According to Deadline, Marvel Studios may be thisclose to hiring Joss Whedon as director of The Avengers, the high-stakes superhero team-up for 2012 that will unite the characters from Iron Man and the upcoming Thor and Captain America, and possibly even The Incredible Hulk.
Whedon is certainly a fan favorite in many sectors of geekdom, thanks to his creative work on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly (and its film sequel, Serenity), and the Emmy-winning Web series Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. He has also contributed directly to the comics medium after Buffy and Firefly went off the air, writing Astonishing X-Men for Marvel and shepherding the Buffy: Season 8 series for Dark Horse Comics. Considering that an Avengers movie would, by nature, be an ensemble film, Whedon's knowledge of comics and his proven skill at directing a large, vibrant cast of characters would seem to make him the ideal choice.
However, Whedon is not without his detractors, who cite the poor TV ratings of Firefly and his most recent series, Dollhouse, and his lack of experience as a film director outside of Serenity. Even some of his fans wonder if he can truly handle a big-budget, summer tentpole film that will be expected to provide a rousing climax to Marvel's recent string of cinematic success. The pressure from Hollywood and possibly even from high-profile actors like Robert Downey Jr. (who'll reprise his role as Iron Man) will be enormous.
Nevertheless, among his many fans, the news is largely being hailed as the best thing to happen in geekdom since, well, the first Iron Man movie came out in 2008. (An Entertainment Weekly blogger humorously subtitled his report, "Existence of God no longer in doubt.") And if J.J. Abrams - another writer mistakenly pigeonholed as a "TV guy" - could breathe new life into the moribund Star Trek film franchise, there's no reason to easily dismiss someone with Joss Whedon's imaginative track record and sense of fun.
The next question: Will there be roles in The Avengers for some of Whedon's favorite actors, like Nathan Fillion, Eliza Dushku, Alan Tudyk, and Amy Acker? The answer: Knowing Whedon, how could there NOT be a spot for at least one of those actors in the film? (Personally, Fillion would be a good choice as founding Avenger and physicist Henry Pym, a.k.a. Ant-Man.) Expect to see a dizzying number of casting rumors in the months to come!
Still unresolved is whether the Hulk will appear in the film and whether Ed Norton will reprise his role as Bruce Banner. The conclusion to 2008's The Incredible Hulk - featuring Downey's Tony Stark and William Hurt's Gen. "Thunderbolt" Ross - made it clear that Marvel would like to see this happen.
Marvel's film schedule - and the lead-in to The Avengers - is as follows:
- Iron Man 2: Opens May 7, 2010
- Thor: Scheduled for May 2011
- The First Avenger: Scheduled for July 2011
- The Avengers: Scheduled for May 2012