Some people aren’t aware that Buffy The Vampire Slayer originated as a terrible and forgettable nineties “comedic” vampire flick.
At the time Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy, was so upset over how the idiot producers and director butchered his original screenplay that he retooled the concept for television and eventually sold the show — although the deal was contingent upon Whedon maintaining sole creative control as executive producer.
Over seven seasons Buffy The Vampire Slayer became a worldwide hit, and with its punchy dialogue, clever story lines and great action, the show cemented itself as a groundbreaking genre program before the ensuing fervent mania of the (far inferior) Twilight series.
Now that Whedon has moved on to bigger and better things (namely the hugely anticipated Avengers movie), Warner Bros. and Atlas Entertainment have announced that a new Buffy The Vampire Slayer film is in the works.
This is a bad idea.
1) Buffy works better as a TV show than as a movie franchise
Even if the script for the original Buffy film hadn’t been drastically altered there’s no way the two hour film could match what Whedon wound up accomplishing with the television series.
What truly made the series great was getting to watch Buffy and the supporting characters develop and adapt to the show’s ongoing mythology.
For example, in season 2 of the series Buffy falls in love with the ensouled vampire Angel and clashes with villainous vampire lovers Spike and Drusilla — all characters who would go on to have enormous roles within the show for the remainder of its television run.
The payoff of getting to see these characters evolve within the show was extremely satisfying and created a complex and interwoven dynamic that allowed the show to explore new story lines.
The character of Spike in particular transformed from villain to comic relief to anti-hero and eventually to Buffy’s romantic interest — all over the course of six seasons.
Spike is considered by many fans and critics to be one of the greatest on screen vampires of all time and his enduring popularity is so strong that he recently received his own monthly comic books series, despite the fact the character hasn’t been on television since 2004.
There is simply no way that a two hour film could match the depth of the series or the emotional satisfaction fans received by watching the growth of the Buffy characters over seven seasons of television.
2) Sarah Michelle Gellar is a tough act to follow
The thought of remaking or updating Buffy without Sarah Michelle Gellar is ridiculous. Not only was it an iconic role that to this day still defines the actress, but Gellar is still so young that she could easily pick up the stake again and start dusting vampires.
This isn’t like recasting Brandon Routh for the new Superman film — Sarah Michelle Gellar’s portrayal of Buffy Summers was universally lauded by critics and fans alike and her enthusiastic and nuanced performance was a vital factor in resuscitating what before her was a character that was considered to be an utter failure.
Bringing in some new and nubile young actress seems nearly blasphemous. I’m not saying that the character isn’t deserving of a remake or reboot down the line, but come on, it’s been less than a decade since we last saw Buffy on screen.
At least let enough time pass so the idea of revisiting the character of Buffy seems refreshing and exciting rather than feeling like a vampire mania cash grab.
3) There was a deftness and subtlety to Whedon’s writing that the new screenwriter cannot match
Joss Whedon has legions of die hard fans who flock to his shows and movies because they connect with the heart and humour he instills in his characters. He has had tremendous success in his career, including writing blockbusters like Toy Story and creating numerous cult hit TV shows such as Buffy, Angel and Serenity. He also refined his comedic chops as an up and coming screenwriter by working on shows like Parenthood and Roseanne.
So who did Warner Bros. and Atlas Entertainment hire to write the new Buffy movie? Actress and first-time screenwriter Whit Anderson.
Needless to say some people have some serious concerns about a neophyte scribe taking on such an iconic and esteemed franchise.
The thing about Joss Whedon’s work is that there are layers. While on the surface it’s smart, fresh, funny and chalk full of good old fashioned vampire slaying action, underneath the surface there is often a deeper metaphor that resonates with viewers — even if they don’t consciously recognize exactly what it is they are relating to.
Case in point: In Season 2 of the series Buffy decides to lose her virginity to her ensouled vampire boyfriend, Angel.
Due to the nature of the gypsy curse he was under, Angel loses his soul after making love with Buffy because he experienced a moment of happiness instead of suffering (for all of the atrocities he previously committed as a soulless vampire). Without a soul, Angel turns into Angelus, a selfish, sadistic bastard who enjoys taunting Buffy mercilessly.
This story arc was outstanding not just for shaking things up turning one of the show’s heroes into a villain, but also for using it as a brilliant metaphor for a teenage girl who sleeps with a guy in high school — only to discover that afterwards he becomes a completely different person.
It’s this subtlety and deftness in Whedon’s writing that strikes a chord within his fans. It’s also a talent that very few scribes have — and I highly doubt a first time screenwriter like Whit Anderson can match it.