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August 22 2013

Joss Whedon takes on 'Empire Strikes Back,' 'Twilight'. "A lot of things aimed at the younger kids is just 'Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie.'" ETA: Btw Joss commented in this thread.

'The CW's Buffy the Vampire Slayer.' I don't think that's a thing unless you count it being on both WB and UPN. Edit: They fixed this mistake thankfully.

[ edited by libradude on 2013-08-22 21:49 ]
I actually thought the whole continues next trienia was part of the fun of the empire strikes back, personally. Maybe i just love cliffhangers and serials too much...

But boy, would Joss HATE Moffats Who... or not, at least each series ends, somewhat, sort of.

But his and Gatiss Sherlock is allmost "come back in three years and we´ll see how we solve the whole ending of the first series thingy..."!
Uh, Joss, you do remember how you ended "Angel"? And there wasn't even a "to be continued" after that one (not until the possibly-canonical comics). Doesn't a TV show have to be a complete experience in itself?
I'm pretty sure he's referring specifically to films you see in movie theaters (granted, if you're seeing a movie that's got "Episode VI" in front of its name I'm not sure where surprise/shock/consternation at it being not-stand-alone is supposed to come from...)
Buffy season 2...
I don't think Angel would be the best example here. Yes, we don't get to know what happened in the fight without the comics. But what happened in that episode was still a complete story. Each of the characters had a resolution to their various story arcs, whereas this wasn't the case with Empire. By ending on the line, "Let's go to work," Angel summed up the series' entire ethos. Empire didn't really accomplish something of that caliber, IMO.
They all died. Thats the ending to Angel.
Angel had the best series ending ever. Joss is talking about movies. TV comparisons aren't at all relevant.
I have to disagree with him this time. I'm not a huge fan of the Star Wars saga (call it sacrilege, whatever x)) but TESB is by far my favorite Star Wars movie. I really liked the "we're so screwed" mood in the last minutes.
Im not really sure about that (what irrational sais); Star Wars was conceived in a very film serial and/or sereialized tv way, as far as storytelling goes. The only real diference is the 3 years waiting vs 3 months in Buffy or other tv series, but once the original opening date is long past, that diference becomes irrelevant.

Also i dont agree that the movie doesnt finish. It does, the tone, theme and structure has a beginning and an end. As an artistic statement its a complete piece in itself. It doesnt just stop; it had a goal in mind and it did perform it, even if the overall 3 part syory it tells is interrupted abruptly.

In fact, that ending, to me, feels perfectly on board with the dark tone of the movie; its not just a to be continued. It makes perfect sense in that particular movie. It end with a loss, and a small glimmer of hope. Its unresolveness fits like a glove to the mood of the film.

Still, im happy this means JOss will not end Avengers 2 on such a cliffhanger... ;)

[ edited by Darkness on 2013-08-22 19:51 ]

[ edited by Darkness on 2013-08-22 19:54 ]
They all died. Thats the ending to Angel.

No. Check out Angel: After the Fall to find out the fates of Angel, Spike, Illyria, Gunn, and co.
Angel had the best series ending ever.

How? It ended in the middle of the action. There was no resolution, no closure. I like things nicely tied up in the end, so I was glad After the Fall came along and made with the 'splainy.
It ended by not ending, watcherinthewoods. That was a statement. The shows statement. The fight never ends. There is no win, there is no loss. And no matter how small your numbers or how big theirs, or viceversa... You fight evil, without compromises. Thats the "work". And thats the only way that show can end; they fight. In a desperate corner, hurt, uneven... Thats the heart of the whole show. "Lets go to work."
But that's a cop-out. That's a non-ending. Resolution and conclusion is an ending, not what Angel did. Luckily the comics came out, so I'm no longer bitter about it.
Personally I loved Angel's ending, as the whole show was basically saying "Hey, here's Angel. He super duper wants to put right things he's done terribly wrong. But now he's done something else wrong! Oh gosh, he never will, will he? Terrible, glorious pain".

