Now we’re going to take a look at the differences between the script/the movie on one hand, and the show on the other. While the huge difference in tone is all due to the execution and script changes, there are a few things that don’t match with the show because Joss later changed his mind. Of course, the discontinuity doesn’t matter, since neither the movie nor the script are canon.
Discontinuity between the movie/the script and canon
Several things from the script and the movie that Joss changed for the TV show:
- Vampires don’t dust when staked – except, for some reason, Lothos (maybe because he’s 800 to 900 years old). This is something that Joss decided for the TV show, in order not to have Buffy leaving a bunch of dead bodies around.
- Vampires can float.
- Vampires don’t show in photos.
- Buffy doesn’t burn down the gym during the big showdown with the vampires.
- A lot is made of Buffy’s need to preserve her secret identity – Merrick insists that vampires mustn’t know who she is, or they would he hunting her rather than the other way round. Which, come to think of it, makes sense – but was completely different on the show, where every vampire and demon knew who she is and, with rare exceptions (like Spike or Mr. Trick and the participants of his Slayer Fest ’99), it only made most of them want to stay away from her. That’s actually one change that I’m not sure the show ever properly justified. It’s almost unbelievable that no vampire or demon ever targeted Buffy’s family and friends in order to get to her, except briefly Angelus (who nevertheless didn’t do much on that front). There is a reason why Bruce Wayne thinks he needs to wear the mask to protect those he loves. See my comments on The Origin.
- Buffy’s parents are portrayed as neglectful and almost always absent; her mom pays so little attention to her that she mis-remembers her boyfriend’s name. (This is more like the family background Willow has on the show – except that her parents are also stricter. Willow’s mother Sheila seems to constantly ignore her, and can’t properly remember the name of her best friend Buffy.)
- (More in the script than in the movie) Buffy’s family also seems richer, more in Cordelia’s league (at least this is my impression – for instance, at one point she mentions a trust fund from her grandfather that she spent on shoes) than on the show, where they’re firmly middle-class types.
- (Script element; not mentioned in the movie, IIRC) Merrick says that the Watchers are all from one coven in a small English village. This is very different from the powerful (but really incompetent and stuck up their own arse) organization we first see in season 3.
- (Script element; not mentioned in the movie) Slayers have superpowers even before they are called: Buffy is mentioned to have had amazing gymnastic skills as a younger girl.
- (Script element; ignored or changed for movie) Script!Buffy is not a virgin. Her boyfriend Jeffrey is spending the night with her – he’s by her side when she wakes up from a nightmare; and during a school football game, one of the students starts talking to Merrick (and annoying the hell out of him) and gossiping about Buffy, saying that people are talking that „She’s had sex“. This was probably a part of Whedon’s idea to subvert the cliche of the blonde who dies in the alley – in movies, teenagers who have sex usually die. But this didn’t make it to the movie (Buffy is waking from her nightmare alone), I assume as a part of the overall removal of any reference to teen sex; and of course, it also isn’t in The Origin (where Buffy also wakes in her bed alone), for a different reason – because it would clash with canon, since canon!Buffy only lost her virginity in season 2.
- Merrick first approaches Buffy in the football field (script) or in the school gym (movie). In the flashback in Becoming I, he approaches her right in front of the school.
- Buffy is dating a school jock called Jeffrey, until he dumps her because she’s been busy with other things and he’s „got needs“in his own words (but she has other things to worry about, and has been falling for Pike anyway, so it’s no tragedy). But, in the flashback in Becoming I, Buffy is talking to her friends about a boy called Tyler and saying he’d have to beg her on his hands and knees to go with him to the dance... which he’s supposed to do after practice, so she’ll wait. (See my comments about The Origin below.)
Although it’s not discontinuity, I wonder why the show and later canon comics never mentioned Buffy dreaming about the lives of the previous Slayers. The only Slayers who seem to pop up in her dreams are the First Slayer and Faith. A lot more was made of the Slayer dream connection to the previous Slayers in Dana’s story in AtS Damage
, in the Tales of the Slayers,
, and in season 8 issue The Chain
, but none of those are about Buffy. How interesting would it be if Buffy ever had Slayer dreams of being Nikki Wood, for instance?
And now let’s look at how this is resolved in The Origin.
The Origin comic revisted: canon version of Buffy’s origin story
This 3-part comic, written by Christopher Golden and Brereton based on Whedon’s script for the movie, restores most of Whedon’s original script, attempts (for the most part, successfully, though there are a few problematic spots) to reconcile it with the show canon, and – unlike the movie, is very close to the tone and spirit of the TV show.
I reviewed The Origin
comic before – in the very first post on this thread
. A few words in addition to this:
The only big problem I have with the comic is with the artist drawing green, pointy-eared vampires. That aside, the art by Joe Bennett is very good. They obviously wanted to make a complete break with the movie, so none of the characters look like their movie counterparts. Of course, Buffy looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar rather than Kristy Swanson, Joyce and Hank look like they do on the show (in the movie, Buffy’s parents both have dark hair and look ridiculously tanned and a bit trashy) while Merrick looks like Richard Riehle, who played him in the show flashback. But the other characters, who never appeared on the show, are all given a new look: Pike has white hair and a goatee and doesn’t look like Luke Perry (in later, non-canon Dark Horse comics, he looked different and had brownish hair, but didn’t look like Perry either); Lothos has long red hair and looks nothing like Rutger Hauer; Jeffrey is blond, while movie Jeffrey was dark-haired, each one of Buffy’s friends has different hair color and hairstyle than their movie counterparts, etc.
