Comic-Con 2012: Firefly 10th Anniversary Reunion Panel & Press Conference

There aren’t too many television shows that can draw an audience of screaming 7,000 fans to Comic-con to celebrate its tenth anniversary and if there are any, they were most likely created by Joss Whedon.  Before becoming the celebrated director of the world’s third biggest hit, The Avengers, Whedon specialized in making awesome television shows that were never given the respect they deserved.  First it was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, then “Angel”, and then most importantly in my book, “Firefly”.  Fox’s mishandling of this show is legendary and even when it was still on the air, it was hard to find thanks to it being moved too much and even the pilot for the show didn’t start the show.  For a show that had everything against it, “Firefly” still managed to win fans with its fantastic characters, thrilling action, and fantastic humor.  That audience grew even larger once the show was released on DVD and Blu-ray which allowed new fans to discover the show that had only been allowed to run thirteen episodes before being canceled.  This year’s big event was “Firefly’s” tenth anniversary reunion which served as a touching reunion and tribute as well as vindication for Whedon that the show truly mattered then and now.

The highlight of Comic-Con 2012 is without a doubt the “Firefly” panel that served as a tenth anniversary reunion and included series creator Joss Whedon, showrunner Tim Minear, writer Jose Molina and stars Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Alan Tudyk, Sean Maher, and Adam Baldwin.  Not only did I get to be a part of something historic and emotional, but I was also able to attend the private press conference that took place with the cast and crew after the panel.  My favorite part was the panel though because from the moment the cast and crew stepped on the stage, everyone knew that it was going to be unforgettable.

When Whedon was asked what it meant to be in a room filled with the show’s fans a decade after the show went off the air, he joked that “It means I’m running on fumes.  I haven’t come up with anything new, so I’m just hoping people will still watch this.”  Despite joking, Whedon was clearly touched by the response and followed up his joke by saying, “What else could it possibly mean, except that we always knew from the very beginning that everything we were doing, we were doing for the right reasons, in the right way, with the right people.  That we were making something that was more than the sum of its parts. That we had the best cast that I’ll ever work with. We also had Alan [Tudyk].”

By this point, the cast were clearly overwhelmed by the love in the room and it was getting tougher for them to keep it together.  As Nathan Fillion said, “If I can get through this without crying, it will look a lot cooler.  “Firefly” was a first for me. No one would give me a chance to be anything other than the No. 5 guy, the lead girl’s ex, the dude that doesn’t come in until later but then leaves pretty early. … Joss Whedon was the guy who gave me the best character I ever played.”  During the discussion when Fillion wasn’t talking, he was fooling around which caused him some trouble when he was later asked what it was like creating that bond of among all of the cast and crew and he had to reply, “I can’t help but think I should have been paying more attention to the question.”

Fortunately for Fillion, his co-star Alan Tudyk was kind enough to cover for his Captain by saying, “What Nathan means to say is that right in the beginning, when we first started shooting the series, Nathan came up to all the actors and he goes, ‘All right, we’re learning everybody’s names.  It’s a contest.  His name’s Jim, his name’s Alan, His name’s Tom.  His name’s Brian.  All right, I’m winning.’  And then took off.  So it became a game of learning everybody’s name.  A lot of times actors and crew get separated, you know, it just happens.  You kind of go in your little camps and that really brought everybody together.”

Whedon seconded that sentiment and stated that he knew he had to cast Fillion as Reynolds because “There was never a moment from the time we met where I did not think you were the captain. Anybody who knows the history of what went after the show, up to and including a party at your house three weeks ago, knows that Nathan is the captain. He is there to make sure that everybody is having the best time and doing their best work.”  Whedon was also quick to point out that Fillion was just as protective as his character in real life as well when needed.  He went on to say “We had a visiting actor who was very disrespectful to some of the females in the cast, and he got a taste of what Nathan’s like when somebody threatens his loved ones.  Just a little piece, and you don’t want that.  He gets very Canadian.”

