Comic-Con Visionaries Panel: JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon Talk Shop

ALTLast night in San Diego, geek gods J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Fringe, MI3, Cloverfield, Star Trek) and Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) shared the stage at Comic-Con’s famed Hall H to talk about their upcoming projects and pretty much any other film-related topic that came to mind.  The two originally met around a decade ago while they both worked at the WB – Abrams on Felicity and Whedon on Buffy.  Read on for the inside scoop on The Avengers movie, Super 8, and Undercovers, courtesy of Collider‘s Germain Lussier.

First up, the most pressing piece of news: “I’m directing The Avengers,” Whedon announced, confirming months of speculation that he would be helming the ensemble superhero flick.  Whedon explained how he’s been a fan of the comic series since he was a young kid, and The Avengers has always been one of his personal favorites.  What really drew him to the story though, was the absurdity of the idea that such a diverse cast of characters might all be in the same room, let alone on the same team.  “That, to me, is family,” he added.

J.J. Abrams also had some childhood stories to tell.  His the idea for his upcoming Super 8 (which remains, characteristically, shrouded in mystery) had its genesis in a job he and fellow writer-producer-director Matt Reeves took when they were just 16 years old, repairing some of Steven Spielberg‘s earliest 8mm films.  The two had entered into a super 8 film festival, where they were approached by one of Spielberg’s associates to help with the repair work on Escape to Nowhere (1961) and Firelight (1964).

Abrams also revealed that Super 8 will not be shot in 3D, that the lead has not yet beenALT cast (he’s looking for an unknown), and that principal photography is slated to begin this September.  Unsurprisingly, it looks like we’ll have to wait until the movie actually comes out to get the real plot details.

However, Abrams was less tight-lipped about his new show for NBC, Undercovers, starring Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, which premieres this fall.  Abrams opined how TV execs aren’t as interested in serialized stories as they once were, since they’re difficult to air as reruns or to syndicate.  Whedon agreed, lamenting that even the extreme popularity of a story-driven show like Lost has not been able to change the networks’ attitudes towards serialized, scripted programs.  And while Abrams obviously prefers a more story-oriented show, he admitted that Undercovers is going to be somewhat more syndication-friendly than many of his past efforts.