Joss Whedon in Final Negotiations to Direct THE AVENGERS

     April 13, 2010


Joss Whedon is in final negotiations to direct Marvel’s big superhero crossover movie, The Avengers.  The sound you just heard was my mind exploding all over my apartment.  IESB reported a couple weeks ago that Whedon was on the short-list to direct the pic, but I brushed that off as madness even after Hero Complex confirmed the story.  I thought it far more likely that Whedon would direct a smaller Marvel Comics movie, Runaways, since he wrote the second volume of the series. It turns out that Peter Sollett (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) has gotten that gig.  Deadline reports that Whedon is going to take the helm of Marvel Studio’s biggest planned project.

Whedon’s only previous feature film was 2005′s Serenity.  Despite a relatively small budget of $40 million, the film still flopped and only earned $25 million domestically.  Marvel now wants him to direct the film that Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America are all building to.

Hit the jump as I piss off Whedonites with my explanation of why this is a bad idea.

joss_whedon_01.jpgWhedon has never come close to directing something this major in his career.  If he only wrote The Avengers, that would be awesome.  The guy is a fantastic writer and Marvel would be lucky to have him pen their biggest movie.  Having him direct is madness.  I suppose you could make the argument that Peter Jackson never took on anything major before the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  But Jackson had directed six films previously, had his own visual effects studio, and made the trilogy in his own backyard.  Jon Favreau (Iron Man) cut his special effects teeth on Zathura.  Kenneth Branagh (Thor) directed the epic adaptation of Hamlet.  Joe Johnston (The First Avenger: Captain America) has done Jurassic Park 3 and Jumanji.  Their Marvel adaptations will be their biggest projects, but they’ve stepped into the arena and they all have more than one movie to their feature directing filmography.  And directing television should be considered, but features are a different beast.

The Avengers is slated to hit theaters on May 4, 2012.  If the film turns out to be a smashing success, I will happily eat every crow in existence.  Don’t misunderstand me: I’m a fan of Whedon’s.  I think Serenity is a satisfying film and his TV shows are the tops.  But if you take a step back and objectively compare the scale of this project to the experience of the director, you will agree that this decision may appease geeks, but it’s a high-risk gamble for Marvel.

Deadline doesn’t say whether or not Whedon will also write The Avengers.  While I would normally say that’s a no-brainer, I have no brain left because it’s all over my walls after my expectations of reality were shattered by this news. [Update: Variety reports that Whedon will rework Zak Penn's script.]

Avengers (2).jpg

  • Chris G

    Holy shnikes……….

  • Landfill

    I guess it's good news this is moving forward but I have to agree with the article. We'll have to wait and see.

  • Gene

    It says that Zac Penn will write it. I'm not sure thoug

  • Matt Goldberg

    Yes, but I can't imagine Whedon not doing a re-write. Then again, I couldn't imagine Whedon getting this gig, so I guess anything is possible.

  • C. McG

    Matt, are you for real dude?

    I'm not even the biggest Whedon fan, but I have to come to defense of all those Buffy followers, and Browncoats, as your arguments carry no weight whatsoever. Let me get this straight, you think it is a bad idea for Whedon to direct this pic because he has never, in your opinion, done anything in the same realm of what Avengers will be ( as far as budgeting, CG, scale, star power is concerned). And you defend this position by relating Joe Johnston's very weak JP:3, and mediocre, now over a decade old Jumangi. Whedon's fortuitous writing ability is pretty common knowledge in Hollywood, and has been for several years, but have you even seen Serenity? Like its predecessor Firefly, the feature adaptation is expertly directed and produced in most every way, and he stretched a 50 million budget better than most. Poor marketing, and advertising was the ultimate downfall of both Firefly (one of the best action/sci-fi serials around), and Serenity. Not to mention his creation of 3 other cult television series, which have also received favourable reviews for their overall quality.

    If anything, it seems that Marvel made a very sound business decision by going with Whedon. Not only is he a proven writing talent, but his directorial debut was a clever, irreverent, and emotionally powerful sci-fi endeavor. This, along with his extensive television oeuvre, overwhelming proves he has the chops to deal with the scope of something like the Avengers, so that's probably why he got the job.

