It seems like just yesterday that the success of The Avengers had led Marvel to sign Joss Whedon to a three-year deal, tasking him with writing and directing The Avengers: Age of Ultron as well as overseeing the creative direction of Marvel's universe alongside producer Kevin Feige. But time marches on, and with Age of Ultron approaching, the studio has yet to comment on Whedon's involvement in their universe once his contract ends in 2015.
So with no insight coming from Whedon or Marvel (and all eyes focused on how Guardians of the Galaxy and Age of Ultron will blow open Marvel's universe), will The Avengers 3 hand the reins over to another director?
Although Whedon is still hard at work on Age of Ultron, many - as is so often the case with comic book fans - are already more interested in what the next five Marvel release dates will bring, with The Avengers 3 expected to hit theaters in May 2019. The main question being: will Whedon make it through the most intense three-year span of his career - having written and directed two blockbusters, as well as offered assistance on the Thor series and Captain America - and agree to another dose?
Even those averse to rumors or speculation would agree that some time off may be needed (perhaps to direct more award-winning, smaller-scale films like Much Ado About Nothing), and with Marvel's film universe only picking up steam with the momentum Whedon helped it earn, perhaps an all-seeing 'creative godfather' is no longer needed.
The success of Whedon's tenure wasn't the only case of Kevin Feige calling on an unlikely hero, with writer/director James Gunn (Slither, Super) being entrusted with the oddball super-team Guardians of the Galaxy. At first that film seemed like a consummate underdog, but with positive early reactions and a free IMAX preview spreading positive word of mouth, Gunn's future with Marvel seems all but certain.
But in what way - or which franchise - that relationship will grow remains unclear. Gunn has explained that he is completely on board with a Guardians sequel should Marvel request one, but also explained that until the film is released, he's forced to hold off on committing to any projects. And there's one more fact worth mentioning: Gunn is signed to another film, but it doesn't have to be another Guardians entry.
Putting two and two together - the lack of a concrete deal with Whedon, and Gunn being signed to another Marvel film (whether or not it's a Guardians sequel) - BadassDigest took the chance to ask Gunn directly just how far along negotiations on The Avengers 3 were going.
Gunn's response: a moment of stunned silence, followed by - "It was great seeing you!"
That response is far from conclusive, and fans are likely to read into it what they wish; those hoping to see Gunn take over will see the silence as being caught in the act. However, it's worth pointing out that Gunn has made some candid comments in the past about conspiracies spawned about the story he wishes to tell with Guardians. After attention has finally turned to just how good his first Marvel film may be, being asked how close he is to replacing his close friend and colleague in the director's chair for an Avengers movie could elicit a number of reactions.
That being said, there is a very real possibility that Gunn could be Marvel's next-in-line - and a replacement that Whedon would surely endorse, having been a vocal supporter in the first place. Gunn has also made no secret of the fact that Guardians leads into The Avengers 3, and has complimented the freedom he was given by Marvel to inject his own voice and style into the film.
But would he be able to do just as much with the studio's most famous team? Only time will tell. Whedon has yet to reveal his own future plans for the Marvel movie universe, so at this point, anything is possible. What do you think of the possibility? Could Gunn do the Avengers proud, or would you prefer he get a follow-up to Guardians instead?
Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on movie, TV, and gaming news.
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