Disney/Marvel Locks In Joss Whedon For 'The Avengers' Sequel, TV Show

Few pieces could be as key as writer-director Joss Whedon to the Summer 2012 phenomenon that has been "The Avengers." As of today, there's no reasonable betting against its inevitable follow-up meeting with daunting expectations to make lightning strike twice.

It's a breaking story with few details yet present, but Disney honcho Bob Iger has made a pivotal Marvel moment official today, Variety reports: the two brands have secured Whedon not only to script and direct an "Avengers" sequel, but also to develop ABC's live-action Marvel Universe TV series.

There's seemingly little history safe from Whedon shattering it. A first-of-its-kind movie-crossover event built up over five previous individual, interlocking, single-character adventures, "The Avengers" has mined gold, platinum and vibranium since opening this May. It's current worldwide gross hovers around $1.5 billion and ranks all-time only behind James Cameron's first- and second-highest-grossing respective films, "Avatar" and "Titanic."

When all is said and done, Whedon's live-action endeavor for ABC will be the first regular live-action Marvel series for a major network since CBS's 1978-1982 "The Incredible Hulk," starring Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Since that time, competitor DC Comics has licensed multiple properties for such series to multiple networks, including a single 1990-1991 season of "The Flash" on CBS, 10 seasons of "Smallville" between The WB and The CW, The WB's short-lived Batman spin-off "Birds of Prey" and this fall's "Arrow" on The CW.

It's worth noting, for specificity's sake, that Marvel's Blade made his way to a short-lived Spike TV series in 2006.

The TV series, which is expected to tie in with Whedon's movies, is expected to expand on the established mythos of the films, making this arguably the most thorough, extensively built crossover of franchises in movie or TV history.

Think also of what this means for Whedon. When 20th Century Fox took his initial concept for "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and ran it back in a complete opposite direction, what resulted was a silly travesty of the darker concept that eventually became a seven-season, genre-breaking smash on The WB and UPN. It launched and/or elevated the stock of, among others, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Seth Green, David Boreanaz (who got his own stellar five seasons on the spin-off "Angel") and James Marsters, as well as writer-producer Marti Noxon.

Later, partnering with FOX, "Firefly" was mishandled in its lone 2002 season, but was given closure in 2005 with the feature motion picture "Serenity" after its devout cult following just wouldn't stop the signal. "Dollhouse" didn't fair much better on FOX, despite Eliza Dushku's best efforts, lasting only two seasons from 2009-2010.

And now, his movie sits alongside the legendary Cameron's crowning moments in the record books, with more history for the franchise ahead.

Gotta love a happy ending.