforts were made by the network to mitigate Whedon's original concept. "Corrupt
". A precociously optioned second episode was entirely abandoned due to the gloominess written into the script.
The tone was then softened in the opening episodes, establishing Angel Investigations
as an idealistic, shoestring operation. It follows Angel
, who works as a private detective in order to "help the helpless".
Though praised for presenting a unique and progressive version of the archetypal noir
hero as a sympathetic vampire detective,
early in its run it was criticized as being lesser than its parent show, in the context of having devolved from a more popular original work.
Despite that it won a Saturn Award
for Best Network TV Series
and three episodes, "Waiting in the Wings
" and "Not Fade Away
", were nominated for Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in 2003 and 2005.
The WB Network announced on February 13, 2004 that ''Angel'' would not be brought back for a sixth season.
Whedon said of the cancellation, "I believe the reason ''Angel'' had trouble on The WB was that it was the only show on the network that wasn't trying to be ''Buffy''. It was a show about grown-ups".
An official continuation of the story came later in the form of a comic book series.
Following the successful eighth season of ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'', IDW Publishing
approached Whedon about similarly producing a canonical sixth season for ''Angel''.
''Angel: After the Fall
'' released 17 issues written by Whedon and Brian Lynch
Whedon followed ''Angel'' with the space western ''Firefly
'', starring Nathan Fillion
, Gina Torres
, Alan Tudyk
, Morena Baccarin
, Adam Baldwin
, Jewel Staite
, Sean Maher
, Summer Glau
and Ron Glass
Set in the year 2517,
''Firefly'' explores the lives of the people who while on the outskirts of society, make their living as the crew of ''Serenity
'', a "Firefly-class
The series' original concept progressed after Whedon read ''The Killer Angels
'', a book on the Battle of Gettysburg
An ever-present element was Whedon's injection of anti-totalitarianism
writing into the show a historical analogy of the Battle of Gettysburg, the "Battle of Serenity Valley".
The beaten soldiers were called "Browncoats
" after the brown dusters
they wore as their uniforms.
Whedon said, "I wanted to play with that classic notion of the frontier: not the people who made history, but the people history stepped on—the people for whom every act is the creation of civilization".
''Firefly'' was written as a serious character study,
encompassing what Whedon called "life when it's hard". He went on to elaborate that it was about "nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things".
Fox chose to play the episodes of the series out of order, running "The Train Job
" first, and not airing the pilot
until a dozen episodes later, resulting in some confusion from viewers. The series was also promoted as a comedy, not a science fiction drama, and placed in the infamous "Friday night death slot
". The show was praised by critics overall, but some objected to the fusion of American frontier
and outer space
Faced with these hurdles, the show had an average of 4.7 million viewers at the time and was ranked 98th in Nielsen ratings
. The series was cancelled by Fox before all of the episodes had aired.
Whedon took to Universal Pictures
as a means of achieving a continuation of the story.
Following ''Firefly'' was ''Serenity
'', a follow-up film taking place after the events of the final episode
''Serenity'' developed into a franchise
that led to graphic novels, books and other media.
'' magazine held a poll in 2005 to find "The World's Best Space Sci-Fi Ever", and ''Firefly'' and ''Serenity'' took first and second place, respectively.
It also received an Emmy shortly after its cancellation, as well as a number of other awards. Since being canceled, ''Firefly'' has attained cult status.
In 2004, Whedon created the comic book line ''Astonishing X-Men
He finished a 24 issue run in 2008 and then handed over the reins as a writer to Warren Ellis
One storyline from the comic, the notion of a cure for mutation being found, was also an element in the third X-Men film, ''X-Men: The Last Stand
In February 2009 ''Astonishing X-Men'' #6, which depicted the return of Colossus
to the title and concluded Whedon's first story arc, was named by readers as #65 in Marvel's Top 70 Comics of all time.
Taking over after series creator Brian K. Vaughan
completed his run on the series, Whedon became the second writer of the Marvel comic ''Runaways
Having already been a committed reader, he had a letter published in the first volume, which was included in the Volume 1 hardcover edition.
He also wrote short pieces for ''Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man
'' and ''Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men'' #1,
and he was the subject of an issue of the comic book, ''Marvel Spotlight
'' (alongside artist Michael Lark
As part of a panel of writers, he contributed to Marvel Comics' ''Civil War
'' crossover event lending advice on how to tell the story and also how to end it.
In March 2016, Whedon contributed a story for the 75th anniversary issue of ''Captain America
: Sam Wilson
'' with ''Astonishing X-Men'' collaborator John Cassaday
He introduced several new characters into the Marvel Universe
such as the villainous Ord
X-Men Ruth "Blindfold" Aldine
and Hisako "Armor" Ichiki
Runaway Klara Prast
and Special Agent Abigail Brand
along with S.W.O.R.D.
, the organization Brand commands.
