Warner Bros. Studios announced yesterday that a reboot of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer is officially in the works and will proceed without any input from showrunner, creator, and all around Buffy brain-father Joss Whedon.
And nobody is happy about it.
A reboot was rumored last year when original Buffy producers Fran and Kaz Kuzui sold the rights to the concept to Warner Bros, and now appears to be reality. Joss Whedon was contacted by Kristin Dos Santos of E! Online and expressed his displeasure:
Obviously I have strong, mixed emotions about something like this. […] I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I’m also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can’t wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill.
Joss’s reaction can be read in full at the above link, and includes lots of the funny.
The new film will be produced by Atlas Productions and Vertigo Entertainment, and written by current unknown Whit Anderson.
One of the producers, Charles Roven, elaborated more on the why god why? aspect of this reboot when discussing to the Los Angeles Times why he and his fellow producers have chosen relative unknown Whit Anderson to write the screenplay.
Generally, I wouldn’t have said, ‘Let’s revive this,’ but Whit’s take is pretty compelling and a lot of fun, and it’s interesting to see all of this reimagined. This is a completely new reboot. Tone is extremely important, and you want the audience to realize what is at stake and the peril is real, but at the same time what’s going on should be fun and inviting and keep everyone engaged. It needs to be relevant to today too, and that is what Whit has found a way to do.
There is an active fan base eagerly awaiting this character’s return to the big screen. Details of the film are being kept under wraps, but I can say while this is not your high-school Buffy, she’ll be just as witty, tough, and sexy as we all remember her to be.
Anderson herself elaborates on her take on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, as well:
I didn’t really watch much television at all, but I always watched Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. That was the one show I would watch when I got home. I just loved this character. I was the same age as Buffy, and it was so rare to have a female lead character on TV in those days who was strong and capable and smart but also allowed to be feminine.
The thing that was so wonderful about Buffy is what made it special was so timeless. The deep struggle she had with duty and destiny, that tug between what you’re supposed to be doing and what you want to be doing. […] She also represents—like all the heroes—something empowering for us. She reminds us of what we could be if we were in our top form, the best of us if we were at our very best, and even then we still see the vulnerability and doubts she has inside. That’s where we all connect.
Regardless of the statements from both Anderson and Roven, whether the team can interpret and update Buffy: The Vampire Slayer while keeping the intention true is still up in the air, although it wouldn’t be surprising if this does little to mollify fans.
There are still many unanswered questions regarding this reboot. One of the more prevalent being: Why wasn’t Joss’s blessing sought out? Or, if it was, why hasn’t the production team made it apparent they they tried? Buffy fans are inherently loyal to Whedon, and ignoring that sends the message that they’re willing to ignore other important tentpoles of the series.
On the other hand, if Buffy and everything the show stands for is going to grow into a wider legacy, then a reboot is going to be inevitable. Backlash against the idea is also inevitable, but is it overkill? Is there a point when the fanbase’s loyalty to Whedon would stand in the way of that, making the show and its fanbase grow insular and closed, instead of expanding outward and reaching new eyes? Has the show reached that point? Can a show reach that point when it’s original writers are still telling new stories about the characters?
A Joss-less Buffy is a bit unthinkable, regardless. The man himself sums it up thusly in his E! Online response:
Leave me to my pain!