That said, there's a time and a place. I've lost count of the amount of big Hollywood movies I've seen which are clearly the start of a trilogy, which never made it past the first because they forgot to make it mean anything.
Darkness, you nailed it. Well nailed.
Hm, think that purple guy knows what he's talking about. Love the ending of Angel. Also love the ending of Empire.
I'm also thinking that Joss' comments on current vampire fiction will be less controversial.
By the way, if nobody makes "Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie" as a trailer, the internet (and BriTANicK) has failed me.
If I were Darkness I think I would've just fainted.
For me Angel´s ending was more like a metaphor for life. Like, look, here´s a breather, but there´s always the next baddie around the corner and you need to continue to fight- it never ends. Unless you die, that is.

But who knows, maybe we need to continue to fight then as well.
Darkness: I would hope he would hate Moffat's Who even more for the whole 'passive female characters', blatant sexism thing... but yeah, the lack of plot ending sucks as well.

And, when you think about it, none of Whedon's seasons end on cliffhangers the way that is so popular for shows to do now. No show/season can end by saying 'ok, there are no more stories, all the plots are finished', unless you're going to kill off everyone (ala CitW). But with Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, every season ends having wrapped up the major plot threads introduced in that season. Season 2 is not an exception. Yes, they ended it with that shot of Angel returning, but that was just letting you know that there would be new plot lines with Bangel, it wasn't failing to close the one we'd been following. Think about it, wouldn't excluding it have been a WORSE 'cliffhanger'? We'd be left thinking 'wait... did he really just kill off Angel for good?' for three months instead of being able to know that 'yes, he comes back, good. Now we can focus on that incredible ending and all that it meant'.

And to be honest, I really share Joss' dislike of that kind of thing. When the show ends on a cliffhanger, it's really hard to think about/discuss ANYTHING other than 'how are they going to resolve that?" You're not able to spend those three months (or three years, in the case of Sherlock) discussing the actual ideas revealed in the show because none of them have been resolved. And there's no actual artistic reason I can think of to do this... as far as I know, it's just a marketing concept that everyone has seemed to have bought into.
sathena, Buffy Season 2 ends with Buffy leaving Sunnydale. The cliffhanger featuring Angel's return isn't until episode 3 of season 3.

[ edited by libradude on 2013-08-22 22:10 ]
Well I guess Joss and I will have to agree to disagree!
Well, I guess Darkness wins the internet for today. Good playing everyone! ;-)
Darkness: I would hope he would hate Moffat's Who even more for the whole 'passive female characters', blatant sexism thing... but yeah, the lack of plot ending suck


Except that Moffat's WHO doesn't have passive female characters and isn't blatantly sexist, but whatever. River Song and Amy Pond are about the opposite of passive.

(It's cute that comments like this almost always stem from a completely bullshit interview.)
Hopefully Joss hates Moffat's Who based on the fact that it's Moffat's Who (i.e., just dreadful). The RTD era was far superior. Rose is very Buffy-like.
(It's cute that comments like this almost always stem from a completely bullshit interview.)


Cool it on the insults.

And if we could get back to the interview in hand instead of getting sidetracked by Doctor Who then that would be lovely.
As Darkness said, the entire Angel series was about the fight never ends. Many times, Angel points out that there is no single action that leads to redemption. Even thought Angel knows that he can never make up for his past, all he can do is keep trying, because what is the alternative?

The Angel series began with the introduction of the Los Angeles branch of W&H. The two-part conclusion was about the fight against the Circle of Thorns. Both are resolved (by being destroyed). The fact that we are shown that a new fight is about to start in the last minute of the episode does not negate that there were resolutions to the main themes and stories.

On the other hand, Star Wars and The Matrix started out as relatively self-contained movies, and then switched gears in the 2nd movie. In that sense, it is a betrayal of storytelling. And saying that it is just serial storytelling is a cop-out, because Indiana Jones had three four self-contained movies.