After Universal Pictures acquired the film
and distribution rights
from Fox, Whedon began writing the screenplay for ''Serenity''.
Transforming the series into a film, he says, "... was the hardest piece of writing I've ever done ... It had to be self-contained and work as a movie, which meant I had to cope with problems like introducing nine main characters who'd already met!"
The script was based on unused story ideas for ''Firefly''s unfilmed second season.
On writing the dialogue, Whedon felt that part of it came from "getting to invent the language", which "once I had... reads like a kind of poetry".
The narrative centered on Captain Malcolm Reynolds
as the hero accompanied by River Tam
acting as the catalyst for what he does.
The score was composed by David Newman
, and according to Whedon was intended to "deglorify space — to feel the intimacy of being on a ship as opposed to the grandeur".
He used two long steadicam
shots for several minutes of the film's opening sequence to establish "a sense of safety in space".
In 2006, it won a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.
The elements of science fiction that Whedon wanted to convey were essentially different in kind, and held "a sort of grittiness" and "realism", which he said, together, "get the most exciting kind of film-making".
Like ''Firefly'', the film contained a statement on individual liberty
Critic Roger Ebert
observed, "Like ''Brave New World
'' and ''1984
'', the movie plays like a critique of contemporary society, with the Alliance as Big Brother, enemy of discontent".
The film received the 2005 Nebula Award for Best Script
, the 2006 Prometheus Special Award
and was voted the best sci-fi movie of all time in a poll set up by ''SFX
There have since been multiple rumors regarding sequel possibilities.
The limited three-issue comic book series called ''Serenity: Those Left Behind
'', the story of which was written by Whedon,
was released in 2005 as a tie-in to ''Serenity''. Set between ''Firefly'' and the film, it was intended to connect the two storylines.
''Serenity: Better Days
'' also spanned three issues,
and was written by Whedon and Brett Matthews
Whedon later co-wrote ''The Shepherd's Tale
'' with his half brother Zack
Freelance directing and ''Sugarshock!''
As a guest director, he contributed two 2007 episodes of ''The Office
'' ("Business School
" and "Branch Wars
and a 2010 episode of ''Glee
'' ("Dream On
Denoting this period, Whedon has said, "I had free time, but I'm pretty sure I mean my career was on the skids".
In collaboration with Fábio Moon
, Whedon created the free webcomic titled ''Sugarshock!
'', as part of the revival of ''Dark Horse Presents
'', which was launched on Myspace
Whedon later executive produced another free comic book on the Internet, ''Serenity: The Other Half''.
''Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog''
Whedon with the cast and crew of ''Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog'' at its Creative Artists Agency
As a response to the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike
Whedon directed, co-wrote and produced ''Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
It tells the story of Dr. Horrible, an aspiring supervillain, who shares a love interest in a girl named Penny with his nemesis, Captain Hammer.
To Whedon the miniseries was "a project of love", an accomplishment that from their excitement would be embellished with passion and "ridiculousness".
His half brothers Zack and Jed
and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen
share the other writing credits.
Whedon said it was a "glorious surprise" to him to discover how well they worked together.
After having attended meetings with companies discussing the prospect of producing something for the Internet and faced with negative feedback on his ideas, he realized that as long as the strike was still in progress, acquiring corporate funding was an unlikely prospect.
Whedon himself funded the project investing just over $200,000
and earned more from it than he did directing ''The Avengers
He enjoyed the independence he gained from ''Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog'' as it provided him the freedom to include content without the expectancy of lessening it on behalf of the runtime.
He and Jed composed the music, parts of which were influenced by Stephen Sondheim
The miniseries was nominated and won numerous awards. Whedon was awarded Best Directing and Best Writing for a Comedy Web Series at the Streamy Awards
a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form,
and a Creative Arts Emmy Award
In 2009, Whedon created his fourth television series ''Dollhouse
'', and explored themes throughout the show that were initially present in an unproduced spec script
of his called ''Afterlife''.
The series follows Echo, whose brain is programmed to accomplish various assignments, on her journey towards self-awareness.
As stated by Whedon, ''Dollhouse'' was about "the sides of us that we don't want people to see", sexuality
and, on some level, a celebration of perversion
which he equates to obsession
, "the thing that makes people passionate and interesting and worthy".
Despite low ratings in its first season, the series was renewed for a second and final season. The reason for the renewal given by Fox's president of entertainment was to avoid any backlash that would have resulted from its cancelation.
In reflection of Fox's disruptive involvement, Whedon lamented the loss of ideas with identity
and moral culpability
, saying they were dancing around them in the process
which then devolved the series into a procedural
''The Cabin in the Woods''
Whedon co-wrote and produced a horror-comedy film titled ''The Cabin in the Woods
'' with director Drew Goddard
, finishing production in 2009 though the film wasn't released until 2011.
