[Update: Read Marvel's official statement on Joss Whedon's 3-year deal.]
In what's easily classified as good news for Disney shareholders, the parent company of Marvel has officially announced that Joss Whedon, the director and writer behind The Avengers will be back to helm The Avengers 2. Whedon will also be writing the film, just as he did in rewriting Zak Penn's script for The Avengers along with editing parts of Captain America: The First Avenger.
What does this mean for the other Marvel Studios projects over the next few years?
When Whedon initially came aboard to help Marvel Studios' most ambitious film to date, there was understandably some skepticism due to his track record at the box office and with his latest show. Serenity, as awesome at it was, didn't bank well, and Dollhouse wasn't quite up to snuff with his previous television endeavors. On the comics side however, Whedon's resume is top notch and his work on Astonishing X-Men and Runaways helped him land the gig. More than that, his ability to handle ensemble casts and his knowledge of the Marvel universe made The Avengers and its group of characters work, creating chemistry that's hard to come by.
With The Avengers, Whedon laid the groundwork for "Phase Two" of the Marvel cinematic universe and there's no better choice to direct The Avengers 2, a film quickly confirmed after its predecessor became the biggest box office opening of all time. He already has ideas about how to make The Avengers 2 more personal.
We know the events of The Avengers directly lead into Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the mid-credits scene featuring Thanos was a tease for Guardians of the Galaxy. So, after shooting the post-credits scene in Thor and helping out with the first Captain America before The Avengers, the question now becomes, is Whedon being confirmed now so he can lend a hand or oversee these Phase Two films that are paving the way for The Avengers 2?
While this shouldn't come as a surprise despite Whedon's admittance that he needs a break and was unsure of the sequel, what may be of surprise is that he'll also be developing a live-action TV series for ABC, one that ties in with the cinematic universe. This news comes at a very convenient time after Guillermo del Toro provided an update on the ABC Hulk series, stating that they're just waiting on a certain writer's ("a very, very concrete name") schedule to clear up so they can revise the script.
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. The Avengers 2 will likely release in the summer of 2015.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
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