Why we love The Joss Whedonverse

1:00 pm EDT, June 23, 2013

Here at Hypable it is no secret that we adore Joss Whedon. And we will use absolutely any excuse to celebrate him.

The first show featured on our Rewatchable podcast was Firefly and we did a Buffy-specific episode of Vampire Hype (and behind-the-scenes, it was a Battle Royale-style fight to determine which of the many Buffy fans would be on it).

More recently, we have extolled the virtues of Much Ado About Nothing and The Cabin in The Woods.

Whatever Whedon touches, turns to shiny fandom brilliance – whether or not network television agrees (we’re looking at you, Fox).

From cult television masterpieces like Firefly and Dollhouse, to the third highest grossing film of all time in The Avengers, it seems like Whedon has done a bit of everything.

And to have accomplished all this by the age of 49 (as of June 23) is no small feat. So happy birthday Joss Whedon. Here at Hypable, we love you – and this is why.

Why Marama loves…

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

buffy the vampire slayer
Buffy found its way into our hearts and it has never left. Whether you watched the series when it aired, or have since marathon-ed the lot, there is something about these young adult vampire slayers, witches, vampires and demons that got under our skin. Plus, this had vampire romance way before it was cool.

The show is only dated by the hilarious 90s outfits (ahem, leather pants). The issues Whedon addresses are just as relevant, and the jokes still get us giggling. Even better, in an age of dumbed-down television, Buffy makes us think, with its casual subverting of common television tropes, and incorporation of various styles and genres.

As a character, Buffy herself demonstrates Whedon’s commitment to creating compelling and realistic women (well, as realistic as a vampire slayer who has died twice can be). From Cordelia to Buffy and Willow, Whedon made his women just as funny, complex and fallible as his men.

From the Emmy-nominated “Hush” to musical masterpiece “Once More With Feeling” (in which Whedon gives us a song about drycleaning – what more could you ask for?), the seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer encompass some of Whedon’s best work.

With writing that was equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, it is nice to know that we can return to Sunnydale anytime we like.

Why Michal loves…

‘Dollhouse’

dollhouse
In the scope of its creator’s career, Dollhouse (or, as it is often known, “That Other Canceled Joss Whedon Show”) doesn’t cast a very long shadow. The show ran for two brief seasons and concluded quietly, with neither the vast cultural significance of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or the magnetic devotion of Firefly.

The story of Echo, a young woman who lives without her memory in a “Dollhouse” full of rentable people, was eerie and complex, and the show faced the considerable challenge of bonding viewers to characters who were literally different people every time they appeared.

Dollhouse turned out to offer much more than just the week-to-week adventures of people with programmed memories, though as the show progressed, it became a story about an idea – the value of the self, and how that self is challenged by technology.

But even Joss’s most philosophical work offered a terrific line of characters to love (and love to hate!) sprinkled across a vast moral spectrum. From the resilient Echo/Caroline to the stoic Paul Ballard, and all the way to the fascinatingly repugnant Adelle and Topher, Dollhouse made us laugh and weep and feel as sharply as Whedon ever has.

In the end, like the best of fiction, Dollhouse was a metaphor – and not a static one. The questions it raised about morality and technology were challenging and painful, and defied easy resolution. As it continually raised the stakes (the show is not Whedon’s only work to threaten the existence of humanity within its workings) Dollhouse looked its viewers in the eye week after week and demanded “What would you do?”

Though we didn’t get much time to answer, we’re glad really Joss asked the question.

Why Laura loves…

‘Firefly’

Firefly
Two words: space cowboys, who else other than Joss could possibly make this concept work? Not only does he make it work, but he avoids most of the cliches associated with each genre. Inara isn’t just “the hooker with the heart of gold” and Book is anything but your typical preachy preacher.

