Before she was America's favorite vampire slayer, Buffy Summers had a much less catchy name, and title.
Joss Whedon's making the publicity rounds again to promote Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and since this is his first TV project since Dollhouse went off the air nearly four years ago, people are eager to talk about the TV series that made him a nerd icon: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course, before Buffy became a TV sensation, the concept was given a much different treatment in a Whedon-scripted 1992 film directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui and starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry. But before the film made it to the big screen, it was a first draft script that had some of the same themes the final product would end up with, but a very different title.
So, what movie would we have seen if Whedon hadn't decided to rewrite?
Martha the Immortal Waitress
Yes, you read it right. That was Whedon's title when he was still in the early stages of writing the film. Here's his explanation:
"It was the idea of somebody that you discount that has a secret and the weight of wisdom," Whedon said. "I always wanted the person who nobody pays attention to to have a cool secret. It’s so obvious. I’m so obvious. Subtlety is for little men. And I look back at my work and see a rage-filled hormonal autobiography that spans over four different series—five now—and several films. There’s lots of fear, lots of love and confusion and sex, and deep-seated anger at the bullies of the world, be they corporations or demons. I don’t have a ton of enemies. I get along with people pretty well when I’m not annoying them to death. But there’s a lot of inarticulate emotion that I articulate pretty well when I’m in the guise of a teenage girl."
It's safe to say we're all grateful for the title change, but apparently the title almost changed again when the idea made the leap from film to TV. When Whedon first went to the WB with the idea for a series, they didn't want something called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fortunately, Whedon decided to lay down the law.
"This is something that I do consider to be good advice: I took my first paycheck and I put it in the goddamn bank," he said. "Then I took my second paycheck and put it in the goddamn bank. I had seen the roller coaster of my father’s career—top of the world, then unemployed, top of the world, then unemployed—and I never wanted to take a job because I needed money, and I never have. I saved my money, so when I went, for instance, to The WB with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I said, “This is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you want something LIKE Buffy the Vampire Slayer, God bless, I’m outta here. If you want THIS, this is what I’m doing.” The one thing a creator can bring to the table when everybody else has all the money and power is a centeredness and the ability to walk away. Never sit at a table you can’t walk away from."
So, while it didn't actually begin life with that title, Buffy got to remain Buffy for what became its most successful incarnation.
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