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.
Whedon 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.]