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Comic-Con 2012:

The Science Channel brings it back... but it never went away in our hearts.

Undoubtedly one of the most eagerly anticipated panels at Comic-Con 2012, the Firefly 10th Anniversary Reunion drew an overwhelmingly high number of loyal and enthusiastic Browncoats to Ballroom 20, with thousands of fans stretching the line all the way to the boats behind the San Diego Marriot Marina hotel.

With such an intense fan presence and a standing room only press conference, it would be impossible for an outsider to guess that Firefly had been cancelled before it had even finished its first season a decade ago.

Riotous applause and a fair amount of joyful tears welcomed the beloved Firefly crew as they gathered on stage in front of thousands of fans — a fitting heroes’ welcome for creator Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, and Sean Maher.

Said Fillion of the massive fan support for the series despite its infamous cancellation, “When Firefly died, I thought that was the worse thing that could possibly happen.  What I realize now ten years later, looking out over this room, is that the worst thing that could have happened is that if it had stayed dead.”

When asked what could have made Firefly increasingly more popular now than it seemingly was ten years ago, Whedon adamantly proclaimed, “We were right.  The thing that we made was right.  We were right about it, it was good, and the network was WRONG.  The fans are correct.  And it’s not just because it got cut down before its time—it’s because we were right.  And that universe was fully realized very quickly.”

Does anyone else think that any time you get Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion together, this exact pose happens?

The cast spent most of the panel sharing their Firefly “war stories” with the crowd, with many of the actors attempting to hold back tears while they spoke.  “If I can get through this without crying, it’ll look a lot cooler,” said Fillion. 

He admitted that he owed a lot to his alter-ego Capt. Malcolm Reynolds, for not only did the role and working with Joss Whedon teach him how to act, but it also proved to the entertainment industry that he is capable of carrying a show.  “No one would give me a chance to be anything other than Number 5 Guy, Lead Girl’s Ex, the Other Dude Who Doesn’t Come In Until Later and Then He Leaves Pretty Early.  But Joss Whedon was the guy.  He gave me the best character I’ve ever played, the best everything.”

Commenting on the natural chemistry aboard the Serenity, Alan Tudyk (“leaf on the wind” Wash) revealed that it was all based on competition—and Fillion’s antics during the first week of filming. 

Summer Glau and Adam Baldwin listen to the leaf in the wind Alan Tudyk...

“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 he took off.  So it became a game of learning everybody’s names. The game just brought [the actors and crew] together, because we’d be walking around going ‘Hi…B-B-Brian. J-Jim? Jim.’  I think that was the biggest thing that brought us together as a family.”

The theme of family seemed to flow through the entire Firefly reunion — from the family of the characters, to the family of the Firefly cast and crew, and to the family of the thousands of fans gathered to celebrate their heroes.  “I love my friends desperately,” said Whedon, “and I believe in their ability to band together when things are appalling and protect each other.  That is the definition, the biological reason for family. And created family is what I believe in.”

Adam Baldwin is family to Sean Maher...

Adam Baldwin (the often surly Jayne Cobb) recounted the day it was announced that Firefly had been cancelled, and how influential the undying support from the online Browncoat fan community had been to Whedon and the cast.  “I saw [Joss] diligently trying to get it back up on the air, and I saw this look of determination in his eyes, and I never gave up hope.  When the fan community was interacting with us at that point, they never gave up and I think Joss understood that you never gave up, so he never did either,” said Baldwin. 

“One of the most heart-warming 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.”

Had Whedon known that Season One would be the last, the finale of Firefly would have been vastly different from the film Serenity.  “It would have been littler… and I don’t think I would have killed anybody,” he admitted sheepishly. 

Because Whedon saw working in film as “a completely different animal with different needs,” many story arcs and characters’ backgrounds had to be abandoned, such as the Blue Sun Conspiracy and the histories of Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) and Inara (Morena Baccarin). 

"This IS what the world is like..."

While Whedon has amused himself with the idea of resurrecting the series as a radio show, there are no secret plans for a resurrected television series (neither live-action nor animated), and he concluded that it’s difficult to say that he wants more: “I got a lot out of that show.  I got an amazing group of friends; I did some of the best work I think I’ve ever done; and I got a movie.” 

As for the graphic novel version of Firefly, Whedon was ecstatic over the fact that the Firefly titles by Dark Horse are the company’s biggest selling books of all time.  “They’re bigger than Buffy, they’re bigger than Hellboy.  And the biggest hardcover they ever sold was The Shepherd’s Tale, which was the work of myself, (and) a brilliant young man named Zack Whedon.”

Fans starving for more adventures with the crew of Serenity can look forward to more comics by the Whedon brothers, who are focusing on “moving forward in the future and not just telling stories from the past.”

When asked one last time to put into perspective what the fans have meant to him, the usually eloquent and snarky Joss Whedon was rendered speechless by tears.  In what was possibly the most emotional moment of Comic-Con 2012, the entirety of Ballroom 20 started cheering and applauding, and soon the cast joins the crowd of thousands in a thunderous standing ovation to the creator of this incredibly loved series.

Firefly is still flying!

“Only an idiot would actually try to follow that with a sentence,” said Whedon. 

In his final goodbye, Whedon poured his heart out to the fans that kept Firefly soaring through the universe: “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 this is what the world is like.  I think there’s spaceships, I think there’s horses, and our story is alive.”

On Sunday November 11, the crew of Serenity traverses the television screens once again on the SCIENCE Channel, which will broadcast an all-day marathon of the classic series, followed by the world premiere of Browncoats United, a special tribute featuring exclusive footage from the Comic-Con panel, new interviews, and behind-the-scenes stories. 

Firefly is still flying.  And no power in the ‘verse can stop it.

The most comfortable family picture you may ever see.

all photographs by Steph Rodriguez

Steph Rodriguez



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