'Iron Man 3': Robert Downey Jr. Goes To North Carolina

Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. makes his grand return as Tony Stark in next summer's "The Avengers," fighting the Asgardian master of manipulation Loki and his minions alongside Earth's Mightiest Heroes on the streets of New York City — and once he's done cruising through the Big Apple, ol' Shellhead's taking an extended trip to Wilmington, North Carolina.

The Hollywood Reporter confirms long standing rumors that "Iron Man 3," from "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" director Shane Black and Marvel Studios, will team up with EUE/Screen Gems for a Wilmington shoot starting in early 2012.

"We aggressively pursued this piece of business," EUE/Screen Gems co-owner and COO Chris Cooney said of the news, according to THR. "This film is a game changer — not only for our studios, but for the entire state of North Carolina. It feels great to bring this project to Wilmington, a place where we've invested emotionally and financially since 1996. Today, our vision becomes reality."

The move marks a departure from the Manhattan Beach studios in California that Marvel previously utilized to shoot the first two films in the "Iron Man" franchise, but it's not the only new coat of paint the Armored Avenger will be sporting in his third solo outing: Shane Black is stepping in as the movie's new director, taking the reins from outgoing filmmaker Jon Favreau. No word yet on when exactly the third "Iron Man" will begin production in Wilmington, other than the very broad "early 2012" estimate.

"Iron Man 3" soars into theaters on May 3, 2013.

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