Well, like it or not, true believers, it’s happening. A couple of weeks ago, we reported that Joss Whedon, official Friend of Geeks, super-creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” and the director of its spin-off movie, Serenity, was a possibility to direct the mega-tie-in movie that will bring together a series of Marvel superhero movies, The Avengers.
It appears that possibility is going to be a reality. Yup, Deadline is reporting that Whedon is in “final negotiations” to direct The Avengers (due out in 2012), which will be only his second major motion picture (which is Hollywood-ese for “it’s in the bag”). Heavy lies that particular crown, Mr. Whedon. The geeks are finicky about their superheroes, and they are fucking legion.
Personally? I think it’s pretty cool. But then, I’m a Whedon fan. With the exception of the unfortunately terrible “Dollhouse,” I’ve loved most everything Whedon has done. Sure, there were some mixed bag seasons of “Buffy” and “Angel,” but “Firefly” never disappointed (although it only had 13 episodes, so… — oh, and fuck you once more, Fox). And while I know there are some malcontents out there who didn’t like it or its movie, I thought Serenity was unquestionably one of the best sci-fi movies of the modern era. Whedon’s good with actors, and he knows his comic book lore better than probably any current director other than maybe Kevin Smith. He wrote “The Astonishing X-Men,” one of the better runs in the Marvel universe recently.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens when he gets his hands on a project with far fewer budget restraints than he’s ever had to deal with. It’s not a blank check, mind you — Marvel’s had some financial woes of late that has meant they’ve needed to scale their budgets back a bit, but even so — Serenity had, by sci-fi standards, a modest budget of $40,000,000. One can only imagine that The Avengers will easily triple that budget. He’ll have a collection of talent that is completely on a different scale — going from Sarah Michelle Gellar and Nathan Fillon to Robert Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson, not to mention the other Avengers who’ll be participating, is a serious actor-wrangling mountain to to ascend. Right now, the confirmed members are:
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)
Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
Captain America (Chris Evans)
Other possibilities include Scarlett Johanssen as The Black Widow and Edward Norton as The Hulk (looks unlikely at this time, partially because Norton is a bit difficult, partially because the Hulk is massively expensive to put on screen). There are numerous other Avengers members that have entered and exited the team over the years — Hawkeye seems a good choice for a supporting player, The Wasp is also a possibility. If I had to guess, I’d guess that Ant-Man or Giant Man are unlikely at the moment (although an Ant-Man movie has been floated as an idea for a while now), The Vision is almost definitely out, and Sentry, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch are also probably not going to happen. Although who knows. At one point I figured they were going to stick within as “real world” as possible, but then they got a movie about the God of Thunder going, so I’d say all bets are off. Luke Cage? Spider-Woman? The Falcon?
One thing is for sure — this is actually pretty historic. Never before has a project of this scale been undertaken. Several major motion pictures, each with distinct characters, converging together into one massive picture that’s been planned intricately and carefully over a span of years. If you’d suggested this to me five years ago, I’d have laughed in your face. Now? It’s a whole new universe, true believers. And apparently Marvel wants to put Joss Whedon at the helm of it.