Over the last few years, Nerd HQ, the four-day event created by actor Zachary Levi (Chuck, Thor: The Dark World) and held the same weekend as the annual pop culture convention San Diego Comic-Con, has become a staple of the Comic-Con experience. Offering exclusive gaming and tech activations, nightly events, and intimate celebrity panels (all benefiting the charity Operation Smile), Nerd HQ has even become the perfect “alternate Con” for some geeks who are less than thrilled with the exhausting and over-crowded experience that can be SDCC.
While working press at this year’s con, Fanboy Comics was invited to attend the Nerd HQ Joss Whedon panel, and it was everything a Whedonite could want out of a Comic-Con panel with the titan of Geekdom known as Joss. For roughly an hour, Whedon opened himself to any question the fans wished to ask, and the panel audience was treated to a variety of interesting conversations from one of the most influential writer/directors contributing to geek culture today.
Below are some of the highlights from this incredibly exciting, informative, and revealing discussion. (We also live-tweeted the panel, and you can find those tweets by searching for the hashtag #FBCWhedon.)
– Whedon made it clear that, for him, there was no desire for a director’s cut of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whedon stated that Ultron was one of the most personal things he’s ever put on screen and that, personally, he doesn’t believe a director’s cut would do anything but undermine the original, true vision of the film.
– Whedon says he had no idea how big a fan community would arise around Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He always designed Buffy to be a pop culture icon, but he didn’t anticipate how deeply audiences would connect with the character and series.
– Whedon credits his dedication to his vision for the eventual success of shows like Buffy and Firefly. He insists that while others had trouble envisioning the tone and potential of the shows, Whedon himself always knew how the series should look and feel, as well as why they would work. Whedon stated that, “It never occurred to me that I wasn’t right about Buffy and Firefly . . . You must have enormous faith when writing a story like that.”
– Several fans applauded Whedon’s film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. When asked about what other plays of Shakespeare’s he’d be interested in adapting for the screen, Whedon expressed love for both Hamlet and 12th Night, but he also asserted that if he had an opportunity like Much Ado, Othello would be next on the docket.
– At one point, a fan at the mic stated to Whedon that, “You’re my fav character killer.” Naturally, Whedon replied with a simply and succinct, “Suck it, George,” that brought the house down. On a more serious note, Whedon expressed that while he has become known as an infamous character killer, he just wants to make sure the stories he’s telling matter to people. He joked, “I don’t have a poster that says, “Kill.””
– Of course, it would be impossible to conduct a Whedon panel and not have a fan or two ask about the return of Firefly. While Whedon clearly loves the world and characters, the logistics of getting the cast back together is a large obstacle and Whedon also has other worries. “I don’t ask about Firefly,” says Whedon, stating that he’s “very terrified” of the idea of revisiting the series, but not being able to capture the “magic” of the first season upon a second outing. Or as Whedon puts it, “…we bring it back, and I don’t have the same mojo.” Whedon also expressed some distaste with the fact the “everything” is coming back these days, including Full House. As one fan speaking on the situation, after Dark Horse Comics’ Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, I’d be more than satisfied with another excellent, canon comic mini-series.
– When asked whether he writes for himself or for his audience, Whedon answered, “You always write for yourself and the rest of the world.” He went on to explain that, of course, you sometimes have your audience in mind as you write, but, at the base level, what you’re writing “…has to be for you.”
– Whedon was asked why he choose imagery that painted the character of The Vision as “a Christ figure” in Age of Ultron, and he ended up pointing out that, “Everybody thinks they are the savior in that film.” That said, Whedon admitted that when it comes to The Vision, “He is actually a step above.” He also admitted that Paul Bettany (as Jarvis) becoming Vision in the Avengers sequel was an idea he had during his first meeting with Marvel regarding the first Avengers film. Nice “vision,” Joss!
– When asked about the status of Dr. Horrible 2, Whedon mentioned that everyone is on board, but everyone is also very busy and it’s really about finding a “window” of time that works for everyone. Whedon also mentioned that this isn’t something that they wanted to rush, despite the high demand from fans and stated that, “We feel passionate about it, but we don’t want to get it wrong.”
– When his feet were put to the fire by a fan, Whedon admitted that his favorite season of Buffy was the fifth season, but he also joked that he liked Season 6 “…because I like porn.”
– One fan brought up Whedon’s work on Toy Story and asked if the Combat Carl riff came from Whedon’s pen. The writer admitted that the bit existed before he arrived on the project, but spoke fondly of the experience, saying that, “I got to bleed my voice in, but there’s a big mix” when it comes to writers responsible for the final script.
– One interesting tidbit Whedon revealed was the fact that he used “a couple of iPhone shots” in the final cut of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
– One fan challenged Whedon when he got the mic, asking how Steve Rogers was not worthy? When the hoots and hollers died down, Whedon coyly smiled and asked, “Is he not worthy? Did he fail or did he stop? Are we sure?”
– At one point Whedon was asked which panel he would attend at Comic-Con if he could and what he would ask. Whedon answered that he’d attend the iZombie panel and “…would be like, why are you awesome?”
– When asked what new technology he was most interested in using to create films, Whedon spoke on his desire to use drones to film, because they offer so many possibilities. As Whedon put it, “When it’s not for bombing or spying, I’m super interested.”
– Whedon revealed his uber-love for actor Mark Ruffalo when a fan asked which actor he most wished to work with again. Whedon stated that it was Mark Ruffalo “all the way,” and then moderator Zachary Levi and Whedon spent the next few minutes fanboying out over Ruffalo’s work in Foxcatcher.
– Whedon did speak briefly on why he suddenly and mysteriously left Twitter earlier this year. While he did mention that the hate-filled and bullying nature of social media did its part to drive him away, he also spoke about the amount of causes and distractions that he’d find himself caught up in. Whedon said his feed would be filled with stories that he felt strongly about and would feel the need to respond to every single one. Social media doesn’t always lend itself to creating the best creative environment.
– Whedon mentioned that some of the crew tried to sneak R2-D2 on the helicarrier in Avengers and Joss removed him. He said that it just took him out of the film too much. Apparently, those weren’t the droids Joss was looking for.
– Whedon stated that the most enjoyable scenes to write and direct during the first Avengers were Natasha’s confrontation of Loki in the helicarrier and the Avengers’ argument in the lab.
– When asked about his early creations, Whedon mentioned that as a young kid, he spent a lot of time alone creating “universes,” but never really put them into any sort of narrative form.
That pretty much covers this year’s Nerd HQ Joss Whedon panel. Fanboy Comics wishes to extend a special thank you to Joss Whedon, Zachary Levi, Xaque Gruber, and everyone else at Nerd HQ who helped make this year’s event possible. Keep up the excellent work!
For more of Fanboy Comics’ coverage of the San Diego Comic-Con 2015, please visit www.fanboycomics.net.