Around here, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is near-universally agreed upon as one of our very favorite television shows of all time, centered around many of our favorite characters of all time. But there is another
Skywalker Slayer, and we don't mean Faith or Kendra.
Five years before Sarah Michelle Gellar staked her claim on our hearts (with an actual stake), Kristy Swanson was the Chosen One. The movie is an underappreciated gem, to be sure, but how does it stack up against its TV successor? We pit the two entities against each other for five rounds that will put marzipan in your pie plate, Bingo—and some of the winners surprise even us.
Round 1: The Watcher — Merrick vs. Giles
Okay, we have Giles, perfect and respectful Giles who served as the only father in Buffy's life and was good and kind and lovely.
Then we have Merrick who spent a lot of time in the girls' locker room.
Now that's not to say Merrick didn't have his positives. He did a lot in a short time, and this Buffy had a lot more work to do than TV Buffy did in the time she was in Sunnydale, having gone through her more superficial days back in LA.
Round 2: The Boyfriends — Pike vs. TV Buffy's questionable dating choices
We have been very upfront about our feelings re: Buffy Summers' taste in men. So, frankly, movie Buffy didn't exactly have a high bar to jump. But Pike? Le sigh.
In the early '90s, there was no dreamier or boatier dreamboat than Luke Perry, and this Luke Perry is the best Luke Perry. For starters, he's resourceful, bringing a bag of stakes to meet Buffy at the dance. HOW ROMANTIC.
Plus, he gave up his soul patch for her! THAT IS LOVE. I mean, sure, Angel gave up his actual soul, but it's not like that went well for anyone.
In fairness, movie Buffy had some pretty assy taste herself, Pike notwithstanding. Her actual boyfriend for most of the movie is Jeffrey, who is much more akin to the televised non-vampire Buffy boyfriends. He even takes one of Buffy's best friends to the Hug the World dance and her other friends just laugh. Everyone in this movie is an assh*le. We'll get to that. Except, of course, Pike. Le sigh.
Round 3: The Friends
Movie Buffy's friends are superficial mean girls who turn on their queen bee the second she gets some depth to her. They're awful. But TV Buffy has King of the Nice Guys Xander Harris, and really he's just as bad. We just allow it because he's funny sometimes and we love Anya and want her to be happy even though she's far too good for him. Obviously Willow, Tara, Dawn (yes, even Dawn) and co. have no real competition here, but, seriously, for real, Xander is the worst and there's clearly a deleted subplot where his parents sue to kick him out of their basement.
That said, movie Buffy had a black friend. *glares at TV Buffy before drowning in a sea of caucasity*
Winner: The Scoobies, but you're on blast, Harris/very white TV casting preferences.
Round 4: The Clothes — '90s nightmare vs. '90s nightmare
You might be of the belief that the '90s weren't a great time, sartorially speaking. But if we're talking the early '90s versus the late '90s and early aughts, it's comparing apples with rotten oranges filled with belly chains and bandana tops. Buffy was on our televisions from 1997 to 2003, some of the absolute worst years in the history of fashion. And man it shows.
Plus, the movie is blessed by the absence of leather pants, the bane of televised Buffy's existence and of our eyeballs.
Winner: Movie Buffy. That shorts-over-leggings combo is the light and the way.
Round 5: The Chosen One — Buffy vs. Buffy
Kristy Swanson did a fine job in her role. She brought a solid mix of shallow and heart, and her struggle to be normal while carrying the weight of being the chosen one was visible on her face throughout.
But let's be real. There's only one Buffy, and she alone wields the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number; and to give us seven great seasons, give or take some weird choices in Seasons 4 and 6. She is the Slayer. As for Kristy Swanson, well, there's always Fox News.
Winner: SMG with a stake-shaped bullet