Whedon and Goddard intended to make a film that exemplified horror movies while still preserving the fun and frightening elements necessary to being a horror film.
The script was written in three days
and they produced a minimum of 15 pages a day.
Whedon described it as an attempt to revitalize horror, calling it a "loving hate letter" to the genre, continuing:
Whedon thought part of what distinguished it from other horror films was that people were not disposable – "As a culture, for our own entertainment, we tend to assume that they are (expendable)".
He reiterated a sentiment that the introduction of torture porn into this genre was becoming an exercise in nihilism and misogyny as a means to promote distress and instead of trying to scare its audience.
In July 2010, it was confirmed that Whedon would write and direct ''The Avengers'', a live-action adaptation of the superhero team of the same name
Of his desire to take on the film, he explained that the core of the movie was about "finding yourself from community" and the togetherness derived from a group that ultimately doesn't belong together.
It became the fourth-highest-grossing film
of all time at the North American box office,
and it received considerable praise from critics.
In retrospect, Whedon thought the film had "imperfections,"
begrudging its quality in comparison to that of ''The Matrix
'' and ''The Godfather Part II
''. Nonetheless, he felt he "pulled off" the endeavor of making a summer movie reminiscent of those from his childhood.
In March 2012, Whedon stated that although television involves more compromise than film:
In August 2012, Whedon signed a deal to develop the Marvel
TV show ''Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
'' for ABC
The series focuses on the secret military law-enforcement agency featured throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Created by Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen,
the show involves individuals who possess powers within the spectacle of science fiction, while also focusing on "the peripheral people ... the people on the edges of the grand adventures."
The character Phil Coulson
was resurrected after his death in ''The Avengers'' to helm the show.
Whedon spoke about certain complications that factored in with making the show for Marvel, noting confusion between him and the company regarding the degree to which they wanted him to create it, citing their demand that he prioritize ''Avengers: Age of Ultron''.
He once expressed regrets for having brought back Phil Coulson, feeling that his death had lost meaning as a result,
but later clarified that he did not regret this decision.
Whedon returned to write and direct the sequel to ''The Avengers''
following the deal with Marvel Studios
, which expired in June 2015.
On the matter of approaching a sequel, Whedon reasoned not to go "bigger" but "deeper," and likened it to digging with a scalpel to cause pain.
He said of the film's characters, "Strong but damaged by power describes every person in this movie. It may, in fact, describe what the movie is about ... the more power that we have, the less human we are."
Whedon discerns that ''Age of Ultron'' "is an odd film"
that proved challenging when it came to finding the rhythm between both its calm and exciting moments. Drawing parallels to a symphony, he wanted to bring about "grace in the middle of ultimate chaos".
Whedon also served as a creative consultant on the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading up to ''Age of Ultron''.
He rewrote some dialogue for ''Thor: The Dark World
directed the mid-credits scene of ''Captain America: The Winter Soldier
and suggested that James Gunn
make ''Guardians of the Galaxy
'' "weirder" after reading an early draft.
Whedon said it was unlikely that he would return to make another sequel, stating that he "couldn't imagine doing this again".
He remarked that not having created his own fictional universe in over five years felt wrong
and intended to use the proceeds made from ''Avengers: Age of Ultron'' for such ventures.
In January 2016, Whedon announced that he will no longer work with Marvel.
''Much Ado About Nothing''
To create ''Much Ado About Nothing
'' in 2012, Whedon established Bellwether Pictures
He filmed it in black-and-white on digital video over a period of 12 days at his residence in Santa Monica, California.
The film was scripted, produced, directed, edited and composed by Whedon, based on William Shakespeare
's play of the same name
His idea to adapt the play for the screen originated from having "Shakespeare readings" at his house with several of his friends, years prior.
Despite the play's comedy, he discovered that there were elements in the text "of debauchery" that brought out a core darkness, and said the visual nature of film
influenced him to permeate a motif of sexuality into the script.
''In Your Eyes'' and ''Twist''
Whedon wrote and executive produced the paranormal romance film ''In Your Eyes
'', the second feature by Bellwether Pictures.
The film tells the story of Rebecca Porter and Dylan Kershaw who can feel each other's emotions, but are ultimately strangers.
Whedon's script marked a theme of human connection as the metaphor for the couple's mysterious link.
He conceived the idea in the early 1990s, and had written drafts of the screenplay since then.
In summer 2014, Whedon encountered artist Shawnee Kilgore
. Whedon funded her album and when Kilgore contacted him about his fulfillment reward, he suggested they make a song together. She agreed, and the collaboration was later repurposed into producing an EP
At the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International, Whedon announced ''Twist'', which was described as a comic book about "a Victorian female Batman".
