Speaking at a Q&A hosted by website The Nerd Machine, the prolific screenwriter and director was asked about potentially writing an episode of the hit BBC series, and didn’t rule himself out of taking it on.
However, he did describe it as a ‘daunting’ prospect, not least because he would have to research over 40 years of television having only watched some of the show, and added a couple more caveats into the mix.
“Check back with me when the Doctor is a she… or Idris Elba,” Whedon said, to applause from the assembled audience.
The Doctor, currently played by Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, has always been a white male. The Idris Elba comment was an apparent nod to the clamour for the Luther star to take over as 007 once Daniel Craig officially retires from the role.
Whedon has been at the forefront of promoting strong female characters on screen with Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy a cult favourite from earlier in his career. He also made Dollhouse and Firefly, again featuring women prominently in genre roles that are rarely given to females.
Earlier this week, Whedon also spoke about his desire to make a Black Widow movie, bringing back Scarlett Johansson’s character from his Marvel blockbusters.
The director faced criticism last year when fans objected to the way in which the female characters were demoted to supporting roles in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The backlash was seen as one of the main reasons that Whedon opted out of further sequels, but it seems his appetite for the genre is back.
Whether it was a tongue-in-cheek response to the question or a more serious attempt to change the ongoing TV franchise remains to be seen, but Whedon boarding the TARDIS would be dramatic change in direction in itself.
The addition of a female or black Doctor would be groundbreaking. Current favourites to take over from Capaldi include Andrew Scott from BBC’s Sherlock, English stage actor Ben Daniels, and English actress Lara Pulver.