Iron Man

Industrial Light & Magic

The bigger they are, the harder they fall it is to resist making a sequel.

In Marvel's case, it won't even try with Iron Man. Three days after the superhero movie opened, and one day after its weekend gross topped $100 million, the comics giant turned movie mogul announced Iron Man 2 will hit theaters April 30, 2010.

No details were announced. But the principals of Iron Man—stars Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard and director Jon Favreau, among them—have been talking for quite a while as if a sequel was going to happen and as if they were going to help make it happen.

 

Apparently in a really good mood, Marvel also set a June 4, 2010, release date for Thor, based on its hammer-toting hero of Norse god tradition, and penciled in a Captain America movie and an Avengers movie for 2011.

The former is tentatively titled The First Avenger: Captain America and is set to open May 6, 2011. The latter is simply called The Avengers and is due to targeted to open sometime in July 2011.

Marvel also reasserted its commitment to Ant-Man, noting that writers and a director—Shaun of the Dead's Edgar Wright—have been "engaged." But no release date was announced.

Ant-Man might be the biggest loser in the Iron Man juggernaut. Speculation was that the sometimes-diminutive hero would get his big-screen closeup in 2010. With today's announcements, even 2011 seems unlikely.

Still, Ant-Man is a member of the Avengers and would seem to be a lock for an invite to that group's movie, which, by rights, would costar Captain America, Thor, The Hulk and Iron Man.

Earlier this year, Favreau called an Avengers movie "a great idea," and expressed interest in directing it, MTV's website reported. But so far, no cast, no director and no writers have been announced.

All of today's announced films—Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers and Ant-Man—will be produced by Marvel and distributed by Paramount.

The lineup doesn't include the other Marvel movies on the way: The Incredible Hulk, due out June 13; Punisher: War Zone, due out Dec. 5; and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, set for May 1, 2009.

Perhaps so as to avoid whipping rival DC Comics so soundly, Marvel has declared 2009 a year of rest—or at least it won't release one of its self-produced films that year.

The superhero factory can spend the downtime counting its Iron Man riches. Per the final weekend numbers released today, the movie grossed $102.1 million from Friday to Sunday—the 10th biggest opening in Hollywood history. Add in the foreign box office, and the film's weekend take stands at nearly $200 million.

Memo to The Hulk: If you want your own sequel and not just a part in The Avengers, your opening weekend better show some Iron Man heart. And bank.

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