Downey, Favreau team again for 'Avengers'

Don Cheadle also signs on for superhero movie

"Iron Man" duo Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau will reunite for "The Avengers," Marvel Studios' film about its team of superheroes. Don Cheadle, whose deal to replace Terrence Howard in the "Iron Man" movies has been finalized, also has signed to perform in the action movie.

Downey has signed a four-picture deal with Marvel Studios, which will see him reprise the character of Tony Stark not only for "Iron Man 2" and "Iron Man 3," but also for the "Avengers" movie. (The deal retroactively includes the first "Iron Man.")

Favreau, who is directing "Iron Man 2," will exec produce "Avengers." Cheadle will play Jim Rhodes, Stark's best friend, who becomes the suit-wearing hero "War Machine."

Marvel's current slate is designed to introduce superhero characters via individual movies that lead up to the characters teaming up for "Avengers," which is set for a release in 2011.

Marvel hoped and planned for Downey, who made a cameo in "The Incredible Hulk," to be involved in "Avengers" but the deal took some time to nail down.

Downey and Cheadle are the first stars to sign on for "Avengers," whose team roster features such heroes as Iron Man, Captain American, Hulk, Wasp, Giant Man, Hawkeye and Thor.

Edward Norton portrayed Bruce Banner/Hulk in "Hulk," but the actor-writer-director clashed with the studio over the movie's cut. It is unclear whether Norton would return.