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LOS ANGELES -- "The Avengers" are returning for a superhero sequel three years from now.

Disney and its Marvel Studios unit announced Thursday that the follow-up to this year's biggest hit will arrive in theaters on May 1, 2015.

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The studio announced last week thatJoss Whedon will be back to write and direct the as-yet-untitled sequel.

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Released in May, "The Avengers" gathered such Marvel comic-book heroes as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). The film has taken in nearly $1.5 billion worldwide.

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There will be plenty of Marvel action building up to "The Avengers" follow-up. Downey's "Iron Man 3" is due out next May, followed by Hemsworth's "Thor" sequel in November 2013 and Evans' "Captain America" sequel in April 2014.