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WATCH: The first trailer for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing

The Avengers director gathers some of his favorite actors for a decidedly small-scale adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy

The trailer: After the bluster and bombast of 2012's superhero mashup The Avengers — it was the highest-grossing movie of the year, and is the third-highest grossing movie of all time — director Joss Whedon took a break from blockbusters by directing a film that couldn't possibly be more different: A small-scale, black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare's classic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. The movie, which debuts in the U.S. on June 7, was filmed in just 12 days at Whedon's personal residence in Santa Monica, Calif. Much Ado About Nothing boasts a cast almost entirely comprised of fan-favorite actors from Whedon's past projects, including Alex Denisof as Benedick and Amy Acker as Beatrice — both alums of the TV show Angel — Nathan Fillion, of Fox's shortlived series Firefly, as Dogberry, and Clark Gregg (The Avengers) as Leonato. Has Whedon done the Bard justice with Much Ado About Nothing, or will the film be put to death by the wagging tongues of critics? 

The reaction: Though this is the first Much Ado About Nothing trailer released for a general audience, a few select critics have seen the film during early screenings at film festivals — and fortunately, the reaction has largely been positive. "It's rather joyous to see a name director pursue a true passion project and realize it with simplicity, elegance, and emotional directness," says Hannah McGill at The List. "Whedon and Shakespeare are truly a match made in heaven," agrees Tom Clift at Moviedex. And the cast lives up to the material, says Linda Holmes at NPR: "A project this simple would be nowhere without the actors, and Whedon gets fine work out of just about everybody."

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