    C'mon Matt! Recognizing Whedon's innate cinematic ability is easy (if you watched his content), and if you were perhaps more quality conscience, you would be just as excited as I am to see how he capitalizes on this this opportunity.

  • toresimonsen

    It's time to save Dollhouse.

  • junierizzle

    I agree with the article. This movie is supposed to be huge. Why wouldn't they hire a more experienced director? Robert Rodriguez, Edgar wright, Alex Proyas, just to name a few. Serenity was cool but not great.

  • AngMal

    If they hire a second unit director of the Vic Armstrong or Dan Bradley calibre to handle all the action without Whedon's interference, this might not be a problem. But if he's going to be more hands-on this might be a very bad choice. Whedon is a quite effective writer (especially if you like snarky one liners), but if you look at his directorial output so far he's distinctly average. Peter Jackson had already shown considerable flair behind the camera prior to his shot at the big time, even with small budgets – lower than an episode of one of Whedon's TV shows, I'd imagine – but Whedon-directed episodes are indistinguishable from any of the other hired hands on his series'. I wish they'd just wait an extra year for Favreau to be free and let him finish what he's started. Doesn't seem fair that another director gets to play with Iron Man quite so soon…

  • Matt

    Let us not forget: Whedon had a hand in the bastardizing of the Alien movies with the 4th one, which doesn't deserve a name

  • iantinfish

    Just look at the footage of Summer Glau taking out an army of Reavers at the climax of 'Serenity' in ONE SHOT, on a shoe-string budget and tell me Whedon can't handle action.

  • p86

    was'nt serenity an ensemble cast i think that helps him

  • dogg

    The biggest risk for The Avengers is bad character development–too many epic characters. Whedon blows that risk out of the water just by showing up. In that sense he's a safe pick. I just got interested.

  • [A]

    long boring dialogue, boring action, bland acting.. yay!

  • SwedishLore15

    Serenity was a fantastic movie and he handled his budget beautifully. Plus, Whedon knows how to handle an ensemble cast of strong personalities due to his background on television, from Firefly to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  • Corin Prendiville

    Jon Favreau was also pretty average before Iron Man but that is arguable one of the top 3 superhero films ever.

    I think Joss Whedon is one of the only few who can pull this thing off correctly, he knows how to mix up totally different personalities and characters and make it work. Most directors would have them all clashing.

  • Corin Prendiville

    Somebody obviously has a negative attitude toward Whedon as a whole. Everything he has done has been good, sure Buffy had some sour moments and so did Angel; but what long running show didn't? Watching the 6th or 1st season the show maintained its strength where most shows would make you want to kill yourself after 6 seasons.

    Serenity was pretty good IMO, I don't think Firefly necessarily was the kind of premise that would translate well onto film but I think he pulled it off well. It got raving reviews and easily made back its budget on the DVD sales. Besides, The Avengers is going to have a pre-built in audience. It won't be a couple of carry-overs from a TV show that got axed in its first season and then several years later a movie comes out with a different name.

  • Corin Prendiville

    Just so you know Whedon has now directed 2 feature films and I think he begins shooting his 3rd one soon. Obviously nothing as big as Serenity, but its still experience. Christopher Nolan had little big budget experience when he worked on Batman Begins but we all know how that worked out.

    Its the vision, not the ability to macro-manage. Plus I think more than 10 years experience running various TV shows on the day-to-day basis is more than enough experience for anyone trying to get a team working together.

  • joshtherippler

    This was the comment I was waiting for. Whedon brings into this movie the ability to make you feel something for the characters. I never saw Firefly before I watched Serenity but I still felt that these characters had depth and a personality. They werent cookie cutter characters.

    This is what is going to make and break this movie. The character depth. The CGI is going to be great obviously, special effects will be mind blowing but…will we care about the non-famous actors playing the REST of the avengers? Thats one of the bigger question marks in an ensemble cast like this. Whedon is the perfect guy to take over this movie.

