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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"And working up a load of sexual tension and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough."
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August 11 2012

What to expect from Joss Whedon's upcoming Marvel tv series. Speculation about what his upcoming Marvel television series will contain based on past work.

The title is pretty misleading given that it's all speculation.

And the fact that it goes into extremely obvious and occasionally tired references to Joss' work like the "he's a serial killer" thing, the speculation isn't even particularly original.
Yeah, this article was kinda superfluous and based on nothing. "He'll work with people he has worked with before." Yeah, except all those times he didn't. Who was that one guy he had never worked with before who played a pretty iconic Whedonesque character? Oh right, Neil Patrick frickin' Harris. Besides, isn't it kind of natural for someone to use actors they know have the chops to play a specific part they can just envision them in? It's not like he pulls a Tim Burton every time he casts a project and uses the exact same people over and over again.

He also states Olivia Williams had a small part in Buffy before working with Joss on Dollhouse... so I guess I should assume there's a couple of episodes of Buffy missing on my dvds, because I've sure never seen that episode. In fact, neither has IMDb.

[ edited by Mitholas on 2012-08-11 16:06 ]
Edited for deletion because I am dumb.

[ edited by asgardian on 2012-08-11 18:40 ]
Someone called her out on Olivia, so it's out of the article now. I agree though, it's way too early to speculate anything. I'll just wait and watch it when it comes out. Right now, I'm too busy being excited to see Nathan as Dogberry. I have Ken's Much Ado here, and I love Michael Keaton's Dogberry, so this will be fun!
asgardian, except that the Hawkeye cameo was indeed edited in later.
Hawkeye's cameo was indeed edited in after he was already cast in Avengers.

[ edited by eddy on 2012-08-11 18:32 ]
Where are these people even getting that it's gonna be Joss's show? He's helping develop it. That doesn't necessarily have to mean he'll be running it. It might, but as far as I know, the official information hasn't mentioned any such thing.
Doubting I'll be along for this ride.
How about a whole team of superhero women? Who sing. Brought together by a corporation that seemed to just want to create the next Spice Girls...but did it have deeper, darker motives? Women engineered to fulfill fantasies...who become their puppet masters' worst nightmare!
I was really hoping for a series about Dazzler and the albino kid from the film "Powder" roaming the Americas on motorbikes. But I guess Dazler is from the DC universe, and it's not like you could just sub in Jubilee. Le sigh.

ETA: Thanks Eddy. Dazzler is Marvel! Hope lives anew! Also for that Dazzler vs Jubilee ep.

[ edited by BlueLampshade on 2012-08-12 14:38 ]
But...Dazzler is from Marvel Comics. 8-\

X-Men to be exact.
There is pretty much a zero chance of mutants being at the core of this series due torights issues, but I do think that putting the 'Mutant' side of the Marvel universe on TV while the films handled the rest of the Marvel Universe would have been a great split.

My money is on something like AKA Jessica Jones / Alias / Heroes for Hire. If I were in his shoes I'd put together a sory of 'slightly superpowered' individuals that come together to capitalize upon the Avengers fame by creating Heroes for Hire (although not all members would be focused on $) - Power man, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Valkyrie, etc... that come to the attention of SHIELD and are assigned an agent liason - Carol Danvers (without powers at first). This allows ties to the movie characters (Valkyrie ties to Thor, SHIELD plays a part, Moon Knight's powers coming from Egyptian Gods could follow the 'Gods are aliens' angle from Thor and Captain America, the Experiments that create Power man could be Super Soldier experiments, etc...) while not being so closely tied that we keep asking, "Why don't we see Fury/Stark/Cap/Banner/Thor/etc...."

