Sat
Jul 14 2012 10:45am

Firefly Fans Make Joss Whedon Cry at SDCC

At the end of the intense, emotional Firefly panel, moderator Jeff Jensen said to Joss Whedon that “‘We’re still flying’ is a big mantra of the fan community”—what, he asked Joss, do the fans mean to you? 

For Nathan Fillion, a handkerchief came out, and not for the first time. Joss clearly was trying not to weep openly, and everyone else on the panel was nearly in tears, if not completely so.

Finally, amid a standing ovation, Joss finally said, “Only an idiot would try to follow that,” but of course, he was going to try. What follows is an incomplete transcript, but the core of his words are there. 

“When you come out of a great movie you feel like you’re still in that world—you come out of Brazil and you feel like the world is all tubes and pipes […] The world has become that. And when you’re trying to tell a story, you’re trying to connect to people in a particular way. The way you,” addressing the 2500 fans in the room, “have inhabited this particular universe has made you part of the story, you are part of Firefly. When I see you guys I don’t think there’s a show, I think it’s alive, I think there are spaceships, and horses, and I think it’s alive.”

The panel had been billed as a Firefly reunion, with Whedon, writer Jose Molina, producer and writer Tim Minear, and Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, and Adam Baldwin. “The people who are not here, my heart is breaking that they are not here—not just to experience this, because I miss them so much,” said Whedon—adding, irrepressibly, “I want the whole set!”

Which reflects the mood of the panel as a whole—classic Whedonesque hilarity and profound, deep emotion. Everyone is clearly deeply moved and humbled by the force of 2500 fans who had been in line since the night before to see their heroes—Whedon himself had paid a visit to the line sometime in the small hours. And the bonds of friendship run deep. Nathan Fillion teased Whedon endlessly throughout the panel (Minear: “Oh, I never think anything Joss is going to do in TV will be a hit show.” Fillion: “That’s fair.”), but broke out his handkerchief repeatedly and noted that “if I can get through this without crying, it’ll look a lot cooler” before going on to say that Whedon had given him the best character he’d ever played.

“When Firefly died, I thought it was the worst thing that could possibly happen,” Fillion said. “What I realize now, looking over this room, is that the worst thing that could have happened is if it had stayed dead.”

“Could everyone tweet that I said that?” interjected Whedon.

Adam Baldwin gave away a Jayne hat to an incredibly nervous fan dressed as Kaylee, who was able to correctly name the planet that Tracey wanted to be buried on in “The Message.” Alan Tudyk described a painting he’d commissioned from his sister, showing Whedon protecting a firefly in a jar—“it still hangs in my house and I have yet to thank her for it,” Whedon said. 

The panel was light on what you might consider “news”—the tenth anniversary event on November 11 of this year on Sci was announced a few days ago. Whedon did mention that there would be more comics ahead with Dark Horse—the Firefly comics are their best selling books and their biggest-selling hardcover is The Shepherd’s Tale. Anyone who went in there thinking that there was going to be a surprise announcement of a new movie or TV show would have been disappointed.

But maybe not. Because what we did get was an extraordinary moment—surprisingly intimate for a room of 2500—showing how deep the attachment between fans and artists can actually be.


Karin Kross is at her fifth San Diego Comic-Con this year. She and her co-conspirators are blogging the experience at nerdpromnomnom on Tumblr.

19 comments
Jack Flynn
1. JackofMidworld
The whole reason I started watching Castle was because of the youtube clip from the Halloween episode when Rick dressed up as a "space cowboy" and his daughter told him that he'd done that five years ago. And then, a couple of seasons later, when he spoke Chinese and Kate asked him if he'd studied abroad and he said, "No, a tv show I used to love," I cheered. And, yeah, had to wipe my eyes a bit.
Levi Stribling
2. lpstribling
What a great story. I had never heard of Firefly until a friend insisted that I take a day and watch the entire series. I was hooked. There's still hope bubbling inside me that somewhere, somehow, it will happen again. After reading your bit above about the Castle thing, I have to start watching that now.
Palpatim
3. Palpatim
I love Firefly and Serenity intensely, but I can't help but think that, at this point in its existence, it would be best not to resurrect it as a show or movie. Completely aside from the story challenges (no Wash? no Book?) we've spent 10 years cherishing it the way one does a departed family member, and to bring it back now would be jarring, and couldn't possibly live up to our expectations.
Levi Stribling
4. lpstribling
Good point. It may be best to just leave it in our memories as something that rocked. Look at what happend to Star Wars. It's been marred. Good point.
john massey
5. subwoofer
I'll be a Browncoat forever.

