Joss Whedon: 'I kept telling my mum reading comics would pay off'

Joss Whedon found a cult following when he created Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But now he's directing Hollywood's biggest superhero movies – and Shakespeare. Emma John meets the fanboy who has turned his obsessions into box-office glory

Joss Whedon is standing in the Forbidden Planet comics store in London, surveying a row of plastic action figures. There are Gandalfs and Frodos, Batmen and Ironmen. Whedon points out the few female characters – pert young warrior princesses – all standing in the same pose: shoulders back, cleavage thrust forward. This, he explains, is the reason he resisted a Buffy doll.

Until last year, Whedon was a writer and director best known for his TV creations. Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel, were cult classics, the just-home-from-school fantasy shows that made vampires sexy long before R-Patz and Kristen mooned at each other in Twilight. Then Marvel handed him the biggest toy set they had: Avengers Assemble,
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