Big news hit the internet yesterday: Joss Whedon has been chosen to direct THE AVENGERS - coming to theaters in the Summer of 2012. And that's not another remake of the 1960's British television series, that's Marvel's Avengers we're talking about. The movie stands to be one of the biggest in film history, bringing together Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and potentially The Incredible Hulk (Edward Norton). By the time THE AVENGERS is released, these men will have all starred in their own blockbusters (excluded Nick Fury who will appear in most of them). I can only imagine each film will do astonishingly well, considering the popularity of superhero films and the fact that it is now public knowledge that each film is leading up to THE AVENGERS.
When plans for this film started to come together around IRON MAN's production in 2008 it seemed like an impossible dream. Sure, Marvel was going to try and put together individual films about its most successful properties. That news was great enough. It seemed as though a potential Avengers film could be put together, but it might be too ambitious. However, after the unexpected level of success that IRON MAN received, it seemed as though THE AVENGERS had become Marvel's ultimate goal. The primary characters would have their own, distinct films, but they would all be leading to eventual team-up. This plan of attack is so cool because it emulates the world of comics (specifically Marvel) so well. Each character has his own series, but they all exist within the same universe (in this case The Marvel Universe) and there is that potential to crossover and collide. This serial method is something that has made graphic novel storytelling so unique. Never has it been accomplished in the world of film; probably due to the difficulty is managing a collaboration between directors, writers, producers, and actors over a span of several years. But here we are, on the verge of such a collaboration. I only hope that nothing goes wrong in the next two years to disturb this process.
Now back to my reason for writing this entry: something that has gone very right. When I read the news about Joss Whedon last night, I was instantly excited and I can't even explain why. I'm not a huge follower of Whedon, though "Firefly" has long been on my to-watch list. What I know about him is primarily through reputation. There was just some part of my unconscious nerd-brain that whispered "this is right". I'm not usually impressed by casting decisions or director appointments these days; they never turn out how I'd like them, but that's to be expected. To be honest, I hadn't really begun to think about who would direct THE AVENGERS. I always just assumed someone already working with the Marvel films would get the gig. Jon Favreau might have been a good choice, but I think he's better suited for strictly Iron Man films. Louis Leterrier did a fine job with THE INCREDIBLE HULK, but I wouldn't have been comfortable with him taking on all of the Avengers. Branagh is perfect for THOR in some crazy way, but I also couldn't see him making the transition. I know Joe Johnston (director of THE FIRST AVENGER: CAPTAIN AMERICA) had expressed some interest in the job, but he still has to prove that he's not a hack. Whedon doesn't come with a lot of big-budget, feature film credentials, but he certainly has a lot of nerd-cred. His television shows have garnered some of the most rabid fans in the history of entertainment. His screenplay for ALIEN: RESURRECTION (not the greatest film, I know) is outrageously creative. Perhaps most importantly though is his work within the graphic novel medium: he wrote for "The Astonishing X-Men", one of the most popular Marvel Comic series in recent memory. This guy knows nerd, he speaks the language. I have faith that he can churn out an awesome, fan-pleasing, crowd-pleasing Avengers film.
In the near future I plan to get my hands on a lot of his work so I might build a more informed opinion of the man, but for the moment, I'm happy.