Writer-Director-Producer-Geek God Joss Whedon and Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock are teaming up to document the lives of yet-to-be-named superfans attending this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. According to one of their sources, E! Online reports, “They want to follow people for about three months leading up to this year’s Comic-Con,” the source said. “And then they want to film them there. They’re looking at all types of people.”
Spurlock attended last year to interview Simpsons superfans for a documentary celebrating the show’s 20th anniversary (and the 10th anniversary of when the show probably should have called it quits). As for Joss Whedon, he’s been at the convention a few times in the past, but almost no one notices. No one except the people who line up for his panels as if he’s going to cure blindness and raise the dead. The curing-blindness thing may work but you’re never seeing a new episode of Dollhouse again.
But it is important to mention the lines and consider what the goal and honest scope of this documentary will be. Hit the jump for my thoughts on this inevitable-yet-dubious project.
The San Diego Comic-Con has become too large for the mainstream to ignore. That happens when your city is over-run with every character from popular fiction you can imagine. Tickets to the convention sell out faster every year and studios fight to bring attention to their projects and give salivating fans sneak peeks at highly-anticipated films. It’s no surprise that a high-profile documentary is now in the works, but it’s interesting to note where Whedon and Spurlock are (reportedly) putting their focus: the fans.
Individuals provide the heart of a narrative, but how much of a “super” fan do Whedon and Spurlock want? At some level, a zealot is a zealot and love of a property can also lead to discussions online that could be interpreted as “spirited debate”, but usually come across more as “psychotic ravings mixed with threats of grisly murder.” Fan devotion has become more intense with the Internet because there’s an affirmative feedback loop supporting the love of a property. The internet is simply a global conduit that basically creates a never-ending conventional hall, some of which even have celebrity guests stop by and interact with their fans. SDCC is the physical gathering of virtual year-round convention-goers. How does the real person meet with their online alter-ego, and are Whedon and Spurlock willing to follow a “superfan” for three months showing the warts and all?
Another question is how these fans will experience Comic-Con since most of the attendees don’t have a camera crew with them and have to wait in line for hours on end. A documentary can really hit a snag when one of your subjects gets in line and then stays there for eight or so hours to see a single, one-hour panel.
I don’t mean to bash on Comic-Con and the devout fans who pay the expense of airfare and hotels to be at that event. I totally get it. I had one of the best times of my life at last year’s Comic-Con. I just want to see an honest portrayal of what a fan has to go through because there are going to be hundreds of thousands of other fans who will watch this documentary and relate not just to the ardent devotion, but also to the constant frustration.