The thing that really solidifies Firefly are the nuances to the characters. You feel as if you have known each of them for years. One of the series’ best scenes was in “Out of Gas” where the entire crew is sitting around the table chatting like old friends until disaster strikes. It’s hard to get that sense of camaraderie out of actors in the first season of any show; however, with Joss’ writing it’s believable and a breeze.

Probably, the best tribute that any writer can receive is for people to care about their work years after its debut. One of the more amazing things about Firefly, is that ten years after its untimely cancellation, it’s still gaining fans and the fandom is still as strong as ever. Name any other cancelled-after-one-season show that has achieved that.

In 2012, Firefly celebrated its tenth anniversary at Comic Con with an audience filled with Browncoats. There wasn’t a dry eye on the panel that included stars Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, and Adam Baldwin along with Joss Whedon. The actors all gave Whedon full credit for the show launching their careers. More significantly, Whedon cites the show as the most important thing he ever did.

So, if you haven’t been converted yet, the next rainy Saturday you have, marathon the series. If it doesn’t make you want to take a trip around the ‘verse aboard Serenity, you’re probably sou-less and better off as reever fodder.

Why Karen loves…

‘The Avengers’

The Avengers
Making The Avengers was never going to be an easy task, no matter who took it on. It took five movies to prequel this film. There were several huge and well-loved characters and actors vying for the main spotlight. Not to mention the sheer scale of the story and the impact it would have on the Marvel universe.

In layman’s terms, it was a huge ass deal.

And let’s be real. If handed over to any number of other people, it probably would’ve still made tons of money. But would it have satisfied fans? Maybe not.

In the end, as we all know, it went to Joss “That Guy That Did Buffy And That One Show That Got Cancelled” Whedon, and he delivered everything the fans wanted and more.

He’s a genius with dialogue and a genius with characters. You would think it’d be easy to take already established characters and just keep writing them as they always have been. But it’s not. This project had unbreakable rules, and yet Whedon had to put his twist on it and make it his own.

And he handled it seamlessly. Tony was just as sarcastic, Cap was just as noble, and Thor was just as muscular godly.

He even made the Hulk cool again.

The Avengers appealed to fans of the comics, to fans of the characters, and to fans of the previous movies. Hell, it appealed to people who didn’t even know who Iron Man was before 2012. Needless to say, Whedon was in his element, and it came through in every single frame of the film.

We already knew Whedon was awesome, but now, thankfully, the rest of the world does too.

Why Caitlin loves…

‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’


Written and produced during the 2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was Whedon’s first attempt at getting web-savvy. Whedon self-funded the webseries, which stars Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day.

On its own, Dr. Horrible is over-the-top and full of heart (and, in true Whedon form, heartbreak). The tragicomedy makes us root for the character with a “Ph.D. in Horribleness.” The “hero” is a self-absorbed jerk, and the love interest remains clueless about who truly cares for her to the very end.

It’s both a parody of superheroes – which is even more fun in hindsight considering Whedon’s involvement in The Avengers – and a human story. And then there is the soundtrack, which includes quirky songs like “My Freeze Ray” and “Bad Horse Chorus” that make us laugh out loud.

But what’s truly remarkable about Dr. Horrible is the ground it broke for web entertainment. After being streamed for free, the series went to iTunes and topped the charts for five weeks.

The soundtrack followed the series at No. 2 and also entered the Billboard Top 200 at No. 39, impressive for a digital-only album. And Time magazine listed it in their Top 50 inventions of 2008 at No. 15, praising the success of the unconventional musical.

So, while we love Dr. Horrible, Captain Hammer, and Penny, we’ll forever remember the series for bringing digital entertainment into the mainstream.

Why Louie loves…

‘Toy Story’

toy story joss whedon

Wait, what?

While it won’t come as a surprise to his most hardcore fans, others may be surprised to learn that Joss Whedon was one of the writers on the original Pixar movie, Toy Story. Along with Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, and Alec Sokolow, Whedon wrote the screenplay for what would become one of the most influential movies of our generation at the very least.

