Reports surfaced today that the owners of the Buffy franchise are seriously considering a reboot/reimagining of the valley-girl slayer in big-budget movie form.
Nope, not Joss Whedon. Fran Rubel Kuzui, who bought the rights to make the first Buffy movie in 1992.
At last accounts, none of the cast from the movie or the TV series, nor Joss himself, would be involved with the project.
Now, I'll admit up front that I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan, and so I had a pretty negative emotional reaction when I first heard the news. However, I'm putting that aside for this post. After all, there have been some great franchize reboots recently that many people scoffed at but that came off well. I'm thinking Lord of the Rings here, and, of course, Star Trek.
However, allow me to take off my "Joss Whedon is my Master Now" T-shirt and analyze the numerous other reasons why this is a bad move.
1. Too early for a reboot. The Buffy series has only been off the air for seven years. Admittedly, things are getting rebooted earlier and earlier--Hulk had 5 years between its first and second movies, but Hulk had a few things going for it. One, the second movie was only partially a reboot. Sure, different characters, timeline, continuity, but the second movie did not retell the origin story. Also, the Hulk has a huge fanbase apart from any film adaptation.
2. Alienating the audience. The majority of Buffy's success is inextricably linked with Joss Whedon. I know I said that I wasn't going to be a fangirl, but hear me out. He wrote the first movie (even though he wasn't involved with it much beyond that) and he pretty much created the universe of the television series. The things that people love about Buffy--the mix of humor and drama, the snappy one-liners, the character development, that's all Joss. Everything I've heard from the reboot is that they're going darker and bigger in scope. I believe that a large number of Buffy fans are, not necesarily Joss Whedon fans, but fans of the campy side. A Buffy apart from this is not going to appeal to the same fans that the other Buffy prodcuts have.
3. Tabula rasa. The success or failure of this new Buffy movie hinges on the quality of the people picked to create it. Yes, the premise of Buffy leaves a ton of room to do lots of different things. Each generation, a girl is born who has superpowers and fights vampires. Beyond that, it's a blank canvas. A huge canvas. My worry is that the canvas will be too big for all but the most talented individuals to wield successfully.
If you ask me? The Kuzuis should forget the whole "Buffy" thing and get behind Joss to produce his Goners movie. It's a similar premise--girl gets strong and fights the monsters--and it has the potential to be a lot darker than the Buffyverse, such as it is.
And there's not all the baggage of a movie, a 7-season series, a comic book, and a legion of pissed off fans.