Whedon/Abrams Love Comic-Con, Star Trek, Each Other

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Yes, yes; Joss Whedon made the news that wasn’t actually news yesterday when he confirmed that he’ll be directing the Avengers movie for Marvel Studios (joking that he was officially announcing it because Marvel was too cheap to issue a press release), but that wasn’t all there was to enjoy about the Entertainment Weekly Visionaries panel he shared with JJ Abrams; the two talked about their own fandoms, their feelings on the future of serialized television, and why Comic-Con is so close to their hearts. (Also: See EW’s exclusive gallery of celeb portraits from their lounge and video from their panels here.)

Talking about how they’d ended up as writers and directors, Whedon joked that “I didn’t want to get an honest job, because that sounded hard,” before admitting that “writing is, and will always be, the way with which I find myself.” Abrams came to it through a childhood love of magic and illusion, calling film making “another way to” having a similar effect on an audience. Abrams talked about, as a child, sending fan letters to special effects artist Dick Smith, who responded by sending him a fake tongue from The Exorcist (“My mom was like, what the fuck is that?”); Whedon responded by saying that he didn’t have anything that cool, adding, “I do have an Alien egg, but I did have to bury the franchise to get it,” referring to his script for the last Alien movie.

(More on Techland: Joss Whedon Confirms He’s Directing The Avengers)

Talking about Cabin In The Woods, the horror movie he’s co-written with Drew Goddard, Whedon explained that its future is unknown as studio MGM is going through financial difficulties: “They’ve put James Bond on hold, and we don’t come before him.” He went on to say that, while MGM had plans to turn the movie into 3D, he wasn’t a fan of that decision, because it was shot very intentionally to look unlike current horror movies, and that ideally, it’d be released in 2D with the tagline “Cabin In The Woods… It’s painterly.” He joked, “It’ll revolutionize the industry.”

Overall, however, Whedon likes 3D (Luckily, as Avengers will inevitably be released as a 3D movie); Abrams wasn’t convinced, saying that he didn’t like the way that wearing the special glasses makes colors dimmer: “My eyes adjust, but the first few minutes, I miss the vibrancy.” The two are closer on the subject of the potential for internet movies, with Whedon revealing that, prior to the Avengers deal, he was working on a webseries created with comic writer Warren Ellis, called Wastelanders (“Warren saw I was doing Avengers and said, ‘I’ll wait,'” he explained), and Abrams saying that a couple of projects at his Bad Robot production company follow the lead of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog – In fact, a creator on the con floor was close to making a deal with the company for a web series, he hinted. The sequel to Dr. Horrible was described as being “in turnaround” due to everyone involved being too busy, but Whedon said that they know what the story is, and it’s just a matter of finding time to make it on their own terms.

(More on Techland: JJ Abrams and Undercovers: The Best Hope of the New Sci-Fi Class?)

The future of television was discussed, as well; Whedon described his experience on Dollhouse as “must’ve been the wrong place, must’ve been the wrong time,” going on to say “I have more of a cable mentality than I realized,” and that he hadn’t recognized the changes in network television since he had worked on Buffy and Angel. Abrams talked about finding a balance between serialized storytelling and episodic television that requires less commitment, saying that both Fox’s Fringe and NBC’s upcoming Undercovers try to find that space. “Studios want shows that’ll syndicate,” he said, before saying that they also want serialized shows that will hook audiences without knowing it; Whedon added, “Networks will never ask for that, they want the easy cash cow… They would speak against serialized storytelling even when it’s what everyone is watching.”

Asked about what they both find inspiring currently, Abrams namedropped Scott Pilgrim and comic creator Chris Ware, while Whedon embarrassed his comrade by calling Star Trek “the gold standard for a team movie, a genre movie, that’s come out in the last few years,” adding, “I have had moments of sheer fucking panic because I love Star Trek so much.”

The two men honored their environment as they wrapped up the main portion of the panel before taking audience questions; Whedon called Comic-Con “an unreality check,” saying that attending each year is “like returning to ground zero,” while Abrams talked about loving it because “it’s the place you wanna go to see like-minded people doing what they love… It feels like an odd second home.”

A video of the entire panel is already available on Entertainment Weekly’s site here.

More on Techland:

The Techland Guide to Having a Good Time at Comic-Con

Comic-Con International: What to Get in Line For Early

Where to See Techlanders at Comic-Con

Rolling Photo Gallery: Cosplay at Comic-Con