When I think of Whedon, I think of near perfect characters and dialogue. Whedon only has a screenplay credit and not a story credit, so that means he didn’t create any of the characters. We did, however, likely shape the way those characters are brought to life, and Toy Story and the following sequels (which he didn’t work on) would have never been the same if he hadn’t shaped the characters and the dialogue they spoke.

Shifting to why we love Toy Story, I mean, come on, who doesn’t love Toy Story? It was a groundbreaking film in terms of both animation and story telling, and it works on different levels for audiences of different ages. Previously parents had to sit through movies for their kids, but Toy Story was beloved by parents and children equally.

Whedon had a big impact on Toy Story and consequently the Pixar productions since, but don’t ask him about it:

Nobody wrote Toy Story. Toy Story happened to some toys.

Why Selina loves…

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (the, er, movie)

Buffy the movie
Forget the TV show! Selina is all about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, y’all.

Oh, who is Selina kidding?

Buffy: the Movie is legitimately one of the worst pieces of cinema, and had the TV show not followed, the world would never have known that Whedon was actually trying to create a strong, empowered female superhero (as opposed to one who sensed vampires via PMS).

It completely suits the, let’s face it, super campy title, and as many critics have noted, not even the actors seemed to believe in the story they were trying to tell.

Luckily though, Whedon did not give up on the story he’d created (and which, allegedly, the Kuzuis are to blame for butchering), and we all know what happened next: the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show was amazing, and we all lived happily ever after. Or something.

But the fact that such a terrible movie turned into such a fantastic show makes the movie worth watching, only because we can laugh and throw popcorn at the screen and count our lucky stars that this is not what people think about when they think about Buffy.

And this is why I do, legitimately, love Buffy: the Movie. It is hilarious, and never fails to cheer me up. Come on, that 10-minute long death scene? That was like something out of Monty Python, made even better by the fact that the rest of the cast was playing it totally straight.

I do think that the Buffy movie is an important part of Joss Whedon’s legacy, if only because it reminds us that even the best idea can suffer from horrible execution, and is worth mentioning when celebrating this man’s amazing career and accomplishments.

Plus, Dollhouse was already taken.

joss whedon

Intellectual property law may prevent Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report from appearing on The Late Show, but it cannot stop his identical twin cousin.

Last week, Stephen Colbert brought a familiar face to visit The Late Show. Tucked away in the woods living happily ever after with Jon Stewart was Colbert’s character, host of The Colbert Report, champion of America, Her Excellency The Rev. Sir Doctor Stephen Tyrone Mos Def Colbert, D.F.A., Heavyweight Champion of the World** featuring Flo Rida La Premiere Dame De France. Or Stephen Colbert for short.

Colbert resisted bringing the character to The Late Show, choosing to introduce the world to the real Stephen Colbert. But the Republican National Convention selecting Donald Trump as their candidate for President demanded that Colbert dust off his Captain America shield and return to glory for one night only. And one night only is all we are going to see of that man.

Colbert late show colbert returns

Colbert announced on The Late Show that immediately after the live show on July 18, 2016, Viacom’s lawyers called up CBS and said that “the character Stephen Colbert is their intellectual property.” And so, Stephen Colbert revealed that Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report would never be seen again.

Luckily, Stephen Colbert had an identical twin cousin! How might that work, you ask? Well Colbert’s mother was an identical twin and she and her sister married identical twins and gave birth at the same time and both named their sons Stephen Colbert. Rest assured attorneys, the two men are very different people. The banned Colbert went to Dartmouth, the cousin Colbert only applied there. The banned Colbert wears smart fitting suits, the cousin Colbert prefers a breezy American flag button down. Night and day those two.

Colbert late show werd

Real Stephen Colbert (are you confused yet?) asked cousin Colbert if he’d be willing to make himself available for future appearances on The Late Show, a task cousin Colbert was more than willing to take on. Loopholes!

