6:54am PT by Jordan Zakarin
'Avengers' Cast: What's Next for the Stars of the Record-Breaking Marvel Film?
Now that they've assembled to break the domestic box office opening weekend record, the stars of The Avengers will have plenty of superbuzz attached to their next round of pop culture adventures. From adventure flicks to small dramedies and hit TV shows, the cast has a promotional and shooting schedule heavier than S.H.I.E.L.D.'s operating budget, so here's a rundown out of what to anticipate from your favorite heroes (and villain).
Joss Whedon: Finally, after years of critically acclaimed shows, tough luck and cult hero status, Whedon has his hit -- and the long wait clearly paid off. Now, in typical Whedon fashion, he'll challenge the system again with his backyard-made, black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, with frequent collaborators such as Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg and Fran Kranz. He co-wrote the coming sci-fi film In Your Eyes, which stars Zoe Kazan, Jennifer Grey and Nikki Reed, and will continue to produce his comic books as well as the online series The Wastelanders. He's also talking about penning a sequel to his hit 2008 web series, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. It goes without saying that he'll have more offers coming his way.
Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury): Always one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, Jackson will give his booming voice to the animated bird comedy Zambezia. This Christmas, he will reteam with his Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown director Quentin Tarantino, joining Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Sacha Baron Cohen and Kurt Russell in Django Unchained; will again voice a cartoon, teaming with Ryan Reynolds, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader and Paul Giamatti for Turbo; and feature with Luke Kirby in the grifter thriller The Samaritan.
Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk): He's been on a roll since his verve for acting was rejuvenated by 2010's The Kids Are All Right, and you'll be seeing a lot of the quiet actor and environmental activist. He'll next star with his Avengers co-star Gwyneth Paltrow -- as well as Tim Robbins, Josh Gad and Pink -- in the sex-addicts dramedy Thanks for Sharing. Then, he'll release the star-studded magician crime caper Now You See Me, with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine and Melanie Laurent. Ruffalo soon will film Foxcatcher, the real-life tragic story of schizophrenic wrestling coach-turned-killer David Schultz, with Steve Carell and Channing Tatum; he's also slated for the dramedy Can a Song Save Your Life? playing a music producer alongside Hailee Steinfeld and will feature in the big-screen production of A Normal Heart.
Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man): He's getting right back to work for Marvel, with Iron Man 3 beginning production this summer.
Chris Evans (Captain America): 2011 was the year that gave his career the secret serum shot in the arm, and these next two years will accelerate that rise. Along with filming the Captain America sequel, Evans will feature alongside Michael Shannon, James Franco and Winona Ryder in the real-life mob hitman drama The Iceman and will star in Snowpiercer, the highly anticipated American debut of Korean filmmaker Joon-ho Bong, with Octavia Spencer, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Jamie Bell.
Chris Hemsworth (Thor): Playing the Norse god from space as Marvel's Thor, he's a rapidly ascending star here on Earth. He, too, will be getting his own Marvel sequel; before that, he will feature with Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart in the dark fairytale adaptation Snow White and the Huntsman and then go on to play James Hunt, the real-life F1 racer at the center of Ron Howard's in-production film, Rush. And, just as his recent release The Cabin in the Woods finally hit theaters after a long wait, his remake of Red Dawn, which features The Hunger Games' Josh Hutcherson, also will make it to theaters soon after years on the shelf.
Tom Hiddleston (Loki): One of the hottest properties in the business and one of the Internet's most beloved cult stars, Hiddleston will continue to show his impressive range. Along with reprising his role as the evil Loki in Thor 2, he will feature in the BBC's adaptations of Shakespeare's Henry IV and Henry V, will continue to be seen alongside Rachel Weisz in the acclaimed drama The Deep Blue Sea and star with Elijah Wood and Anna Paquin in the crime drama Black Wings Has My Angel.
Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow): Now finished with her second Marvel feature, the question most fans are asking is whether her Black Widow will get her own spinoff film. The comics studio and its parent, Disney, are keeping tight-lipped on that, but the Golden Globe nominee isn't waiting around to put on the leather bodysuit. She'll take center stage in Under the Skin, the Jonathan Glazer-directed in which she plays an alien that comes down and preys on hitchhikers but begins to feel human emotions. She'll also take a leading role in Hitchcock, a film about the making of Psycho, playing Janet Leigh.
Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye): As the readers of THR's recent cover story on Renner are well aware, this is a busy man. Along with Avengers, he stars in another of the summer's biggest films, the half-reboot/half-sequel The Bourne Legacy. That's a lot of assassin work for one summer. After that, he'll feature in the fantasy-action-comedy hybrid Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, with Gemma Arterton.
Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill): Avengers is by far her biggest film role, but TV viewers know her well from her starring role on CBS's How I Met Your Mother. She'll make another trip to the big screen later in 2012 in the Stephen Gyllenhaal dramedy Grassroots, with Jason Biggs and Cedric the Entertainer.
Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson): Beloved by the Marvel audience -- he has featured in many of the lead-up films to Avengers -- he reprises his voice role as Agent Phil Coulson in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man and will be seen in a reteaming with Avengers director Whedon in Much Ado About Nothing. He'll play a part alongside Allison Janney, Jessica Szohr and Chris Lowell in the romantic dramedy Light Years and star with a young and talented cast of Hader, Donald Glover, Rachel Bilson, Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Alia Shawkat in The To-Do List.