Joss Whedon is known to the masses as the writer/director of one of the film industry’s most recent huge hits, Marvel’s The Avengers. Grossing over one billion dollar worldwide, the film proved that Joss Whedon has tremendous staying power as a film director. To television fanatics, he’s mostly known for the cult hit (and my personal favorite television show) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He’s also created the well-received spin-off Angel, Firefly, and Doll House. With each of his projects, Joss Whedon leaves his mark in a variety of ways. Fans of Joss Whedon will be able to pick out similarities within both his film work and television works. His signature lies in the atmospheres he creates (usually involving humor in contrast to serious events, often on an apocalyptic level) and visual stimulation (light and dark colors, action, etc.)
Let’s take a look at Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You have characters making quips and taking a lighthearted approach to danger, even in spite of potentially disastrous events. This is evident in the magnificent season 3 episode, “The Zeppo”, in which the character Xander stops a gang of the undead from blowing up Sunnydale High. Even though he is faced with certain doom, the character behaves in what we perceive as comedic fashion. And then you have the protagonist herself, Buffy.
She’s constantly faced with possible death, in pretty much every episode actually. But you would never know it. One minute she could be going head to head against a legion of super charged vampires, and the next she’ll be using a slew of words common to that of a teenage girl (Buffy fans know that characters often attach the letter y to the end of adjectives).
Now let’s compare those aspects of Joss Whedon’s work to his latest hit, Marvel’s The Avengers.
Tony Stark’s character so perfectly fits Joss Whedon’s mold of humor in spite of drastic occurrences. In one scene, Iron Man is flying off to become a sacrifice for the entire planet. The next, he’s asking his team about getting shawarma (which is actually a joke originated by Nicholas Brendon, Buffy’s Xander).
But another key element of his style is perfectly detailed in this film. There are so many bright colors and explosive action scenes. For anyone who isn’t interested in The Avengers, at least watch the last forty minutes of the film. It has hands down some of the most visually stunning action I’ve seen in a film. Buffy, Angel, and Firefly are all also big on action. I can’t say the same for Dollhouse, only because I haven’t watched it. But from what I’ve heard, it is an action oriented program. Also, check out the contrast of light and dark colors in Buffy and Angel. Characters like Buffy in Cordelia are often wearing brighter colors, matching their lighthearted demeanors. In the meanwhile, characters like Angel and Giles wear darker or more basic colors, highlighting their serious natures.
If you aren’t already a Joss Whedon fan, check out-well absolutely anything by him. I desperately want to see his latest feature, a modern adaption of Much Ado About Nothing. Did I mention that Avengers came out just a year ago? And now he’s doing Shakespeare. Joss Whedon is one hell of a versatile guy.
– Nicholas Graves