Robert Downey Jr. Signs on to Play Iron Man in 'Avengers 2' and '3'

[caption id="attachment_160419" align="alignleft" width="300"]Iron Man 3 Marvel[/caption]

Well, well, well. Look who's up and avenging on this fine Thursday afternoon.

Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man himself, has signed on for two more "Avengers" movies, Marvel confirms. The studio must be more than pleased to have their Tony Stark in place: Downey's last two outings for the studio, "Marvel's The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3," have scored big at the box office. "Iron Man 3" just crossed the $400 million domestic threshold, still selling tickets a month after its initial release. "Marvel's The Avengers" occupies the number three slot for all-time gross, raking in more than $623 million domestically.

Worldwide, the two films combined have grossed more than $2.7 billion, Marvel boasted in its press release announcing Downey's return.

"I am Iron Man," begins the announcement. "Tony Stark’s famous closing line to the very first Iron Man film takes on new life today as Marvel is pleased to announce the signing of Robert Downey, Jr. to reprise the role of the 'billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist.'"

Downey's presence as the man in the iron (or, more specifically, some kind of alloy, but let's not nitpick) suit was far from assured before the announcement. Earlier this month, "Marvel's The Avengers" director Joss Whedon said of Downey, "I have no intention of making 'Avengers 2' without him."

Downey himself has made vague comments recently that implied that he was thinking about hanging up the helmet for good.

""It got me thinking about how big the message from your cosmic sponsor needs to be before you pick it up," he said in an interview with GQ this spring. "How many genre movies can I do? How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun? Because, as quiet as it's kept, I come from a family of very innovative writers and directors and actors and artists, and the circle of friends they were in were the people I heard having pun-offs playing poker at two in the morning, and it was just the most comforting aspect of my childhood. So there's this kind of legacy of souls from what I consider to be a very particular time in entertainment, and I'm sensing a return to that — it's what me and the missus are doing next."

Well, thank goodness he's back. We don't like to think of how Mark Ruffalo would cope without his best Science Bro by his side.