That Joss Whedon has been signed by Disney/Marvel to write and direct Avengers 2 shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the outrageous success of the first one. But that he’s also going to create a “Marvel-based” series for ABC is the far more interesting news to come from Disney today – and the kind of thing that’s likely to drive speculation for quite some time to come.
Looking at it objectively, it only makes sense that Whedon will work with both ABC and Marvel Television to create a new show; all of the pieces have been out there for some time, whether it’s Whedon’s repeated commentary that he finds that television may be his preferred medium, or reports that ABC was looking for a new television series from Marvel set in Avengers continuity. GIven all of those ingredients, the surprise isn’t that Whedon is creating the new show, but that it actually feels like a surprise at all, And yet, it does; maybe we all expected that Whedon would go off and continue to come up with all-new, all-Whedon projects with his newfound commercial powers, instead.
And yet: Joss Whedon is creating a new Marvel television show! This can only be a good thing, as long as we get the Whedon behind Buffy, Angel and Firefly and not the Whedon who created the confused, uncertain Dollhouse. Presuming, of course, we actually get Whedon at all. “Creating,” after all, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that he’ll be involved on any kind of ongoing basis with the show, and considering that he’ll be busy doing Avengers 2 – something that, hopefully, won’t be created on such a tight deadline as the first movie – he certainly won’t have time to be the series’ showrunner. When Jeph Loeb took on the role of heading up Marvel Television, he mentioned a lot of names in passing when talking about the kind of talent that he’d be interested in pursuing for shows and showrunning positions, and there were definitely some Whedon-connected people in there (Some connected to Whedon and Loeb’s shared past on the developed-but-never-aired Buffy animated series); should we expect to see some familiar names from Buffy et al coming back to head up this new series?
Speaking of familiar names: Who, exactly, could head up the show in terms of lead character? It would make sense considering Whedon’s history to have a female lead, and there have been rumors of ABC looking for a more grounded concept from Marvel for practical reasons (Both budgetary and the need to create something that’ll appeal to ABC’s skewing-older audience). And yet, the network had already knocked back AKA Jessica Jones, Melissa Rosenberg’s adaptation of the Alias series, something that would appear to be exactly the kind of show that they’re looking for. It’s possible that Whedon could end up creating something made to order, featuring all-new characters, which would be a boon to Marvel in two ways; firstly, it’d offer them the chance to advertise the show as being entirely “from the man behind The Avengers,” and secondly, it adds something new to the Marvel IP farm, leaving all the existing toys available for movies or development as additional series.
(About that: With Whedon onboard, there’s almost no way that this won’t be a priority for both Marvel and ABC to rush to air as soon as possible. Assuming that rumors about this new show being set in the movie continuity are true, what if anything does that do to the long-developed, out-of-movie-continuity Hulk series that ABC was reportedly considering from Guillermo Del Toro and David Eick? Then again, Del Toro did say that he was waiting for a writer to become available. What if that’s Whedon…?)
It’s hard to tell how far away we are from the debut of this series – Would Marvel rather Whedon work on the show for a Fall 2013 debut, or Avengers 2 for its inevitable 2015 release date? – but it’s very possible that all of this is as new in reality as it is in announcement, and absolutely no details have been agreed upon just yet. There are a lot of exciting possibilities in the idea of Whedon bringing his top form to television on Marvel’s behalf, and I’m sure that we’re going to imagine every single one between now and whenever concrete details begin to seep out into the world.