When asked how he came up with the show, Whedon said, “At this point I think it’s so much in the vernacular that it seems old-fashioned, but I just wanted to make something that felt real, like a piece of history.  “I wanted to buck the system that all science fiction is lit with purple lights and big green heads. I wanted to tell an American-immigrant story, a Western story, but I need spaceships or I get cranky.”  Sean Maher chimed in as well when he said, “I never once thought of it as science fiction. I don’t know who coined the phrase ‘post-apocalyptic Western,’ but that’s always how I spoke about the show.”

When talk of the show’s cancellation came up, Adam Baldwin shared his thoughts by saying, “I think Joss understood that you never gave up, and so he never did either.   One of the most heartwarming and wonderful times of my entire life was watching that show be resurrected as a major motion picture.  We couldn’t have done it without you guys.”  Whedon agreed and said, “I sometimes look back and think of the movie as one of the finest nervous breakdowns a man could possibly have.  “I was inconsolable and it changed me, and it changed the way I worked, and it changed the way I operate because there was no way, there was no reality, where I did not get these people back together.  I had never been that before.”

At this point, the cast really were having a hard time controlling their composure but Fillion tried to keep it together as he said, “When Firefly died I thought it was the worst thing that could possibly happen.  What I realized now, 10 years later, looking out over this room, is that the worst thing that could have happened was if it stayed dead.”  Being the funny man that he is, Whedon helped alleviate the tears by saying, “Can everybody just tweet that I said that?”   Little did he know that his turn to struggle to not cry was about to happen when he was asked how the finale would have been different than the movie if he has known that he would only get one season to tell the complete story.

“It would have been littler,” he replied.  “A lot of the Reavers would have been off-screen. … Not many people realize that when Firefly was being made, it had a smaller budget than both Buffy and Angel.  It was the cheapest show we were making, which to me, when I watch it, is extraordinary.  But, apart from that, I think that obviously a couple things would have been different. Even if they had canceled the show and I absolutely knew that was the end of the show, I don’t think I would have killed anybody.”  That statement prompted Tudyk and the crowd to cheer before Whedon continued by saying, “A film is a different animal and has different needs.  “I think we would have delved more heavily into the Blue Sun conspiracy aspect of it, which we had to drop for the movie, which I was sorry about. And we would have learned about Book and about Inara, and for some reason that’s the question that’s going to make me cry, so you know what, that was a good last question.”

The final question of the panel was for Whedon who was asked what the fans meant to him after all their support for the series.  At this point, there was no holding back any emotion from either the cast and crew or the audience and it was one of those moments where you just had to be there.  The outpouring of love for Whedon and the show turned into a prolonged standing ovation by the audience and the show’s cast and crew for Whedon while he struggled to keep it together.  He finally was able to say, “Only an idiot would actually try to follow that with a sentence.  When you come out of a great movie, I’m assuming this happens to other people to, you feel like you’re in that world. … You come out of these certain things and suddenly the world has become that.  When you are telling a story, you are trying to connect to people in a particular way.  It’s not just what you want to say, it’s about inviting them into a world.  And the way in which you guys have inhabited this world, this universe, have made you part of it — part of the story.  You are living in Firefly.  When I see you guys, I don’t think the show’s off the air. I don’t think there’s a show.  I think that’s what the world is like.  I think there’s spaceships.  I think there’s horses.  I think it’s going on in all of us.  The story is alive.”

And with that, the panel was over but it felt like a cathartic and joyous experience for everyone present.  It’s moments like this that make Comic-Con what it is and what it stands for as for a short time, the cast and crew were able to thank their audience for their support and the audience let them know just how much they loved and appreciated the work and dedication Whedon and the others invested into “Firefly”.  I highly recommend watching the videos below to experience it all for yourself as my words can’t do it justice.  This panel was reason enough for the expense of coming and I will treasure it forever as it’s without a doubt my favorite Comic-Con memory.


The Firefly 10th Anniversary Full Panel

The Firefly 10th Anniversary Press Conference Part 1

The Firefly 10th Anniversary Press Conference Part 2

The Firefly Comic-Con Reunion Teaser Trailer

Nathan Fillion Talks about the Reunion and Castle

Zachary Levi gets kissed by Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin at NerdHQ! By the way, my wife got a hug and kiss from Fillion too!

Here’s the card that Nathan Fillion passes out to fans


















And here’s some more pictures that I took of the panel and the press conference


















































































































































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