Joss Whedon: The definitive EW interview

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Post-Avengers, you can probably pick the next property that you want to play with. What’s one you’ve always wanted to do?
There’s probably a dozen. It’s very important I don’t do that. It’s very important that we start creating new content again. We can only build on nostalgia so much before we have nothing left to build on. Before we’re rebooting Spider-Man—again. It’s dangerous to the culture, and it’s boring to me. I squeezed in between my Avengers movies a 400-year-old play. So I really need to create some new worlds.

So if Disney said, “Here’s the Boba Fett movie,” you’d say no?
I can’t say for sure, because that’s a tasty morsel. But right now my heart doesn’t go that way.

Does that mean fans should give up on wanting to reboot Firefly?
I came out publicly when the Veronica Mars Kickstarter thing happened to relay that because, right now, it can’t be done. Everybody’s working—thank God. I have often said I would love to get the crew back together. There’s another side of that. There’s the Monkey’s Paw fear of even if it’s just as good, it won’t be as good, because it will be just as good, and it’s already been new, so you won’t have that. Now everybody is like, “Are you going to remake Buffy? Are you going to Kickstarter?” My blanket answer is “No.” It’s not a question I’m interested in hearing again, which is why I quit my other job—Twitter.

You’ve quit?
I joined six months ago to specifically try to drive business to Much Ado because I figured Much Ado needs all the help it can get. The moment I joined, oh my God, what a responsibility, this is enormous work—very fun, but it really started to take up a huge amount of my head space. I’m making a movie, I got a responsibility, this job doesn’t pay very well. It’s a fascinating medium, it’s a fascinating social phenomenon. People are like, “It’s like a drug.” Yeah, and it’s like a job. It’s just another art form. Until I have a script I truly believe in or a tweet that’s really remarkable, I can just walk away and get back to the storytelling I need to do.

Speaking of exactly that, you once tweeted: “Everything is a drug. Family, art, causes, new shoes… We’re all just tweaking our chem to avoid the void.” That’s profound and depressing.
If you look at the Twitter feed like you look at my work, it’s all me trying to work out my problems—and some puns. And with that one I didn’t even feel like being funny. I remember that one particularly. It was one of those obvious revelations, but I was really feeling it. Everything we do really is just a little marker on the long road to death. And sometimes that’s overwhelmingly depressing to me, and sometimes it makes me feel kinship and forgiveness. We’ve all got the same ending to the story. The way we make that story more elaborate, I got to respect.

Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman recently gave his take on the future: “I believe in hope, and I believe that we are good. And I believe that we are smart, and I believe that we are going to stop anything terrible from happening.” And I found that interesting because you once said the opposite: “I think the world is largely awful and getting worse, and eventually the human race will die out. And it’ll be our own fault.”
I think that’s absolutely the case. I think we’re actually becoming stupider and more petty. I think we have one shot—and that’s education, and that’s being defunded along with all the social services. What’s going on in this country, and many countries, is beyond depressing. It’s terrifying. Sometimes I have to remember who I’m talking to. I’ll say something about climate change, how terrible things are, and meaningless, and the world is headed toward destruction and war and apocalypse. And at one point my daughter goes, “Hey! I’m 8!” She doesn’t want to hear that stuff. But I can’t believe anybody thinks we’re actually going to make it before we destroy the planet. I honestly think it’s inevitable. I have no hope.

That’s surprising, because your work isn’t bleak. Bad things happen, there’s pathos, favorite characters die. But it’s not like the fifth act of Hamlet.
No. My stories do have hope because that is one of the things that is part of the solution—if there can be one. We use stories to connect, to care about people, to care about a situation. To turn the mundane heroic, to make people really think about who they are. They’re useful. And they’re also useful to me. Because if I wrote what I really think, I would be so sad all the time. We create to fill a gap—not just to avoid the idea of dying, it’s to fill some particular gap in ourselves. So yeah, I write things where people will lay down their lives for each other. And on a personal level, I know many wonderful people who are spending their lives trying to help others, or who are just decent and kind. I have friends who are extraordinary, I love my family. But on a macro level, I don’t see that in the world. So I have a need to create it. Hopefully, that need gets translated into somebody relating to it and feeling hope. Because if we take that away, then I’m definitely right. I want to be wrong, more than anything. I hate to say it, it’s that line from The Lord of the Rings—“I give hope to men; I keep none for myself.” They say it in Elvish, so it sounds super cool.

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