In 2017, Whedon directed ''Unlocked'', a short film in support of Planned Parenthood
In May 2017, Whedon took over post-production duties for ''Justice League
'', including writing and directing additional photography for the film. He received a co-writing credit for his contributions to the film, which was released in November 2017. Despite reshooting a majority of the film and largely changing the tone from what Zack Snyder had originally intended, Snyder retained sole credit as director of the film.
On July 13, 2018, HBO
announced that the network had obtained the rights to ''The Nevers
'', an "epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world", on which Whedon is going to serve as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner. Production on the series started on July 2019 in London where scenes are filmed at Trinity Church Square
and the New Wimbledon Theatre
area. By 2020, the series are able to complete production on five episodes before being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic
and only resumed in September of that year to complete six of the season's ten episodes order. On November 25, 2020, HBO announced that Whedon has exited the project due to exhaustion from working under the strict COVID-19's health protocols and social distancing. Although Whedon is still credited as creator, executive producer of the series and as writer and director of the episodes he wrote and directed, HBO has not acknowledged his involvement in any of the marketing materials for the series.
Accusations of workplace harassment
In July 2020, ''Justice League'' actor Ray Fisher
accused Whedon of showing "gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable" behavior toward the cast and crew of the film, even going so far as to invite Whedon to sue him for slander
if he believed the allegations were untrue. A virtual panel for the 2020 at-home San Diego Comic-Con
focusing on Whedon's work was canceled following Fisher's statements. The following month, it was reported that WarnerMedia
had begun an investigation into Whedon's behavior during the production of ''Justice League''. Jason Momoa
posted in support of Fisher, writing about "the shitty way hey
were treated" on ''Justice League'' reshoots and saying that "serious stuff went down". In December 2020, WarnerMedia announced that its investigation had concluded and that "remedial action" had been taken.
Fisher also claimed that Whedon's exit from HBO
's ''The Nevers
'' was a result of HBO parent company WarnerMedia's inquiry. "I have no intention of allowing Joss Whedon to use the old Hollywood tactic of 'exiting'," he tweeted, "This is undoubtedly a result of he investigation
" HBO had announced on November 25, 2020 that the company had "parted ways" with Whedon; Whedon released his own statement claiming the departure was due to the COVID-19 pandemic
. HBO chief Casey Bloys declined to elaborate on the decision to part ways but said HBO had received no complaints about Whedon's behavior. Nonetheless, in what Bloys acknowledged was an unusual step, Whedon's name has not been used in marketing for the series.
told the ''Los Angeles Times
'' that her experience with Whedon had not been "the best" but that she had taken it "to the higher-ups and they took care of it". Grace Randolph
later reported that Whedon had asked Gadot to film a sexually-charged scene in ''Justice League'', but that Gadot had refused.
In February 2021, ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer
'' and ''Angel
'' actress Charisma Carpenter
alleged that Whedon had "abused his power on numerous occasions", calling him a "vampire" and "casually cruel". In a tweeted statement, Carpenter said that Whedon had called her "fat" and asked her "if he
was going to keep it" upon learning of her pregnancy, mocked her religious faith, and repeatedly threatened to fire her. Carpenter also revealed that she had participated in WarnerMedia's ''Justice League'' investigation.
''Buffy'' co-stars Amber Benson
and Michelle Trachtenberg
corroborated Carpenter's allegations. On social media, Benson wrote: "''Buffy'' was a toxic environment and it starts at the top. arpenter
is speaking truth". Trachtenberg wrote that "we know what he did" and alleged that his behavior toward her when she was a teenager was "Very. Not. Appropriate." Trachtenberg later stated on social media that there was a rule on set preventing Whedon from being in a room alone with her. ''Buffy'' star Sarah Michelle Gellar also lent her support and distanced herself from Whedon. Jose Molina
, a writer on ''Firefly
'', also spoke out against Whedon's behavior saying that "casually cruel" was a "perfect" description and that "He thought being mean was funny. Making female writers cry during a notes session was especially hysterical. He actually liked to boast about the time he made one writer cry twice in one meeting."
''Wonder Woman'' and ''Justice League'' actress Gal Gadot came out in April 2021 in light of Ray Fisher coming out and exposing Joss Whedon's behavior and told ''The Hollywood Reporter'' that "I had my issues with Whedon and Warner Bros handled it in a timely manner." A knowledgeable source started that Gadot "had multiple concerns with the revised version of the film, including 'issues about her character being more aggressive than her character in ''Wonder Woman''. She wanted to make the character flow from one movie to the next,'" the report said. "The biggest clash, sources say, came when Whedon pushed Gadot to record lines she didn't like, threatened to harm Gadot's career and disparaged ''Wonder Woman'' director Patty Jenkins."
Whedon has yet to publicly respond to any of the allegations of abuse.
On October 20, 2016, Whedon revealed that he was writing a new project: a historical fiction/horror film set during World War II
Early in his career, Whedon sold two spec script
s that were not produced, ''Suspension'' and ''Afterlife''. He sold ''Suspension'' for $750,000, with an additional $250,000 if production had commenced.
