Joss Whedon will write and direct the sequel to The Avengers as part of an exclusive three-year deal with Marvel Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The arrangement also includes a Marvel-related TV series for ABC.
A sequel was already in the works for The Avengers, which has grossed $1.46 billion so far, though it wasn't clear whether Whedon would be involved until Disney CEO Robert Iger mentioned the deal yesterday during an earnings call in which he boasted about the film being the third-biggest movie, and said that Disney plans to "leverage the power of the Avengers" across the entire company.
Whedon's exact role remains unclear, apart from the sequel, though Marvel said in a statement that he will "contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel's cinematic universe," suggesting that Whedon could help shape a handful of possible upcoming Marvel TV shows and movies. There hasn't been a Marvel-oriented television show since Blade aired on Spike TV in 2006. One such small-screen adaptation is a possible Incredible Hulk series that Guillermo del Toro is attached to. ABC entertainment president Paul Lee said in May that he hoped to have the show ready for next season.
Returning to television would put Whedon back on familiar ground: He rose to prominence following the success of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, both of which he created; along with the short-lived program Firefly. Though not all have been consistent hits, Whedon's projects typically develop strong followings.