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comic-con 2010

J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon Meld Minds at Comic-Con

As Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams sat down with Jeff "Doc" Jensen for Entertainment Weekly's "Visionaries" panel tonight at Comic-Con, Whedon kicked things off by making something official: “I'm directing The Avengers,” Whedon said. We've known about it for a while, but Whedon joked "that wasn't an official thing because Marvel couldn't afford the press release." While it may be too early for Whedon to discuss his take on the superhero saga — “I'm still writing an outline. I'm still in that stage of reworking it, reworking it,” he said — he did share what drew him to the project: He described the very existence of the superteam as “counterintuitive” because “these people should not be in the same room together,” which is Whedon's "definition of family.”

Abrams, was equally secretive about his new film, Super 8, with good reason: They haven't shot any footage yet. (UPDATE: He shot special material just for the teaser trailer.) The film, which pays homage to Steven Spielberg, is in the spirit of Spielberg's family films and brings thing full circle for Abrams. Between final exams in their film-student days, Abrams and Felicity co-creator/Cloverfield director Matt Reeves repaired Spielberg's damaged childhood Super 8 films, Firelight and Escape to Nowhere, for $300. Abrams tried to convince Reeves that they had to take a frame of these original copies, but Reeves was too scared of The Man to steal it. The experience came in handy when Abrams pitched Super 8 to Spielberg, who is now also an executive producer on the film. “I had a sense of what he had done when he was a kid,” he said. “It's not like the movie is some kind of autobiography, but there's a lot of stuff in it that feels very personal.”

Abrams stated firmly that Super 8 will not be in 3D. But the horror film The Cabin in the Woods, which was co-written and produced by Whedon, will…over his strenuous objections. “[Director and former Lost and Buffy writer Drew Goddard] shot something in a classical mode,” Whedon said of the film. “Almost a little old fashioned.” But MGM saw things differently after looking at the release schedule and seeing that every upcoming horror film for the next several years will be released in 3D. Whedon still hopes that the movie will be released in 2D and marketed as the only horror film in 2D. He even came up with a marketing slogan: “Cabin in the Woods: It's painterly!”

Of course, at this point, he's not sure when anyone will ever see the movie, which has no release date, as, he points out, “The fate of the studio that has the movie is in flux." And what of a Dr. Horrible 2? “It's in turnaround,” Whedon said. He and co-writers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen know what the film will be, but from the sound of their laissez-faire approach to actually working on it, fans shouldn't hold their breath.

Photo: Getty Images