The road to the future Avengers movie is looking a lot clearer now.

I wanted to wait until I had some more concrete information to share before posting here again, but after thinking it through, I realize that it may just be time for a summation of the various odds and ends that i have come across regarding the future Avengers movie from Marvel Studios.

This past Summer, the big news seemed to be just the fact that a number of Marvel movies were going to be green-lighted for production over the next few years, and that they would all be financed in-house by Marvel Entertainment. That Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor, Ant Man, and ultimately even the Avengers were all going to be going into production at some point down the road. What is of particular interest to me is that Marvel has been able to keep control of all of these projects by keeping them all in house; They haven't let go of any creative control or of having the say of release dates. this allows them to roll out the films in the most logical order.

This leads to my reason for this post: we now seem to be at a time when Marvel is ready and willing to make some firm announcements on the various projects it has already announced.

Marvel has confirmed the release date for Iron Man 2 as 7th May 2010 and confirmed that Jon Favreau will be back at the helm as the film's director. There has been a change of script writers however: Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby are out and Justin Theroux is in as screenwriter for the sequel.

Another change that came rather suddenly, was the announcement that Terrence Howard was out and that Don Cheadle was in for the role of Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes, Tony stark's right hand man. Apparently this came as something of a surprise to Howard, too, who claimed to have no real prior indication that he would not be along for the sequel. I like cheadle as an actor, but I just regret the lack of continuity that this casting change will bring about.

Robert Downey Jr. has signed on for two future sequels in the Iron Man franchise, and Iron Man 2 is confirmed, but it has not been made completely clear whether the other sequel will in fact be an Iron Man movie or instead his participation in the future Avengers movie.

Next in chronological order would be the Marvel Thor movie, with an announced release date of 16th July 2010. Recent reports suggest that the British Actor/Director Kenneth Branagh is in negotiations with Marvel to direct the Norse God's adaption to the big screen. At this point, the only thing I think is a safe prediction is that the movie will have ahammer in it, and that Thor's arch nemesis, Loki will likely make an appearance.

Reports would have the next Marvel project after Thor being the planned Ant Man movie, scheduled for release sometime in 2010, but with no firm date yet set there is not much to say about this smaller project (ouch) except that Edgar wright is set to direct and that Joe Cornish is presently working on the screenplay.

The next couple of movies confirmed by Marvel are a year further down the road, with both The First Avenger: Captain America (6th May), and The Avengers (15th July) being scheduled for a 2011 release. Just a few days ago we were told that the director for the Captain America movie had been chosen - after some speculation that it would be Nick Cassavetes, it turns out that the director's job will go to Joe Johnston. As for the screenplay, it is reported that Ostby and Fergus - who are no longer associated with Iron Man 2, remember - are in talks to write the screenplay for this one instead. In fact, they have heavily hinted that Marvel gave them almost carte blanche to go and choose whichever project they wanted as their next Marvel project. It will be interesting to see if they follow up the super soldier references from this past Summer's Incredible Hulk movie.

Obviously the title First Avenger is intended to imply that the Captain America movie will be leading into the upcoming Avengers movie. As for the actual Avengersmovie itself, we don't really know a whole lot. we don't even know if Eva Longoria has really been cast as the Wasp in it as some reports suggest (as well as some pictures of her walking around carrying some Avengers comic books) or if she is going to play that character in the Ant Man movie instead.

I think it is pretty impressive just how pumped some comic fans are for the future Marvel Avengers movie: even though there is obviously no official Avengers movie trailer yet and there obviously won't be even a teaser trailer for quite some time, I have already seen on the web a fan made trailer using clips from various movies starring actors who have played Marvel characters in the recent past (even Tobey Maguirre was included). Pretty resourceful.

I guess this means that we have plenty of time to start debating just who we think should be on the movie Avengers roster, eh?

And to think that I haven't even got around to mentioning the rumoured Doctor Strange movie that is possibly in the works. Oh well, there will be planty of time for that later...