'Firefly' Reunion at Comic Con: It's About the Fans
Monday, July 16, 2012
What can make Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion cry? A ballroom full of 4,800 Firefly fans. Especially if a large portion of those fans have camped out overnight for the privilege of being in attendance at the 10th anniversary reunion of the series. And they're wearing Jayne hats. And brown coats. Lots of brown coats.
No Power in the 'Verse
Firefly fans are notoriously loyal and vocal. This is the group who made it their mission to avoid having the tales of Mal, Wash, Zoe and the rest of the crew end with 14 episodes. The fans, collectively known as "Browncoats," rallied to see more of the space western they'd come to love. Out of their determination was born the feature film Serenity, which continued the story where the series had left off. It doesn't matter that the series ended 10 years ago and the movie was released in 2005. The characters mean as much to these people today as they did when they were on the air.
Heathens Aplenty Right Here
I was one of the hardcore who camped out in front of the San Diego Convention Center on Thursday night to ensure a seat at the reunion. Clearly, this was going to be THE event of the Con. Although some would argue that other panels were more popular because they were held in a larger room, none were more highly anticipated that the return of Captain Tightpants and Company.
I heard arrival times outside the Convention Center were as early as 9pm that night, although I only got there around midnight (timing which earned me a place of around 250th in line). Fans arrived in a steady stream throughout the wee hours, especially after it was tweeted that Joss Whedon had shown up at the line at around 3am to sign everyone's event badges. Some caught a bit of sleep, but there was so much anticipation in the air that most everyone's eyes stayed open for the majority of the night.
You're My Kind of Stupid
When we were finally admitted into the ballroom, the excitement was palpable. There were two panels before the reunion, which helped keep our minds occupied while we waited for our main event. Some people complained that the Firefly fans kept fans of other shows from attending the other panels. From what I saw, there was a lot of crossover fandom, especially between Firefly and Community (it's no secret to the Twitterverse that Nathan Fillion and the Community cast have a mutual love-fest going on).
Time for Some Thrilling Heroics
The roar of the crowd started with the Firefly video retrospective and never completely calmed down until the panel ended. Writers Tim Minear and Jose Molina took the stage. Alan Tudyk, Sean Maher, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau and Nathan Fillion took the stage to represent all of the cast members (previous commitments unfortunately kept Morrena Baccarin, Gina Torres and Jewel Staite from attending, and there was no word given on Ron Glass). And then, Joss Whedon came out to a standing ovation. It wasn't any of the "faces" of Firefly that got the biggest love, it was the creator of the universe that so many had come to cherish who got the ultimate reception. It was the most immediate way the fans could think of to say, "Thank you for creating this."
Big Damn Heroes
All of the panel participants took turns telling stories from the early days. Tim talked about being pulled off of Angel in order to work on Joss's new project. Nathan spoke about how Mal is his favorite role. Adam told the story of how Jayne's hat came to be. The cast was praised, and Alan was mentioned as being on the show, too. Summer was the little sister who seemed afraid of getting teased if she said too much. Every bit of show history that was discussed elicited a vocal response from the audience. They could have continued telling stories for hours more and nobody would have moved a muscle.
I'd Take That as a Kindness
When asked to talk about what the fans mean to him, Whedon was silent for a full minute while trying to compose himself. While Nathan Fillion repeatedly dabbed at his eyes with a napkin, Joss spoke about what this has all meant to him. It was the most heartfelt, touching, genuine moment I have ever seen between a celebrity and his fans. In the end, the creator of this beloved universe was crying as he said this:
"When you come from a great movie, you feel like you're in that world...You come out of these certain things, and the world has become that. When you're telling a story, you are trying to connect to people in a particular way. It's not just about 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, has 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. The story is alive."
(Image courtesy of Getty Images)