Of course there could not be better news for the Avengers sequel than the announcement that Joss Whedon will write and direct it — but it now appears that, as part of his three-year exclusive deal, Marvel will let him shape the Captain America, Thor and Iron Man sequels to set up the characters the way he wants them for The Avengers 2.
Marvel’s statement this week declared:
“As part of that deal, Whedon will write and direct Marvel’s 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.”
What that TV series will be is anyone’s guess, but I’m more interested in the bit that promises he will “contribute creatively” to other movies — namely, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man 3, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. Except for the Guardians, all those characters are closely tied to the Avengers. Maybe Whedon will be able to get Nathan Fillion to sign on as the Hank Pym original version of Ant-Man!
And who knows what other projects Whedon will be able to funnel into the Marvel pipeline — Dr. Strange? Another Buffy movie? Or maybe an all-new, all-original idea? Something funny and scary and sexy and interesting, please…
And therein lies the only possible negative about Joss Whedon’s success: He’s setting records and breaking the bank with other people’s characters; I’d like to see him use his newfound Hollywood clout to get new ideas into the cinematic mainstream. Honestly, the world needs a lot more films like Cabin in the Woods. And I don’t see why a refurbished Dr. Horrible couldn’t help bring back musicals. (Hmm, Cabin in the Woods — the Musical? Yes!)
I’d like to imagine that when Marvel was on its corporate knees in front of Whedon, begging for another Avengers movie, he negotiated himself not only final cut, but also the right to be left alone while he’s developing stuff. As Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog proved, without corporate financial shackles Whedon can really think and create outside the box — and a pure artistic vision will attract talent to a project. Emmy winner Neil Patrick Harris and fantasy poster girl Felicia Day (Heck, even cult god Fillion) didn’t sign up for Dr. Horrible for the payday; they liked Whedon’s vision and the chance to work without burdensome network “notes.” (Can you imagine: “Do they have to sing so much?” “‘Landry Day’? Seriously?” “Does he have to be called ‘Dr. Horrible’? It’s so… negative.” “Does Capt. Hammer have to be so violent?” “Does she have to die — what about a sprained ankle?” “Can we change the ending?”)
Believe me, I’ll be queuing up for Avengers 2 and all the other Whedon flicks when hit theaters, but I desperately hope that the writer/director will use his new powers for good and get some original, thoughtful projects with auteur sensibilities greenlit.