Just why is rebooting Buffy the Vampire Slayer such a travesty?
There were rumblings last year that Fran Rubel Kazui and Kaz Kazui – two graverobbers commanding the rights to the original issue-ridden Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie – had plans to reboot the saga without the involvement of one Joss Whedon. Following the films commercial and critical failure, it was Whedon who had crafted an intelligent and revered series out of the story butchered in the Kirsty Swanson-starring original.
Fortunately, a year passed with little word of development on the Warner Bros. housed travesty. With assorted interviews with the original cast teasing the possibility of a big screen outing for the much loved Scooby Gang, and Sarah Michelle Gellar herself admitting that she would “never say never” to the character’s return, it was beginning to look like the threatened reboot had been all but forgotten.
Today, however, news has reached us that actress/writer Whit Anderson (she has appeared in a number of shorts) has successfully pitched a new take on the story to Warner Bros. and kicked the proposed reboot back into production. While other sites appear reassured by the writer’s admission that, ”I didn’t really watch much television at all, but I always watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That was the one show I would watch when I got home. I just loved this character,” and the fact that Batman Begins instigators Atlas Entertainment have signed on after being convinced by her take on the story, we at BestforFilm are not so easily convinced.
Buffy is not Batman. While the caped crusader can survive having all of the camp and fun erased from his character in the dogmatic pursuit of grit and reality – sacrificing humour and even superheroics in favour of humourless and unsentimental action – Buffy is defined by her humanity. At times dark but always self-conscious, witty and moving, the trepidation from those involved regarding a Buffy movie was born from the knowledge that so much needs to be accounted for in order for the character to work on the big screen. If Joss Whedon couldn’t take Buffy straight to the Box Office, it is difficult to imagine how Anderson expects to succeed.
I understand that this is a reboot, and that by its very definition it will reimagine the source material, but the point I’m trying to raise that it is source material that doesn’t need reinventing. If they are going to do to Buffy the Vampire Slayer what Catherine Hardwicke appears to have done to Red Riding Hood (by making a Zeitgeist movie with little apparent relation to the titular source material), or what Platinum Dunes have done to Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees, then I’m more than happy to just stick with the seven-seasons already in existence.
What is more, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is about more than just its titular heroine. An ensemble piece, the character was defined by her relationships. With other slayer Faith demonstrating what a Chosen One might become should she not have friends and family to ground her, the ongoing tribulations of Willow, Xander, Giles, Dawn, Spike, Angel and Anya were almost as large a part of the story as Buffy’s own journey. Similarly, Sunnydale, the town that they lived in, came to define the series, as did the unique language that its residents tended to speak. That the rights to these supporting characters are under lock and key elsewhere means that any developed reboot would be unable to utilise them, leaving Buffy the Vampire Slayer uncharacteristically alone.
With Joss Whedon busy with The Avengers, he nevertheless aired his reactions to the news over at E!, “I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I’m also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was”, it is clear that in the year since the plans first surfaced the series’ creator has had time to mellow to the idea. However, while it is indeed true that Buffy was written by a number of different writers, they each played true to the characters’ personalities.
“Generally, I wouldn’t have said, ‘Let’s revive this’”, admits Batman Begins producer Charles Roven, “but Whit’s take is pretty compelling and a lot of fun, and it’s interesting to see all of this reimagined. This is a completely new reboot. Tone is extremely important, and you want the audience to realize what is at stake and the peril is real, but at the same time what’s going on should be fun and inviting and keep everyone engaged. It needs to be relevant to today too, and that is what Whit has found a way to do.”
While I am the first to admit that the comic based continuation of the story pales in comparison to what came before, Roven’s assurances that “while this is not your high-school Buffy, she’ll be just as witty, tough and sexy as we all remember her to be”, are not quite enough to lull me into a false sense of security. With a number of existing spin-off’s proving Whedon’s world to be of infinite possibility, why not leave it to the master, or – at the very least – create your own slayer? Buffy‘s spoken for.