Now, whatever your thoughts on the relative merits of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, it would surely be churlish to deny that Joss Whedon has played an absolutely crucial role in the development of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that we know and love. From bringing the gang together in the first place to helping to shepherd Phase Two into existence, all the way through to finally finishing up the 'standalone' Marvel era with Age of Ultron, Whedon has been as much a driving force of the MCU as anyone shy of head honcho Kevin Feige.
Joss Whedon is Now Officially Leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe Behind
Which, of course, we'd all kind of worked out from the fact that he kept saying he wasn't going to make any more Marvel movies, and that whole 'hiring of somebody(s) else to direct Avengers: Infinity War' thing.
Up until now, however, Whedon hasn't really explained exactly why he left Marvel, and exactly what extent he has in fact left it behind. From the sounds of his recent interview with the Oxford Union, however...
Whedon Won't Be Coming Back to the MCU Anytime Soon
Y'see, when asked whether he would have any involvement in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward, Whedon had this to say:
"No. You know I was their sort of consigliere for a while...We do not discuss our thing...But, I sort of had my finger in all of the films in the second phase, but then I just had to concentrate only on Ultron, and sort of know when it was done I was just going to stop. So I made a completely clean break - not because we had a falling out - just because I was like, 'I can't...' If I was still there going, 'Well, here are my thoughts on this film,' I'd be there every day."
Which isn't to say, of course, that Whedon and Marvel ended the relationship on bad terms. As he was keen to add:
"I wouldn't do anything else because there are a lot of films, and it is a lot of fun. It's very seductive. When you can put your little fairy dust on things and just improve them slighty, and they actually listen to you...I was a script doctor for a long time, and the part where they listen to you was very rare; so it was very important for my own self to go 'we can still be friends'..."
Which is great and all, but...
What Does That All Mean?
Well, on the one hand, it's nice to be able to hold out a little hope for a Whedon-directed Marvel follow-up in 2027 or so - but it's still something of a shame that we're now unlikely to see - for instance - Whedon's take on Spider-Man, Captain Marvel or even, just possibly, The Fantastic Four.
On the plus side, though, the split means that he's now a free agent again - opening up the possibility of a Joss-fueled Birds of Prey movie with Warner Bros, or a Whedon-led X-Movie with Fox. And, of course, more Firefly (just because).
There might just be a silver lining or two hiding in that cloud, then...
What do you reckon, though?