[Update: Just as we suspected, The Avengers 2 is coming May 1, 2015.]
While the nitty gritty details of Joss Whedon's three-year deal with Marvel Studios have yet to be revealed, as soon as the news broke that he would writing and directing The Avengers 2, we knew exactly what that meant. Just like he did with editing bits of Captain America: The First Avenger and shooting the post-credits scene of Thor before taking charge of The Avengers, Whedon would be overseeing the "big picture" plans for Marvel Studios as they venture forth into Phase Two of the franchise.
When asked for more information, Disney provided us with the official Marvel statement on the matter, which briefly outlines Whedon's exclusive agreement with the studio for the next three years leading up to The Avengers 2.
Fans will be happy to hear that Whedon will be integral to helping organize and connect the upcoming films from Marvel Studios. The timing of this announcement likely means he won't be too involved with Iron Man 3 which has mostly completed principal photography, but he can still help guide the seemingly complex story of Thor: The Dark World which starts production this month. After that, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy could both be introducing characters and elements to be featured in The Avengers 2.
"Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015. As part of that deal, Whedon will write and direct Marvel’s The Avengers 2 as well as help develop a new live action series for Marvel Television at ABC. He will also contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe."
The wording of the statement specifically mentioning June 2015 as the end date of his exclusive agreement means The Avengers 2 is releasing that month, or, like all of the Iron Man films and the first Avengers, will be kicking off the summer blockbuster season in May 2015 (the 1st to be exact). No surprise there. Although The Avengers represented the only Marvel Studios theatrical release for 2012 (since Runaways was put on hold), 2015 will likely see at least one other feature from Marvel Studios.
Ant-Man seems poised for a 2014 release, marking the first time the studio launches three films in one year, and this raises the questions of what other film they could fit in as a prelude to The Avengers sequel (by releasing that spring) and whether or not such a movie could be used to introduce an additional headliner to join the team-up's growing roster? Will Ruffalo get a chance to lead The Incredible Hulk 2? Is it time for Black Panther? Let the speculation begin!
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 release in the summer of 2015.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
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