On December 15 2020, rumors of a purported Disney+ Firefly “reboot” that was refashioned to be “family-friendly” spread on social media, with fans of the show registering opinions about the what that might mean:
We have exclusively learned that Disney is in early development on a Firefly reboot. The new show would start the story of Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew aboard the Serenity over from scratch, with an aim to make this a long-running series on Disney+. https://t.co/9bZBT1XgcG
— GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT (@GFRobot) December 14, 2020
However, not sure I'm liking the rumors about it going PG-family.. Anyways, it's all rumors until we have an official announcement🤔
— KRiSOtheEDiTOR🇳🇴🎮🎬 (@Kristerols) December 15, 2020
In the first tweet, the account @GFRobot claimed:
We have exclusively learned that Disney is in early development on a Firefly reboot. The new show would start the story of Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew aboard the Serenity over from scratch, with an aim to make this a long-running series on Disney+.
In the second, a user fretted about “rumors about [Firefly] going PG-family,” musing further that the buzz would be “all rumors until we have an official announcement,” a sentiment of which we wholeheartedly approve.
For background, Firefly was a famously short-lived space western television series that aired on FOX in 2002. The show was also notable for being one of the first to prompt an effort by internet fans to “save” the show, efforts which were initially unsuccessful — but a film, Serenity, continued the characters’ stories in 2006:
Firefly is a science fiction television series that premiered in the United States and Canada on September 20, 2002. Its naturalistic future setting, modeled after traditional Western movie motifs, presents an atypical science fiction backdrop for the narrative … [Internet campaigns] and other continuing fan activities eventually persuaded Universal Studios to produce a feature film, Serenity.
In the years since, rumors of imminent revival of Firefly in some form or another have popped up on a regular basis.
On December 14 2020, the website Giant Freakin Robot (giantfreakinrobot.com) ignited a firestorm of social media interest with a short post titled “Exclusive: Firefly Reboot Coming To Disney+.” Subsequent entertainment-focused sites reiterated the original claim, but based their reports solely on the original from Giant Freakin Robot.
Referencing a contemporaneous Disney investor presentation in December 2020, giantfreakinrobot.com said:
There’s one property that I’ve been hearing whispers about that didn’t get mentioned. That property is Firefly. The lack of an announcement about it doesn’t mean, however, that Disney isn’t keen to do something with the Joss Whedon cult phenom. In fact, they’re working on a new Firefly series for Disney+.
A fourth paragraph attributed the information to an unnamed, undescribed source:
My source tells me that Disney is in early development on a Firefly reboot. The new show would start the story of Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew aboard the Serenity over from scratch, with an aim to make this a long-running series on Disney+. There is a twist here and the twist is that they see the show as ideal family-friendly programming for Disney+. My source tells me they’re planning to target it more at a PG-adventure, family audience and less at the sort of PG-13 dynamic the original Joss Whedon show went for.
My source was unable to confirm to me whether series creator Joss Whedon is actually involved in the new Firefly reboot.
Although other sites also reported on the rumor, it appeared the only source available for the claim was anonymous, and whose connection to Disney Plus or Firefly was not hinted at, much less described, by Giant Freakin Robot or anyone else. It would be easy to infer the rumor had legs due to its popularity and the fact other sites aggregated the story, but all variations on this story that we were able to find solely sourced their claims from the December 14 2020 Giant Freakin Robot post.
At least one blogger was skeptical about the claim from “several less-reliable genre sites,” opining that the rumor was “unlikely” to be true:
I find this rumour dubious for multiple reasons. The first is that Firefly’s fanbase remains, despite the passage of almost twenty years, both voluble and passionate. Rebooting the show from scratch and dropping the previous actors and continuity would go down very badly. The second is that Firefly’s universe was designed from scratch to be slightly more morally murky and complex, and that’s part of the show’s appeal. Making it more PG (or PG-13, if you’re in the USA) seems pointless. Also, whilst Firefly remains a cult hit, it’s still very much not a mainstream show. The people who will be most excited about a Firefly reboot are Firefly fans, so alienating them by ditching the previous storylines and cast and crew is particularly self-defeating.
That said, Disney are clearly going to want to take advantage of their vastly-expanded portfolio of IPs, and Firefly would be a reasonable choice if they were looking for a science fiction franchise that hasn’t already been over-exploited to the hilt. Disney might also feel that, with Joss Whedon’s credibility and reputation at an all-time low, they can get away with a reboot without his involvement at this time, which was not the case a few years ago.
I’ll keep my ear to the ground on this one, but I put it in the “possibly but unlikely” category for now.
Going by the virality of the “Firefly Reboot Coming To Disney+” post and aggregated versions of the rumor, readers were still interested in, if hesitant about, the prospects of Disney+ rebooting Firefly nearly two decades after its cancellation. However, it remained unconfirmed, and no other information aside from the post on giantfreakinrobot.com validated the claim.