Joss Whedon is a man who simply loves television. And even as the success of "The Avengers" could put him in place for early retirement, he instead is capitalizing on that success to return back to that first love.
ABC Studios, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co. along with Marvel, has green-lighted a pilot based on SHIELD, the organization that recruits superheroes to help maintain worldwide peace. Because of Whedon's involvement, it's likely SHIELD (which stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division depending on which universe you read) will tie into the Marvel films that have now generated billions of dollars at the box office.
Whedon will write the pilot along with his brother Jed Whedon and Jed's wife Maurissa Tancharoen. The three extended family members worked together on Whedon's last series, "Dollhouse," which had a two-year run on Fox. They also collaborated together on "Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog."
Whedon also said he could direct the pilot, depending on his schedule. If he does, it will be the first time Whedon has been behind the camera for a television project since his 2010 outing on "Glee" in the episode "Dream On." Before taking on "The Avengers," Whedon has focused more on his writing, only helming three episodes of "Dollhouse" and seven episodes of "Angel" compared to the 22 episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" he directed.
This is the first live-action Marvel property to get a greenlight in, well, a very long time. Although there has been some talk of doing a Hulk return to the small screen, it looks like ABC Studios could push hard for a fall 2013 launch -- a pretty short development schedule for such a series.
In the films, SHIELD is represented by Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson. How much involvement he will have in a television series has not been revealed.
"The Avengers" have now grossed $621.4 million domestically, and $874 million worldwide. That makes it the third highest-grossing film of all time, behind only "Avatar" ($760.5 million) and "Titanic" ($658.7 million).
Marvel's comics rival, DC Comics, has struggled at the box office in recent years (with the Batman character being the lone exception), but has been strong in television. "Smallville" aired for 10 seasons on The CW, and "Arrow" based on the DC character Green Arrow will debut this fall on The CW.
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