Joss Whedon confirms he’ll direct “The Avengers”

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Uniting a bunch of super-profitable nerdy properties (Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, etc), the upcoming superhero-team movie The Avengers surely represents the apex of fanboy fantasy, the ultimate triumph of geek culture, the climax of a twenty-year journey from margin to mainstream. (Please check out this clip from the 1994 direct-to-video Fantastic Four movie for a reminder of just how much respect these franchises used to get.) Thus, it’s fitting that Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon — both the subject of massive fanboyism and a massive fanboy himself — is signing on as director, as he just confirmed at Comic-Con.

Assuming you’re not neck-deep in fan culture, but just like big pop action movies that don’t suck, is this good news? I’m going to say yes. Whedon’s a good choice for a story about a team. He loves group dynamics (see the late, lamented Firefly), so The Avengers plays to his strengths. It might also play to some of his weaknesses, specifically a corny streak and the tendency to make all his bickering characters sound like Joss Whedon — but then, that latter fault could be mitigated by a cast of charismatic actors that already includes Robert Downey, Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson, two outsized personalities who’d be hard to flatten out. (Of course, one outsized personality has already gotten the boot.) Regardless, there’s still plenty of time for speculation; The Avengers won’t come out until May 2012.