Robert Downey Jr. signs on for 2 more "Avengers" films

Actor Robert Downey Jr. attends the premiere of "Iron Man 3" at the El Capitan Theatre on April 24, 2013, in Hollywood, Calif. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Robert Downey Jr. has signed up for two more "Avengers" films.

Marvel announced Thursday that the actor will reprise his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man for "The Avengers 2" and "The Avengers 3." Downey Jr. has played the character in three "Iron Man" movies, as well as last year's superhero ensemble film "The Avengers," which made $2.7 billion worldwide.

Joss Whedon is to return as director of the next "Avengers" film. He is writing the screenplay now. Production is to begin in March, with a theatrical release set for May 2015. No release date has yet been set for "The Avengers 3."

Downey Jr., 48, had previously suggested that "Iron Man 3" might be his last spin in a stand-alone "Iron Man" film. Marvel's announcement made no mention of an "Iron Man 4" release.

Meanwhile, "Iron Man 3" is still flexing its box office muscle -- the film crossed the $400 million mark Tuesday at the U.S. box office, per Variety, and has now earned $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of all time.

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