Geek hero Joss Whedon has gone from a cult favorite film writer and television producer to a bona fide star, all without having to step in front of the camera as an actor. Instead, he has stepped in front of the camera to give interviews, something he was rarely tasked with doing when he was helming “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or the dearly departed “Firefly” television shows. He is a household name for people who love comic books, sci-fi, and just about anything else from the geek universe. With so much recent success, including the megahit “The Avengers,” people are beginning to wonder what his next move will be.
Even though he had previously expressed reservations about being tied to a long-term contract, Whedon inked a deal with Marvel Studios in August 2012, which would bring him back as the writer/director of the sequel to “The Avengers.” It also included a clause that allowed him to develop a weekly television show based on Marvel characters to be broadcast on ABC, which is owned by Disney, Marvel’s parent company. After months of scripting and casting, that show became “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” which was picked up in May 2013. With the fall television season just starting, Whedon has been very busy doing interviews about the pilot for the show, which he wrote and directed himself. He will stay on as a producer, although he won’t be involved exclusively in day-to-day production due to his next big movie project.
That next big movie project is the sequel to the “The Avengers,” which will be called “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” He once again will not only helm the film but also write the screenplay. The title of the project was announced at the San Diego ComicCon, where Whedon did his fair share of interviews for the project. Though he is sworn to secrecy about certain plot details, the title alone gives fans a big hint about what’s to come. Ultron is a robot gifted with artificial intelligence that breaks free of his creator’s bonds and begins to think for himself. He is full of anger directed at the Avengers, whom he aims to destroy because they are standing in the way of his master plan to take over the world.
Whedon announced that the voice of Ultron would come from James Spader, who was the director’s first and only choice for the role. He also went on to say that the character is fascinating to him because he thinks and hurts like a human, even though he is made of metal and has no organic parts. Whedon also said that some of Ultron’s considerable powers would be stripped compared to the comic book version, though he didn’t mention which ones. There will also be two new Avengers, Scarlet Witch and her twin brother Quicksilver. Their father is Magneto, who is the primary villain of the X-Men films. Don’t expect a crossover, however, as the film rights to the X-Men characters are owned by Sony, which won’t release them to be in a Marvel Studios film. Production on the film will begin in early 2014, with principle photography to largely take place in England. The film has already been given a May 2015 release date, making it the eleventh film from Marvel Studios.
Most of Whedon’s attention over the next two years will be on finishing the final draft for “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” as well as the filming and post-production sessions. However, he will have to carve some time out on days off to promote a film that he scripted, called “In Your Eyes.” It is an indie production that was directed by Brinn Hill, whose last directorial effort was “Ball Don’t Lie” in 2008. The film centers on Rebecca Porter (Zoey Kazan) and Dylan Kershaw (Michael Stahl-David), two people who live on opposite sides of the country and have very little in common. Through a series of events, they encountered each other and realize that they have a connection that can’t be explained. The connection may be a psychic one, because they can intuit what the other person is feeling without even trying. It’s a mysterious connection that may have much more far-reaching consequences than either realizes. Though filming was completed in March 2012, Whedon has said recently that the film is still going through the post-production phase. As of July 2013, there is still no official release date, so Whedon’s fans will just have to sit tight until all of that is sorted out.