Is the world ready for a Buffy revival? Fox seems to think so. At a conference this week, Fox TV boss Gary Newman said, “I think if you look in our library, Buffy is probably the most ripe show we have for bringing back.”
In the current era of constant reboots and revivals for shows like The X-Files, this doesn’t come as a surprise. But while Buffy is a cult favorite for a generation of pop culture enthusiasts, a reboot may not be welcomed with open arms. Fox seems aware of this, with Newman confirming they wouldn’t move forward without Joss Whedon.
“It’s something we talk about frequently, and Joss Whedon is really one of the greatest creators we ever worked with,” he said. “When Joss decides it’s time, we’ll do it. And until Joss decides it’s time, it won’t happen.” Former Buffy writer and executive producer Marti Noxon chimed in on Twitter, suggesting that a reboot could be a dangerous idea.
@ira yeah Joss (and me too) didn't even want to touch spin off ideas — other than Angel — back in the day. I feel like a Buffy revival could ONLY happen with @joss. But even then it would be walking pretty close to the hellmouth. https://t.co/3Wn4lLSKdi— NOX (@martinoxon) March 13, 2018
Buffy‘s success relies on the enthusiasm of a staunchly feminist fanbase, and that fanbase has moved on.
In the years since Buffy came out, Whedon’s public image has changed. While he was seen as a feminist icon in the early 2000s, his recent work—and his alleged treatment of his ex-wife Kai Cole—made him into a more controversial figure. Confronted with things like his shockingly sexist un-filmed Wonder Woman screenplay, many fans view Buffy with nostalgia, but have conflicted feelings about Whedon as a person. Even his premiere fan site, Whedonesque, shut down following his wife’s open letter about their relationship.
Whedon earned criticism for his treatment of Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron, continuing a trend for sexualized, traumatized female leads in his work. To gauge how people might react to a Buffy reboot, just look at the response to Batgirl. A decade ago, Whedon would seem like the ideal choice for Batgirl: a genre-savvy comic book nerd, known for writing strong female characters. Now, fans are less excited to see another man make a female-led superhero film. They were also concerned about how Whedon might treat the character, given her backstory of sexual assault in the comics.
When Whedon left the film last month, fans took note of his admission, “It took me months to realize I really didn’t have a story.” Warner Bros. had hired him based on reputation alone, without even asking for a pitch. It’s hard to imagine this happening to a female filmmaker, given the rarity of women getting to make blockbuster movies.
Whedon will return to the Buffy sequel comics this year, to wrap up the original story. Does that mean he’s open to more Buffy TV or is he just bidding farewell to the characters? The decision stands with him, but when it comes to the audience, this could be the first fandom to campaign against the return of a favorite show.
H/T to Variety