In September 2014, ''Empire
'' suggested the script was being made, with Liam Neeson
attached to the project.
In 1994, he sold ''Afterlife'' for $1.5 million, with an additional $500,000 if production had commenced. In 2000, Andy Tennant
was in talks to direct and rewrite.
In ''Afterlife'' there were precursors to themes Whedon would later explore in ''Dollhouse''. The script was about Daniel Hoffstetter, a government scientist, who awakes after dying to discover his mind has been imprinted on a mind-wiped body.
Whedon had a number of planned ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' spinoffs
that became stuck in development or terminally stalled. Among these were ''Buffy the Animated Series
'', a set of television movies for The WB based on ''Angel'' and ''Buffy'' characters,
spin-off film, and ''Ripper'', a proposed BBC pilot about Rupert Giles
''Goners'' was announced in 2005. According to ''Variety
'' magazine, it was a fantasy thriller under development by Universal Pictures
, and was to be produced by Mary Parent
and Scott Stuber
From a 2006 interview with ''Fanboy Radio'': "I've been seeing a lot of horror movies that are torture-porn
, where kids we don't care about are mutilated for hours, and I just cannot abide them... it's an antidote to that very kind of film, the horror movie with the expendable human beings in it. Because I don't believe any human beings are".
Whedon was hired to write and direct a Warner Bros.
adaptation of ''Wonder Woman
''. However, in February 2007, Whedon announced that he would no longer be involved with the project. "We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that's never gonna work. Non-sympatico. It happens all the time".
Conversely, he stated, "the fact of the matter is, it was a waste of my time. We never anted
to make the same movie; none of us knew that".
Whedon also pitched a screenplay to adapt Batman
for the same company as development started on what would eventually become ''Batman Begins
It was described as having included a new, "more of a 'Hannibal Lecter
' type" villain, and portrayed Bruce Wayne as "a morbid, death-obsessed kid" whose grief was overcome by protecting a girl from being bullied in an alley similar to where his parents were murdered.
In March 2017, Whedon was in negotiations to direct, write, and produce ''Batgirl'' set in the DC Extended Universe
. He withdrew from the project in February 2018, saying he didn't have a story for the movie.
The sequel to ''Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
'' has been shelved on multiple occasions. In 2009, Whedon remarked upon the possibility of presenting it in the form of another miniseries or a feature film.
The script was planned to be written in summer 2012 and the principal photography to take place the following year.
However, production was delayed because of his commitment to projects at Marvel Studios
''Wastelanders'', a web-based "end-of-the-world" project, once in development with author Warren Ellis
, was postponed due to Whedon's preoccupation with ''The Avengers
Themes, style and influences
Thematically, Whedon's work often explores perspectives on existentialism
His projects usually revolve around an ensemble of protagonist
primarily focused on a loner hero
who ends up working with others to accomplish a goal.
He says of the recurring aspects of community, "Everything I write tends to turn into a superhero team, even if I didn't mean for it to. I always start off wanting to be solitary, because a) it's simpler, and b) that isolation is something that I relate to as a storyteller. And then no matter what, I always end up with a team".
Examining a typical motif, he says, "I tend to write about people who are helpless or out of control who then regain or retake control".
Articulating his approach to screenwriting, Whedon has noted outlining and act structure
as the hardest parts of storytelling, but emphasizes that he feels they are "completely essential".
Many of Whedon's altered phrases and heavily popularized words have entered a common usage called "Slayer Slang
", which PBS
included an entire section of in their article series ''Do You Speak American?
In an issue of ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight
'', where Buffy travels to the future, Whedon writes Buffy's reaction to the future dialect of Manhattan; this allows Whedon to comment on the series' distinctive style of dialogue; "Buffy blames herself for what's happened to the English language, and there's a lot of hubris in that joke. I like to think that adding Y's to words that don't usually have Y's is going to destroy the whole fabric of our society".
His use of self-aware dialogue to humanize characters,
which relies heavily on dry humor and subtext
treating clichés subversively,
using misogyny to define the trait of a villain,
and the recurring theme of self-sacrifice led by subverting moral icon
s have been defining to his style of storytelling.
His penchant to kill off characters has been widely acknowledged.
Whedon has admitted extreme tiredness to the criticism,
explaining, "The percentage of people who die... is a lot. I think it's pretty near everybody. The percentage of people that I kill—not so many. I think the reason that my rep is so nasty is that I tend to do it... unexpectedly, or to someone people are recently invested in, and that is a real mission statement for me, because, death doesn't leave a card. Death doesn't take Hitler. It doesn't work according to story plans, and when a death feels like a loss, gives you grief... then you have told a story that involves death."
Dramatic effect is used to convey the sense of realism
and shock value
that comes from fatal circumstances.
