Since 2008, Marvel has consistently produced successful superhero films – with the possible exception of The Incredible Hulk, which was somewhat underwhelming – all of which will culminate next year in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.

Speaking of Whedon, the Buffy/Angel/Firefly creator talked about the stressful experience of writing and developing The Avengers film – as well as the expanded role of Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson. Also: Downtown Cleveland prepares for an epic Avengers battle. And, lastly, will Hugo Weaving return as the Red Skull?

First, courtesy of MTV Splash Page, Joss Whedon talked about Clark Gregg’s role in The Avengers as Agent Coulson:

“I’m grateful everyday to be with those guys, especially Clark Gregg. That guy, man crush! But I’m keeping it under control. It’s great, he’s been weaving his way through every movie and I really get to play with him and have [him do] a lot of stuff. […] There were things that during the writing, I was like, ‘I need something more here… Oh, Coulson!’ and he just, he comes up every time. Clark is such a wonderful guy but also such a precise actor. The whole troupe is so amazing, I’m actually surprised.”

When asked where he was in the development of the film, Whedon said:

“I have reached the top [of the development mountain], I’m going down the other side, I’ve just realized my Sherpa guide is frozen to death and several of my toes are missing. But we are on our way down.”

On the stress of making something as large as The Avengers:

“I don’t dream, I just think about coverage while sleeping, and then I wake up four hours later. It is an enormous task. It’s not daunting in the sense of any kind of responsibility except the responsibility I always have, which is ‘Will the audience respond to this? Have I given as much as I can? Have I made the actors do as much as they can? Have I made them comfortable? Does it all track as a movie?’ The complexity of this giant puzzle sort of wakes you up at 2 a.m. pretty much every night.”

Meanwhile, Joss Whedon and company are getting ready to film an epic battle in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. According to an extra who was sworn to secrecy (courtesy of Midwest Movie Maker), the battle will involve massive explosions – duh? – and take place somewhere near the end of the film.

We know very little about the plot of The Avengers, of course, but it’s possible that these explosions will be a result of the Hulk wrecking havoc – as he did both in the original tale of the Avengers and the modern retelling in The Ultimates – or an alien invasion (Skrulls, Kree, etc.), which has been rumored more than once.

Lastly, Hugo Weaving talked to The Baltimore Sun about his growing disinterest in making blockbuster genre films like Captain America: The First Avenger:

“I think I’ve had about enough. […] I’m not sure how many more of them I’ll make. It doesn’t feel as though they’ve been the majority of my work, though that’s probably the way it seems to most other people.”

Does this mean the Red Skull won’t be appearing in The Avengers? Weaving implies that he’s growing tired of blockbuster films in general, but that doesn’t mean he won’t reappear as the Red Skull in an Avengers film or a Captain America sequel – or even that he isn’t contracted to do so. That said, even if Weaving really wants out, there’s so much makeup required for Skull that Weaving isn’t even necessary for the character to appear.

Are you excited for The Avengers? Let us know in the comments.

The Avengers hits theaters May 4, 2012.

Sources: MTV Splash Page, Midwest Movie Maker, The Baltimore Sun

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.