The ball got rolling back in late 2005 when Marvel, riding high off the box office successes of the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises, announced that it had secured funding to independently produce movies based on some of their most famous comic characters (well, at least the ones that hadn't already been sold to Sony or Fox). Marvel quickly went about regaining the film rights to such characters as Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, and Thor (i.e. the core Avengers), and began developing their own slate of in-house blockbuster hopefuls. Their first independently produced effort was this summer's Iron Man, which, as you and everyone else knows, made eleventy-jillion dollars (figures may be adjusted due to inflation and/or reality).
But before Tony Stark broke the box office in his shiny suit, Marvel Studios had already decided to lay the foundation for a cohesive "Marvel Film Universe" in Iron Man by inserting references to SHIELD (Marvel's metahuman CIA-esque organization) and an appearance by Samuel L. Jackson as SHIELD head Nick Fury (honestly, if you didn't stay after the credits for that scene, you must never even walk past a computer with an internet connection). This foundation building continues with next week's The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, which, allegedly, contains more SHIELD references and a confirmed Robert Downey Jr. cameo. This is all apparently establishing an infrastructure that will eventually pay off with an Avengers movie, a film that Marvel claims will be released in July 2011 (don't get your hopes up too soon - remember, George Miller's Justice League was days away from filming before it got canned).
In terms of building their Avengers roster before cameras roll on the team-up movie, Marvel now has their Iron Man and Hulk, a Thor movie is scheduled for July 4, 2010 (I Am Legend's Mark Protosevich is writing the script, Stardust's Matthew Vaughn is no longer attached to direct), an Ant-Man film is being developed by Hot Fuzz's Edgar Wright, and a Captain America movie (subtitled "First Avenger") is scheduled to be released on May 6, 2011, just two months before the announced Avengers premiere (more on that later).So, with Marvel continuing to tease fans about the project and the (hopefully) continued rosy box office future of Marvel's upcoming development state, it's not so much a question of IF an Avengers movie will happen, but rather WHAT will it look like when it hits the big screen. Being the opinionated, rant-prone geeks that we are (and closeted Marvel Zombies from way back), we here at The Deadbolt have our own meager wish list for what we want to see in a big-budget Avengers movie. So, just in time for the release of The Incredible Hulk