Although many expected the official announcement to come Saturday during the Marvel Studios panel at Comic-Con International, Joss Whedon confirmed this afternoon that he is, indeed, directing The Avengers.
Asked about the film during the "Entertainment Weekly: The Visionaries" panel with J.J. Abrams, Whedon responded: "That is not an official thing. But I'm making that an official thing: I'm directing The Avengers."
Of course, Whedon's involvement in Marvel's ensemble film has been one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood. Reports emerged as far back as April that the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly was negotiating to helm the studio's 2012 tent-pole film, but rumors began circulating long before. Although neither Whedon nor the studio commented on the speculation, everyone from Zack Whedon to Edward Norton's agent had essentially confirmed it.
The Whedon-directed Avengers will star Joss Whedon, stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and Samuel L. Jackson -- but not Edward Norton. The new Hulk, who may or may not be Mark Ruffalo, is expected to be announced at Saturday's panel in Hall H. Perhaps those long-running rumors about Nathan Fillion and Eva Longoria as Ant-Man and the Wasp will finally be put to rest then, too.
The Avengers opens on May 4, 2012.