Although production is only now beginning on Joss Whedon's S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee appears confident the Marvel project will receive a series order.
"We fast-tracked that and we'll see it a lot earlier than the others," The Hollywood Reporter quoted Lee as saying Thursday at the Television Critics Association's winter tour. "We're very hopeful that's going to go to series. … It's a great script."
How great? “It’s just very Joss,” EW.com reports Lee told journalists. “You know how Joss is so high-low? And he’s able to be intense and epic and suddenly funny and silly? He’s just got that ability to be super-entertaining and sort of super-educated.”
Targeted for ABC’s fall 2013 lineup, S.H.I.E.L.D. centers on the global espionage and law-enforcement agency that’s helped to provide the connective tissue between the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whedon will direct the pilot, which he co-wrote with his brother Jed Whedon and Jed’s wife Maurissa Tancharoen. The project, which begins filming this month, stars Clark Gregg as fan-favorite Agent Coulson, Ming-Na as Agent Melina May, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Gemma Simmons, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward and Chloe Bennett as Skye.
According to EW, Whedon is working on scripts beyond the pilot, which a network source says were requested on the assumption that S.H.I.E.L.D. will be greenlit, and that the filmmaker will be unavailable later in the year.
Lee wasn't quite as forthcoming about the status of The Incredible Hulk, the live-action revival from Guillermo del Toro and David Eick announced in late 2010. While Variety notes the executive wouldn't confirm or deny that the project was still in development, del Toro revealed in a recent interview with MTV that, "I haven't heard anything in months about the show, but obviously Avengers is a game-changer for Marvel. It's their property, and if I don't make it, at least I'll watch it."
However, ABC's Lee did say the network plans to further exploit the Marvel catalog. "We're developing a lot of Marvel shows and we think Marvel is huge for us, there's an opportunity in it for us," he told reporters. "You're seeing us as a network -- we did it with Once and we're doing it with S.H.I.E.L.D. -- doing shows that can really help widen the Walt Disney Co. The ABC brand is not the Disney brand, it's not the Pixar brand and it's not the Marvel brand. But it's really fun in this job to be part of a company that owns so many strong brands and be able to help build and reinvigorate some of those brands."