The last time I did one of these was almost a year ago with Keanu Reeves. I felt it necessary (and timing-appropriate) to do another... this time about Joss Whedon. Unlike Keanu, almost everybody who actually knows who the hell Joss Whedon is either appreciates, likes, or loves the guy. He's the guy that brought us the ever-so-popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. But besides those two shows, Joss has had the worst luck creating anything lasting on television. And you could even argue it only worked with Buffy, since Angel was canceled before it was meant to end, as well. But almost everything he touches these days is either canceled almost immediately (from Firefly to the current show Dollhouse, which even star Eliza Dushku doesn't seem to have much hope for in the 'lasting' department... at least from what I've heard). Luckily, most of it hits a cult status almost immediately, so he still makes some kind of money. But now, I want to honor 5 great things that have come about because of Joss Whedon... outside of the obvious (Buffy, etc.).
1. Nathan Fillion. Joss popularized the guy, even though Nathan had been around for nearly 10 years before Joss got a hold of him. First giving him a leading role in Firefly (and the later spin-off film Serenity), then a villainous role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then yet another villainous (though superhero) role in the most recent Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, Joss has made the guy into the Bruce Campbell for this generation. Granted, this generation still worships Bruce Campbell, too, but they're like two peas in a pod. They really should work on something together...
2. Repo! The Genetic Opera. I know, you're saying to yourself "But Joss didn't have anything to do with that movie." And you're right. However, Joss' brilliant work with "Once More With Feeling," the musical episode of Buffy, brought notice to Anthony Head's amazing singing ability. And it was actually because of this episode that director Darren Lynn Bousman requested Anthony Head for the role, and the very episode that got the producers to agree with it instead of going with a more big-name star. And I have to say, with anybody else besides Anthony Head in that role, the movie would have been, as the Spaniards would say, el terrible.
3. Neil Patrick Harris as a triple-threat. We all know Neil Patrick Harris. But it wasn't until Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog that we realized Neil Patrick Harris could do amazing acting, show brilliant comedic timing, and sing magnificintly... sometimes all at once. For me, he went from "Doogie Howser" to "The best part of Harold and Kumar" to "Doogie Howser is gay?" to "the guy from How I Met Your Mother" to "Holy crap, it's Neil Patrick Harris. I wanna see more of him." But I didn't reach that last point until Joss Whedon got a hold of him.
4. Titan A.E./Toy Story. Does anybody else remember Titan A.E.? Personally, I think it's vastly underrated to the point where nobody ever talks about it. It has some great voice acting from the likes of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, John Leguizamo, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo, Drew Barrymore, and Ron Pearlman. It also has a fun, imaginative, and interesting story. And the story, along with its witty dialogue, was brought to us by none other than one of its screenwriters, Joss Whedon. Similarly, and I didn't realize this until not too long ago, Joss Whedon was one of the four screenwriters of Toy Story. He was up for the Oscar and everything. A man of many talents, huh? For the record, I included both of these together as more of a 'hidden writing credit' category.
5. Feminism in television/movies. Joss Whedon, in almost everything he does (especially if he's more personally involved), has strong female leads--oftentimes literally, physically strong. But where most filmmakers wouldn't risk it for whatever reason, Joss always shakes his finger at the male-dominated industry and does things his own way. Then again, maybe that's why he can't keep a project going very long (Hell, even his attempted adaptation of the popular Wonder Woman fell through, as no producers could agree with his vision... or he just couldn't get around to writing it. One of the two). But one thing is always certain where Joss Whedon is involved: females will never be mere damsels in distress.