As the director of the first two Avengers films, Joss Whedon is one of the most prominent figures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, as he put the finishing touches on last summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron, the filmmaker's future with the franchise appeared uncertain. Whedon spent much time discussing the mental and physical toll working on the Avengers sequel had on him, and it seemed like he was ready to move on from the massive Marvel movie machine.
Even though he won't be involved with the two-part Avengers: Infinity War event, there was still some hope that he could be a part of the upcoming Phase 3 in some capacity. But Whedon has put the kibosh on that, reaffirming that he's no longer working with Marvel Studios as they piece together their larger universe.
The director was speaking with the Oxford Union (hat tip Cosmic Book News), where he was asked about any potential role in the MCU moving forward. He explained why he considers himself done with the franchise:
No. You know I was their sort of Consigliere for a while... We do not discuss our thing... [audience laughter] But, I sort of had my finger in all of the films in the second phase, but then I just had to concentrate only on Ultron, and sort of know when it was done I was just going to stop. So I made a completely clean break - not because we had a falling out - just because I was like, "I can't..." If I was still there going, "Well, here are my thoughts on this film," I'd be there every day. I wouldn't do anything else because there are a lot of films, and it is a lot of fun. It's very seductive. When you can put your little fairy dust on things and just improve them slighty, and they actually listen to you... I was a script doctor for a long time, and the part where they listen to you was very rare; so it was very important for my own self to go "we can still be friends," but...
As Whedon indicates, his split from Marvel was amicable, but his career goals didn't mesh with Marvel's master plan. He's talked in the past about wanting to create his own universe (something he hasn't done in years) and direct a movie with a single protagonist (a refreshing change-of-pace following the mass ensemble of The Avengers). Nowadays, even the so-called "solo" MCU films are featuring team-ups and multiple superheroes (Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok), so there probably aren't many opportunities for Whedon to make the kind of film he wants to do within the confines of Marvel. It's best that he stepped away now instead of hanging on too long.
Still, it is disappointing that the fan-favorite writer/director will not continue to be a part of the series. With his two Avengers movies, he demonstrated a clear understanding of the character dynamics and pulled off the tricky balancing act to give just about everyone their due. Often times, the dialogue-driven scenes were just as exciting and interesting as any action set piece due to the interactions and witty banter Whedon scripted. His departure creates a void that Marvel has to fill, and it won't be easy to replace a unique voice like Whedon.
Fortunately, the MCU appears to be in strong hands moving forward. Joe and Anthony Russo, directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has been established as the architects for Phase 3. The duo will call the shots on Civil War and Infinity War, an exciting proposition considering the critical acclaim Winter Soldier received in 2014. Injecting fresh blood into the Avengers series could prove to be beneficial, and the Russos have shown an ability to craft compelling drama to match the genre thrills. By all accounts, this will be a win-win for everyone involved.
Captain America: Civil War hits theaters on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.
Source: Oxford Union [via Cosmic Book News]