Mark Ruffalo. While it's unlikely that his turn as Dr. Bruce Banner and the Hulk is going to turn him into a matinee idol overnight, global recognition doesn't hurt. And a probable sequel will give him plenty of F-you money going forward to say yes to the indie projects he loves--which will only get easier to finance as his bankability increases in the eyes of foreign sales agents. It's all good.
Next Up: Ruffalo has at least six projects in the pipeline. "The Kids Are All Right" co-writer-turned-director Stuart Blumberg's indie sex addiction drama "Thanks for Sharing," co-starring Gwenyth Paltrow, is in the can, while others are in pre-production. Next he stars opposite Michael Caine and Jesse Eisenberg in Louis Leterrier's "Now You See Me" about a team of illusionists in the bank heist business.
Chris Evans. This actor did the heavy lifting on the first "Captain America" movie, but really nailed this performance as the heroic soldier with old-fashioned patriotic values--a perfect foil for decadent narcissist Tony Stark. It doesn't hurt to give red-blooded Republicans who love Uncle Sam someone to root for.
Next Up: He takes a change of pace playing a contract killer opposite James Franco and Winona Ryder in Millenium's "The Iceman," and is currently filming futuristic icebound thriller "Snowpiercer."
Chris Hemsworth. Again, he has his Thor character down, and all he has to do is not look silly wielding that hammer and sounding like a God from Asgard. He's as bankable as they get.
Next Up: Hemsworth stars opposite Stewart in Rupert Sanders' "Snow White and the Huntsman" (June 1, 2012). Slated for November, Dan Bradley's "Red Dawn" remake stars Hemsworth and a pack of teenagers attempting to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers. Two more films are in production, including "Thor 2." And Sony is crafting an actioner just for him written by Chris Cantwell & Chris Rogers, "Shadow Runners."
Robert Downey Jr. Perhaps the glue that kept "The Avengers" at a consistent level of entertainment, Downey has playing Tony Stark down to a science--along with his similarly cocky Sherlock Holmes, another successful franchise. "Iron Man" made him a Hollywood star, which can't burn much brighter.
Next Up: The definite role on his plate is 2013's "Iron Man 3," in pre-production.
Scarlett Johansson. As smart and shrewd spy "Black Widow," the only female in the Avengers team, the actress seems mainly to have sparked speculation about what exactly her superpower is. Her role seems underdeveloped and designed to fill the female slot among the macho superheroes. Increased recognizability in a global blockbuster can't hurt, but what ever became of Zoe Saldana beyond sequels of "Avatar" and "Star Trek?"
Next Up: Rumors of an origin story for her Avengers character abound, but movies about female superheroes have always been tricky, from Catwoman to Wonder Woman. For her next slated projects, see our Career Watch: Beyond the Black Bodysuit here. Most notably, Johansson will star as Janet Leigh in Sacha Gervasi's "Hitchcock."
Jeremy Renner. His role as Hawkeye in "The Avengers" was both mysterious and underdeveloped, but perhaps Marvel has larger plans for the superhero down the line.
Next Up: Luckily, Renner follows up his co-starring role in "Mission: Impossible-- Ghost Protocol" with lead Aaron Cross in the latest iteration of the Bourne saga, "The Bourne Legacy." He could wind up inheriting both franchises. On the indie side of the ledger, he also stars in James Gray's Cannes non-competition entry "Low Life" opposite Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. It's about an innocent immigrant woman tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville after arriving on Ellis Island. Renner also has the male lead in Paramount's fairytale reboot, "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" (January 2013).
Samuel L. Jackson. As glorified cat-wrangler Nick Fury, organizer of the S.H.I.E.L.D team, Jackson earned the worst reviews among "The Avengers," seeming to phone in the performance---but then again, there wasn't that much for him to do. He also got some flack for complaining about the NYT's pan. Talk about bad form.
Next Up: Jackson takes a turn as Stephen, the plantation owner's head house slave, in Tarantino's highly anticipated "Django Unchained" this December. There are rumors of a full-length Nick Fury movie, via Neal McDonough ("Captain America") to IMDb. In that case Jackson could flesh out the heretofore sketchy Fury.