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Whedon wrote and directed The Avengers Assemble, which is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Avengers Assemble brought together a phalanx of Marvel Action comic-book characters – all of whom have been afforded a feature film in their own right – in one film, including Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo’s The Incredible Hulk, Chris Evans’ Captain America and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.
Known only as The Avengers in the USA, it the first film to be placed under development by Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Studios, who began to develop the project in April 2005, after Marvel Enterprises declared independence by allying with investment back Merrill Lynch to produce a slate of films that would be distributed by Paramount Pictures.
The signing of director Josh Whedon – who until this year was largely unknown to mass audiences – on such a significant project constituted something of a risk for Marvel.
At the time, Arad told superherohype.com: “My personal opinion is that Joss will do a fantastic job. He loves these characters and is a fantastic writer. It’s part of his life so you know he is going to protect it. I expect someone like him is going to make the script even better”
The founding director of TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel drew praise from critics for a script laced with humorous asides, as well as some of the best CGI ever seen in cimemas.
Talking to movieScope about The Avengers, Whedon said: “I believe, very strongly, most people who love these characters—whether it’s from the movies or from comics—will be extremely pleased. Because nobody is left to pasture. This movie is big.”
The adaptation of the Marvel Comics series has grossed nearly $1.5 billion worldwide, ranking as the third-highest-grossing film of all time.
In a conference call to industry analysts, Iger described Whedon’s handling of the film as a “phenomenal success.”
Thanks largely to The Avengers, Disney’s studio income jumped to $313 million from $49 million a year earlier, according to figures taken from the recent fiscal quarter.
In addition, Whedon will create a “Marvel-based” series for ABC, Iger said during the conference call.