Friday, April 16, 2010

Joss Whedon will direct & rewrite Marvel's THE AVENGERS; also do rewrites on the CAPTAIN AMERICA script [updated]

Marvel Studios is in final negotiations for Buffy the Vampire Slayer series architect Joss Whedon to direct Marvel Studios' The Avengers. That's the fast-tracked film that would amount to an all-star team of Marvel superheros, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as well as SHIELD leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), among other characters.

Iron Man 2 gets released in May, Captain America will begin shooting this summer in Europe, Thor is in production, and Marvel Studios just set Pete Sollett to direct Runaways, based on the comic book series created by Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan. Marvel has considered all of the individual superhero movies to be an intro to The Avengers.

Whedon is a genius when it comes to character development in the action-adventure-sci-fi-fantasy genre. He has created the universe of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly, a universe of unforgettably cool characters. Those three series have garnered are really solid following. On the other hand, his one full length film SERENITY which is intended as a finale to the Firefly series was not very successful at the box office, but went on to become a cult classic, and was able to generate a sort of "second success" (a very big one) in DVD and Blue Ray home video.

When the third X-men movie (X-Men 3: the Last Stand) was still in pre-production, Whedon was one of the strong contenders to be chosen as director, especially because he has also been heavily involved in the world of comicbooks as a writer. In my opinion, if Whedon was the one chosen, the X-men franchise could possibly have been saved from the humiliating deterioration director Brett Ratner has caused it.

Whedon's expertise in dealing with character development and balancing it with sci-fi fantasy type action, added with his knowledge in the Marvel comics universe, makes him the perfect choice to be director of The Avengers. The AVENGERS is set to be released in the first weekend of May, 2012.

UPDATE: Whedon will rewrite AVENGERS & CAPTAIN AMERICA script as well

Per Pajiba, Whedon’s deal with Marvel looks to encompass a bit more than just directing The Avengers. It was already assumed that he’d be rewriting the script originally penned by Zak Penn, but Pajiba’s source (henceforth known as Deepajiba) reports that Whedon will also be doing some work on the script for Captain America: The First Avenger. The current incarnation is credited to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely whose previous work includes The Chronicles of Narnia series as well as the low-key black comedy You Kill Me. Those credentials promised a fairly middle of the road Captain America film, and director Joe Johnston at the helm doesn’t exactly raise expectations any higher. (How he continues to get work after The Wolfman I have no idea.)

So for those of us who see Whedon as a fairly brilliant writer this is terrific news. His directorial experience is far more limited and spotty so a wait-and-see approach seems best regarding the news of him actually directing The Avengers, but we should definitely be excited at the thought of him working on the screenplays for both films. His strengths have always been in the character and dialogue departments, and his contributions to both movies will probably serve to add humor, depth, and personality to characters big and small. And he’s already familiar with superhero-related stories thanks to a simultaneous career working in the comic field. He’s worked on several comic series, but the most notable and acclaimed would be his very popular run with Astonishing X-Men. Add in his many years with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse, Angel… and the future is starting to look a lot better for Captain America and The Avengers.

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