On the 10th anniversary of Serenity, looking back at Joss Whedon’s space Western

Joss Whedon’s short-lived space Western series Firefly has been off the air for over a decade, but today marks the 10th anniversary of Serenity, the saga’s shiny resurrection on the big screen.

The series and it’s movie sequel starred Nathan Fillion as Capt. Malcolm Reynolds, a former resistance fighter (known as a Browncoat) and the leader of a misft crew on the “raggedy edge” of existence, taking on morally questionable jobs to keep their bucket-of-bolts spaceship afloat. Serenity also starred Alan Tudyk (catch Fillion and Tudyk together again in Con Man), Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, Ron Glass, Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Though it was canceled after a single season, Whedon has said that Firefly is perhaps his favorite creation, and the series inspired intense fan devotion — and fan devotion is exactly what Whedon credited for its 2005 big-screen revival. “Firefly went on the air… and was instantly hailed by critics as one of the most canceled shows of the year,” Whedon said in a recorded intro that played before some screenings of Serenity. “It was ignored and abandoned, and the story should end there, but it doesn’t. Because the people who made the show and the people who saw the show — which is roughly the same number of people — fell in love with it a little bit. Too much to let it go. Too much to lay down arms when the battle looked pretty much lost. In Hollywood, people like that are called unrealistic, Quixotic, obsessive. In my world, they’re called Browncoats.”

The film was by no means a blockbuster; it barely broke even, earning just under $39 million at the worldwide box office, on a $39 million budget. But it was warmly received by fans and critics, who praised its charm, creative world-building, and ingenuity. EW’s Scott Brown wrote in his review of the film: “Serenity, despite its simple chase plot and elegant narrative ductwork, is unmistakably a TV season’s worth of roller-coastering drama, most of it balanced on the capable shoulders of Fillion, a natural leading man. Jaw set but never stiff, he gets both the Whedon wit and the Whedon grandiloquence between cheek and gum, and gives the whole enterprise the heft of a real saga. Which it most certainly is — especially for those who were already saddled up for the ride.”

Read the full review here.