The Avengers is an upcoming American superhero film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, based upon the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which crosses over several Marvel superhero films including Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast, which includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. The Avengers tells the story of Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., who recruits Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to save the world from destruction. Development of The Avengers began when Marvel Studios received a grant from Merrill Lynch in April 2005. After the success of the film Iron Man, Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Scarlett Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the screenplay that was originally written by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in August and New York City in September. The Avengers is scheduled to be released on May 4, 2012 in the United States.