According to Deadline, ABC has ordered a pilot for "S.H.I.E.L.D.," a live-action series set in the same universe as Whedon's "Avengers" movie.
The pilot will be penned by Whedon and his longtime collaborators, brother Jed Whedon and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen, who worked together on the successful web series "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." Whedon is also set to direct the project, if his schedule allows.
S.H.I.E.L.D. (which stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division in the Marvel cinematic universe, and Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate in the comics) is a military law enforcement agency and peacekeeping group headed up by Nick Fury, who was played by Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel movies. Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. were responsible for spearheading the Avengers Initiative, which brought together Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to combat Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and the alien Chitauri warriors in the summer blockbuster.
Deadline reports that production on the pilot is set to begin immediately, with Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen executive producing alongside Jeffrey Bell and Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb.
Nick Fury, Maria Hill ("How I Met Your Mother" star Cobie Smulders), Black Widow and Hawkeye were agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in both the comics and "The Avengers," but we're not holding our breath for any A-list cameos should the pilot be picked up to series. Still, with Whedon's involvement, perhaps Jackson could be tempted to appear as a special guest star when sweeps roll around, and depending on the scope of production and "How I Met Your Mother's" longevity, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Smulders could appear somewhere down the line.
Information on the story for the "S.H.I.E.L.D." pilot is still sparse, but we're crossing our fingers for a cameo from fan-favorite Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). The character seemed to die at the hands of Loki in "The Avengers" (although some conspiracy theorists believe his demise was a ruse masterminded by Nick Fury), but could always appear if the show is presented as a prequel to the film.
The pilot order is the latest in a line of investments that Disney (which owns Marvel and ABC) has made in Whedon of late. Earlier this month, it was announced that Whedon would be returning to write and direct the "Avengers" sequel for Marvel, a move that was far from a done deal as recently as July, when the writer-director admitted he had yet to decide whether he wanted to be involved with "Avengers 2" at Comic-Con.
Regardless of the show's ultimate fate, any network offering to bring Whedon back to TV is fine by us. The fan-favorite writer has had mixed results with scripted series since the end of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" in the early aughts, with cult classic "Firefly" lasting only eleven episodes on Fox before being cancelled in 2002. Whedon's next project for Fox, the less beloved but no less ambitious "Dollhouse," lasted 26 episodes before it too was cancelled. Whedon, Whedon and Tancharoen's "Dr. Horrible" will make its TV debut on October 9 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW, after premiering exclusively online back in 2008.
UPDATE: Whedon moderated a Q&A with Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia, screenwriters of "Sleepwalk With Me," after a screening of the movie at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills on Aug. 28. According to Cynthia Littleton of Variety (who Tweeted a few paraphrased quotes from the event), he shared a little more intel on "S.H.I.E.L.D." during the panel.
According to Littleton, Whedon also confirmed he would not be the showrunner of "S.H.I.E.L.D." should it be picked up to series, leaving that duty to his brother, Jed Whedon, and sister-in-law, Maurissa Tancharoen.
Are you excited about the prospect of a "S.H.I.E.L.D." series on ABC, or just glad to see Whedon potentially returning to TV? Weigh in below!