Our reality isn’t what we think it is. We actually live in a world Joss Whedon created and in which he is the central character.
At least that’s what the prolific sci-fi and superhero innovator told the crowd at Nerd HQ in a strong contender for the most egocentric (though charmingly so) Q&A at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Whedon gleefully bathed in rays of adoration, especially from the four different audience members who praised his treatment of women in his storylines. Of course, part of Whedon’s limelight greed might have a little to do with the fact that Nathan Fillion (star of Firefly and Castle) was the surprise moderator, who sat on the sidelines like Ed McMahon, literally calling out “You are right, sir.” (Zachary Levi, the Chuck star behind the Nerd Machine and its “Conversations for a Cause” series, needed to save his voice for an upcoming stage production.)
Whedon’s done film, TV and a musical web series, but he confirmed for the crowd that one of the nagging items on his list is composing a ballet. There’s just one problem:
”I’ve had this scenario in mind for a long while and it’s a question of whether that’s something I can actually compose, whether it’s something I can stage. In order to compose it I have to learn how to play piano for realsies. And that’s going to take some time.”
While Whedon jokingly brought every question back to himself, and his inherent awesomeness, there was one query he’s sick of discussing: his reputation for being a bloodthirsty author who quenches himself on the corpses of his characters. In response to a fan complaining about the massacre at the end of season five of Angel, he said:
“I honestly am so sick of it. I don’t mean to be rude at all, but going on Twitter was not helpful. When you only have 140 characters, that’s all they’re going to say: You killed Wash. You killed him. You kill people. He’s going to kill everyone. Why do you want to kill everyone? I remember writing a lot of scenes between people that they both lived through. I remember a lot of characters that I brought back to life. And yet, I have a reputation for one thing: Killing.
I’d love to never hear about it again … I know people need to express their disappointment about certain people dying. Look: Go talk to Jordan Levin, who killed the entire show Angel.
Whedon avoided speculating about his future plans, claiming he had too much on his plate to think about what will come next, but he did reveal that he’s bothered by a bit of unresolved backstory for Loki. At the end of Thor, Loki was emotional conflicted, but at the beginning of Avengers, he’s a demented villain, with no qualms about unleashing alien hell on Earth. Asked about how happened in between, Whedon said:
“Well, I can’t tell you exactly what went on because it’s this dark, dark secret that I didn’t make up yet. But, the other day, I had trouble with that because he had this very passionate Shakespearean tragedy thing going on in Thor and then I needed a villain who’s not only capable, but ready and willing and anxious to take on all these heroes. For me, he just basically went on some horrible walkabout… That was pretty much as far as I got.”
Speaking of Shakespeare, Whedon said if , after Much Ado About Nothing, he is tapped for another adaptation, he dreams of taking on Hamlet. In the meantime, he has to manage Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. His one “absolute deal-breaker” on the new ABC show was Lola, Agent Coulson’s classic Corvette.
Looking backwards, Whedon explained the three secrets of his upbringing that made him who he is: An exposure to a vast amount culture by his parents, a sense of “eclecticism,” and neglect. Yes, childhood neglect.
“My parents definitely came from the generation that was like, ‘We had kids—Shut the f--- up. Go somewhere where I don’t have to know you exist, because I still want my life.’ And sometimes it was cute and sometimes it was not. We had a strict rule at the farm, because my mom would write books (that did not get published), that between breakfast and lunch, no one was allowed to make a sound, anywhere at all. So pretty much you’re going to read or you’re going to think and that’s where I started creating universes, just walking up and down our driveway, which is half-a-mile long. It was all sorts of these amazing, giant sprawling universes of space and adventure and revenge on my big brothers…
“The neglect thing I can tell you sad stories about, and I’m actually I’m very angry about, but it’s sort of a lost art in parenting. Now it’s like, ‘Oh, I don’t want you to bother me, so here are five tablets full of entertainment.’ We didn’t have that back in the day… That sort of defined me and helped me become a writer.”
Hold on a second. Not to direct attention away from the Lord of the Whedoverse but—did he just say his mom has unpublished manuscripts? Let’s see those next year at Comic-Con.