EDITOR’S NOTE: Even A-list writers find some of their best work shelved, never to be seen by any audience but the production company for which it was written. But still, can you believe that’s happened – and not just once – to the legendary Joss Whedon? Whoa:
by Rob Leane
It’s hard to imagine a time where every studio going wouldn’t lap up any idea expressed by Joss Whedon. As the key creative force behindBuffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity,Dollhouse, The Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, he’s hotter property than pretty much any filmmaker these days.
That wasn’t always the case, though. As you may remember, we’ve covered his years as an uncredited script doctor before, but even after he made a name for himself in Hollywood, Mr Whedon still had some ideas that studios simply wouldn’t put into production.
Tantalisingly, two of these were superhero films. Considering that The Avengers garnered near-universal critical acclaim and a worldwide box office gross of $1.5 billion, and its sequel Age Of Ultron has already reached $1.2 billion (despite not receiving quite as many positive reviews), there must be some studio executives currently kicking themselves for doubting Whedon’s earlier visions of superhero cinema.
What were these films, then? Why did they never happen? And will they ever see the light of day again? Here’s what we found out…
Cast your mind back to 2004, the month of March if you can manage it. At this point, Joss Whedon already had his work on Angel, Buffy, Atlantis, Titan A.E., Toy Story and Firefly under his belt. That’s not to mention his uncredited contributions to Speed, Waterworld, X-Men, Twister andThe Quick And The Dead.
Although Whedon’s status as a geek icon perhaps wasn’t known as widely among Hollywood executives as it was between the geeks themselves, he certainly already had a reputation as a savvy scripter at this stage. Buffy had also proved Whedon’s winning way with creating likeable badass female protagonists.
In what could have gone down as one of the great masterstrokes of cinema executive thinking (if events afterwards had transpired differently), then, Warner Bros and Silver Pictures announced that Joss Whedon would write and direct a new Wonder Woman movie. Purportedly, his salary was somewhere between $2m and $3m.
At the time, Whedon was yet to finish shooting Serenity (though he had probably finished at least one core character off by this point… sob), so he took his time researching Wonder Woman, and didn’t begin writing in earnest until late 2005.
Legendary action movie producer Joel Silver – Die Hard, The Matrix, V For Vendetta (to name a tiny fraction of his work) – was on board as a producer. He claimed that the story would begin with Steve Trevor crashing onto Themyscira and soon returning to Man’s World with Wonder Woman.
Rumours abounded for who Warner Bros, Whedon and Silver would cast as Princess Diana of Themyscira. These included Buffy alum Charisma Carpenter, Firefly and Serenity’s Morena Baccarin, and 2000’s Miss World Priyanka Chopra. No relation, we’re told, to Geordie footballer Michael Chopra. Whedon insisted to the press early on that he wouldn’t cast until his script was finished.