With his film The Cabin In The Woods finally released after years of delays, fans of the multi-talented Joss Whedon are being spoiled at the moment. After Cabin, the director/writer/executive producer/sometimes composer and actor directs the eagerly-awaited The Avengers/Avengers Assemble.
Here are ten timely facts about the cult hero.
1. Born Joseph Hill Whedon on June 23, 1964 in New York City, Joss's writing abilities have been passed down the generations. His father Tom wrote The Electric Company in the 1970s and The Golden Girls in the 1980s and his grandfather John wrote The Donna Reed Show in the 1950s. What's more, Whedon is the middle child of five brothers; the two youngest Jed and Zack, are, guess what? Writers.
2. Whedon was educated at Riverdale Country School, where his mother Lee taught history, while, naturally, writing fiction. Joss studied for two years at Winchester College, England to take his A-Levels, later inspiring the character of Rupert Giles. He graduated with a film degree from Wesleyan University in 1987.
3. Relocating to Los Angeles, where he still lives now, he soon landed his first TV writing job with Roseanne and a series of Parenthood before flexing his own writing wings to pen the original movie version of a certain successful television show (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in 1992. Not bad for someone who had only been out of university for five years!
4.Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn't Whedon's only film success. To date he has been on the writing team of Toy Story, Alien Resurrection, Thor, The Cabin In The Woods, The Avengers... the list goes on. Whedon's ability as a script doctor (someone who polishes up existing scripts) has worked its magic on many films. His touch famously works more wonders than the NHS.
5. Whedon was the frontman of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and received an Emmy nomination in 2000 for the episode 'Hush', which featured 28 minutes of no dialogue. His name went down in cult history with the Buffy musical episode 'Once More With Feeling', and there was outcry when it failed to receive an Emmy nod. The board claimed it was omitted "by accident". It made number 12 on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Musicals, so justice was eventually served.
Watch a clip from 'Once More With Feeling' below:
6. Whedon famously supports feminist causes and is loved for writing strong female characters. Between 1988 and 1994, he subscribed to Sassy, a feminist magazine aimed at teenage girls.
7. He has quite an extensive list of influences, citing Stan Lee, Tim Burton, Jean-Paul Sartre, Monty Python, Alan Moore, Stephen Sondheim, Ray Bradbury, William Shakespeare, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Twilight Zone legend Rod Serling and James Cameron as leaving their mark on his career.
8. Whedon wrote that infamous line from X-Men. ("You know what happens to Toads when they get hit by lightening? The same thing that happens to everything else.") Whedon claimed that it was Halle Berry's delivery that ruined it. He said: "The worst thing about these things is that, when the actors say it wrong, it makes the writer look stupid."
Watch that famous scene below:
9. Whedon is a lifetime comic book fan, which we bet you couldn't tell with the amount of sci-fi and superhero stuff he's written/directed/produced. He's written Dark Horse Comics mini-series Fray and the three-part mini-series Serenity: Those Left Behind, which bridged his show Firefly and movie spinoff Serenity. For Marvel Comics, he also wrote the 'Gifted' arc for Astonishing X-Men - the story on which X Men: The Last Stand was based.
10. Joss is the founder of Mutant Enemy Production. The name was derived from the song 'You And I' by soft rock band Yes, who Whedon is a fan of. The company founded in 1997 has produced all of Whedon's shows, including Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and, of course, Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.