I really like the way they portrayed Merrick in the comic – he is passionate, stern and determined, a very strong figure – completely different from Donald Sutherland’s bland, sleepwalking through the role version. Pike is also a lot more animated and likeable. The vampires are scary and the fights are well drawn.
The comic restores most of Joss’ best lines and moments from the script, and adds some new ones (Buffy: „Don’t think of me as late – think of me as time-impaired!“) though, unfortunately, they also added a really dumb joke (when Amilyn has his arm ripped off, he seems more concerned about his jacket – „This was real leather“). There’s also one screw-up: the inscription on the newly sired vampire reads „1972-1990“, even though it should be taking place in 1996. But this is nitpicking now.
Let’s see what the writers of the comic did about the continuity issues:
- Buffy burns the gym down. She does it because it’s the only way to kill a bunch of vampires that have attacked the school: she tricks them into the gym, locks the door with a bike chain and sets the gym on fire.
- Most of the aspects of the script that don’t fit with canon are left out.
- Merrick warning Buffy about her secret identity is still a part of the story, but Buffy basically says „Ah, screw that“ (not in those words) after Merrick’s death.
- A brief scene with Buffy’s parents is included here as well – and Buffy seems to be unsatisfied and to think that they aren’t spending enough time with her (which we only see in her bitter comment to herself that they’re „real quality timers“), but there are no moments of Joyce being clueless, and we don’t know if Buffy’s parents are really neglectful, or if Buffy is seeing her parents as more neglectful than they really are. On the show, it was established that the problem with her parents was that they didn’t get along and argued a lot for years – but never that they ignored Buffy.
- The scenes from the Becoming I flashback are included: Merrick approaching Buffy in front of the school, and their conversation is word for word taken from the show.
- The Tyler/Jeffrey issue: they tried to solve this, and I’m not sure if it works. To reconcile it, they changed the dialogue for a part of Buffy’s conversation with her friends. She says she got over Tyler long time ago, and one of the girls adds that nobody would pick Tyler over Jeffrey anyway, and it’s Jeffrey that Buffy says she is waiting for after the practice, not Tyler. But this creates a bit of discontinuity with the show, what about that? There is a way to fanwank it:
- The entire comic is framed as Buffy’s narration – so one could say that her memory may not be entirely accurate. (Maybe she and Jeffrey were over before she met Merrick, but she conflated two different timelines and thought he was still her boyfriend and that it was the night of the vampire attack that they broke up.) Buffy is telling Xander and Willow about her days in Hemery High and how she became a Slayer.
- The last LA scenes we see are taken from the script, but with some changes: Buffy’s gossiping ex-friends mention that she was expelled from school. We also see Buffy and Pike going to the castle. However, it’s actually a castle in Las Vegas – a change I don’t like, since it’s just Dark Horse’s blatant attempt to set up one of their later (non-canon) comics, Viva Las Buffy, which is about the adventures of Buffy and Pike in Las Vegas.
The comic doesn’t explain what happened to Pike and why he and Buffy went separate ways; when Xander asks Buffy about it (he even says that Pike seemed like a good match, which is really unlike season 2 Xander! Though I guess he might have said it just because he’d prefer anyone to Angel - and Pike does seem like a guy Xander might like),
she just says it’s a story for another time.
Pike was clearly created as something of a Whedonian perfect guy – he’s the only teenage boy in the movie/script/comic who isn’t sexist (Pike’s friend Benny is just as bad in that regard as the jocks Andy and a rather good fighter for someone with no superpowers, he has no problem accepting Buffy’s strength and leadership – in fact, he accepts it and likes it much more readily than Buffy herself, which is a source of strife for a while. (Canon says nothing about the reasons why he and Buffy split, but in the comic Viva Las Buffy
, he leaves because he realizes he’s just a liability for Buffy. In another non-canon comic, Note from the Underground
, he finds Buffy in Sunnydale a few years later, he helps her but is confused with all the things that have happened to Buffy since, and ends up telling her friends stories about Buffy’s LA past.)
In my earlier review, I gave the comic 3-, which might have been too harsh – I now think it’s closer to 3.5. One thing I really like about this early Buffy story is that the Slayer was still clearly portrayed as the underdog.The feelings that the Slayers were up against the odds was much stronger in the script and The Origin
, when the vampires were not established as being weaker than Slayers. This kind of got lost as the show increasingly started making the Slayers look like almost invincible, unbeatable superwomen (culminating in the utterly ridiculous „Troll Hammer“ moment in season 5) that almost all vampires (except for trill seekers) run from, which doesn’t fit with the idea that they all die very young. And, it also takes something away from Buffy’s heroism and the gravity of her story, IMO, if her task is portrayed as not being incredibly difficult and dangerous.