As the series creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Joss Whedon ushered in a new era of TV sci-fi and cemented his VIP status at Comic Con. However, it was one of his lesser-known creations that he chose as his directorial debut on the big screen. With Serenity, Whedon revisited his short-lived Fox series Firefly with the hope of introducing a larger audience to the fantasy world and to the characters that had already spawned a sizable cult following. Recently, TVGuide.com caught up with the ever-inventive auteur to discuss the space adventure, which arrives on DVD Dec. 20.
TVGuide.com: Was it difficult to make Serenity accessible to people who didn't see Firefly?
Joss Whedon: It was the toughest job I ever did. The screenplay was a bear to write, not only to convey information to those who hadn't seen the series, but also to hide information in the story for those who had. Then editing it — seeing what audiences like, what loses them, what was too much, and what wasn't enough — it really was brutal. Filming was fun. I love the actors — lots of laughs. The footage was beautiful. The other side was pain. I should have had Anthony Hopkins doing a voice-over for 20 minutes saying, "He was the greatest Alexander of all."
TVGuide.com: How did you originally conceive the story?
Whedon: What I originally wanted to do with the series was to get underneath science fiction and just tell stories about normal people who had really tough lives in the new and final frontier. It's the kind of life we're not living right now in America. It's the idea of people who live in extremes and have [only] the money in their pocket and the clothes on their back. That was fascinating to me. But then you've got to have spaceships, because, dude, spaceships… spaceships!
TVGuide.com: What kind of reactions did you get when you were going around Hollywood telling people that you were going to make a movie based on a short-lived TV show?
Whedon: You know the only reaction that mattered was Universal's. They never gave me anything but faith, support and good advice. It was weird.
TVGuide.com: What did you bring to the movie that you couldn't bring to the series?
Whedon: Basically, the scope of the storytelling is on a different level. It's a big wide story. The armada battles and the hugeness of the resolve is different than what you can do on television. Everything got kicked up a notch.
TVGuide.com: Numerous critics compared Serenity to the Star Wars films. Were you inspired at all by the Star Wars franchise?
Whedon: Have you seen Serenity? I think the two words that come to mind are Millennium and Falcon. I am a junkie for sci-fi. If it takes place on a spaceship, I'll see it in a theater, and that includes Supernova. Now that's a man with a problem, but maybe my problem can help others.
TVGuide.com: Are you considering any future installments of the Serenity/Firefly franchise?
Whedon: It's hard to say. I think the DVD sales will have a lot to say about that. Are there more stories to tell? You bet. Would I love to tell them and work with everyone again? The answer is also yup. Now, the movie did not get a huge amount of people out to see it. We'll need the DVD to make the money back. But I rule out nothing. I think it's the type of movie that can be discovered on DVD. It has definitely affected the people who have seen it.
TVGuide.com: Your next film project, Wonder Woman, is also a former TV series. What's the status on that?
Whedon: The status is that once I turn in a script, we'll have a status. I'm writing it and having a ball… most of the time. Of course, there are days when I'm having crippling self-doubt. But on the good days, I'm having lots of fun.
TVGuide.com: Please tell me you're going to have Wonder Woman cruise around in an invisible plane.
Whedon: Oh yeah. At least in my first draft she will. Not only that, but it will not be campy. This is not cheesy. This is not camp. There is a very specific reason why this woman has a plane and you can't see it. It'll be awesome.