Heroes Of The Year: ‘Avengers’ Director Joss Whedon

Throughout the week, we’ll be presenting the Heroes of the Year, our list of individuals who made a major impact on the comic book movie community in 2012.

Our final hero of the year is the director behind the most successful comic book adaptation of all time: Joss Whedon. Honoring him is one of Whedon’s frequent collaborators, Jane Espenson, co-creator of the web series “Husbands,” among other projects.

Being asked about the impact Joss Whedon has had on comic book movies is like being asked about the impact the moon landing had on moon exploration. What Joss did with comic book movies in “The Avengers” is the same thing he did with teen horror in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and space opera in “Firefly.”

Joss can take an alien, a god, a hero, a robot, or a fictional teenaged girl, and know what this being, in this situation, would say and do if they were real. Not what we have seen done in other movies, not what would look cool, but what someone with these needs would really do as, say, mechanical coelacanths attack from the sky.

And when that character acts with terrified humor, or bravery at a cost, or self-deprecating anger, or some other unexpectedly deeply human way, we recognize ourselves in them. That’s why so many people react so strongly to Buffy’s strength or Wash’s humor. Identifying with Joss’s characters is a do-you-have-a-soul-test that we all get to pass.

Joss has been my hero for a long time. I’m delighted that more people are saying that this year than ever before.

About the author: Writer/producer Jane Espenson has had the coolest jobs ever, within the Whedonverse and beyond. She’s worked with Joss since the “Buffy” days, and has lent her talents to several other geektastic projects, including “Torchwood,” “Caprica,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Game of Thrones,” “Once Upon a Time” and the much-anticipated animated series “Star Wars: Detours.”

Previously on The Weekly Whedon:
» Year of the Whedon: a GIF guide
» ’Firefly’ production designer takes you inside Serenity
» ’Billy the Vampire Slayer’ arrives in ’Buffy’ comics
» ’Firefly: Browncoats Unite’ is a labor of love
» ’Firefly’ special exclusive clip: how Nathan Fillion joined Serenity crew

That’s it for our Heroes of 2012! Tell us what you thought of our choices in the comments or on Twitter!