11:00 am EDT, May 10, 2015

What Joss Whedon should do next: A superfan’s wishlist

Completely unsolicited advice for the man who just directed Avengers 2, and thought he could do something as silly as 'relax' now.

Joss Whedon has just finished promoting Avengers: Age of Ultron, and is officially a man of leisure. But when has Whedon ever been able to go a week without working?

Yo, Joss. Yeah, you with the lei and the flip-flops. Don’t hide behind that mimosa!

So, what, you thought you’d just finish filming, editing and promoting one of the biggest movies of the year and like, relax or whatever? Yeah right. You and me both know that three days after wrapping up the Avengers: Age of Ultron press tour, you were bored out of your mind.

Now you’re sitting at your desk, typewriter dusted off and ready to go — shh, of course you use a typewriter, don’t ruin the illusion — but the page is blank. Now that you can do anything, what exactly is that elusive anything going to be?

So let’s get down to business and defeat the huns mind-map your future career prospects. (And let’s drop the pretense, too, because I’m starting to feel like a crazy person pretending I’m actually talking to Joss Whedon.)

7. A ‘Firefly’ reunion miniseries

Firefly movie Joss Whedon

Firefly is one of Whedon’s most career-defining creations, and fans have been (im)patiently waiting for him to return to it for years. And the more time passes, the more it seems unlikely to happen. But you know what? Unless Whedon absolutely doesn’t want to revisit these characters and continue their story, this would actually be the perfect time to reunite the Firefly crew.

For one, Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion are already collaborating on a Firefly-esque project (set to reunite many of the main actors from the show), Con Man, a self-referential web series about a pair of actors feeding off the fame from their cult TV show. This TV show is not Firefly… except, it’s totally Firefly. Clearly, the actors are in the right mind-frame to consider returning for the real thing.

Secondly, this is the era of reunion series. With Full House, Twin Peaks, The X-Files and Heroes (to name a few) all returning with new episodes after decades off the air, nostalgia is at an all-time high, and we can almost guarantee there’d be no resistance from fans if, say, Whedon partnered with Netflix to bring Firefly back to life for a miniseries.

Would it be as good as the original? Maybe not. Is part of the original Firefly‘s charm that it was left incomplete? Very possibly. And that’s why (risking riots and Browncoat uprisings), I sorta-kinda would rather leave this one alone.

6. ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog 2’

Dr Horrible 2

Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion, Dr. Horrible is a phenomenon, which has only gained more popularity since its release seven (!) years ago. Quirky and ridiculous and hilarious and poignant, Dr. Horrible is everything we want in a Joss Whedon project, and is tangible proof that Whedon is at his very best when he doesn’t have to compromise his artistic vision.

So yeah, of course we want a sequel. We want all the same actors returning to sing fun new songs and prance around Joss Whedon’s neighborhood; we want it all to feel like a home video, made up in a weekend and thrown together on a whim, presented to us in a way that seems casual and unplanned (even though of course it would take years and millions of dollars to put together).

However, after all this time, there’s a real chance Whedon doesn’t consider this a fun, independent little passion project anymore. Dr. Horrible was conceived and filmed during the 2008 Writers’ Strike, and fans discovered and consumed it with no expectations.

Now, there’s so much pressure to do it right, better, and no matter what Whedon does with it, he’s bound to disappoint someone. Ironically, Dr. Horrible might simply have become too mainstream.

5. A ‘Star Wars’ anthology film

Boba Fett Anthology Joss Whedon

Credit to Hypable writer Michal Schick for bringing this to my attention: There’ve been some loose rumors floating around lately suggesting that Whedon might be in talks to direct the Star Wars anthology movie exploring the origins of Boba Fett. (The one which, until recently, Josh Trank was set to helm.)

When I first heard this, I was elated. It’s no secret that I really liked Whedon’s fun, crash-bang take on The Avengers, and even though he might be wary of jumping from one huge franchise to another, I reckon he’d do a great job with a Star Wars film. (He is, after all, a huge nerd. Which is the biggest compliment I could give anyone.)

Then again, as Michal pointed out, Whedon might not be allowed any more freedom with a Star Wars film than he had as a cog in the Marvel machine. Whedon’s taken a lot of flack for Age of Ultron, but ultimately he had a lot less free rein than people realize. Ultron needed to tick a lot of boxes to slot into the MCU, and the loss of artistic freedom meant losing deeper character moments, original story ideas, and (to a certain extent) plot cohesiveness.

Like Marvel (which is also Disney… is everything Disney? Am I Disney?), Disney probably needs someone to carry out their existing vision, not someone to put their own spin on it. And would Whedon really give up his chance to pursue a passion project, in order to attach his name to another franchise much bigger than him? Could he once again sacrifice his autonomy as a creator, and fit the mold Disney’s trying to squeeze him into? I’m honestly not sure.

Then again, the Star Wars anthology movies sound a lot more sandbox-y than the main trilogy. By all accounts, there’s a lot more scope here to play and explore, picking and choosing bits of Star Wars lore to craft into a cinematic experience.

4. An original Pixar animation

Pixar Joss Whedon

Don’t tell the Browncoats, but I’d much rather see Whedon tell an original story than see him re-tread old ground and risk marring a perfect memory.

Sure, Joss Whedon has plenty of chances to engage with existing source material, putting his own twist on someone else’s story, or picking up where he left off 10 years ago. And despite his desire to create something brand new, he may very well be tempted by offers from big studios.

But how about something that combines big studio money with complete artistic freedom? Whedon has worked with Pixar before, famously doctoring the Toy Story script and making it the masterpiece it is today. Isn’t it fun to imagine what he might come up with if he was allowed completely free rein with a big-budget project?

Just look at how Pete Docter is churning out these fantastic, original, beautiful stories like Up, Inside Out and Wall-E. His works are so personal, fresh, and engaging.

As a long-time fan of Whedon’s, who’s seen him rise and fall and struggle with the politics of it all, I’d like to see him embark on a much more personal, creative journey, without having to compromise his artistic vision, or worrying about living up to pre-existing story expectations.

And Pixar seems to be one of the only studios in Hollywood right now where imagination truly is king.

Next page: ‘Buffy’ (no, really), ‘Mulan,’ and that one thing we all really want…

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