Release Date: May 4, 2012
Development Status: Eagle-eyed fans will already know that the current Marvel Studios films are quietly paving the way for a full-scale Avengers adventure. Nick Fury is gathering together a small group of heroes. Tony Stark appears to have Captain America's shield on his workbench. Cap himself can be glimpsed frozen in ice in Incredible Hulk.
In 2012, after Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Cap have all been established in their respective film franchises, the heroes will be brought together in The Avengers. Iron Man director Jon Favreau is slated to direct the movie, which is currently in an early stage of pre-production. The script is said to draw inspiration from Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's comic The Ultimates, which could even finger Hulk as one of the film's primary villains.
Iron Man 2 stars Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle have already signed on to reprise their roles as Tony Stark and Jim Rhodes, respectively. In turn, the recently-cast Chris Hemsworth will return as Thor. Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury will also take on a much more prominent role.
It's expected that the actor cast as Captain America will return in The Avengers. What is less certain is Edward Norton's involvement. With such a heavy slate of A-List actors, the filmmakers may wish to recast certain parts in order to save money. We've even heard reports that Hulk will not revert to Bruce Banner in the film. Whether this is actually true remains to be seen. Norton's most recent comments on the subject have been noncommittal.