Los Angeles - Hollywood A-lister Robert Downey Jr has signed up to play Iron Man in two sequels to the blockbuster superhero action film The Avengers, comic book giant Marvel announced on Thursday.
Downey Jr will reprise his role as tortured tycoon Tony Stark, who donned his metal suit to save the world as Iron Man alongside Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and the Hulk in the first Avengers movie last year.
Cult director Joss Whedon will again write and helm The Avengers 2, which is slated to begin production in March 2014 and open in theatres on 1 May 2015, according to a statement on Marvel's website.
Biggest US debut of all time
The second instalment in the franchise will feature "favourites from the first Avengers film and new Marvel characters never before seen on the big screen," it said. No release date was given for The Avengers 3.
The first Avengers movie and this year's Iron Man 3 are among the top five grossing films ever, together earning more than $2.7bn worldwide to date, Marvel said.
The Avengers - in which the superheroes help save Earth from mythical prankster Loki and an alien army - opened in North America last May with a staggering $207.4m in ticket sales - the biggest US debut of all time.
With an estimated budget of $220m, it also starred Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.
Representatives for Downey Jr did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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