W&N Fiction

The Return of the Slayer

Gollancz Author: - June 19th, 2012
Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Guest Post, Horror, Young Adult

James Dawson is the author of darkly comic teen thriller, Hollow Pike, out now. He is in the running for his own homecoming crown – the Queen of Teen! You can vote for him at www.queenofteen.co.uk.

As Avengers Assemble rules supreme in worldwide cinemas, the writer/director/genius behind it, Joss Whedon, is finally getting the spotlight he so richly deserves. Avengers Assemble is the long-awaited Marvel Comics punch-a-palooza uniting legendary superheroes Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and Thor in a battle with villainous Loki.

Whedon, although mostly untested at the box office, was actually an obvious choice to rein in the complex individual mythologies and ensemble cast. Although noted for the fantastic Cabin in the Woods and beloved (if short-lived) sci-fi series Firefly, Whedon will always probably be best remembered for his first project, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s hard to watch Avengers Assemble without imagining what Buffy would be like on a Hollywood budget. I believe NOW is the time to revisit The Slayer.

I’ll set out my campaign in a second. But first, for the uninitiated, a brief synopsis. BtVS (as it’s known) started life in 1992 as a much-maligned movie starring Kristy Swanson as an air-head valley-girl cheerleader who discovers she’s the only girl in the world with the skill, speed and strength to kill vampires and stop their spread. The movie bombed. Whedon, who wrote, but didn’t direct the project, has always said the film didn’t capture the darkness of Buffy’s birthright.

Five years later, Whedon resurrected the character for television, with a new leading lady – girl-next door Sarah Michelle Gellar. Buffy left LA for the Hellmouth town of Sunnydale, where she, and a rag-tag bunch of friends teamed up to tackle vampires, demons, witches and evil mayors. Seven years later, Buffy reduced the town to dust and fled. Feminist thinking Whedon concluded the series with the masterstroke of finally giving Buffy the ultimate power – that of choice. Viewers were left uncertain as to whether our hero would continue to slay-alone or stay-at-home.

The true power of BtVS was metaphor. Every last demon and vampire was a representation of the ‘monsters’ that all teenagers face as they make the gruelling journey through school and adolescence: first loves, heartbreak, homecoming crowns, prom dates and acne. This metaphor is something I used in my debut novel Hollow Pike – the ‘change’ into ‘witches’ is really a big puberty message.

But then we all grew up. Now we have very different ‘monsters’ to vanquish: careers, mortgages, parenthood, marriage and divorce. Sadly, this time, we haven’t got Buffy, Xander and Willow to show us how it’s done. We need help.

Last year, rumours of a non-Whedon reboot of the Buffy saga surfaced, to loud and vehement disapproval from fans. Whedon and Gellar ARE Buffy the Vampire Slayer – any future project needs them in it, and fans have made this very clear. But with Whedon (presumably) able to name his price, and Gellar (presumably) not returning to Ringer for a second series, now could be the perfect time. Those teenage fans are all grown up, and ready to see Buffy tackle adulthood. The Sex and the City movies did serious business at the box office, so there’s even a precedent. Ten years since Buffy left Sunnydale; time to go back?

I can see why a studio might be reluctant. Sex and the City was mythology-lite, with no genre trappings to hold it down. Since Buffy finished on TV, her adventures continued in comic form, some of which written by Whedon himself. As brutal as it seems, fifteen years of mythology would pretty much have to go in order for a film franchise to attract new fans.

Here’s how I, a massive fanboy, would do it. Start the story where it started. A beautiful woman trying to lead an ordinary life with a big secret. What if Buffy chose to let the other slayers take over? What if she chose of life of picket fences and domestic bliss? I’d show Buffy as a young wife and mother, trying to work and raise a family in a new town. Her lovely husband and sweet kid would have no clue about how special she really is. (Movie poster: SMG holding picket fence as a stake) In this day in age, my big bad would be a sinister ‘family’ of vampires living in a chic house in the woods who find teenage Bellas are only too happy to come round for a spot of Debussy…to find they are on the menu. There’d be some bigger plan. Under the fabulous glass home there’d be a whole new Hellmouth. With a Hollywood budget, imagine the beasties that’d come out of that! And in 3D no doubt!

When this family of vamps threatens Buffy’s home-life, she comes out of retirement – seeking help from her sister and old pals Giles, Willow and Xander. But all the while, Buffy would have to balance demon fighting with her promise to run the bring-and-buy stall at the school fair. That’s what Buffy was always about.

You have to be cruel to be kind. No Angel, no Spike, no Faith…you have to keep it clean. The sad fact is, Buffy is ‘cult tv’ for a reason – it never had the viewership of something like Desperate Housewives. As much as fans want Buffy to return, it also needs a fresh start. That’s just my fantasy Buffy movie. I bet every single Buffy fan out there has their own dream return. This much is true though: When I get stuck writing, I always think WWJWD – What Would Joss Whedon Do? Whatever he did, he’d do it well.

I recently tweeted ‘I would pay good money to see a Joss Whedon Buffy movie’. Within two hours over one hundred people had retweeted this sentiment. BtVS is so much a part of our youth, that there is overwhelming goodwill towards a big-screen ending for Buffy and her friends. More to the point, we, the kids of the nineties are the ticket buying adults of now! Fans! Make your voices heard! Mr Whedon? Ms Gellar? What do you say?

 


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 at 10:00 am and is filed under Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Guest Post, Horror, Young Adult. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “The Return of the Slayer”

  1. Allan says:

    The problem with having a buffy movie is you’d have to ignore the official season 8 & 9 comic books which is the continuation of the series. They really did something horrible at the end of season 8, which would make it nearly impossible for the movie to go on.

  2. Mr Whedon says:

    Yes.

