Bad news, true believers...
Joss Whedon has been speaking to Empire about his future plans to work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it...doesn't sound too good.
Especially since he led off by suggesting that he won't be directing Avengers: Infinity War:
“I couldn’t imagine doing this again...It’s enormously hard, and it will be, by then, a good five years since I created anything that was completely my own. So it’s very doubtful that I would take on the two-part Infinity War movie that would eat up the next four years of my life. I obviously still want to be a part of the Marvel Universe – I love these guys – but it ain’t easy. This year has been more like running three shows than any year of my life. It is bonkers.”
Yup, that's right - according to Whedon himself, it's "very doubtful" that he'll return to direct Avengers: Infinity War. Now, in fairness, that's not a million miles away from what he said back when he was considering taking the reins on Age of Ultron, too - but even so, it's hard to argue with that logic.
Whedon is, after all, a fiercely independently-minded filmmaker, and it seems entirely plausible that working within as strict a studio system as Marvel's could take its toll. And, if so, a few years' gap to recuperate, before returning for - say - a Phase 4 extravaganza, doesn't seem all that out of the question.
Which means it might just - sadly - be time to consider who could be in line to replace him.
Here are my three top candidates:
3. J.J. Abrams
For a movie as vast in both scale and importance as Infinity War, odds are Marvel would hire from within should they need to find a new director. If not, though, then could they look to a man currently plying his trade at a different - but not too dissimilar - branch of Disney?
I mean - just imagine this, but with Iron Man in it...
After all, there aren't too many other directors out there with such a proven track record with big budget action epics as Abrams - and he's only directing Episode VII...
2. James Gunn
A fan-favorite for years, Gunn has finally broken into the mainstream with the hugely - and, to some, surprisingly - successful Guardians of the Galaxy. So, not only does he have experience at Thanos-wrangling - an important part of any Infinity War - but he's also clearly got the technical and commercial chops....
The only problem? He's already suggested that...
"...whatever I do for Marvel will probably be characters within Marvel Cosmic - which would be characters which are connected to this part of the universe."
Which, on the face of it, seems to write off an Avengers: Infinity War that will, most likely, be at least a 50/50 split between Earth and Space.
A more terrestrial option, then, would be...
1. The Russo Brothers
Who, of course - on the back of the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier - have been heavily linked with the Infinity War gig for months. Which, seeing as that movie was both awesome and hugely successful - and they're directing the ramped-up sequel - could just make them favorites, especially if Marvel is looking for a steady set of hands.
I mean, if this isn't an audition tape for an Avengers movie, what is?
There are, though, question marks over whether they have the breadth of vision to pull of an epic saga on the scale of Infinity War - could the makers of a tightly-knit conspiracy actioner really bring Thanos' war to life?
Well, for anyone a little concerned, there is an obvious solution to both problems...
Could James Gunn and the Russo Brothers...Both Direct?
After all, there's every reason to believe that Infinity War will - seeing as it's already split into two halves, separated by a year - have two distinct identities flowing through it.
Could we ultimately see Gunn and the Russo's each take a half, allowing them to showcase their respective expertise without being forced to over-extend themselves?
It's a long-shot, perhaps - but if we can't have Whedon, then that'd be my preferred option...
What do you guys think, though? Who should direct Avengers: Infinity War? Should Whedon direct another film entirely? Just what's the deal with Thanos, anyway?
Join the debate at Moviepilot.com/creators - and make yourself heard!