There was so much potential. Firefly was character driven and the characters had such depth. I also have a grudge against the networks for cancelling this gem. Fox for yanking the plug, the rest of the networks for not seeing this for what it is and picking it up again.

Like others here, I started watching Castle because of Nathan and the various shout outs to his old digs.

Ahhhh, memories:)

Woof™.
j p
6. sps49
I still watch Castle (well, up to the season ender) and started because of the YouTube clips (hands of blue, etc.).

I don't think Joss would ruin Firefly like George has tainted Star Wars. George needs someone to tell him "NO" every now and then but doesn't, while Joss doesn't but does.
Palpatim
7. cj_wildcat
I just want to hug this whole post. So. Many. Feelings. I need to rewatch Firefly again.


(I too started watching Castle for the Firefly shout-outs - but it's a great show regardless ^_^)
Palpatim
8. L Lambert Lawson
Being at that panel was the highlight of this SDCC and any of the other three that I've seen. Nathan and Joss were true class and truly human. Many of us in the crowd were crying right along with them.
Amy G. Dala
9. amygdala11
Castle is just a Nate Filion love-fest. (At least it is at my house.)

We started watching it because we heard great things, and they're all true. The writers have a lot of fun with Firefly and Buffy references on the show (as well as Steampunk and, most recently, ZOMBIES!)
Michael Ikeda
10. mikeda
sps49@6 like George has tainted Star Wars

"The good news is that we're filming a Firefly sequel with all of the original cast. The bad news is that it's also a Star Wars crossover featuring Jar Jar Binks."

:-)
Sky Thibedeau
11. SkylarkThibedeau
I'd be satiedfied with a new series based in the same 'verse, maybe set it 10 years later and follow Jayne or a post Wash Zoey
Levi Stribling
12. lpstribling
It's a fanciful thought and an understandable desire to want to bring something like that back. It was just so damned good. I remember watching the whole series in a day with my friend. After the last episode (and then watching Serenity), I was thinking, "This can't be all of it." Joss is the man, though.
I still want to get all of the comics, though, even though I'm sad when I look at them. Just holding them in my hand, I think. "This is BS. This should be an episode on my screen right now, alive and well." Whatever. It's done. It was great. It was fantastic. Even with hope in my heart, it lay it down, ceremonially.
Jack Flynn
13. JackofMidworld
I second Skylark's plan!

(but I've been reading thru the comics and they're pretty good stuff...the Shepherd Book backstory in particular was eye-opening).
Palpatim
14. geekwayne
Every time I re-watch Firefly, it makes me so deeply happy, sad and angry at the same time. 'Out Of Gas' is perhaps the best thing I've ever seen on television. While I'd love more, and the thought of no more deeply saddens me, I think the time has passed. Perhaps another Joss Whedon project with the some of the same "meat puppets" would be more in order.

Even watching the panel on YouTube, I was moved to tears by the connection between artists and fans. It was quite a moment and I'm glad technology let me experience it, even if it was only vicariously.
Palpatim
15. Al13N
Firefly or Serenity can not only live, but will continue to live, be it in comics or fan-fiction or any other form that comes along. The characters are still real to us all and the love of this 'verse remains. As Mal stated for us at the close of Serenity:

"You can learn all the math in the 'verse... but you take a boat in the air that you don't love... she'll shake you off just as sure as the turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down... tells you she's hurting before she keels. Makes her a home."

Yes, my friends, we're still flying.
Jack Flynn
17. JackofMidworld
A great start to my morning, Al13N. Well said.
Palpatim
19. Laurah
I just wanted to say that I have been a loyal fan of Firefly for years. I found this article while doing a random firefly search at work. This artical made me cry in a sad and good way all at the same time.

"I am a leaf on the wind.." always make me cry no matter how many times I watch it.

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