Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator in final negotiations to helm forthcoming ensemble superhero movie from Marvel Studios

Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Dollhouse, is set to direct the forthcoming ensemble superhero movie, The Avengers, Variety reports. The Marvel Studios project will be the first to feature Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk in the same movie.

Whedon was reported to be on a shortlist for the role last month, along with The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier, who now looks to be out of the running. The film-maker, who made his directing debut on 2005’s Serenity, a big-screen follow-up to his Firefly TV series, will aim to shoot for a 4 May 2012 release.

Whedon has a long history of working with Marvel as a comic-book writer, and has also considered directing films based on characters from the stable of rival publisher DC. His big-screen adaptation of Wonder Woman was shelved due to creative differences with Warner Bros, the studio that owns rights to most of DC’s titles.

The Avengers would most likely star Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury. Edward Norton may also return as the Hulk, the potential villain of the story.

To date, only Iron Man and the Hulk have featured in their own films, but Captain America (directed by Joe Johnston) and Thor (Kenneth Branagh) are set to follow in 2011. The next Marvel outing is Iron Man 2, which will see Robert Downey Jr reprising his role as the technology-assisted superhero later this month.

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