New Joss Whedon-less “Buffy” movie makes fans feel stabby

It’s the apocalypse, someone beep Buffy! Remember more than a year ago when the idea of a Joss Whedon-less Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie was first floated? Remember how it included none of the original cast? Remember how we all shook angry fists at the sky at the mere thought of it becoming a reality. Well, guess what, it really is becoming a reality.

Warner Bros. announced Monday that it was moving forward with the Whedon-less Buffy, sending audible ripples of dismay across the Internet. (Both “Joss” and “Whedon” were trending separately worldwide on Twitter yesterday.) If you want to see a case study in how to piss off an entire fandom, just track the hashtag #buffy. Someone fetch me Mr. Pointy, I’m feeling stabby.

The Los Angeles Times blog Hero Complex has an interview with the film’s new screenwriter, Whit Anderson. Here is what I can tell you about Whit. She is 29, which means she was 16 when the show premiered. She has no screenwriting credits on IMDB, but does have three small acting roles. She studied theater at Northwestern, and moved to Los Angeles in 2003. Also, she’s pretty and possibly naked in her headshot.

Naturally, I’m skeptical, and by skeptical I mean a string of expletives which cannot be printed on this all-ages site. How dare they mess with a beloved, iconic character like Buffy? How dare they bring her back without her universally respected creator? How dare they put the franchise in the hands of an inexperienced young writer? Blasphemy! Horror! Rage! So much screaming!

But I’ve counted to 10 and am trying to not get all judgey. Maybe Whit will be great. Maybe the reboot will be excellent. Maybe I’ll win the lottery and buy every AfterEllen.com reader ice cream and a pony. It could happen. Whit for her part told the LA Times that she grew up watching the show:

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.

Um, using “those days” makes it sound like Buffy was written on stone tablets by the light of oil lanterns. Helpful tip: If you’re want to endear yourself to an establish show’s diehard fan base, perhaps try not making us all feel ancient the first time we meet. Just a suggestion.

The film is being produced by Charles Roven, who has been one of the producers on all of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, as well as both the live-action Scooby-Doo films starring Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. He said it was Anderson’s compelling take on the reboot that interested him in the project.

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 … While this is not your high-school Buffy, she’ll be just as witty, tough and sexy as we all remember her to be.

Yes, Mr. Roven, there is a fan base eager for her return. But we are not eager for her return without the man who created her. Without Joss, there is no Buffy. Period.

Naturally this news made us wonder what Joss himself thought about the whole ugly mess. And, thanks to E! Online reporter Kristin Dos Santos, we know. After Dos Santos contacted him, he wrote back about his feelings in a funny, touching, pretty brilliant letter which expressed his “strong, mixed emotions.” A sampling (read the whole thing here):

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.

Stars from around the Whedonverse have been quick to respond, too. Buffy alums Eliza Dushku, Amber Benson, Julie Benz and Emma Caulfield all reacted much like us, with incredulous indignation.

Bones creator Hart Hanson even tweeted a picture of Angel David Boreanaz learning about the reboot news.

Look, I’m all for bringing more strong, heroic, smart, witty, feminist female characters to the big screen. In fact, I’m usually the first in line. But you can’t disrespect a creator and fans like this by launching a project neither wants. Otherwise we’ll be forced to assume that this whole thing is just a craven attempt to cash in on the current teen vampire craze. Which is such a shame, because in the right hands a Buffy reboot would have the whole internet screaming with joy instead. But those hands only belong to Joss Whedon.

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