Empire could have had a more solid conclusion, if the movie had began and ended with Darth Vader. The movie starts with his search for Luke, we find out why it matters so much to him, and would end with him continuing his search. Instead, we started with Luke on the run, and then Luke's story in Empire ends very abruptly.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2013-08-22 23:02 ]
I think if Angel had ended any other way, THAT would have been the cop-out. The whole basis of Angel's existence is to keep fighting the fights, that is why he couldn't bring himself to keep his humanity in I Will Remember You, even though it would have given him his hearts desire. I think, in the end, it's why Spike won the fight in Destiny as well. In the end, evil is always there, there are always battles to be fought. Angel will fight until he can no longer fight.
IO9.com posted the same article under a pretty inflammatory headline. I think someone's trying to stoke up some Joss Whedon hate by suggesting he didn't like the entire movie, not just the ending.
I lurve Joss' comments on Twilight. He is so right; it is all about the boyfriend. Everything else is secondary- will it be abs or smolderyness?
The Matrix... aaargh! If they had stopped at just one it would have been perfect.

I was a kid when the original Star Wars movies came out and I loved them at the time. However, I just saw one of them on tv recently and my immediate thought was - "Good grief, this stuff is for little kids." The real problem with TESB ending on a set-up for another film was that the subsequent sequel (just as with the last Matrix movie) was a terrible conclusion. If the next film had been a better conclusion to the story, the set-up would have been more forgivable.
Matrix and sequels - words that should never be used together in the same sentence. Or universe, really.
I'm the rare bird that liked Reloaded, didn't like Revolutions. But again, neither here nor there. I don't really have a problem with Epi V's conclusion. How bad can it ultimately be if it's almost universally considered the best film in the franchise to date?

I would almost love to get more insight here from Joss vis a vis cliffhanger endings, and even cliffhanger endings in Part 2's out of 3-or-more series. Mostly, because I want to understand his perspective on where it's a cliffhanger but a film might still stand on its own, or if it's a cliffhanger and a movie that doesn't have an ending. The two I'd beg ask for him to compare/contrast with "Empire" would be a) Back to the Future, Part II, and b) The Matrix Reloaded. Wouldn't mind also thoughts on Kill Bill, Vol I, at least if we don't give Tarantino the "well it's really just one movie" out.

EDIT: I think he's got a fair and accurate take on Twilight. I both read it and watched it (just to keep up with what everyone was on about, really), and throughout kept thinking "this could be awesome if..." about any number of things, and Bella's ineffectual quality was the biggest. Most bothersome to me (and I think they managed to fix this -- mostly -- for the movie version) was in "Eclipse" when

Those are the kinds of things that I assume Joss means that the franchise has everything but the Buffy.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2013-08-23 00:47 ]
I remember seeing TESB and being worried really for Luke, Leia and especially Han Solo, which was an odd feeling for an 8 year old. My parents had to explain how it was a cliffhanger and I would have to wait for the next movie to learn the fate of Han Solo. That seemed impossible.

Looking back, I can say that I do think the ending worked when you look at the whole trilogy.

I'm pleased that the Avengers 2 will be its own story. But I wonder what character arcs will weave into it.

So I have a lot of fav quotes from the interview but this one is a keeper

"We're almost like a support group."

That's a wee bit of happy for this fan girl.
Re Angel, I always hearken to Tim Minear's famous dialogue as part of a whole exchange between Angel and Kate: "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." I echo good job on your analyses on Empire and Angel, Darkness.

Joss, please don't read the comments at i09, 'cause guess what? You get to have an opinion but your naysayers are crawling out of the woodwork. I immediately "defriended" someone at Facebook who is in the arts world for saying something awful about "your opinion". I didn't even need to think about it. I swear, people are just vermin sometimes. Effing and Blinding over someone's opinion is a total no-go with me.

Keep giving your opinion in interviews, but avoid the comments. I always make the mistake of looking, even inadvertently.
When I saw TESB in the theaters, it took me a while to realize that they were back with the rebel fleet, because I had completely forgotten that they were supposed to meet with them. And they get there only to say they are leaving right away. Then the movie ends.

