When I talk about the films that inspired me the most as a kid, I normally name Star Wars, Indiana Jones orTerminator. These uniques worlds sucked me into their deepest realms and introduced me to some of the best characters ever written and their larger than life adventures.
However when talking about the small screen, there is one man who's work had an equally relevant impact on me as an avid movie/entertainment lover and reviewer: Joss Whedon, who many people only identify with his smash hit "The Avengers" and its sequel.
It all started with a little show, that goes by the silly name of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"
The show focused on a young girl, that was chosen to fight the demons, vampires and other horror icons, while also dealing with the everyday horrors of being a teenager in the most horrifying environment: highschool.
Not only was this show revolutionary in terms of female empowerment, but also when it came to its writing. For the very first time in modern main stream media, high school was not being glorified but presented as a scary place of abuse, with monsters being metaphors for everyday problems. The show also gave us what we now refer to as Whedon-Dialogue...meaning relatable, funny and timeless wording, that is used perfectly in any given situation by beloved characters.
Buffy also showed us Whedon's ability to handle a great ensemble cast and making each and every single one an important part of a larger picture, that also included a new "Big Bad" for every new season.
During the first three seasons the high school arc was displayed and all of our heroes were exposed to their inner demons and the literal monsters, the hell mouth had to offer.
But as we grew older, so did our characters... which became more and more evident in the later seasons. Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles would continue their adventures even after highschool, because life continues to offer its share of horrors and struggles.
Season 4 of the show marked not only this new direction and focus on former guest characters like Spike, the bleach blonde vampire, but also the departure of former main characters Angel and Cordelia, who would go on to star in a spin-off called "Angel".
Angel was a very different beast than Buffy. While inheriting some of the mother series' cast members (Angel, Cordelia, Wesley and later on even Spike and Harmony) the show did not focus on lifes' struggles or growing up. "Angel" was defined by the fight for redemption.
The character of Angel, first introduced on Buffy was not only a love interest but a tragic figure. As a former vicious vampire, he made a name for himself as one of the worst creatures to ever walk the earth, until he murdered the wrong girl. As a punishment he was cursed by gypsies, who restored his soul in order to make him suffer for eternity, by giving him back his conscious.
While fighting the good fight on "Buffy" it became clear that Angel would have to leave at some point, since his curse was supposed to keep him from achieving true happiness and would be broken once achieved, as it did during the second season of "Buffy", making him the monster again.
As a darker more mature show "Angel" managed to be part of the "Buffyverse" while also maintaining clearly distinct characteristics and mission statements.
The unwinnable, yet important fight against evil and for redemption was the driving force behind that show.
Exactly that fight was also a theme of another witty and clever show created by Mr. Whedon: Firefly
The short-lived cult phemenon "Firefly" focused on the misadventures of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, who lost a war for independence against the so called "Alliance" and became a smuggler in the following years. The interaction between "Mal" and his crew of space pirates was another perfect display of "Whedon-Dialogue", that again combined humor with emotion.
The space western was abruptly cancelled, but managed to tie up all lose ends in the 2004 cinematic conclusion "Serenity".
"Firefly" like "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" featured an ensemble cast, that worked well together. It also balanced humor, drama, horror, thriller and action perfectly and is by many considered to be Whedon's crown achievement.
Another short-lived television series by Joss Whedon was "Dollhouse"
The show reunited Whedon with former "Buffy"-star Eliza Dushku (Faith) and dealt with a powerful company, that runs a facility, in which people's memories and persona can be completely erased and exchanged with new one's in order to please customers, who hire these "actives" for their very varying needs.
In 2012 nerds worldwide cheered, when Joss Whedon gave us Marvel's cinematic hero-mashup, "The Avengers"
Completing the so called "phase one" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Joss Whedon managed to make every single character of this humongous cast relevant, while adding his own trademark dialogue and humor to the franchise - thus making it one of the most successful movies in recent years!
And while I adore"The Avengers", it's sequel "The Avengers - Age of Ultron" and Joss Whedon's take on Shakespear in "Much Ado About Nothing", which was a retelling of the classic play, filmed at Whedon's home and starring multiple actors known to the Whedonverse eg. Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg and Fran Kranz; I will always prefer his original content.
A current prime example for that is the movie "The Cabin In The Woods"
The movie was directed by "Buffy" and "Angel" writer Drew Goddard and co-written and produced by Whedon himself.
"The Cabin In The Woods" tells the story of five college students, who travel to a deserted place in the woods to enjoy the weekend, when all of a sudden chaos and bloodshed ensues.
"The Cabin In The Woods" is a Joss Whedon staple... it has his signature dialogue, a strong female heroine in Kristen Connolly and combines a mix of genres, while creating a new one. It again features many familiar faces (Tom Lenk, Amy Acker, Chris Hemsworth and Fran Kranz)
The film also features great twists and turns, that I will not spoil here. To some the film is a love letter to every existing horror movie, to others a dark comedy. Some people call it social commentary, others belive it is linked to the mythology of "Angel".
I personally think it is a little bit of all the above and another reason, why I adore this man, that gave us so much more, than JUST "The Avengers".