What does the man who directed one of the most lauded and financially successful superhero movies of all time do for a follow up? Another comic book movie? An action thriller?
If your name is Joss Whedon, director of"The Avengers," then the answer is a micro-budget, black-and-white adaptation of William Shakespeare's play "Much Ado About Nothing."
For any other director, that might seem out of sorts, but this is Whedon we're talking about here. "Versatility" is the man's middle name. The multi-talented writer/director will debut his film adaptation of the Bard's 17th century stage comedy at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival this weekend, where he will be able to add the TIFF red carpet premiere feather to his cap -- a cap that is getting quite full.
Name an entertainment medium or genre, and chances are Whedon has probably worked in it in some high-level capacity. From film and television screenwriter to movie and TV director, producer, and showrunner, comic book writer and even music composer, Whedon has done it all. The New York City native got his start by writing for the sitcom "Roseanne," but his big break came with a little movie called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" -- a film that he would later adapt into a popular long running TV series of the same name, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan, that would spawn TV and comic book spin-offs.Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
In between the "Buffy" movie and TV series, Whedon co-wrote a number of screenplays, including most notably "Toy Story" and "Alien: Resurrection." However, after the successful Buffy TV universe came to a close, Whedon had a tough few years on the small screen. The wonderful but ultimately short-lived space western "Firefly" was cancelled after just one season, and his following TV series "Dollhouse" was similarly given the boot after only two.
Never one to put all his eggs in one basket, though, Whedon kept the fires stoked with a number of side projects. The longtime comic book fan expanded his TV worlds with comic books based on "Buffy," "Angel," and "Firefly," and had successful runs on numerous Marvel Comics properties like "X-Men" and "Runaways." His popular work with Marvel would obviously help him eventually get the job directing their big-screen superhero tag team "The Avengers," but it was also Whedon's extremely varied film and television career that sealed the deal. Now, the filmmaker is helping to steer all of Marvel's live-action properties going forward, including a new TV series based on the fictional government agency S.H.I.E.L.D.
But enough vampire, spaceship, and superhero talk. What about this Shakespeare movie Whedon has up his sleeve?Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion in Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing."
Always known for writing extremely snappy dialogue, Whedon may have met his match with Billy Shakespeare. Seeing the writer/director interpret and adapt the Bard is sure to be a treat.
Shot entirely on location at Whedon's California home, the modern take on "Much Ado About Nothing" was filmed in a little under twelve days on pretty much no budget. After all, why pay actors' salaries when you can just recruit dozens of former collaborators to help out? The film stars "Firefly's" Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, "Buffy" and "Angel" stars Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" actress Felicia Day, and "The Avengers" actor Clark Gregg. Talk about a super-powered ensemble.
The 2012 Toronto International Film Festival marks the world premiere of Whedon's pet project. "Much Ado" certainly won't make a billion-and-a-half dollars at the box office, but hey, the reason people do big pictures like "The Avengers" is so that they can afford to make small labours of love like this.