I can only speak for myself, but I see it as 2 hours of A+ movie, with a few minutes of mediocre ending which, while not negating what happened before, added nothing. The problem is not ending in a cliffhanger, but that the ending only served to wrap up a completely trivial plot point. At the very least, they could have ended on Tatooine (start in ice, end in fiery desert) saying that all of them will be together when they meet back with the Alliance.
Joss is a talanted wordsmith. Some may say genius. A new age Shakespeare. Angel taken as a complete series is vastly underrated.
IMHO superior to Buffy's teenage angst. Don't hate me. I love Firefly. Heart and soul in spades. I respect Joss's opinions.
BUT disagree completely with his views on ESB's ending. For me ESB Dark ending was powerful and emotional.
Beaten down but not beaten. My Heart soared. Like a home sick Angel. With credits rolling the finest ending to any movie then or since.
Now, "Let's go to work."

[ edited by renegade on 2013-08-23 03:40 ]
I kind of figured Joss was not too fond of the Empire ending. As he alluded to that a little bit when I mentioned Empire to him in the conversation I had with him in February. And he went on to say something similar about another series where he preferred the original. Saying that Evil Dead 1 was a superior horror film to what followed.

I did kind of wish after he'd said that that I'd mentioned that it was funny because Avengers did in a lot of ways feel like the first Star Wars movie to me. (Y'know characters get together, squabble a bit but sort out their differences to take down the big threat..ending with big triumphant celebration at end!) but that was close to the end of the conversation, so we never really got into it.

It is often true though that the first is often the best realization of the idea..especially with horror films. (Nightmare on Elm Street & Halloween spring to mind..)

But yeah, I too am glad if this means no cliffhanger ending to Avengers 2! I'd much rather it was a more complete film in itself. I mean you can still do that and maybe throw in something that could tie it into a third more cosmic film.. (E.g Evidence of alien tech/virus or some such..)

And the Angel ending is just perfect. With all the evil Angel & Spike had done in their very long lifetimes..a peach happy ending wouldn't have felt right. If they're immortal than they should keep on with the good fight..for as long as they're able to..
I took a writing course with Ty Templeton who talked about how well-written Star Wars was, and how badly written Empire was. Maybe Joss was sitting in the back and I didn't notice?

BTW, movies aren't TV shows. A movie should be self-contained, even if it has a sequel. Unless it's stream of consciousness (like a pod race.)
A SERIES finale should wrap up a show completely. Angel failed in that respect.
Don't watch the Sopranos, watcher!
...Hasn't Joss talked about the ending of ESB before? The Internet is acting like this is news, but it doesn't feel like news to me.

Structurally I see Joss's point (though in many a way Lucas was staying true to the serials that inspired SW in general). And like many criticisms of the original trilogy, I think about it, and agree... and then throw all of it out the window when I actually watch the movies again.

Besides, ESB has an excellent, excellent ending. I mean, of course, the ending of John Williams' score. Fabulous music.
@watcher: I thought the Star Trek: Next Generation finale was rather good and satisfying. And it didn't wrap up anything about the Enterprise.
Just trying to think of various show's endings, it seems to me that compulsive attempts to 'wrap up' the entire show more often drag things down into mediocrity (or complete trash) rather than producing really great finales. (Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Enterprise, Babylon 5, Xena...)

I can't honestly think of a single reason why a finale should be obligated to wrap up every single plotline or character arc that ever existed in a show in order to be considered great. More often than not, that comes across (to me) as very cheap and unconvincing, as if everything in this other world is supposed to suddenly grind to a halt just because we stop watching. It's like spending years convincing people to believe in a world only to, at the very last minute, rub their nose in the fact that it never existed.
Bayne, one word: Lost
Except that's not how Lost ended at all.
Structurally I see Joss's point (though in many a way Lucas was staying true to the serials that inspired SW in general).

