Face-Off: J.J. Abrams vs. Joss Whedon

For last weeks Face-Off, we geared up for the release of The Great Gatsby by pitting Leonardo DiCaprio's villainous turn as Calvin Candie in Quentin's Django Unchained against another brainchild of Tarantino's in Hans Landa as portrayed by Christoph Waltz. The articles verdict and the general consensus from our readers is that while DiCaprio portrayed a great villain with Candie, Hans Landa is just too much of an iconic son of a bitch not to take the win.

This week, J.J. Abrams solidifies himself as one of the top dogs in Hollywood with the release of Star Trek Into Darkness . With that in mind, we thought why not throw him in the ring with another one of the best in the industry today in the man responsible for The Avengers in Joss Whedon. Joss Whedon, for his fanbase that follows his work regularly have been of the opinion for a long time that he's churned out nothing but quality over the years. J.J. Abrams has also amassed an impressive amount of film buffs who think everything he touches turns to gold, but I think he's backed himself into a corner that what he does with Star Wars Episode VII will be his defining moment. It's hard to argue with the fact that both these power house filmmakers are the main sources of our summer excitement these days and will be for a while, but who do you fancy more?
Television Work
J.J. started his film career as a co-creator of the drama series Felicity, along with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves. In 2001 Abrams created the spy show Alias starring the always hot Jennifer Garner which ran for six years, quality television for the most part. In 2004 came Lost, which many fans have a love hate relationship with today...but it has to be said that Abrams created something with this show that was able to stay compelling for better or worse. In 2008 we were introduced to Fringe, a great show that ended its run this year. Most recently J.J. has attached his name as an Executive Producer to shows like Person of Interest and Revolution. Pretty damn impressive resume.
Joss Whedon earned his stripes as a golden boy of television in a big way by creating the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, which ran for a good seven seasons. This intersected with a Buffy spinoff co-created by Whedon in Angel, which had an impressive five season run...much better than most spinoffs. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Whedon's TV career is the short lived space western series Firefly, which only ran for 13 episodes. Over the years the series has gained a pretty big, impressive cult status, more than many shows that were allowed to run its course. Whedon followed that up with the short lived Dollhouse, and co-created the much anticipated upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whedon has also written episodes Roseanne, and directed episodes of The Office and Glee.
Film Work
Writing/Co-Writing: Taking Care of Business, Regarding Henry, Forever Young, Gone Fishin', Armageddon, Joy Ride, and Mission Impossible III. Directing: Mission Impossible III, Star Trek, Super 8, Star Trek Into Darkness, and the soon to be Star Wars Episode VII. Also produced films like Cloverfield, Morning Glory, and the fourth Mission Impossible. MI:III remains the best in the series to me, Super 8 made me feel like a kid again, and while Abrams' Star Trek didn't turn me into a Trekkie per se, I still enjoyed the hell out of it. Haven't counted my vote for the Trek sequel yet, but it will be an interesting journey into a galaxy far far away for Abrams, will he be back to direct more after his first? He has a hell of a resume so far, can he keep it up?
Writing/Co-Writing: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Getaway, Speed, Waterworld, Toy Story, Alien: Resurrection, Titan A.E, X-Men, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Cabin in the Woods. Directing: Serenity, The Avengers (also wrote), Much Ado About Nothing, and the upcoming Avengers 2 (also wrote). On the writing side of things, Whedon has verbalized his disappointed outlook on many of the films he worked as a scribe on, but hey he always has Toy Story. His filmography isn't as extensive as that of Abrams, but I feel inclined to make this category a tie. I mean, does the fact that The Avengers went on to become one of the the highest grossing film of all time persuade you to agree? Or does Abrams' more lengthy body of work give him the edge in your eyes?
Abrams has a total 28 award nominations, with 9 wins. Those awards that he won can be credited to Lost, he won 6 of his 9 awards in the name of the acclaimed show. He won an SFX award for Best Director for Star Trek, and a Best Director award from Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films for Super 8. Most recently he received a Norman Lear Achievement Award for Television via the PGA. A blemish on these accolades for Abrams? Perhaps it would be the Razzie that he was nominated for due to his contribution to Armageddon. But two things to consider, for those of you who didn't like that film (I dug it), J.J. Abrams isn't the guy to blame, two he didn't win so there was an even steamier pile of shit that year.
Whedon's tally is 34 award nominations, with a total of 13 wins. Three of Whedon's first nominations include an Academy for Best Original Screenplay can be credited to Toy Story, he should have won all three dammit. A bunch of Hugo and Emmy nominations followed for his work on some specific episodes of his numerous television shows over the years including Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. His most recent awards can be attributed to the kick ass Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers. The most recent award he's won is a Belfast Film Festival Audience Award for Much Ado About Nothing, hopefully that's an indicator that Whedon shows no signs of losing his touch anytime soon.
J.J. Abrams has gotten to a point in his career where many will flock to at least check out whatever he has his name attached to, even if he's only signed on as an Executive Producer. Abrams is one of those elite filmmakers that inspire trust, you have faith in what he's doing and it is very rare that he has let us all down. Many people have a re-invigorated appreciation for Stark Trek since J.J. Abrams took the mantle, a few aren't buying into it. Like I stated at the beginning of the article, how Abrams handles Star Wars is very important. The fan base for SW is nothing to fuck around with, and I fear if he messes it up everything he's accomplished in terms of quality will be diminished thanks to a fanboy's unforgiving nature. In the meantime, it's a testament to how highly many think of J.J. Abrams that says we have faith that he may be able to take the franchise into a new generation.
For a long time Joss Whedon had a very dedicated fanbase among TV and film buffs for his tendency to bring his wit into the shows he gave birth to. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has its fair share of people who look back on the show fondly, that was pushed over the other side of the mountain with Firefly. It's amazing the amount of love and attention the show has gained when it had already been canceled, enough to warrant a film to tie up the story. With the first Avengers out in the world, Whedon is no doubt Hollywood royalty now...not only within the industry but with fans as well. Whedon has signed on for Avengers 2, and how well he can balance comedy with drama, and give a stat studded cast equal moments to shine are exactly why Joss is one of the best things going today in the public's eye and here's to hoping he signs on for a third Avengers to remind us once again why we all love him.
Joss Whedon
There you have it folks, two very talented filmmakers but there could only be one winner and Joss Whedon is catering to my sensibilities the more and more I see of his work. But as always, this is just one mans opinion and I have seen some interesting outlooks thanks to this column, so where do you stand on this battle? Time to strike back!

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at [email protected] with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which filmmaker is your favorite?



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