Joss Whedon, who’s made headlines recently for talking up the two new characters he’s adding to The Avengers 2 roster, handed in the first draft of the sequel’s screenplay before he began work helming the pilot for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show on ABC. While the writer and director has revealed who the new hero additions will be, he’s yet to disclose who they’re up against.

The untitled sequel to The Avengers is still two years out and we’re still deciphering who the villain(s) of next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy will be, but Whedon isn’t afraid of talking about how he’s shaping The Avengers 2 and aims to focus on the team dynamic.

In chatting with Empire, Whedon agrees that the common sequel formula of shifting focus away from the core characters and onto the villain is not going to work for him:

“Yes, that always makes me cranky. I’m very excited about the villain, and have a lot to say about him. But if you watch my shows, the one thing I’ve never been very good at is guest stars, because I’ve always been so interested in the ensemble. With The Avengers, I’m still most fascinated by them. How do these guys feel, and what’s the way they conflict, and what’s the unexpected way they connect? Forming a team is one story; being a team is a very different story. The other thing is, you don’t try to top it. I know I will never make as pleasing a moment in a film as Hulk and Loki. You can’t chase that dragon. If you try to do exactly the same thing, the chances you’re going to do it better are very slim, and the only reason for me to devote three years to making another Avengers movie is the hope of making a better one.”

From his choice words, Whedon hints that the main villain of The Avengers sequel is a singular foe and is a male. Not much to go on, but with new enemies to be revealed in Thor: The Dark World this fall, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy next year, not to mention the promised return of the Extremis serum from Iron Man 3, there’s a lot for Whedon to draw from that’s already going to have been introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let’s not forget that Thanos is almost a sure bet for a return appearance in The Avengers 2 as well, potentially in a limited capacity if he’s being saved for the long haul (see: Phase Three).

While Whedon claims he’s not going to go “bigger” with the sequel, the spectacle and action will be there and that means the (now larger) Avengers team needs to battle enemies more fierce than the Chitauri and their flying sleds and space whales from The Avengers. Hulk’s gotta SMASH, after all. In an interview a few weeks ago in talking about the purpose of introducing Thanos in the post-credits scene of The Avengers, Whedon loosely touches upon the big picture villain plans:

“Well, Thanos is more powerful. He is so powerful he is not someone you can just try out and punch him. Like he did in the comics, you want him threading through the universe and to save the big finale for the big finale. He is definitely a part of what I have got going on.

The thing about The Avengers is that they are very powerful but not very stable. So, there will definitely be some people that will shake them up in the next installment.”

The “people” in this case may not necessarily refer to multiple villains, but to new roster additions Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch who Whedon went on record describing as a brother-sister act that may not agree with how The Avengers function. Perhaps the “bad guy” isn’t necessarily that bad and just maybe, Whedon is giving us the biggest hint ever in saying the sequel really does get personal and focus on the team dynamic being tested – could the Hulk take a turn for the worse and could the rumors about it leading to a Planet Hulk movie be true? Multiple sources, including Whedon himself, say otherwise so the only thing we can expect for certain, is “death.”

Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.

Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes who Earth’s Mightiest should battle!

Source: Empire (via CBM)