Whedon has kept ambivalent on whether to shoot on film
or digital video
, saying that he has "no allegiance to film as film. If the story is in front of me, I'm fine".
In terms of visual aesthetics, he prefers to incorporate as many practical effect
s as possible when using computer-generated imagery
, so people "really don't know where one begins and the other ends".
On working with high or low budgets
, he remarked that both offer "the exact same job" and whether one has $100 million or $100,000, "you're trying to hit someone in the gut with an emotional moment."
Whedon determines that, although giving actors notes for guidance, he also aims to assuage their concerns when communicating the reasons and outcomes of a scene.
Whedon has cited Ray Bradbury
, Stan Lee
, Robert Klein
, Jerome Robbins
, Frank Borzage
, Steve Gerber
, Steven Bochco
, Frances Hodgson Burnett
and John Williams
When asked about his five favorite films, Whedon listed ''The Matrix
'', ''Once Upon a Time in the West
'', ''The Bad and the Beautiful
'' and ''The Court Jester
Elements of feminism are present throughout much of Whedon's work
and he gives his mother credit for inspiring this.
The character Kitty Pryde
from the ''X-Men
'' comics was an early model for Whedon's strong teenage girl characters.
He said, "If there's a bigger influence on Buffy than Kitty, I don't know what it was. She was an adolescent girl finding out she has great power and dealing with it."
Kitty Pryde later played a central role in Whedon's run on ''Astonishing X-Men
In his 2006 Equality Now
address, Whedon said that journalists frequently ask him why he writes such strong female character
s. In his speech he provided several answers, concluding with, "Because you're still asking me that question."
In college, Whedon studied a theory called "womb envy
a concept he says observes "a fundamental thing that women have something men don't, the obvious being an ability to bear children. Men not only don't get what's important about what women are capable of, but in fact they fear it, and envy it, and want to throw stones at it, because it's the thing they can't have."
In 2007, Whedon expressed his outrage over the murder of Du'a Khalil Aswad
, and because the act was caught on video, was prompted to attack the underlying attitude he felt led to the murder, comparing the video to torture porn
In late 2013, Whedon spoke at an Equality Now event, where he issued a pointed dissection of the word "feminist
". He begins to say, "I have the privilege living my life inside of words ... but part of being a writer is also living in the very smallest part of every word." Arguing against the suffix "-ist
", he continues, "you can't be born an –ist. It's not natural." Whedon explains that because of this, the word "includes the idea that believing men and women to be equal ... is not a natural state. That we don't emerge assuming that everybody in the human race is a human. That the idea of equality is just an idea that's imposed on us..."
This sparked an unfavorable reaction from the feminist community,
but also an appreciation for Whedon's arguments' thought provocation.
News website Digital Spy
released in early 2015 an interview they had conducted with Whedon, during which he criticized the entertainment industry for its "genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny".
Whedon exemplified ''The Hunger Games
'' film series as an argument for female led franchises, and hoped Marvel Studios
would pursue production of more such franchises.
However, critics noted an almost stereotypical lack of feminist ideals in his writing decisions and portrayal of Black Widow
, one of two female protagonists in Marvel's 2015 ''Avengers: Age of Ultron
'', played by Scarlett Johansson
In August 2017, Whedon's ex-wife, Kai Cole, published an essay on an industry trade site accusing Whedon of 15 years of multiple infidelities and the hypocrisy of touting feminist ideals while using their marriage "as a shield" for his misuse of power.
A Whedon spokesperson said the essay contained "inaccuracies and misrepresentations".
Whedon has repeatedly hired the same actors for his projects
and has been described as "the gravitational center of the Whedonverse, a galaxy that spins recurring actors and themes through an orbital system of TV shows, films and comic books that all share similar traits: a unique brand of witty dialogue, relatable characters and fantasy/sci-fi mythology".
Note: Due to Whedon's frequent casting of the same actors in various projects, the above list only includes those who have played two or more different roles in Whedon productions; actors that only played the same role in multiple Whedon productions are not included.
In 2013, Whedon said that he is a workaholic
. This arose during the time that followed the completion of ''Much Ado About Nothing'', which was made in the span of a two-week vacation from ''The Avengers'',
and after making the pilot for ''Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'' amidst the pre-production for ''Avengers: Age of Ultron''. "It is actually a problem. Sometimes it's adorable ... and sometimes it's not ... Not to get all dark and weird, but it is something I need to address."
He has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
in its Writers' branch since 2017.
Marriage and claims of marital infidelity
In 1995, Whedon married Kai Cole, an architect, producer and co-founder of Bellwether Pictures
They have two children together.
Whedon and Cole separated in 2012 and divorced in 2016.
In 2017, Cole claimed that Whedon had repeatedly been unfaithful to her and that he "does not practice what he preaches" in regard to feminism.
