Sunday, December 19, 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reboot

When the Buffy reboot was announced without Joss Whedon involved, I was still excited. I’m a huge Buffy fan and a huge fan of all Joss Whedon shows. But Joss turned down the opportunity to participate in the movie.

To Joss, it probably seemed like a bad move to create a different version of something he already created twice before (the original movie and the TV series). I imagine that he’s really enjoying creating Buffy Season 8 and Angel Season 6 stories that are cannon and that allow him to continue stories he’s already invested in with characters he loves and hand-picked writers and artists he respects. The thought of having a ton of angry fans screaming at him for reinventing something they consider ‘holy’ probably gave him a migraine. I don’t blame him for passing on the project.

When they revealed the rebooted Buffy’s writer, Whit Anderson (no writing credits and two minor acting credits: Yes Man and Saw: Rebirth), I was still excited. Nothing can damper the excitement I feel about the reboot.

As a comic book fan, I’ve suffered through dozens of ‘reboots’ of storylines, characters coming back to life, characters acting completely different from year to year, even new, alternate universes. As a television/movie fan, I’ve seen:

• Movies I loved turned into crappy television shows (like My Big Fat Greek Wedding)

• Television shows I loved turned into crappy movies (like Dukes of Hazzard)

• Movies I hated turned into fantastic television shows (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

• Television shows I hated turned into fantastic films (like Charlie’s Angels)

• Movies I loved turned into fantastic television shows (like Stargate Atlantis)

• Television shows I loved turned into fantastic films (like Serenity)

As a fan, I’ve seen a lot of second or third tries on properties. So what’s the worst that could happen? If the Buffy reboot sucks, you don’t have to pick it up on Blu Ray and they probably won’t make a sequel and you won’t have to worry about another Buffy project for another decade. On the other hand, if it rocks, you’ll have 2 or 3 different versions of Buffy to be a fan of. While all of fandom seems to want to slam it, I’m anxious for more Buffy.

Joss won’t do it and Sarah Michelle Gellar has said on several occasions that she’s not interested in participating in any future Buffy projects. The truth is: Buffy is still popular. Buffy merchandise is still coming out, selling out, and being collected by the fans. Why wouldn’t the studio that owns the property want to take another stab at Buffy the Vampire Slayer, bring new fans in, create more merchandise, and generate interest in past Buffy projects?

Let’s face it, Buffy has been off the air for years and while new fans are still finding it, they’re trickling in. Now imagine you make a killer new Buffy film and while fans are waiting for the blu ray release or waiting for the next film to come out, they’re sating their interest by renting and giving the television series a try.

Joss Whedon sitting this project out is a good idea. That way fans can compare the projects against each other without resenting Joss for ‘selling out’ or ‘ruining it’ if the new film stinks. As far as an untested writer tackling the project, she’s a Buffy fan and a film company believes in it enough to pay to make it. We might not think much of her resume, but none of us have seen her screenplay. Will the new Buffy be similar in tone? Will the new Buffy be similar in spirit? Will the new Buffy have fantastic supporting characters? What will the new Buffy’s origin be? No one knows any of these questions. I love the television show and the comics (the season 8 comics, not the ones that came out during the show’s run) and if the new movie is fantastic, none of the fans will turn their back on the original.

I think that most fans feel like making a new Buffy movie means the chance of ever doing anything with the original property is gone. It is, but it was over when Sarah Michelle-Gellar said she wouldn’t do any Buffy projects, it was over when Ripper failed to get off the ground, it failed when Eliza Dushku turned down a Faith spin-off, it failed when the proposed television movies never got off the ground, and it was over when Joss said he didn’t want to participate in the reboot.

I like Uncanny X-Men but I also like Ultimate X-Men – just because there is a new way to enjoy something you’re already a fan of doesn’t mean you have to hate one to enjoy the other. This reboot is going to happen with or without the support of fans so why not wait and see what happens? Maybe, like the Star Trek reboot, our love of the new movie will reinforce our love of the original. If I’ve learned anything being a geek, it’s that there is plenty of room in fandom for more than one fantastic interpretation of the same property.

In a perfect world, this is what the new Buffy movie would look like.