Chris Hemsworth Shooting Snow White And The Huntsman 2 After Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Chris Hemsworth, you sexy beast you. With Chris Evans thinking retirement, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner working in indies and Scarlett Johansson taking on several supporting roles, Hemsworth is the only Avenger actively trying to reach the level of Iron Man A-Lister Robert Downey Jr. The question is, are franchise commitments going to help or hurt Chris Hemsworth?

Deadline reports that Hemsworth is contractually obligated to return for Snow White And The Huntsman 2, and that they are exercising his option within the next couple of months upon the completion of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. That means that Hemsworth had to reject the chance to star in the sci-fi thriller Brilliance, which was originally going to feature Will Smith in the lead.

Also returning to Snow White And The Huntsman 2 is Kristen Stewart, making this an expensive reunion of sorts. The first film cost $170 million and only pulled in $155 million domestically. Global numbers saved the picture, as it closed with $396 million worldwide, but that's not a knockout number considering how expensive the film was. Nonetheless, despite the suggestion that the sequel could feature only Snow White, or only the Huntsman, both will be returning, a surprise considering all the drama behind the scenes of the first film: most people think of this movie as the one that broke up the hallowed Stewart-Robert Pattinson union, when she had an affair with director Rupert Sanders.

And who will steward this ship? