When erstwhile geek filmmaking overlord Joss Whedon had to take over from director Zack Snyder on Justice League as the latter exited due a family tragedy, it was a no-win gig. Warner Bros. mandated Whedon – beloved for his quippy work on Buffy, Angel, The Avengers, and more – to essentially butcher Snyder’s work. He could still add his signature upbeat stylings, but only as long as he followed the new recipe the studio brass had come up with. The result was a sloppy film that doesn’t really belong to either Whedon or Snyder which underperformed critically and commercially.
And then it fell apart even further when Cyborg actor Ray Fisher accused Whedon of undisclosed “gross and abusive” behaviour on the set of Justice League, resulting in a messy, dragged out, back and forth PR battle and internal investigation. This made a lot of fans reevaluate some of Whedon’s past work and suddenly some parts of it looked rather icky. Through it all, Whedon stayed relatively quiet, except to make a statement last year that he was pulling out of other projects he was busy with. The reason given was that the COVID-19 pandemic raging at the time was taking a toll on him mentally and physically… which we all knew was code for WB telling him to step out of the spotlight while they tried to make Fisher go away. And the main project being abandoned was The Nevers.
Developed by Whedon for years for HBO (sister company to WB), the sci-fi drama was vintage Whedon. Early blurbs described it as “an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world”. Those are pretty much all of Whedon’s favourite things, except now – in the 11th hour of the show’s development – he was no longer involved. And just last week, British screenwriter Philippa Goslett (How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Mary Magdalene) was tapped as Whedon’s replacement as showrunner.
And now, after all that rigmarole, we get our first look at The Nevers thanks to the first trailer released last night. Check it out!
Yes, this is basically X-Men in ye olde times with a dash of Doctor Who’s favourite Victorian steampunk duo, Madame Vastra and Jenny, thrown into the mix as well. However, if there’s one geeky touchstone this is reminding me of most, it’s the second volume of Marvel Comics’ The Runaways which saw the titular modern young super-team accidentally transplanted to Victorian times. The person who wrote that second volume of The Runaways? Joss Whedon.
So yes, this is not exactly original as it cribs from all over the place, but I am definitely intrigued by the whole thing following that trailer. I mean, they even threw in a superhero landing! Everybody knows I’m a sucker for those (even though they’re very hard on the knees). The question here will be whether Goslett and co can elevate this show above the stink currently swirling around Whedon and make it their own. For that, we’ll have to wait and see.
The Nevers stars Laura Donnelly and Ann Skelly as punchy widow Amalia True and brilliant inventor Penance Adair, the respective leads of this whole affair. Joining them is Whedon alum Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Ben Chaplin, Pip Torrens, Zackary Momoh, Amy Manson, and more. And that includes Nick Frost – yes, that Nick Frost – as a criminal underworld boss known as the The Beggar King. The Nevers is scheduled to debut on HBO and HBO Max in April 2021.
Last Updated: February 3, 2021