I think Cloak and Dagger, Runaways, etc... - any story that involves ANY mutsants could create legal issues and will be avoided until the X-rights are recovered.
Runaways. Please, PLEASE be Runaways (Full disclosure: I haven't even read as far as Joss' arc, crappy non-completist fan that I apparently am, but just by inhaling the first two trade paperback volumes of Vaughn's work I see this as being so perfect for Joss' voice, experience {that I still haven't experienced}, and for scaling a comic book universe to a television show that I have to believe it's under serious consideration. Cast/characters can be relative i.e. inexpensive unknowns, teen demographic=CHECK, effects can be used judiciously but awesomely, and new, bigger name character cameos or even a Tony Stark scene {Downey Jr. did Ally McBeal, leaner times for sure but he's a friend of the family now} or Captain America fight dropped in in a season finale...possibilities are limitless and highly promising).
jgsudgen, I know the rights situation may be a bit messy (I hope Marvel didn't sign over the word "mutant" to anyone with a suitcase full of money but who knows who was running Marvel's properties 15 years ago so I guess it's possible), yet I'm hopeful that the rumored Daredevil/Galactus/Silver Surfer deal being bandied around between Marvel and Fox could mean greater cooperation and less b.s. court time over such things down the road. And since The Runaways aren't just mutants...well I continue to try and justify my preference with a glass-half-full attitude, I'll leave it at that.
The concept of a mutant isn't exclusive to X-Men, so I don't think there'd be a problem for them to use it, even in the film universe. It's the characters and story archs 20th Century Fox has the rights to, not the vague concept of a mutant with superpowers. You can't really copyright an idea (the same way you couldn't patent the idea for a floating refrigerator unless you had actual schematics to back it up), you need the specifics. Mutations causing superpowers: general idea. Wolverine (super healing powers, adamantium skeleton, big scary claws): specific.
My understanding was that they could make movies with mutants (as they are already doing) but that they could not actually use the word "mutant".
Mutants in the Marvel Universe are a very specific concept: They're the species Homo Sapiens Superior. I'm pretty sure that would have been included in the X-deal with Fox in its entirety.
I could be wrong but I thought I read an article on Joss that said Marvel owned the TV rights to the XMen but just not the film.

Anyone think a Daredevil show would be great idea if the Marvel got the development rights back in september? It would be like law and order meets Batman. I could see it being very much like Angel in tone and feel.
Yeah here is the article

http://www.totalfilm.com/features/joss-whedon-s-marvel-tv-show-10-intriguing-possibilities/astonishing-x-men
I don't think an X-Men live action tv show could be done convincingly though. Flying, weather effects, laser beams, the jet, metal-bending, ... I could imagine it's a little too effects-heavy to currently work for television. Which is also why I can't imagine they'll really do a Hulk show, because it's hard enough to get Hulk to look good on a big movie budget, let alone on a TV budget.

Something like Daredevil seems more conceivable, for instance, yeah.
Also, Marvel doesn't own the word "mutant," or the word "the." It's not a word they coined; watch the originals of _Invaders Form Mars_ or _Planet of the Apes_.
Usually, movie development rights and TV development rights are two different things, sold separately. This is why Joss was able to make a Buffy TV show without interference from the Kuzuis, and why the Kuzuis were able to shop around a Buffy movie reboot without Joss's involvement... Joss bought the TV rights (which he then sold to Fox to get the show made), and the Kuzuis retained the movie rights. (But they couldn't use anything in their movie that originated in the TV show.)

Fox licenses the feature film rights to the X-Men, but not necessarily the TV rights. I don't know who has that license, if anyone does. It may be that Marvel can do whatever they want with an X-Men TV show, but wouldn't be able to spin it into a feature film.

Since Joss has good relations with both Marvel and 20th Century Fox, it might be that a deal could be worked out in the interest of art, and massive profits for everyone involved. They'd want to get their ducks in a row, though, to avoid a "Watchmen" type legal debacle.

Marvel doesn't own the word "mutant" itself, but they might claim it specifically as it applies to "people with superhuman abilities due to genetic mutation." It's not unusual for corporations to claim narrow trademarks on stuff like that. Marvel and DC claim exclusive joint ownership of the word "superhero," after all.
Marvel doesn't own the word "mutant" itself, but they might claim it specifically as it applies to "people with superhuman abilities due to genetic mutation."

I'm no intellectual property lawyer, but I'd be very surprised if they could assert ownership of such a broad concept. I think they only thing they could do would be to argue a specific case on the merits of whether or not a reasonable person would be confused as to whether this particular story about "people with superhuman abilities due to genetic mutation" was part of the X-Men universe or not. After all the British 70s TV show The Tomorrow People is based on people with superhuman abilities due to genetic mutation, and so is Heroes and so are any number of Sci-Fi books and movies. It's an extremely common Sci-Fi premise.
He will kill people. A lot.

God I get sick of this (and I bet Joss does too). It is utter and complete BS. Joss must kick himself every single time he remembers saying something about wanting to have Jesse in the credits of "Welcome to the Hellmouth" before he gets killed off. That's the origin of this tired trope, so far as I can tell.

