Up until two years ago Joss Whedon was a beloved cult figure among fans of terrific science-fiction, horror, and comic books who still had to fight tooth and nail to see his creative visions make it to screens both big and small as unmolested as Hollywood would allow. Cut to last May and his epic take on Marvel’s mighty superhero cadre The Avengers rakes in more than a billion dollars in global box office. Now Whedon has become Marvel Studios’ personal génie en résidence; three weeks ago he officially signed on to write and direct the inevitable Avengers sequel, and a day after that news broke came the development that Whedon would be contributing creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe, including overseeing production of a television series for ABC based on Marvel characters.
It looks like ABC, Marvel, and Whedon have decided to waste no more time figuring out who the new TV series will revolve around, as the network has ordered a pilot for S.H.I.E.L.D..
According to Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, the show will be “based on Marvel’s peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D (which stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate) found in both the Marvel comic book and feature film universes”. Whedon will write the pilot along with his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, who both collaborated with the filmmaker on Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and Joss will likely direct. The Whedons and Tancharoen will also executive produce the series with Jeffrey Bell and Jeph Loeb, the latter a celebrated comic book scribe who also co-wrote the feature films Teen Wolf and Commando and wrote for the popular TV superhero dramas Smallville and Heroes.
It’s good to see Whedon returning to television for once with a network and the blockbuster force of Marvel firmly behind him all the way. To say TV has been rough for him in recent years is an understatement; after the dual successes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel for the WB, Whedon found his sci-fi action dramas Firely and Dollhouse poorly scheduled and marketed with little to no support from the Fox network. In the case of Firefly the cancellation gave it greater strength and popularity than it ever had consigned to the ratings graveyard of Friday nights.
It’s not yet known how the S.H.I.E.L.D. series will relate to the Marvel Movieverse and what characters – if any – will be retained for the show. A television series based on the Incredible Hulk is also in the pipeline at the network. We don’t know yet when either of these shows will go into production and eventually premiere, but with Phase 2 of Marvel’s multi-film superhero saga ramping up next May with the release of Iron Man 3 you can expect some action with S.H.I.E.L.D. sometime before it concludes with The Avengers 2 (title subject to change) hitting theaters in May 2015.