It's been seven years since Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, and this week, the eleventh movie on the franchise sees Earth's Mightiest Heroes from Marvel Comics reunite in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The team-up sequel brings fans one step closer to the conclusion of Phase 2 (which finishes with Ant-Man later this summer), but for Marvel TV, we're still just in the early beginnings of its Phase 1.
After The Avengers became a worldwide hit in 2012, its writer and director Joss Whedon signed on to help oversee the Phase 2 movies and craft its sequel, but part of his deal also involved launching the first television series that would be set in the same world as the films. Marvel TV has since announced plans to expand exponentially but for Whedon, it hasn't planned out exactly how he wanted.
By now, if you've been following along, you'll know that Joss Whedon is (mostly) done with Marvel. Avengers: Age of Ultron drained everything he had left and he will not be returning for Avengers: Infinity War. He needs a break and the journey up until this week has been a bumpy one, and one that he's happy to step away from to work on something entirely new.
Developing Avengers films is one challenge. Managing the desire and egos of so many major players and trying to do that while reaching insurmountable expectations is another. After all, The Avengers is the biggest non-James Cameron movie of all-time and certainly one of the most lucrative ever on the merchandise front. Another challenge though, is in getting what he wants. And that's something he definitely did not get.
Yes, plenty of his ideas were realized on screen, and he proved to Hollywood that he's worthy of being on the A-list for writers and directors much to the pleasure of Whedonites who've followed the man since the days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and his numerous works in comics. But the show he created and wanted to be the showrunner for, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he simply couldn't. The movie division waned him focused strictly on the films, and as we all suspected, there is some "friction" between Marvel Studios and Marvel TV.
Instead, Whedon had to mostly leave Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the hands of his brother and sister-and-law Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, and while the show does its best to fit within the movie universe, it's all but ignored in the movies themselves. As a consultant on the MCU for the last three years, Whedon has some input on most of their creative decisions, including planning out what characters come next - and in what form.
And as we said up top, Marvel TV's rapid expansion began this month on Netflix where Daredevil successfully opened up another fact of the MCU to viewers. It was a success critically, and according to research conducted by San Diego-based Luth Research (read: the closest thing we can get to viewership numbers on Netflix), it was a hit for Netflix as well. According to their sample, Daredevil was the most-viewed Netflix Originals series so it's not surprise a second season was quickly confirmed, to go alongside the other Marvel Netflix series already in development: AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist followed by a Defenders miniseries that will team them all together.
While Daredevil star Charlie Cox, who leads the series as Matt Murdock, has expressed interest in seeing Daredevil join The Avengers on the big screen and hopes to see Daredevil even get his own movie, he's not the only one. Whedon himself actually wanted Daredevil to get a movie instead of a TV show as well.
Speaking with IGN during the Age of Ultron press junket, Whedon explained, "I fought for Daredevil to be a film instead of a TV show."
"If the show’s working, the show’s working. Comic books are serialized entertainment and a lot of them lend themselves to TV shows as much or more than they do to movies.
"I like him because he’s basically Marvel’s Batman, thanks to Frank Miller basically. So for me I didn't think they’d be able to sustain that sort of mood on TV but TV has changed so much. It’s come up so much that I think it might just be the right place."
At the time, Whedon hadn't yet seen it since he was on the press tour but his friend and colleague Drew Goddard was instrumental in helping craft the show, even though he left to join Sony for Sinister Six before the studio's Spider-Man franchise plans changed as they partnered with Marvel. Now, Goddard is all but confirmed to helm the rebooted Spider-Man movie in 2017 that's set within the MCU. And funny enough, when we spoke with Whedon that same day, he told us he was having dinner with Goddard that night to talk about Spidey... the one character he says "everyone wants to write."
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, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.
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