Another intellectual property to fall to the wayside was “The Word,” a segment Colbert revived from The Colbert Report to introduce the word, “Trumpiness.” There’s a way around this one too. Introducing, “The Werd.”

Watch all of the Stephen Colberts in action and get the lowdown on “The Lesser of Two Evils” in the full segment from July 27.

The Late Show continues its live coverage of the Democratic National Convention tonight at whatever time Hillary Clinton is done speaking on CBS.

When in doubt, look to Harry Potter. At least, that’s what Marvel and Sony are planning for the latest Spider-Man reboot.

When Tom Holland showed up in Captain America: Civil War as Spider-Man, fans were obviously hesitant to throw too much weight behind his version of Peter Parker. The webslinger had been seen at the forefront of a blockbuster movie twice in the past couple decades, and even the biggest Spidey fans were wary of yet another incarnation.

But Holland swung himself right into our hearts with his charm and enthusiasm, both on screen and off. The cast took him under their wings and fans were soon to follow. So, when it was announced that he’d be starring in another solo Spider-Man film, titled Homecoming, the response was optimistic.

There are a lot of things Marvel and Sony are doing differently for Homecoming, not least of which is actually working together. Peter is also much younger than we’ve seen him in the past, and his story will focus as much on his time in school as his time fighting bad guys.

spider-man homecoming logo

In fact, the school year may even help structure Homecoming and subsequent Spider-Man solo films. Speaking to Collider, Kevin Feige even said they may take a leaf out of Harry Potter’s book:

“Should we be able to make more after [Homecoming]? Sure. This is sophomore year, is the next one junior year? Is the next one senior year? Is there a summer break between each of those? I don’t know what, but it was sort of how do we do a journey for Peter not dissimilar for what the students of Hogwarts would go through each of their years, which was one of the early ideas we had for the movies.”

This structure allows for a consistent progression of time for both the characters and the world. We’ll say goodbye to Peter at the end of the school year, but welcome him back again at the beginning of the next. It allows for changes to take place over the summer, for new threats to materialize, and for the story to stretch its legs and develop over the course of nine months, rather than a few short days.

But first we have to see if Spider-Man: Homecoming will be the hit both Marvel and Sony are hoping it’ll be.

How are you feeling about the current developments regarding ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’?

Netflix has passed on picking up Agent Carter for a third season, and now they’re explaining why.

The cancellation of Agent Carter sent shock waves through the Marvel fandom. We get so few female-led properties in the superhero world, and Peggy was unapologetically kickass on every level. When ABC didn’t renew the show for another season, fans immediately started pitching to Netflix, hoping they would give the S.H.I.E.L.D. founder a new life.

Alas, it wasn’t to be so. In an interview with EW, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos explains why they decided to pass on the opportunity.

The first reason was because they’re looking for “truly original brands to own.” Netflix, as you probably know, already has a pretty clear corner on that market with Daredevil and Jessica Jones, both of which have been wildly popular, as well as their upcoming series Luke Cage and Iron Fist, all four of which will eventually merge into an Avengers-esque crossover series called Defenders. Plus, the Punisher is getting his own series, too.

ABC had already owned and put out two seasons of Agent Carter, which means, creatively, Netflix couldn’t take over the show and make it their own. They would have to honor what came before and make sure it had the same look and feel. Considering how wildly popular their original series have been (for reference, check out the current buzz about Stranger Things), it’s understandable that they’d rather focus on something they can build from the ground up.

The second reason why Netflix passed on Agent Carter is a bit more technical in that the streaming service likes to release its original content globally, something that would be difficult, if not impossible, due to Agent Carter’s current international restrictions. As Sarandos says, passing up on Agent Carter was “a business decision more than a creative one.”

But neither of those reasons make the situation any better for fans of the character and her solo show. While Netflix would’ve been an ideal place to watch Peggy’s next great adventure, we’ll have to hope the showrunners and Hayley Atwell can swing something else instead.

Are you disappointed Netflix isn’t picking up ‘Agent Carter’?