  3. Irastev says:

    What is it with people wanting artists to endlessly recycle their own work? No wonder Hollywood is stuck in the sequel-reboot mode.

    So, I say, Mr Whedon, please keep working on your new ideas.

  4. Ghost999 says:

    Master Whedon is in charge of both worlds. I believe he can accomodate. He transformed Comic to FILM. He can transform TV to COMIC to FILM

  5. Mike Lizzi says:

    I’d like to see the season 8 and 9 comic books turned into movies. I’m sure the geeks who read them would still pay to see the movies. A person like myself who only read summaries would pay. And for those who lost contact with Buffy’s life after TV, it would be all new.

  6. Sathena says:

    To be honest, I don’t think there’s any way Whedon could/would do a Buffy movie that would sell. For all the reasons laid out here, he would have to abandon the mythology, and I just don’t think he’d be willing to do that, not with all the work he’s put in in Seasons 8 & 9. What he could do, however, is a new work in the Buffyverse… The end of season 7 made every Potential on earth a Slayer, so he could easily make a movie featuring one of them. Some of the Scoobies et al could possibly cameo or even be major characters (I’d LOVE to see, say Illyria guiding a fresh young slayer) and it could be a Buffy (or, Muffy, perchance) for a new generation.

  7. LTS says:

    As much as I would love seeing Whedon and Sarah Michelle Gellar work on a Buffy project together I would also rather not. The show ended beautifully and the comics carry the show on in a way that only Whedon and Buffy writers can. The thing with your story isn’t that it isn’t a good story its just that it isn’t Buffy. As much as she would love to be normal she will never be and although she struggles with that she has come to accept it. Whedon would never write a happy Buffy. I think the best thing to do is let Whedon create the amazing things he so naturally does, as much as I love BtVS I want to see what else can come out of Whedon’s crazy little head. We musn’t focus on the past but look to the future. Yay Avengers! But that doesn’t mean that now Whedon has to redo everything he’s done for Hollywood. That is why he is so unique, he will bring to hollywood what it hasn’t seen before.

  8. Steve says:

    Joss has said that he’d gladly jettison the comic’s continuity for more TV/Movie Buffy.

    Now to rain on the parade. The Kazuis own Buffy, I can’t see them giving the rights back to Joss and I can’t see Joss ever working under their auspices again. The original cast is getting too old.

    A new property post-Buffy might be viable. Fray, for example.

  9. Veiriti says:

    I want to see Buffy movie with Spike. I loved Buffy’s relationship with Spike and their dynamic between. Spike is my most favorite character in the show and I wouldn’t be interested of a Buffy’s movie without Spike.

  10. Diana says:

    We would love to see a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie or more seasons of the show featuring the original cast. We would love to see Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander, Oz, Cordelia, Wesley, Spike, Faith, Tara, Anya, Angel, Drucilla, Harmony, Clem, maybe even Dawn just not paired up romantically with Xander, Joyce, and Ethan Rayne. What we do not want to see is Kennedy and any more potentials.

  11. Diana says:

    We disagree that the cast is too old. They can now have different storylines that they could not do before. The should have allowed Xander to marry Anya. Buffy could now become a Mrs. and have a baby. Would the baby be Angel’s or Spike’s? Would she become a slayer? What about Willow? There are many more possiblities. What about Faith would she have to take over for Buffy? What about Giles becoming the head of the Watcher’s Council? What about Ethan Rayne causing more trouble?

  12. Just Jen says:

    They should use this as the blueprint for a comeback movie.

  13. Andrew C says:

    You might be interested in reading “Carpe Demon – Adventures Of A Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom” by Julie Kenner. Her protagonist too lives in a coastal town in Southern California. Vampires have been changed to demons, the Watchers’ Council to the Catholic church and so on, and it is easy to imagine the story might originally have been Buffy fanfic or a spec novel for Pocket Books’ BtVS series: what would Buffy do after she retired and married, and how would she cope if the supernatural forces re-entered her life?

  14. [...] Dawson writes about why it’s the right time for a Joss Whedon Buffy movie starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and what it might [...]

  15. VictoriaH says:

    “This much is true though: When I get stuck writing, I always think WWJWD – What Would Joss Whedon Do? Whatever he did, he’d do it well.”

    “This metaphor is something I used in my debut novel Hollow Pike – the ‘change’ into ‘witches’ is really a big puberty message.”

    I read this, and went straight to the Waterstones site to buy your book! You are so right about Buffy and about the metaphor being what makes it so powerful. I’m such a HUGE Buffy and Whedon fan. Whenever I’m watching a TV series and something isn’t handled as well as it could be, I always end up comparing it to something in Buffy and pointing out how much better Joss Whedon would have done it! An author who uses WWJWD as their guide? Yep, I’m sold :-)

    I would love to see a Buffy film. I’m not sure about the picket fence (I feel Buffy is cooler than that – no offence to owners of white picket fences), though the symbol of holding a bit of that fence as a stake is nice. I also think Buffy has grown enough and is too proud of who she is to hide that aspect of herself from her husband. But I LOVE the idea of the Cullen-esque family of vamps preying on teens. There’s a Supernatural episode that skirts a bit close to that but they could make it different enough (not to mention much better. I like Supernatural but it’s one of those programmes that constantly gets compared unfavourably to Buffy in my head. If Buffy can do emotional, angsty and serious issues without being whiny, then so can Supernatural).

    I wonder if other members of the cast would be on board? Don’t mind leaving out Spike, Faith, etc, but Xander must be there!

    Anyway, interesting thoughts :-)

  16. Dianthus says:

    No Spike, no deal. Sorry. William the (Bloody) Vampire Slayer, OTOH….I’d be all over that.

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