This week Marvel Studios is releasing Captain America: The First Avenger, a period superhero adventure starring one of their most recognizable characters. But it's also a prelude to the company's next feature, which will be a kind of comic-book movie that hasn't been attempted on the big-screen before: a team-up adventure that unites some of Marvel's biggest heroes -- including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, taking over from Ed Norton and Eric Bana) -- to combat a global threat. The title, of course, is The Avengers, the same name of the Marvel supergroup that's been battling bad guys in the four-color pages of the company's comics since 1963. Geek icon (and part-time comics scribe) Joss Whedon is writing and directing the film, which also stars Samuel L. Jackson as the group's leader, Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson as the leather-jumpsuit clad spy, the Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as the ace archer, Hawkeye. Naturally, a project as ambitious as The Avengers didn't come together overnight. Marvel has been laying the groundwork for this film since the first Iron Man hit theaters in 2008, slipping in visual and verbal references to Avengers-lore in all their standalone superhero features. Here's a film-by-film guide to some of the Easter Eggs that have pointed the way to The Avengers
For a man who is notoriously the biggest part whore in all of Hollywood, it seems that Samuel L. Jackson may in fact not be playing a role that came his way. It's being reported that Jackson won't be returning as Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, for any upcoming Marvel Comics movies. The actor, who had a small but no less cool cameo as Fury in an after-credit scene of this spring's smash Iron Man told the Los Angeles Times that he won't be appearing again as Nick Fury in any future Marvel Studios features. According to the actor, negotiations for his return broke down because "there seems to be an economic crisis in the Marvel Comics world." Psst, Sam. It's not just the Marvel Comics world, buddy. You may want to put down that Snakes on a Plane II script and pick up a newspaper.
After Marvel announced they would be doing a Captain America movie, a lot of casting rumors started to get bandied about, and Marvel themselves reportedly said that they wouldn't mind seeing Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio in the role. While those two certainly fit Cap's blonde, blue-eyed pedigree (and have the acting chops that make fanboys happy), a new rumor has just shot out of the mill that combines acting chops with a lesser-known take on Cap to form an explosive piece of news that everyone will soon be talking about. The role of Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty, was supposedly offered to Will Smith.