  • Michael_C

    I'm not a crazy Whedonite or anything (Sadly, I've never even seen an episode of Buffy), but I think it's safe to say Serenity is better than Jurassic Park 3, Zathura, Jumanji, and…okay, maybe not Hamlet. Still though, from what I hear about his work on the X-Men comics he'll have no problem doing justice to Marvel characters. I'm not saying the movie's a sure thing, but really, I don't think Whedon's a bad choice at all.

    And if it's the spectacular financial success it's essentially guaranteed to be, then Whedon gets to add “from the director of The Avengers” to everything he ever does, which is going to open a LOT of doors for him down the road. And that's pretty damn exciting.

  • Michael

    I don't dislike Whedon but I really don't think his style fits the Avengers at all. I really like most of his work. Even though Serenity was pretty well done, it, to me, looked like it was supposed to come out straight to DVD. I hate saying it, but if he is hired onto direct this movie, it's going to look like a made-for-tv movie. Not a bad one but wont look like it was made for the silver screen. His action is totally bland. Not bad, just bland. His dialogue is juvenile. It's almost as if Whedon tries to make content to appeal to the masses instead of making the masses come to the content. I could be wrong, I hope I'm wrong. It's just he has to REALLY prove he is up to the task of making an amazing film with combining the characters already proven worthy in the other films so far.

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  • [A]

    “Update: Variety reports that Whedon will rework Zak Penn's script” — that's always a good thing. anything Zak Penn does needs to be… 'reworked'

  • Zach

    When i just saw the headline of this article I got the exact same feeling as when I heard McG was doing Terminator Salvation.

    This has complete FAILURE written all over it.

    Nothing Whedon has done has even interested me in the least, and with the exception of Buffy everything else he has ever done has been a complete failure. that should pretty much sum up that this is a diseaster of an idea.

  • NightAvatar

    You took the words right out of my mouth. FREAK! This pisses me off.

  • AngMal

    I wasn't commenting on Favreau's track record before Iron Man – he was a surprising choice to a degree, but expectations were low for the first film, so not as surprising as Whedon is for The Avengers, which is already expected to be a massive film. Favreau has now proven himself as a great director after only a few movies, and did all the heavy lifting for all the subsequent Marvel movies. Which is why I think it is a shame that someone else is getting to direct Downey Jr as Iron Man so soon. It's like Nolan directing Begins and TDK then someone else getting to put Christian Bale in a Justice League movie because Warners wouldn't wait for him to finish Inception. A bit disrespectful and impatient of Marvel, I think.

  • Sooda

    I think this could work very well. I dont think not having directed a film is a hinderance. Serenity was a film aimed at tying up Firefly loose ends and was never going to be a 'hit'- its a fine action film as a stand-alone and as the final chapter of Firefly is brilliant.

    The thing Whedon does have is comic book gravitas (if thats the word) having written the (excellent) Astonishing X Men series. He'd have a better understanding of Marvelverse than many other directors.

    Also I just found out that Chris Evans is set to be Captain America. Isnt he Johnny Storm already???!! That can't be allowed!

  • Sooda

    I think this could work very well. I dont think not having directed a film is a hinderance. Serenity was a film aimed at tying up Firefly loose ends and was never going to be a 'hit'- its a fine action film as a stand-alone and as the final chapter of Firefly is brilliant.

    The thing Whedon does have is comic book gravitas (if thats the word) having written the (excellent) Astonishing X Men series. He'd have a better understanding of Marvelverse than many other directors.

    Also I just found out that Chris Evans is set to be Captain America. Isnt he Johnny Storm already???!! That can't be allowed!

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  • Tony Santora

    So, how does that crow taste?

    • Seburba

      Hahah good one!

    • Rick Gershman

      Hey, give the guy credit. He since wrote a lengthy article in which he admitted he made the wrong call and as good as demanded Marvel rehire Whedon for Avengers 2. He also linked to this editorial with a link that reads “I was absolutely wrong.” Anyone can make a bad call, but it takes real balls to admit it and put it out there for everyone to see.

      • George G

        Kudos to Matt for retracting his initial doubts. Most of the comments here were pretty pro-Whedon, but it’s still nice to see Joss prove his detractors wrong… to the tune of nearly a billion dollars worldwide so far, and unprecedented acclaim.