Robert Downey Jr. agrees to ‘The Avengers’ and third ‘Iron Man’ film

Robert Downey Jr. has agreed to return to the role of Tony Stark for the upcoming film “The Avengers” and a third “Iron Man” installment for Marvel Comics.

Variety reports “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau (who is directing the sequel to “Iron Man”) has also agreed to executive produce “The Avengers” – which is set to arrive in theaters on July 15, 2011.

The film will include Marvel Comics superheroes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Incredible Hulk.

In addition to Iron Man’s appearance, Marvel has confirmed that Don Cheadle will appear in “The Avengers” as Col. James Rhodes (who becomes War Machine in the Iron Man series). Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard in the role for the “Iron Man” sequel.

The sequel to “Iron Man” is scheduled to hit theaters on May 7, 2010. Downey has been in demand since “Iron Man” had a huge box office haul, and is currently shooting Warner Bros.’ new spin on the world’s greatest detective with Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes.”

If the film is a success, it could give Downey another box office franchise. The new deal with Marvel will keep Downey on the big screen through 2012.

Marvel is scheduled to self-finance and produce the films with Paramount attached to distribute the titles.

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