by Sean Gerber

While “The Dark Knight Rises” has dominated the superhero cinema news this week, Marvel Studios has been hard at work developing its 2013 offerings, “Iron Man 3” and “Thor 2.”

The success of “The Avengers” appears to have emboldened the normally thrifty Marvel Studios, as Latino Review reports the studio has increased its “Iron Man 3” budget from $140 million to $200 million. The confidence is warranted and based on this move, there’s no reason to expect Marvel to shrink down and play small ball until the inevitable sequel to the team up behemoth hits theaters. Speaking of that sequel, anyone else think this is a sign Marvel is willing to pay whatever it takes to keep Joss Whedon around?

Latino Review also reports William Sadler (“Die Hard 2”) has joined the “Iron Man 3” cast, but his role is not known at this time. Meanwhile, Variety informs us that Ashley Hamilton is in talks to play the “small part of government cyborg Firepower.” Remember that Guy Pearce and, reportedly, Ben Kingsley are already in the fold as the film’s main villains.

Meanwhile, Jon Favreau has returned to the franchise! Shane Black is still directing of course, but Favreau has agreed to reprise his onscreen role of Happy Hogan, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The rumors of hard feelings between Favreau and Downey, Jr. or Marvel appear to have been overblown and it is nice to see the man who helped launch the franchise is still ready to lend a hand.

Back on Asgard, Marvel is looking to add another villain to “Thor 2.” Tom Hiddleston will be back as Loki and Variety reports Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale”) is in talks to play an unknown villain role. Mikkelsen was fantastic in the Bond reboot and should play well off of Hiddleston and star Chris Hemsworth, if these discussions lead to his eventual casting.