Comic-Con: J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon greet the faithful at EW's Visionaries panel

The-Visionaries-PanelImage Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesJ.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon are responsible for some of the most obsessed-over and geeked-out-about pop culture creations of the past two decades, so it’s natural they would find an ideal audience at Comic-Con, the home away from home for the obsessive and geeky. Abrams’ long list of credits includes Felicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe, Mission: Impossible 3, and Star Trek. Whedon’s credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Not surprisingly given those resumes, when the two took the stage at Comic-Con for EW’s Visionaries panel, hosted by our own Jeff “Doc” Jensen, the crowd welcomed them with raucous and adoring applause. For the hour that followed, these two master storytellers gave the audience some insight into their upcoming projects, their creative processes, their influences, and their perspectives on the seismic shifts that are rocking the entertainment landscape. Some highlights:

Following months of speculation, Whedon confirmed that he is, indeed, directing Marvel’s superhero-team-up movie, The Avengers. (See video of the announcement below.) But he said it’s still too early to get into details about the film, which will unite such beloved Marvel heroes as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk. “I’m still writing an outline,” Whedon said. “But the thing that made me excited to do it was just how completely counterintuitive it is. It makes no sense. These people shouldn’t be in the same room, let alone on the same team.” He paused. “And that, to me, is the very definition of family,” he added wryly.

The always-busy Abrams, who is launching a new spy series called Undercovers and finishing the romantic comedy Morning Glory, starring Harrison Ford, talked about his thrill at collaborating with Steven Spielberg–who’s long been a kind of creative father figure to him–on a still-mysterious film due next summer called Super 8. “It’s imposible to work with him and not constantly reference the work he’s done,” Abrams said. Though he revealed few specifics about the project, he said, “The movie is very much in the spirit of some of the Amblin films [Spielberg] made years ago.”

The two diverged in their opinions of the current boom in 3-D movies. Whedon was high on it (“Honestly, I totally love it”), while Abrams expressed reservations: “The thing that drives me crazy about 3-D is that when you put on the glasses, everything seems dim,” he says. “I’m not totally on board yet.” But in more general terms, they both expressed the same kind of unabashed fanboy enthusiasm for the pop culture they love that also drives the Comic-Con crowd. Abrams talked of his admiration for the work of comic-book artist Chris Ware and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World director Edgar Wright (“I just saw Scott Pilgrim–it’s awesome”). And Whedon, for his part, geeked out big-time over some of Abrams’ work. “I’ve had actual moments of sheer f—ing panic because I loved Star Trek so much,” Whedon said. “I just keep watching it and going, ‘This is the gold standard for a team movie, for a summer movie, for any movie that has come out in the last several years.’ And it makes me throw up with fear, so I have to stop watching it.”

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  • martha

    i soooooooooooooooooooooooooo wish i could have been there!!!

    • Kaite

      Ditto

    • Cat

      Me too!!!

    • DW

      Same here. The joy may have killed me. So I guess this means Joss Whedon is also writing The Avengers now? Did they toss out the other script?

    • Zoey

      Dude, I’d kill to be at Comic Con right now.

  • Kaley

    Hopefully, somewhere, I can find a video of this panel. My two FAVORITE sci-fi/fantasy guys on stage together. EEK!

    • Niix Starkyller

      Well, it IS hosted by EW’s own Doc Jensen…

  • Kate

    Am I the only one who would love to see these two team up like Spielberg and Lucas did? That would be awesome

    • LOL

      But without making the crap movie

  • Ely

    Whedon will ruin The Avengers, mark my words.

    • MDS

      Read his run on Astonishing X-Men, it will restore your faith.

  • KC

    fyi – J.J.’s show is Undercovers (plural)

    • BlatantURLPimpingMustDie

      EW repeatedly gets that wrong. Maybe they know something we don’t?

  • Evan

    DI was SO close to being to go but next year I will go. Meeting Jose would have been awesome for he created the best TV show on the planet.

    • Jules

      Who’s Jose? ;)

  • Jules

    Can I just say, this is my kind of news and you all are my kind of crowd. I love the part about Whedon gushing over Star Trek. He describes exactly what I felt/thought about the film minus the fear.

  • Gabby

    ‘The two diverged in their opinions of the current boom in 3-D movies. Whedon was high on it (“Honestly, I totally love it”)’

    Seriously, Joss?

    • Gee

      Maybe it has something to do with wearing glasses??? I wear glasses and the 3D movies I’ve seen were good but I don’t think I was as WOWED as other people were in the theater. Any of you other 4-eyed peeps feel the same?? Then again maybe it’s just me….

      Anyways, love Joss and J.J.!!!

  • Dorkophile

    I wish I could read/hear more of the interview. But also, I am kinda stuck on Abrams choosing to mention his enthusiasm for Scott Pilgrim- it looks TERRIBLE.

  • Katie

    I loved Star Trek too, it was amazing. Clearly Joss and I should be bffs since we have so much in common.

    Though, I have to confess I’m kind of with J.J on the whole 3-D phenomenon- I’m skeptical.

    I love comi-con.

  • redvector

    Marvel must have liked the story outline they that JW pitched to them or liked the changes he suggested to thier exsisting storyline otherwise he wouldn’t have gotten the gig.

  • SJ

    Only good can come from this.

    • Zoey

      So, so true.

  • Rob Grizzly

    I think Abram’s record is a bit more solid that Whedon’s, but it’s still pretty awesome to have the two current genre TV kings in the same room together. Thanks EW

    • Gina

      Well, that’s not really fair, is it? Abrams isn’t as much of an active participant with his shows after creating them. He may have a bit of input, but Joss is normally in the writer’s room and on set. Definitely more than Abrams was anyway. I don’t mean to put the latter down – I’m a big fan of both. And regardless, I find their work to be more or less equal. But it indeed was a great idea for them to share a panel together considering they both have projects coming up that are unknown/not finished.

  • Katie

    I really want to like Whedon.l loved Buffy but it seems like everything Whedon touches falls apart. I wouldn’t get my hopes up on the Avengers, however Abrams might save it from the Whedon curse. Here’s hoping…

  • Rush

    Were there any Scanners-like expoded heads due to sheer geek-gasm?

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