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CHRIS EVANS (Captain America)
Evans might be the most superpowered actor in Hollywood. Besides playing the Human Torch in two Fantastic Four films and appearing as a super-strong ex-boyfriend in the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, he played a telekinetic fugitive in Push and voiced hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones in TMNT. His most recent movie, The Losers, was also based on a comic book. Basically, he's a total geek...who also makes Superman look ugly.
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CHRIS HEMSWORTH (Thor)
Hemsworth kicked off J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot with a brief (but heroic) turn as noble Papa Kirk. He also grew disgusting facial hair in the underrated A Perfect Getaway, something that will come in handy when he tries to make Thor's Viking-hippie blond hair look cool/not ridiculous.
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ROBERT DOWNEY JR. (Iron Man)
Where to begin? Downey fought his way back to Hollywood prominence after years of fighting drug addiction. He got one Oscar nomination for playing Charlie Chaplin, and another one for playing an Australian playing an African-American. Most impressively, in a cinematic world of Debbie Downers like Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker, Downey's Tony Stark is pretty much the only superhero who actually enjoys being a superhero.
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MARK RUFFALO (The Hulk)
Mark Ruffalo had made brooding feel explosive on screen with a series of great roles in films like We Don't Live Here Anymore and Zodiac. That should make him a good fit for Bruce Banner, the brilliant but troubled scientist who morphs into a big green fellow when you make him angry. (Presumably, the Hulk himself will be played by emerald-colored CGI.)
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SCARLETT JOHANSSON (Black Widow)
Johansson had two jobs in Iron Man 2. First, wear black leather. Second, kick butt attractively. Mission accomplished! She'll return as the only lady (so far) in the big-screen Avengers lineup. Johansson also appeared in the comic-book adaptation of The Spirit as a villain. She's also married — potential Marvel/DC team-up alert! — to Ryan Reynolds.
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JEREMY RENNER (Hawkeye)
Like Batman, Hawkeye doesn't have any superpowers. He's just an incredibly talented archer, a quick-witted Everyman on a team of demigods. It's the perfect role for Renner, best known for his adrenaline-pumped performance as a bomb defuser in last year's The Hurt Locker. For further evidence of Renner's superherodom, check him out in the underrated 28 Weeks Later: His quietly amused performance as a soldier lends an air of gravitas to the zombie apocalypse.
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SAMUEL L. JACKSON (Nick Fury)
Samuel L. Jackson has been in every single movie made in the last 20 years. Okay, that's not true (probably), but it's hard to find a corner of pop culture that Jackson hasn't touched. In The Incredibles and Unbreakable, he played characters inspired by comic books. Then he started doing the inspiring: In 2005, Marvel rebooted the Nick Fury character as a Jackson look-alike, with Jackson's permission. Jackson then played Fury in both Iron Man movies.
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CLARK GREGG (Agent Phil Coulson)
Gregg is probably best known as the guy with the Christine fetish on The New Adventures of Old Christine. But Agent Coulson has become sort of a mascot for the new series of Marvel films, appearing in both Iron Man movies and the upcoming Thor. Look for him to provide a scene or two of deadpan comic relief in The Avengers. Fingers crossed for the spin-off!
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JOSS WHEDON (The Director)
Pretty much everything Whedon's ever worked on has involved superpowered people, usually crime fighters, usually working in a team (see: Buffy's Scooby Gang, Firefly's spaceship crew). To bolster his credentials, Whedon also wrote a much-praised run on Astonishing X-Men. Also, he somehow made Dollhouse — a series in which half the main characters get amnesia every week — into an enthralling, entertaining mind-bender. If that's not a superpower, we don't know what is.