Iron Man 2, The Avengers: Starring Robert Downey Jr.

Oct 29, 2008–After starring in “Iron Man 2,” Robert Downey Jr. has agreed to return as billionaire Tony Stark and his crime-fighting alter ego in “The Avengers” and a third “Iron Man” installment, as part of a four-picture deal with Marvel, the comicbook company.

“Iron Man” has earned $578 million worldwide.

Jon Favreau, who is set to helm the second “Iron Man” picture, will also exec produce “The Avengers,” which will be released on July 15, 2011. The movie will unite the Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Incredible Hulk characters.

The company confirmed that Don Cheadle will replace Terrence Howard as Col. James Rhodes in the “Iron Man” sequels. Cheadle will also appear in “The Avengers.”

Marvel has refused to confirm until now whether Downey or Favreau were back for “Iron Man 2” even though both have been forthcoming about their plans for the sequel, which will bow May 7, 2010.

Marvel will self-finance and produce its upcoming slate with Paramount distribbing the picturess. The company needed to lock down Downey for future pictures.

Downey is currently lensing Warner's “Sherlock Holmes,” which could also turn into a new franchise.