[Feb 9 2015 Update: Spider-Man is officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.]

When Joss Whedon re-signed to return and direct the sequel to The Avengers, his new role would be much bigger than just directing and writing one film. He was stepping up as an “overseer” for Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and launching a television series that would share the same continuity (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC). Whedon would help shape all of the films in Phase 2, offering input on creative decisions with Guardians of the Galaxy and story ideas for Thor: The Dark World, etc., to help keep the larger long-form story of the entire universe consistent.

When we spoke with Marvel Studios president of production and MCU decision maker Kevin Feige last year about Whedon’s future beyond that, he would only say that it’s “still being determined,” and since then it sounds like it has been decided. Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo are returning to helm Captain America: Civil War and reports for the last few months all indicate they will also be directing both parts of The Avengers: Infinity War.

This was the official statement from Disney-Marvel when Whedon signed for The Avengers 2:

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.

As of right now, it ends there for Whedon, with Phase 2. Thanks to the horrible hacking of Sony servers last week, an unprecedented amount of private information, including email exchanges from parties involved with Sony Pictures, have leaked online. This is where all the revelations about Marvel and Sony being in discussions about sharing Spider-Man came from. According to Overtice, it’s also where it was seemingly confirmed that the Russos are indeed directing The Avengers 3 & 4.

More: Spider-Man Can Still Join The Marvel Cinematic Universe

We’ve covered the back-and-forth about Spider-Man and how he could still join the Marvel Cinematic Universe despite talks between Sony and Marvel “breaking down.” We’ve also talked about about Marvel wanted to include Spidey in Captain America: Civil War and give him his own new trilogy of movies within the MCU, although likely with a new actor playing the character instead of The Amazing Spider-Man’s Andrew Garfield.

Marvel Spider Man Andrew Garfield and Hawkeye Jeremy Renner Russos Are Directing Avengers 3 & 4; Want To Produce New Spider Man Movies


After Sony passed up on Marvel’s terms (over creative control), Overtice reports that Joe Russo actually emailed Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal in early November, expressing a thought along the lines of “A pity that negotiations with Marvel did not work” (translated). The report continues, stating that Russo confirmed in that email exchange that he and his brother are directing Infinity War and that their duties won’t interfere with them directing The Gray Man for Sony beforehand.

The leaked emails make it clear that Sony was – and still is – extremely unsure of what to do with the Spider-Man franchise going forward, or even if they’re up to the task. There’s an email to Pascal from Spidey producer Avi Arad who was pushing hard for the chance to develop a Venom movie and a conversation between Pascal and Jeff Robinov, Former Warner Bros. boss and creator of Studio 8 (who have a distribution deal with Sony), where Pascal expresses concerns with going with Sinister Six next and needing advice. Robinov does not want Sony to give Spider-Man back to Marvel but Pascal doesn’t know what to do.

There’s then allegedly another email from the Russos just a week later, on November 17 2014, who offer to produce Spider-Man movies going forward with a new contract, one that would essentially push out current franchise producers Avi Arad and Matthew Tolmach. How that would work is unclear from the given information but we assume it would be part of some larger agreement between Sony and Marvel that would give the character to Marvel and involve the studios sharing duties on the new MCU-approved Spider-Man trilogy.

Marvel Captain America Saves Spider Man Russos Are Directing Avengers 3 & 4; Want To Produce New Spider Man Movies


Much like how Joss Whedon was Kevin Feige’s wingman for Phase 2 of the MCU, Anthony and Joe Russo are stepping into that role for Phase 3. And it makes sense given that they drastically altered the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: The Winter Soldier this year and are in charge of helming the first chapter in Phase 3 (Civil War) and evidently, the concluding chapters as well.

As for Joss Whedon, this doesn’t mean he’s out, especially not if Age of Ultron can top The Avengers at the box office and in its reception. He (and his family) created Agents of SHIELD which could foreseeably be on the air for quite sometime and while Whedon could pursue other passion projects – potentially even for other studios – we’d like to think he could stick around and develop something else, something different, for Marvel.

Joss Whedon directing a different Marvel movie seems unlikely, since his work in comics was mainly with X-Men (different studio) and Runaways (which Marvel doesn’t want to make right now). He has however, been open about his passion for television over film as a medium. With Marvel bringing four new series (and a mini-series) to Netflix beginning next year and a second program (Agent Carter) launching on ABC in January, perhaps he could develop a new Marvel series? Here’s a list we previously put together for Marvel TV series ideas for Joss Whedon.

Captain America 2 Official Photo Russo Brothers Directors 570x350 Russos Are Directing Avengers 3 & 4; Want To Produce New Spider Man Movies

The Russo Brothers


Were you hoping to see Whedon continue directing future Avengers movies? Should he tackle another Marvel movie or TV show, or explore something else entirely? Should Sony and Marvel make a deal for Spider-Man to join the MCU? Share your thoughts in the comments!

[Feb 9 2015 Update: Spider-Man is officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.]

More: 40+ DC/Marvel Movies In The Next 6 Years

The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!

Sources: Overtice