Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon is close to signing a deal to direct The Avengers film, according to U.S. reports.
Bosses at Marvel have been hunting for a moviemaker to oversee the highly-anticipated superhero outing, which will see Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America team up on the big screen.
Iron Man director Jon Favreau disappointed fans last year (09) by confirming he would only be acting as executive producer and not taking full control of the film's direction.
But Whedon - who also created hit U.S. shows Angel and Dollhouse - is ready to sign on to head up the blockbuster, according to Deadline Hollywood.
The movie was initially slated for a release this year (10), but has since been put back until 2012.