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Marvel Hooks Downey Jr. for Iron Man 2, 3 and Avengers

Robert Downey Jr. has agreed to appear as billionaire Tony Stark/crime fighter Iron Man in IRON MAN 2 and 3 as well as THE AVENGERS, uniting him with Captain America, Thor and the Incredible Hulk, reports VARIETY.

The four-picture deal with Marvel guarantees the actor a hefty paycheck. Director Jon Favreau, who will helm the second IRON MAN will exec produce THE AVENGERS, which is scheduled for July 15, 2011. IRON MAN 2 is set to open May 7, 2010, although Marvel has refused before now to confirm whether Downey or Favreau would be back.

IRON MAN has made more than $578 million at the box office worldwide and was released on DVD and Blu-ray a month ago.

Earlier this month, Marvel replaced Terrence Howard for Don Cheadle as Col. James Rhodes in the IRON MAN sequels and THE AVENGERS.

Downey is currently filming SHERLOCK HOLMES for Warner Bros. and director Guy Ritchie, which could also turn into a franchise for the in-demand actor. With this new deal, Downey has his name in front of a tentpole film each year through 2012.

Paramount will distribute all of Marvel's upcoming self-financed and produced films.