In the latest no-brainer moves at Disney and Marvel Studios, Joss Whedon returns to write and direct the sequel to the $1.46 billion-grossing The Avengers. Whedon’s trademark ability to direct an action film, infuse comedy and proper understanding of how the larger-than-life characters could co-exist in one film and managing the balance of screen time for the ensemble cast were noticeable qualities of Earth’s Mightiest film of 2012.
Disney CEO Robert Iger revealed on an earnings call Tuesday that the Avengers franchise would shoulder a great deal of weight for the company in the future, including a sequel. Securing Whedon for that sequel was a priority, so much so, that Iger announced that Whedon would also create a Marvel-based television show on ABC.
Fanboys and girls can begin wondering how this new deal will expand the Marvel Universe as one big canvas. Minor characters could be introduced on television and then be elevated to the big screen. Phase 2 of Marvel Films will include: Iron Man 3 (May 3, 2013), Thor: The Dark World (November 8, 2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1, 2014) and Ant-Man (TBD). An Avengers 2 film would realistically be slotted in 2015.
Whatever type of television show that would launch on ABC would likely be based on Earth to keep costs down, but still have the flexibility to introduce on a reasonable level new and recurring larger-than-life characters in the universe. There have been plenty of comics that have taken a more street-level approach like Peter David’s recent run on X-Factor (which would be a challenge since most mutant properties are owned by Fox), Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias, as well as countless Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. projects.
There’s also Daredevil (currently at Fox), Punisher (which has a history of failed films) but then again, if ABC really wants a family genre drama that could expand the universe, then something as big as Fantastic Four should be looked at. There’s already been talks that Marvel is willing to extend its agreement with Fox to keep Daredevil there in exchange to get back the rights for the Fantastic Four, Galactus, and Silver Surfer.
Imagine Whedon writing lines for Ben Grimm AKA The Thing and Johnny Storm AKA The Human Torch? Of course I’m just dreaming here, but the Fantastic Four has science fiction, family drama, love and romance, philosophy, and the cosmic element which is needed to help expand out the Marvel Universe for non-comics readers so that Guardians of the Galaxy can be digested. Whedon’s record on television has been hit or miss. He launched Buffy the Vampire Slayer onto television and its spinoff Angel, but struggled with Firefly and Dollhouse.
With the success of The Avengers, one has to believe Whedon will be given every chance and resource to succeed, especially if he’s able to successfully open a bridge from television to films. Think of it, Whedon could do all of his character development in television, and then cherry pick his cast for the film and like The Avengers, he can get them right into moment of conflict without needing to lay down origin stories.
We also have to keep in mind that ABC is still developing a Hulk series with Guillermo del Toro involved and they are targeting that to progress and develop so that it’s ready for fall of 2013 or winter 2014. If that’s successful, and that’s a big if–even with del Toro involved–that would help lay out additional corners of the Marvel Universe. Before the summer, the thought of a Hulk series successfully launching on ABC seemed highly implausible, but if Disney is backing Whedon for a TV series too, it’s not hard to connect the dots.
The next few years should be very interesting for Marvel Comics fans. Hopefully they’ll find some ways to promote their comics in these ventures as well so that viewers of the films and TV shows understand that new stories of their favorite characters can be found weekly and monthly at digital and brick and mortar comic shops. The opportunities are there, that is, if they still care about making comics.
What TV series do you want to see Joss Whedon bring to ABC? What characters would you like to see in an Avengers sequel? Share your thoughts below!