For those of us who’ve been Joss Whedon fans since the Buffy days, those of us who’ve suffered through cancelled TV shows and canned film projects, Whedon’s monster success with The Avengers is sweet. It’s like saying—See, we told you this guy was good, we knew it all along. And now that everyone else has caught up, Disney has announced that Whedon is, in fact, signed on to write and direct The Avengers 2. Whedon will also work on developing that TV show for ABC, but what really caught my eye about Disney’s announcement was this line: “[Whedon] will also contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe.”
So, he’s plotting the movies.
When he was hired in 2010 for The Avengers, Whedon was given a pass at the scripts for Thor and Captain America. Thor he didn’t really tinker with but he did an un-credited rewrite for Captain America. Whedon’s hidden hand on Captain America was the source of some drama, as director Joe Johnston objected to the ending in particular, which saw Steve Rogers waking up in the future (that last line—pure Whedon). The scene was a very late addition to the film, shot just three months before the movie was set for release in 2011, with Johnston under duress the whole way, and not backed by his leading man, Chris Evans. I’ve heard Evans sided with Whedon throughout, and why wouldn’t he? The Cap he gets to play is way more interesting than he has any right to be, and it’s because of Whedon and his take on that character.
One way to circumvent a repeat of that kind of drama is to acknowledge up front that Whedon is in charge of taking The Avengers from point A to point B, that every writer and director hired will be answering to a higher authority, the current reigning King of the Superheroes. So far, the only consistent voice in the franchise is Jon Favreau, shepherd of the Iron Man franchise. He’s set a lot of good precedents for the entire lateral franchise, but it’s up to Whedon to see them through “phase 2”. Coming off The Avengers, my one wish for Marvel was that they would have the sense to put Whedon in charge of the whole shebang, not just keep him on for the inevitable sequel. Now that they’ve done that, I can’t wait to see what he will do with all the resources at his disposal. After years of false starts and lost opportunities, Joss Whedon just went from the guy who couldn’t keep a show on the air or get a movie made to one of the most powerful filmmakers in Hollywood.
Attached - Joss Whedon at the 2nd Annual Dizzy Feet Foundation Celebration of Dance Gala last week. (Lainey: Katie Holmes was supposed to be at that event but ended up bailing. If I were her, I’d ask for a tip sheet from now on before dropping out of public engagements. Trust me, she would have wanted some face time with Joss Whedon.)