The expanding Marvel Universe: sequels and spinoffs for years to come.
With the record-shattering box office of “The Avengers,” the Marvel superhero universe seems ready to explode.
Smells like team spirit.... It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure this out: If your movie has made $702 million in worldwide ticket sales in its first couple of weeks' release, as the Disney/Marvel Studios' superhero smash-up The Avengers has done, then a sequel is in order. And maybe another one after that.
Indeed, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed this week that Avengers 2 is in development, with all of its caped and masked and spandexed castmates signed on. But first, the individual members of the "Avengers Initiative" will get their solo sequels in gear: Iron Man 3, with Robert Downey Jr. back as kabillionaire industrialist inventor playboy wisecracker crime-fighter Tony Stark, is being readied for a 2013 release, while Captain America 2 and Thor 2, starring Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, respectively, are on board for 2014. (What if the two Chrises switch? Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?)
And Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige has gone on record saying that Scarlett Johannson's Black Widow – the elite Russian intelligent agent Natasha Romanoff who joins forces with SHIELD (and seems to have a thing for Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye) – will likely get her own stand-alone movie, too. Johannson has signed on to do so, and has been telling the press "I love the Widow."
That leaves Mark Ruffalo and his tamped-down interpretation of Bruce Banner, who, if he does get angry, turns big and green and raging. But there have already been two Hulk movies in the new millennium (one each for Eric Bana and Edward Norton). Can the public -- even the comicbook craving public -- support a third?
And anyway, Ruffalo's Banner is so in control of his anger management issues, another Hulk movie might not be warranted. As Downey's Tony Stark marvels (excuse the pun): "You really have got a lid on it, haven't you? What's your secret? Mellow jazz? Bongo drums? Huge bag of weed?"