Today Warner Bros. confirmed that they’re going ahead with plans to reboot “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as a feature film, without Joss Whedon, who has taken his talents to Marvel.
Now, normally I’d be all about more “Buffy”, since I spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing about the “Buffy” I already have, but I don’t see how this can work. And here are 11 reasons why (why 11? Well, that’s been my counting theme of late. Deal with it).
1. Joss Whedon IS “Buffy”
When you say “Buffy”, the first name that comes to mind for many people is Sarah Michelle Gellar, but that hasn’t always been the case. Gellar didn’t play Buffy Summers in the 1992 movie, and the current comic depiction of Buffy isn’t really based on her likeness. But in every form “Buffy” has ever been in, Joss Whedon has been involved. And a “Buffy” without Joss is a “Buffy” without a soul (oooh… vampire Buffy… no, no… leave it to the fanfic).
I could stop right there, but this is definitely a topic that NEEDS expansion, so here are the next 10 reasons.
2. “Buffy” isn’t just about Buffy.
Over the seven seasons of the TV series, and the nearly one season (over four years) of the comic, we as a fanbase didn’t just get attached to Buffy Summers, but to all the other characters in her life. However, barring some miraculous licensing deal, Warner Bros. doesn’t have the rights to them. They just get Buffy and Merrick and some other vampires. Oh, and Pike. Fuck Pike.
3. If Joss isn’t writing this, who is?
That would be Whit Anderson. Who is Whit Anderson? Well, until this news, she wasn’t Whit, she was Whitney Anderson, a relatively inexperience actress who claims to have grown up a huge “Buffy” fan. Putting aside the fact that no true Buffy fan would get involved with a “Buffy” project sans Joss, Whit has no writing experience whatsoever. How could Warner Bros. put this project into the hands of someone with no experience.
4. Buffy doesn’t need to be re-booted
It’s been seven years since we’ve seen “Buffy” on the small screen and 18 years since we got her origin story on the big screen (and 12 years since it was re-done in 1998). That seems like plenty of time to give “Buffy” a reboot. But we’ve still got “Buffy” going on in comic form, in a Joss-approved direct continuity. This reminds me of “Terminator”, when there were two continuities going on in the form of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Terminator: Salvation”, and in the end neither of them worked out.
5. Along those lines, rebooting ignores too many untold stories
Remember when a “Faith” spin-off, even in TV movie form, still seemed like a possibility. What of “Ripper”, the Giles-focused “Buffy” prequel? And Spike & Dru? A reboot closes the book on all these pretty much permanently, which the fans won’t stand for.
6. The market for “Buffy” may be too fragmented
“Buffy” was never a ratings smash when it was on The WB then UPN. DVD sales have always been good, but never mind-blowing. And even among the fanbase, there are plenty of people who don’t read the comics. Now a non-Joss-backed movie will result in many people not supporting the project out of spite, fragmenting the fanbase even more.
7. Buffy now has to compete with other vampire properties
I’m not even going to mention it by name, but you know the one I’m talking about. “Buffy” always existed outside of comparisons with the more modern (that’s post-2006) vampire tales, but a new Buffy property will be in direct competition with things like “True Blood”, “The Vampire Diaries” and… that one. Which means the studio will likely feel pressure to appeal to those fan bases.
8. “This is not your high-school Buffy”
Back to Whitney Anderson for a second. Those were her words in an interview with the LA Times, so if this isn’t your “high-school Buffy”, then who is it? Is it a Buffy that’s already been a slayer for awhile? Or is this a rebooting of the entire universe, including allowing for slayers to be called after the age of 18? If it’s the latter, then this really ISN’T Buffy, since so much of the drama of Buffy was about becoming a slayer while also becoming an adult at the same time.
9. Who is this meant for?
This is kind of a combination of the previous two, but the traditional “Buffy” fan base is grown up now. I’m 30 years old, and most of the “Buffy” fans I meet at conventions are in the 25-40 range, which makes sense for a TV series that debuted in 1997. But a new “Buffy” would probably be pitched toward the tween market, which just isn’t going to appeal to the fan base or stay true to the character in any meaningful way.
10. Joss has made it clear why “Buffy” didn’t work the first time
Most “Buffy” fans are fans of the TV series, maybe the comics, but not really the movie. Why? Well, the studio screwed up Joss’s vision. At least that’s the story we’ve been fed over the last 18 years. Whether its true or not (and I tend to believe that it is), it’s the narrative the fan base has accepted, which means they’re even less prepared to accept a version of “Buffy” without Joss. We don’t need floating vampires, cheesy Paul Reubens-style sidekicks, and poorly-developed character relationships. We need Joss’s vision, if not his direct involvement.
11. Plain and simple, this would work better if it weren’t “Buffy”
Buffy Summers isn’t a comic book character who went years without aging and has been rebooted time and time again. She’s a character we grew up with, and she grew up with us. Starting Buffy over cheapens the character. If Joss isn’t going to be involved in this project, then why does it have to be “Buffy” at all? Couldn’t it just as easily be a continuity of the slayer universe with a new slayer, who we can grow up with all over again?
Note: this post originally appeared at AdamReisinger.com