By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist August 8, 2012 at 9:02AM
“We’re in preproduction on a movie called ’Iron Man 3’ right now. We've got a great director called Shane Black who's taking the reins. It’s the first of what we refer to Phase Two of this Avengers Assemble talk, which will lead to an ‘Avengers 2.’ Those movies will be a part of that,” Kevin Feige said at the New York Comic-Con last fall. But a lot has changed since then, most importantly, the billion dollar success of "The Avengers," which basically no one saw coming. It was a game-changer not only at the box office, but critically with the Marvel movie earning some of the best notices of any picture they've done. But it also proved the value of a writer/director making the most of the opportunity to flex their muscle within the Marvel universe, and deliver the kind of results that pleased both hardcore fanboys and general audiences alike. And Marvel, wisely, want to continue to do that.
While, the the big news yesterday was that Joss Whedon would be returning to write and direct "The Avengers 2," perhaps even more importantly, Marvel are using his talents to guide their future for the next few years. Call it a godfather role or consultant or (most likely) executive producer, the comic book house seem to be ensuring that the high bar raised by "The Avengers" continues to be a standard by which everything else is met. “Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015," Marvel said in a statement yesterday. "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.”
It's those latter points that are very interesting. While "Iron Man 3" is already off and running, with "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," and "Guardians Of The Galaxy" all with firm release dates, and inevitably building to "The Avengers 2" which is looking like a no-brainer for a first half 2015 release, it's probably safe to suggest that Whedon will be taking a very close look at how the elements build up and are aligned for his mega team-up sequel. Will he be writing scripts? We doubt it, but sitting in on story meetings and making suggestions? That seems more likely. It will also be interesting to see where the Marvel TV world goes, and how (if at all), it will tie into anything on the big screen. Could Marvel be looking to do something as ambitious as Ron Howard's developing "The Dark Tower" with story threads crossing over from television to the movies? Or will it be a platform for the B-level characters that aren't quite multiplex ready? Time will tell.
Either way, Marvel phase two now has an author at the helm to oversee things, and that can only be a positive turn in terms of continuing to build and grow the quality of the movies and the brand. It definitely gives Whedon a huge sandbox to play in, and it should be interesting to see what risks he's able to take or what changes and tweaks he may implement. Exciting times ahead indeed. [LA Times]