Um... yeah. Speaking as someone who spent much of their youth watching the original B&W Flash Gordon film serials (which - don't forget - were originally made for the express purpose of being shown in movie theaters) the way most other kids watched Saturday morning cartoons, I can only scratch my head at this whole idea that highly episodic/cliffhangery entertainment somehow doesn't belong in the movie theater venue.

And as for those comments about the first film being such a good contrast in terms of stand alone storytelling... episode IV, anyone?

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2013-08-23 12:31 ]
Lost did not come close to answering every mystery.
...Wouldn't that support what Bayne is saying? That a finale that doesn't wrap every little thing up can still be great?
@ManEnoughToAdmitIt. When my parents explained the ending of ESB to me, they specifically discussed those serials that they watched in the 50s. They appreciated what Lucas did.

While I was upset with ESB due to Han's unknown fate, I agree that it worked within the structure of the trilogy. If it didn't for most people, we would have forgotten it. Star Wars culture remains huge. Is there a Matrix culture of that size?

So Avengers sounds like it won't be a trilogy but more a collection of stories. I love it.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the Angel finale. I also liked the ending of TESB. But I'm saying that Joss isn't really one to talk about unresolved finales. I do think that TESB works on its own - it has an ending, it's just a dark ending. It's not like it ended in the middle of an event and left you with no explanation as to what was going on.

@renegade: I love how the term "teenage angst" is used to diminish everything, as if teenagers are a lower caste of human beings, so everything related to them is of lower quality and contemptible. Whereas, I guess, old manpire angst is so much nobler and worthier.

I think that Angel only ever came close to being as good as Buffy in its second season, but even that was spoiled by bad pacing and weird tonal shift in the last part of the season. And then the subsequent seasons ruined that possibility with its ill-thought storylines, bad character development for some of the major characters (*cough* Cordelia *cough*), forced relationships (Angel/Cordy, Fred/Wesley) and dreadful treatment of major female characters in the last couple of seasons. At its best (Are You Now..., the Darla and Holtz arcs, as well as the Faith episodes in season 1 and occasional great episodes in season 5), Angel was fantastic, but as a whole, it left a lot ot be desired.
So mr. purpleness was procrastinating again? Hope it has be entertaining.
Haven't read the interview yet, really want to explore it in its entirety when I can have the magazine in my hands next week (it takes about a week to fly it down here for some reason).
Bunny - About 22 years ago there was a study written up in Psychology Today which found that the average teenager has the same psychological profile as a PSYCHOTIC adult. Hence, the disparagement associated with the term "teenage angst".
The series of finale of ST:TNG is one of the most epic freaking things of all time. It concludes everything but ends nothing.
Matt- you are saying that as if the finale of Lost was great. I thought it was horrid. The Angel ending is a good one, I think. It was a statement of what the show had always said anyway, but made epic in scope. And I was not really a fan of Angel, but that ending was proper.
Dana - I get that, I'm just trying to figure out why you didn't like it.

steverogers - I would be very cautious in trusting a singular article from 1991. No doubt there is more contemporary literature available.
Matt - If you can point me to anything specific that refutes that old article, I'd love to read it. Personally, I've never read/seen anything authoritative to the contrary.
Jas - re Nightmare on Elm Street... 3 - Dream Warriors is a pretty good realization too...

For me, I think the thing is, when part one of a trilogy really stands alone and doesn't end on a cliffhanger, then it feels weird when part 2 does...
I also agree that the Lost finale was atrocious. The series was built upon all these complex mysteries that were never actually solved. Imagine if Twin Peaks had ended without Laura Palmer's murder being solved...and about another three dozen mysteries left hanging as well. Ugh, just awful. Six seasons of my life I will never get back.
I'd say Lost solved the primary mysteries.

What was the smoke monster: A creature released by Jacob when he killed his brother years ago.

Why were they brought to the island: Jacob needed help to defeat the monster he released.

There were a few minor mysteries that weren't cleared up, but that's just background stuff or things that are better left mysterious. As long as we know why the major events happened, it's not a big deal. I don't *want* to know why the Island was magic in the first place. That's like trying to explain the physics behind how the One Ring makes someone invisible or why one volcano can destroy the ring even though nothing else can. At some point, if it's a story about magic, a few things have to be preserved as magical.

