Marvel's mega-blockbuster, The Avengers, has now landed a massive $1.5 billion take at the global box office - and, even though the film's follow-up is still three years away, fans are already chomping at the bit for early Avengers 2 details. Of course the biggest piece of news, so far, was the announcement that fan-favorite writer/director Joss Whedon would return to helm the sequel - as well as produce a full scale TV series based on S.H.I.E.L.D.
Ever since confirmation of the director's return, Whedon has been surprisingly candid about how he intends to approach the superhero follow-up - in spite of the usual secrecy surrounding Marvel projects. Even though he's keeping plot details under wraps, the director is promising a "deeper" character story in The Avengers 2 - one that is supported by the respective efforts of his companion Marvel cinematic universe "phase two" directors.
Speaking to Vancouver's 24 Hours while promoting his Much Ado About Nothing adaptation at the Toronto Film Festival, Whedon briefly discussed his approach to shepherding the Marvel cinematic universe for the next three years. According to the director, he intends to be pretty hands-off - which should be a relief to anyone who still thinks Jon Favreau and Iron Man 2 were ruined by the weight of too much pre-Avengers pressure from Marvel Studios:
"Very talented people are writing and directing these movies, and what I don't want to be is the guy they dread, who's going to come in and say [imitating a pompous British accent] 'Oh, well I have the power to say change this.' I'm not that."
Skeptics can look to Whedon's recent support of a "twisted" take on Guardians of the Galaxy as proof of his intentions. Of course, even if Whedon is a fair and supportive overseer, the aforementioned "talented people" - directors Shane Black (Iron Man 3), Edgar Wright (Ant-Man), Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), Anthony and Joseph Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), as well as James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) - will still have the added pressure of trying to fit a few pre-Avengers 2 elements and story threads into their respective films. No doubt it'll be a difficult, albeit rewarding, balance for each filmmaker to find - a point that we have previously discussed in our feature article, Marvel's Shared Universe: Was It Worth It?
Building up the individual characters in their solo-outtings is one of the reasons why The Avengers team-up film was so successful, and a choice that will be tested when DC's Justice League movie plants the cart before the horse, introducing audiences to a number of their iconic heroes in a single movie - with the intention of spinning them off into standalone films afterward.
Marvel intends to continue with their approach, presenting moviegoers with a slew of new potential Avengers before the next team up in 2015 - which should aid Whedon in producing what he describes as a "deeper" story in the sequel:
"The creation of the team is not the happy ending. It is the beginning of something that is complex and difficult, and now I get to dig a little deeper. And maybe, while I'm digging, just twist that knife. And that's exciting for me."
The Avengers definitely teased the kind of internal conflict that can occur when a hot-headed group of super powered people join together to fight an overwhelming threat. However, despite delivering a number of entertaining moments, most of the internal conflict arose out of somewhat one-dimensional pissing contests or disagreements about how to handle a particular threat. Considering Whedon's comment about "digging deeper" (he's previously teased a smaller-scale, more personal, character story - centered around a larger event, bigger squad of Avengers, and more dangerous villain) it's easy to imagine that certain aspects of the Phase Two films will provide fodder for more complex internal Avengers conflict in the team-up sequel. Digging deeper into the group could help show a darker (or at the very least more conflicted) side of the do-gooders - one that was only briefly touched on in the first Avengers.
Which Avenger would you most like to see Whedon dig deeper into?
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The Avengers 2 releases on May 1, 2015. Here's the rest of the confirmed Marvel "Phase Two" schedule: Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, and Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014. Ant-Man could also be released in 2014.