Joss Whedon Panel @ WonderCon: Full Report

After sitting through a "War of the Worlds" presentation, the crowd was hungry. The only thing that would satisfy their thirst was Whedon. Joss Whedon the reluctant genius of "Buffy" and "Angel" fame greeted a roaring crowd of die hard fans as the "Serenity" panel opened Saturday at Wonder Con 2005.

"I'm still making this movie!" joked Whedon. "At some point I'm supposed to finish. I think I will. Not positive, I might just workshop it for a few years."

Whedon immediately surprised the crowd by introducing "Astonishing X-Men" artist John Cassaday. After an adorable back and forth between the two on stage, Whedon decided Cassaday should tell fans the big news. "We decided to do a second year on Astonishing X-Men!" Once again the crowd went ballistic. When they calmed down, Whedon gave the details. The team will finish out their current run with 12 issues, then take a brief respite and come back with another 12 issues, culminating in their very own "Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men" #1.

Then he dropped another big announcement. Dark Horse will publish a three-issue "Serenity" prequel comic intended to bridge "Firefly" and the "Serenity" film. The comics will be written by Brett Matthews and will have three variant covers drawn by different great comic book artists; nine covers in all that will feature each cast member of the film. Cassaday will draw the first cover with Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds.

"I got to see a few of the covers. I got every artist I wanted. Nobody turned me down," said a proud yet humble Whedon.

Whedon went on to introduce Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, and Nathan Fillion from the cast of "Serenity," before continuing on with his show and tell - footage from the new "Serenity" movie.

The crowd got quiet and the lights went down. The footage had the cast going into some kind of bank with the River Tam character using her psychic powers to find someone in a crowd. After roughing up a few people, the crew headed into a basement to try to get into a vault. As I looked behind me the crowd was glued to the screen. Not a frown in the house - just looks of sheer joy. Then a "Reaver" space ship came out of the sky and the footage ended.

After the cheers died down, Whedon opened up the floor mic for Q & A for the thirty-some fans already waiting in line. He seemed to reluctantly serve as Internet Rumor dispeller for the first few questions. He fielded questions about "Firefly" and "Buffy." He graciously told the fan there are no plans for an "Angel" or "Buffy" film, and that he got lilies on Valentines Day from people on who want a Spike movie. "All I have to say is I do, too."

Fans continued to ask questions about how each actor enjoyed working with Whedon. "Joss is boss!" said Nathan Fillion. "Everything that comes out of each of our mouths is 100% Joss." Fillion elaborated on Whedon as a captain who always works enthusiastically with each actor.

Other questions where directed at the actors. Summer Glau was asked where she draws her character River from. "River is me when I was 15 and how I felt as a young woman." Adam Baldwin spoke about how a lot of the credit for the chemistry of the cast comes from Nathan Fillion. "Nate is the captain of the ship and the driving force behind motivating most of us. He has most of the lead dialogue and is a real inspiration." To this Nathan smiled jokingly agreed and said "Totally."

The next series of questions were about the origin of the "Reavers" and if they will be actually seen in the film.

"The movie deals with the Reavers in a way that 'Firefly' would have as time went on," said Whedon. "Every story needs a monster. In the stories of the old west it was the Apaches." He explained how he removed the racial aspect of the Apache metaphor by using the Reavers. "I used that example by saying that anyone who goes out into space and goes mad can become a monster." He also commented on the use of a strict western and horror vernacular to create his story.

Some fans just wanted to thank Whedon for his and the casts support and posts on the now defunct Fox "Firefly" Web site. Another fan asked Whedon what medium he enjoyed working in most.

"I don't play favorites. I'm just doing my first film and it's an unbelievable experience. I do love television because it has a depth you can't get in movies. The comics are like having the best cast, the best DP and the best director and it's all just one guy sitting over there." Whedon motioned towards John Cassaday. "I can't choose, but the film is at the forefront of my life right now. I love me some art and I hope I never have to choose between them," he said calmly. "If I could do something I have never done before it would be to write a ballet."

The session closed with Whedon thanking the cast of "Serenity" and the fans. Electrified by the speakers and eager for more the fans left the auditorium with high hope and anticipation of all Joss Whedon projects in the coming year.

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