Religious and philosophical views
Whedon has identified himself as an atheist
In an interview with ''The A.V. Club
'' Whedon elaborated on his nonbelief in gods.
Whedon has identified as an absurdist
A committed humanist
, Whedon was presented with the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University
He has spoken about existentialism
, explaining in detail how it, and more specifically Jean-Paul Sartre
'', was used as a basis for the ''Firefly'' episode "Objects in Space
". He called it "the most important book" he ever read,
and said it was given to him right after he saw Steven Spielberg
's ''Close Encounters of the Third Kind
'', whose impact, he recalls, had made him an existentialist.
In July 2012, at the San Diego Comic-Con International
, in response to one woman who noted the anti-corporate
themes in many of his films, and asked him to give his economic philosophy
in 30 seconds or less, Whedon spoke out against both socialism
, saying that "ultimately all these systems don't work." He went on to say that America is "turning into Tsarist Russia".
Endorsing Barack Obama
in the 2012 United States presidential election
Whedon satirically equated Mitt Romney
's future as president with a zombie apocalypse
, quipping, "Romney is ready to make the deep rollbacks in health care, education, social services and reproductive rights that will guarantee poverty, unemployment, overpopulation, disease, rioting—all crucial elements in creating a nightmare zombie wasteland."
In 2015, Whedon signed a petition as part of a political campaign calling for Elizabeth Warren
to run for President of the United States.
In January 2017, after actress Nicole Kidman
publicly suggested that America should accept that Donald Trump
is President, Whedon tweeted a photograph of plastic puppet Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward
alongside an image of Kidman, an action some interpreted as mocking and objectifying Kidman's physical appearance.
That same month, Whedon also received criticism for reportedly comparing Ivanka Trump
to a dog and for wishing that Paul Ryan
would be raped to death by a rhinoceros. Referring to Ivanka's husband Jared Kushner
and Trump, he tweeted: "He's a Voldemort
in training, & unlike the Pekingese
he married under, can play the long game."
Whedon stated that he had been referring to Donald Trump. In April 2017, Whedon took a shot at Republicans by criticizing the physical appearance of teenage cancer survivors who were visiting then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He later apologized on Twitter.
* ''Astonishing X-Men
'' vol. 3 #1–24 (July 2004 – March 2008)
** ''Volume 1: Gifted'' (collects #1–6, with John Cassaday
, tpb, 144 pages, 2004)
** ''Volume 2: Dangerous'' (collects #7–12, with John Cassaday, tpb, 144 pages, 2005)
** ''Volume 3: Torn'' (collects #13–18, with John Cassaday, tpb, 144 pages, 2007)
** ''Volume 4: Unstoppable'' (tpb, 192 pages, 2008) collects:
*** "Unstoppable" (with John Cassaday, in #19–24, 2007–2008)
*** "Gone" (with John Cassaday, in ''Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men'' #1, 2008)
* "Some Steves" (with Michael Gaydos, in ''Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man'' #1, November 2006)
'' vol. 2 #25–30 (April 2007 – June 2008)
** ''Volume 8: Dead End Kids'' (collects #25–30, with Michael Ryan
, hc, 144 pages, 2008)
* "Presentation" (with John Cassaday in ''Captain America
: Sam Wilson'' #7, March 2016)
Dark Horse Comics
'' #1–8 (8-issue limited series, June 2001 – July 2003)
** ''Future Slayer'' (tpb, 216 pages, 2003) collects:
*** "Big City Girl" (with Karl Moline
, in #1, 2001)
*** "The Calling" (with Karl Moline, in #2, 2001)
*** "Ready, Steady..." (with Karl Moline, in #3, 2001)
*** "Out of the Past" (with Karl Moline, in #4, 2001)
*** "The Worst of It" (with Karl Moline, in #5, 2001)
*** "Alarums" (with Karl Moline, in #6, 2002)
*** "The Gateway" (with Karl Moline, in #7, 2003)
*** "All Hell" (with Karl Moline, in #8, 2003)
'' vol. 2 #1–4 (4-issue limited series, September 2001 – May 2002)
** ''Long Night's Journey'' (tpb, pages, year)
*** "Long Night's Journey..." (with Brett Mathews and Melvin Rubi, in #1, 2001)
*** "Rock and a Hard Place" (with Brett Mathews and Melvin Rubi, in #2, 2001)
*** "Thicker Than Water" (with Brett Mathews and Melvin Rubi, in #3, 2001)
*** "The End of the Beginning" (with Brett Mathews and Melvin Rubi, in #4, 2002)
* ''Tales of the Slayers
