Excitement abounds from the movie mill this morning, as Disney and Marvel have announced that Joss Whedon will return to write and direct The Avengers 2.
While it’s no great surprise to see the man who helmed the third biggest box office hit of all time (with a haul of just under $1.5 billion worldwide) return, it is nonetheless refreshing to see the studios place faith in a fan favourite. Marvel’s action-packed Avengers went down a treat with cinemagoers and reviewers alike earlier this year, with many crediting Whedon’s sharp writing and direction for turning the project from a potentially cataclysmic disaster into an exhilarating treat. The announcement that he would be returning for the sequel was made by Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger during the studio’s “earnings call” yesterday, and was swiftly followed by a glowing statement from Marvel:
“Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015. As part of that deal, Whedon will write and direct Marvel’s The Avengers 2 as well as help develop a new live action series for Marvel Television at ABC. He will also contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe.”
This means we can reasonably expect the next Avengers instalment by 2015, adding to a heady schedule for the studio that includes Iron Man 3, Thor 2: The Dark World (both due next year), Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy (due in 2014). The mooted TV show is also an intriguing prospect, with recent speculation that it may take the form of a “high-concept cop show” set in the Avengers universe. The studio already has a Hulk TV series in development for ABC, with Guillermo del Toro attached.
Meanwhile, Whedon is currently preparing to debut his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, shot during his downtime from The Avengers (work ethic: he has it). The film, shot entirely in black and white, is due to screen at the Toronto Film Festival and stars Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, and Clark Gregg.