By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 14, 2011 at 1:24AM
The Licensing International Expo, where movie studios court promotional partners to produce toys, Happy Meals and other unnecessary accessories to wring every cent out of potential franchises, is currently underway in Las Vegas, and a selection of early posters for big properties are starting to leak out. Most aren't really newsworthy (if you've ever wondered what a promotional one-sheet for "Men in Black 3" would look like, it involves the letters M, I and B, followed by the number 3, on a black background), but there's one exception.
Marvel's magnum opus "The Avengers," which teams the heroes of existing movies "Iron Man," "The Incredible Hulk," "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger," as well as a few other costumed refugees, is now underway, with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" head honcho Joss Whedon at the helm, and very little has leaked out so far. Until now that is, as Superhero Hype have landed a photo of a promotional poster for the project.
It's painted, rather than photographed, so it's not quite representative, but it does at least include likenesses of Iron Man, as played by Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Chris Evans' Captain America and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, as well as the first blurry look at Jeremy Renner in his Hawkeye get-up, and an early glimpse of the Hulk (performance captured, and played in human form by new arrival Mark Ruffalo).
With Marvel rumored to be considering skipping Comic-Con this year, this may be the first we see of "The Avengers" for a little while, at least until the inevitable post-credits teaser on "Captain America." The superpowered six will be joined by Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard and Marvel new girl Cobie Smulders, and the film will hit theaters on May 4, 2012.