Spoilers for nearly every single Whedon work ahead.
I've had this theory for awhile now, but I think after now reading or watching nearly every work Joss Whedon has done, I can say conclusively that the man has lead a lifetime of heartache. Either that or he is really a lesbian in disguise.
This sudden realization was prompted after I finished reading his short run on the excellent comic, The Runaways. The Runaways is a comic series about a group of kids who have super villains as parents, and decide to... run away. The series was created by Michael K. Vaughn, and he wrote the series for over fifty issues before handing the reigns over to Mr. Whedon. Whedon did a good job with his limited time with the book. If there is one thing he is great at, it is depicting how young people speak and talk to each other. That was a defining aspect of the book before he took over, and didn't miss a beat when he put pen to paper.
However, he managed to do one thing that came out of the blue and seemed completely normal to him because he does it in every single one of his works: have a tragic relationship. The seres already had one, that worked a lot better and was more impactful that Whedon's. In just two issues, the defacto couple of the series Nico and Vic are done. Vic falls in love with a red head, and Nico does nothing to stop it saying she never loved him so why should she care.
The whole thing was so out of left field, it just made me feel like a psychologist starring deep into the recesses of Whedon's mind. And to be clear, this isn't some nerd rage going on. I really didn't care about the whole Nico/Vic relationship to begin with, but the abruptness with how it was handled was very obvious.
So then I started to think back on his other works. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog was one of the funniest and cleverest things I've seen in a long while. However, what the hell was up with that super depressing ending? You want to kill a character, that's fine. But the ending has to at least somewhat feel or fit with the rest of the story. This is the theme throughout all his tragic romances.
In Serenity, Hoban just dies. Hoban and Zoe were the only normal couple on the series and he just died. And not in a glorious way either, it was such an obvious, "Holy crap the movie is almost over and none of these characters have died yet. Bam!" Probably in Whedon's head he had no idea how to progress their relationship any further so by killing one of them it made his job as a writer that much easier.
Dollhouse's tragic romance ending is probably the only one out of his body of work that makes sense and fits within the fiction of the show. Ballard, the male lead, dies suddenly and then Echo implants his memory in hers so they can live together in The Matrix forever.
I saved Buffy for last because it deals with this particular aspect over and over again. Anya and Xander are the biggest offenders as they were set to get married, and then he backed out for no particular reason and they were cold to each other the rest of the series. Buffy and Angel were always doomed, and Buffy and Spike was probably the best relationship the series had until HE TRIED TO RAPE HER.
The most common theme is that no set of characters who are romantically involved ever get past the honeymooning phase. The fact he can't depict any characters in a serious relationship, reflects poorly on his writing ability in my opinion, as he clearly can't do anything other than 1) kill one of the characters or 2) have them split for an unexplained reason. Love is also a concept that rarely shows up in his work.
It's become such a transparent device in his properties that I actually feel bad for him every time that impending scene comes up.
Whedon has some demons when it comes to relationships. The only thing he seems to be able to handle is lesbians, as seen in Buffy and Runaways. Whedon is married and has two kids, so it certainly seems he could draw from some life experiences, but I guess perhaps it's just not that interesting to him to use as source material.
I don't know what this means for the Avengers film. Hank Pym beats the shit out of his wife in the comic, and I can almost guarantee he will work that in there.
Or maybe he will have Iron Man banging Mary Jane in front of Peter Parker, and then she leaves them both for Black Widow. Hold on.... I think I have a fan fic to write!