And since this thread has gone completely off topic, I love Stephen Moffat and I think he's done a good job on Dr. Who. He's created some great female characters. I think he's actually very similar to Joss in his writing (his strong character development based on human foibles, his humor, his dabbling in both comedy and fantasy). The primary difference is that when he took over Doctor Who, he had to promise to kill lots of people because he'd gained a reputation for never killing any characters.
I thought the "Angel" ending was absolutely in keeping with the show's "the fight never ends" message.

I will say that reading the headline for this thread, my first thought was, "Wait, Joss thinks 'The Empire Strikes Back' is about choosing a boyfriend?'"
LOVE IT!! Joss' post is like that scene in Annie Hall where Alvy is explaining to Annie that the guy in line ahead of them at the movies doesn't know what he's talking about and proceeds to reach off screen to pull Marshall McLuhan into the shot to agree with his point. The closing line, "Boy, if life were only like this!"

Is this life imitating art or the opposite? Joss you're awesome.
Am I wrong in thinking that the serials SW is based on were weekly or monthly? I think part of the problem Joss has is that he paid for a full story, and then he not only didn't get it, but had to wait three years to get it from another movie.

(and brinderwalt, when SW first came out it wasn't billed as Episode IV... and even if it claims to be part of a larger narrative, it still very much stands on its own).
TimeTravelingBunny, Please accept my sincerest apologies I am sorry. I had no idea its meaning was so polarizing.
Having raised 3 teenagers and heard the word somewhere in the past, I thought it had a bit of whimsy to its meaning.
They are in their 30s now and tell me what to do. As we were all teens at one time, and looking back on those years
I see them as a phase of extreme perception of all or nothing, go big or go home years. SciFi books, comics, Mad magazine,
and sports were my release. The 50s and 60s were for me some mind bending years. An extreme juxtaposition of decades.
Some college and by the end of the decade was in Viet Nam. My daughter and her cousin didn't just watch Buffy
it was an experience to be shared every week. From Grade school thru High School including Angel,
which they did get me hooked on and watched every episode, I relearned what it was like to be a Teenager again.
I reckon it is the same now. Being a teen were some of the best years of my life before the inevitable adult corruption begins.
Plesae except my apologies. I do understand.

[ edited by renegade on 2013-08-23 21:48 ]
Am I wrong in thinking that the serials SW is based on were weekly or monthly? I think part of the problem Joss has is that he paid for a full story, and then he not only didn't get it, but had to wait three years to get it from another movie.

Flash Gordon - which is what Star Wars borrows from the most heavily (right down to minor things like all those strange scene transitions) - ran as 12-15 weekly 20 minute installments where every single episode ended on an all or nothing cliff-hanger. It's not quite three years, but that's still a lot of stringing along - especially when you consider how small the installments are.

(and brinderwalt, when SW first came out it wasn't billed as Episode IV... and even if it claims to be part of a larger narrative, it still very much stands on its own).

Which is why said that it makes for a poor contrast with episode V in terms of working in a larger narrative (since they both do that brilliantly.) For that matter I'd argue that - contrary to popular belief - Empire Strikes Back is more than adequate as a stand-alone tale too (as long as you have the stomach for a good Shakespearean-level tragedy) and I'm not just saying that to be contrary. Growing up I'd never seen any of the Star Wars trilogy in theaters. My family had episodes IV and VI and (due to the logistics of VHS recorders and limited television broadcast schedules) not episode V on video tape (although we did have the radio play version of it on tape.) Consequently I ended up viewing the whole set with a heavy emphasis on its stand alone traits, and have found many things to appreciate about all three of them in that context.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2013-08-24 02:07 ]
@steverogers: Yes, I'm sure that there exist rubbish, sensationalist, quasi-scientific psychological studies that were published 22 years ago.
Bunny - You're calling Psychology Today rubbish? Point proved.

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