This year and next year are going to be hugely important for Marvel Entertainment. Both Thor and Captain America have a massive amount of hype surrounding them – boosted by several well-received trailers (Chris Evans’ baby-head notwithstanding) – and next year’s The Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon, looks like a fanboy’s dream come true.

Last weekend at C2E2, Newsarama spoke with Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada about Marvel’s crowded cinematic plate. Quesada revealed, amongst other things, that The Avengers has already started shooting.

First, Joe Quesada talked about his impression of Thor:

“[I]n the hands of Kenneth Branagh and the entire cast, it’s a pretty phenomenal take on the character. […] I think comic fans kind of have an idea of what this movie is going to be like, but they really don’t. They’re going to be in for an experience that’s wholly unique. And I think for people who don’t know who Thor is – even if you know the mythology – you’re not going to get, I think, what you’re going to expect. It’s going to be pretty radical and pretty amazing.”

When asked how Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger differ, Quesada said (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!):

“I just saw the first director’s cut of Captain America about a week-and-a-half ago and there’s a very visual and visceral difference in the way that [Thor and Captain America] are shot. There’s a richness to both, but [they’re] very, very different tonally. And of course, Cap starts out as a period piece, whereas Thor is more of a fantastical piece, although both are grounded very much in the real world.”

Cap starts out as a period piece, huh? Is that confirmation that, perchance, it doesn’t end as a period piece? I don’t recall this being stated outright before, but it actually jibes pretty perfectly (SPOILER ALERT AGAIN!) with what Samuel L. Jackson said last month on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. And I quote, “Thor and Captain America are pretty much done, but I haven’t done my part in them yet. I’m just connective tissue for [Thor] and [Captain America] to join the Avengers.” Check out that video below:

Jackson did one day of shooting for each film — presumably in the modern day Marvel Movie Universe, or else why would Nick Fury be inviting Captain America to join an Avengers team that doesn’t exist yet during WWII?

Speaking of The Avengers, Joe Quesada was asked if the movie had begun filming, and he answered, simply:

“Yes, yes it has.”

When asked if he thought The Avengers would top all the other Marvel movies, Quesada said:

“Yes. I mean, look at the cast. Just starting with the cast, it’s like going to a rock concert. Even in San Diego when they brought them up on stage, you got to see all these amazing actors onstage … if you didn’t get chills up your spine, you have no pulse. […] And then you have Joss Whedon at the wheel. I’ve read the screenplay. It’s amazing. I’ve seen what we’re going to do, I’ve seen designs – they’re out of this world. It’s going to be the quintessential superhero movie.”

The truth is, The Avengers could turn out to be the Marvel equivalent of Frank Miller’s The Spirit and Joe Quesada would still call it the quintessential superhero movie. That said, it’s worth noting that word around the Hollywood water cooler — from Robert Downey Jr. to James Gunn — says that Joss Whedon’s screenplay is rather fantastic. And while we’re scrutinizing every last detail of things: could Quesada’s ‘out of this world’ comment be a sly wink at those recent rumors about The Avengers villains being aliens?

Thor hits theaters May 6th, 2011, Captain America: The First Avenger hits theaters July 22nd, 2011, and The Avengers hits theaters May 4th, 2012. Keep your eye on the main page for more news on all of the above.

Sources: Newsarama & Late Night with Jimmy Fallon