Joss Whedon
Credit: Zade Rosenthal

Joss Whedon will suit up once more to write and direct the sequel to The Avengers, EW has confirmed.

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m. PT: Marvel Studios has released the following statement: “Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015. As part of that deal, Whedon will write and direct Marvel’s The Avengers 2 as well ashelp develop a new live action series for Marvel Television at ABC. He will also contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe.”

Earlier on Tuesday, during a conference call about Disney’s quarterly earnings, Disney chairman Bob Iger revealed that Whedon would return for the second installment of the film that has grossed nearly $1.5 billion worldwide since opening just over three months ago. Iger also said Whedon is working on a live-action TV series based in the Marvel universe for ABC, but had no further details.

Two months before The Avengers hit theaters, Whedon told the British magazine SFX that he thought a sequel to the film should be “smaller, more personal, more painful.” Right after The Avengers passed the $1 billion mark, he expressed his mixed feelings about returning to make another film. “It’s an enormous amount of work telling what is ultimately somebody else’s story, even though I feel like I did get to put myself into it,” he said to Hero Complex. “But at the same time, I have a bunch of ideas, and they all seem really cool.”

Now, we all just need the patience to see how Whedon brings those ideas to life. And that could be a while. Marvel Studios’ slate of films is already quite crowded, with Iron Man 3 (scheduled for May 3, 2013), Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8, 2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014), and Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1, 2014) all set to arrive in theaters before an Avengers sequel. Plus, Edgar Wright very well may begin production on Ant-Man next year. Which would likely mean Whedon will have to contend with five more feature film story-lines within the Marvel universe — not to mention whatever comes of this mysterious prospective TV show — for whatever he’s got cooking for the re-assemblage of The Avengers. One can only hope that it includes something really cool for Rocket Racoon.

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