There’s been a lot of Marvel-related activity over the last 24 hours, with the news that Mickey Rourke and Scarlett Johansson have signed on to star as Whiplash and Black Widow, respectively, in Iron Man 2.

But, as Jimmy Cricket might say, c’mere… there’s more. A lot more, in fact, for it was today announced that Marvel Studios has been rejigging the release dates of three of its biggest upcoming properties. Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, which had been scheduled to come out on July 16, 2010, has been pushed back almost a full calendar year. Now the Norse God of Thunder will be steaming into action on June 17, 2011.

The First Avenger: Captain America, the WWII-set introduction of Marvel’s star-spangled flagbearer, will now come out on July 22, 2011. The Joe Johnston-directed adventure had previously been scheduled for May 6, 2011. The positioning of two members of The Avengers just a month apart is no accident, for Marvel has moved its most ambitious movie back a year, allowing momentum to build up with the intro of Cap and Thor.

The superhero mash-up, which will see Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and maybe Black Widow, Nick Fury and previously unannounced hero come together, will now come out on May 4, 2012, ten months on from its original date of July 15, 2011.

And the Marvel madness doesn’t end there. In the summer of 2011, you won’t be able to swing an enchanted hammer without hitting a Marvel superhero, after it was also confirmed that Sony will release Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 on May 6, 2011. Iron Man 2 remains where it was – on May 7, 2010. And, given the two-year gap between that movie and the original, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Iron Man 3 announced at some point for 2012, possibly slotting into a post-Avengers date.

So, readers, excited about this? Do you think that, even with an extra year, Marvel might struggle to make Thor a serious big-screen proposition? Can you see any way that The Avengers won’t be the most expensive movie ever made? And where do you think Spider-Man 4 could go?

Source: Empireonline