'' (anthology graphic novel, tpb, 96 pages, 2002) collects:
** "Prologue" (with Leinil Francis Yu)
** "Righteous" (with Tim Sale)
** "Tales" (with Karl Moline)
* ''Tales of the Vampires
'' #1–5 (5-issue anthology limited series December 2003 – April 2004)
** ''Tales of the Vampires'' (tpb, 144 pages, 2004) collects:
*** "Tales of the Vampires I–VI" (with Alex Sanchez, in #1–5, 2003–2004)
*** "Stacy" (with Cameron Stewart, in #1, 2003)
** ''Serenity: Those Left Behind
'' #1–3 (3-issue limited series, with Brett Mathews and Will Conrad, July–September 2005, collected in ''Serenity: Those Left Behind'', tpb, 80 pages, 2006)
** ''Serenity: Better Days
'' #1–3 (3-issue limited series, with Brett Mathews and Will Conrad, March–May 2008, collected in ''Serenity: Better Days'', tpb, 80 pages, 2008)
* ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer
** ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight
'' #1–5, 10–11, 16–19, 31, 36–40 (March 2007 – January 2011)
*** ''Volume 1: The Long Way Home'' (tpb, 136 pages, 2007) collects:
**** "The Long Way Home
" (with Georges Jeanty
, in #1–4, 2007)
**** "The Chain
" (with Paul Lee, in #5, 2007)
*** ''Volume 2: No Future for You'' (tpb, 120 pages, 2008) collects:
**** "Anywhere But Here
" (with Cliff Richards
, in #10, 2008)
*** ''Volume 3: Wolves at the Gate'' (tpb, 120 pages, 2008) collects:
**** "A Beautiful Sunset
" (with Georges Jeanty, in #11, 2008)
*** ''Volume 4: Time of Your Life'' (tpb, 136 pages, 2009) collects:
**** "Time of Your Life
" (with Karl Moline, in #16–19, 2008)
*** ''Volume 7: Twilight'' (tpb, 168 pages, 2010) collects:
**** "Turbulence" (with Georges Jeanty, in #31, 2010)
**** "Willow: Goddesses and Monsters" (with Karl Moline, one-shot, 2009)
*** ''Volume 8: Last Gleaming'' (tpb, 168 pages, 2011) collects:
**** "Last Gleaming
" (with Georges Jeanty, in #36–40, 2010)
** ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine
'' #1 (September 2011)
*** ''Volume 1: Freefall'' (tpb, 136 pages, 2012) collects:
**** "Freefall, Part I" (with Georges Jeanty, in #1, 2011)
'' #1 (with Fábio Moon
, one-shot, October 2009)
* ''Twist'' #1– (6-issue limited series, forthcoming)
* ''Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
**''Dr. Horrible: Best Friends Forever'' (with Jose Maria Beroy and Sara Soler, one-shot, November 2018)
* ''Angel: After the Fall
'' #1–17 (November 2007 – February 2009, IDW Publishing
** ''Volume 1'' (collects #1–5, with Brian Lynch and Franco Urru, hc, 192 pages, 2008)
** ''Volume 2: First Night'' (collects #6–8, with Brian Lynch et al., hc, 104 pages, 2008)
** ''Volume 3'' (collects #9–12, with Brian Lynch et al., hc, 128 pages, 2009)
** ''Volume 4'' (collects #13–17, with Brian Lynch, Stephen Mooney, and Franco Urru, hc, 132 pages, 2009)
'' #26 (with other artists, June 2006, DC Comics
# His first name was changed to "Joss" once he broke into the writing industry.
# Sandollar Productions acquired the television rights to the 1992 film, and in the mid-1990s, executive Gail Berman
approached Whedon to adapt it as a series based on the success of ''Clueless
# In the Battle of Serenity Valley, the Independents were defeated by The Alliance
, an authoritarian regime.
# Whedon confirmed in April 2015 that it was indeed his screenplay being considered.
* Havens, Candace (2003). ''Joss Whedon: The Genius behind'' Buffy. BenBella Books. .
* Davidson, Joy, and Wilson, Leah, eds. (2007). ''The Psychology of Joss Whedon: An Unauthorized Exploration of ''Buffy'', ''Angel'', and ''Firefly''. BenBella Books. .
* Koontz, K. Dale (2008). ''Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon''. McFarland. .
* Comeford, AmiJo and Burnett, Tamy (2010). ''The Literary Angel: Essays on Influences and Traditions Reflected in the Joss Whedon Series''. McFarland. .
* Waggoner, Erin B. (2010). ''Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon: New Essays''. McFarland. .
* Espenson, Jane
and Wilson, Leah, eds. (2010). ''Inside Joss' ''Dollhouse'': Completely Unauthorized, from Alpha to Rossum''. Smart Pop. .
* Leonard, Kendra Preston
, ed. (2010). ''Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing: Music in the Worlds of Joss Whedon''. Scarecrow Press. .
* Pascale, Amy (2014). ''Joss Whedon: The Biography''. Chicago Review Press. .
* Macnaughtan, Don (2018). ''The Whedonverse Catalog: A Complete Guide to Works in All Media''. McFarland. .
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