Joss doesn't kill off characters at any higher rate than anyone else writing in this kind of genre. There were FAR more 'good guy' deaths on the original Star Trek than there ever were in Buffy (those poor, poor security details...). You let characters die to show the audience what the stakes of the situation are, to let them know what the rules of the fictional universe they're inhabiting are. In a sitcom, nobody dies (except in "very special episodes" due mostly to the real-world death or drug-induced-flameout of the actor): you might get anxious about whether or not so-and-so will get that big promotion or pass that exam or get the girl, but you're not going to be anxious about whether or not they'll survive the episode. In drama you introduce the death of major characters if you want to signal that this is a world with real-world consequences and real-world stakes. That's why there's so many deaths in the Harry Potter novels and films, for example--and yet no one goes on and on tediously about Rowling's deathwish. That's why Christopher Nolan kills off all kinds of likeable people in the Batman films--and yet no one goes on about Nolan's death obsession. That's why lots of characters died in Alias and Lost and why Spock's mother dies in Abrams's Star Trek--but no one goes on and on about Abrams's death obsession. Look at all the character deaths in the Battlestar Galactica reboot. But is Moore held up as obsessed with death? No.

Only Joss gets this ridiculous rap. And it's simply self-confirming at this point. It doesn't matter how many or how few characters die in any of his projects (and, in fact, the vast majority of his "deaths" of major characters are comic-book "deaths." Resurrection is always just around the corner--even Tara would have been resurrected if Amber Benson had been willing to play the part)--as long as SOMEONE dies (as in the super-low-body-count Avengers) then the audience will all roll their eyes and say "see, that Whedon, he just can't help killing off his characters!"
Joss got that name because of Tara, basically. It's not the amount of characters Joss killed in his work (Spartacus killed double figures in one season), it's the way he killed 'em. Which, by the way, is why those deaths worked dramatically. People cared.
Joss got that name because of Tara, basically..

Well, the Tara thing sealed it, certainly--but it was around before then. The Jesse thing was often held up during the raging debates about Tara as "proof" that Joss was a character-cidal maniac. I think it really got going with Jenny Calendar's death (which was certainly shocking). In the wake of that death the fact that Joss had made a kind of programmatic statement about the value of having significant characters die solidified the idea that this was something he was bound and determined to do.

Which, in a way, he is--but no more than any other writer of this kind of material. You want to write characters that people will care enough about that they'll be deeply affected by what happens to them and you want the range of "possible things that can happen" to include the full panoply of human experience, including death--in part to help people to care (it's hard to care all that much about invulnerable characters).
Runaways would be awesome.
@yoink - I think he gets the rap because who he kills and how. How many wiriters kill fan favorite characters? He also does it in such sadistic way. Funny how no one ever talks about Buffy or Spike dying because it seem like logical steps in the story. We talk about Fred, Wash, Coulson, Penny, and Tara because it didn't seem that they deserved to die. He takes a moment of happiness and triumph and turns it completely around on us.
How many wiriters kill fan favorite characters?


George R. R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, Eric Kripke, Paul Cornell, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Kirkman to name but a few. A lot of authors do it but Whedon is like a lightning rod for attention.
@simon I agree with your list. I know a couple of people are from TV; but do you feel that death in written fiction (or based on written fiction) doesn't hold the same gravitas as a TV show?
I think if you're emotionally involved in the story it doesn't matter what the medium is. Though a tv show may affect more people.
How many wiriters kill fan favorite characters

Um...pretty much all the great ones? There really is nothing remotely unusual about Joss in this respect. What is generally regarded as the greatest episode of M*A*S*H? "Abyssinia Henry"--where Col. Blake dies. "18th and Potomac" is a beloved episode of The West Wing--featuring the death of a character who had been there from episode one of the series (Mrs. Landingham). Nate dies on Six Feet Under. Charlie Pace dies on Lost--there from the pilot episode. Dr. Mark Greene dies on ER; he was the main character of the show for 8 seasons. Connor Gavin, the central character's son, dies in a hit-and-run accident on Rescue Me. Rita in Dexter. I could go on and on and on--and I'm not even getting into films and novels and plays.

The stories we care most about--the ones that rip our guts out and engrave themselves on minds--are more often than not the ones were we are forced to confront our own mortality by way of confronting the death of a beloved character (or the death of those loved by a beloved character). Joss's interest in telling stories of that kind simply marks him as a serious storyteller interested in telling compelling stories. It doesn't separate him in any way, at all, from his peers.

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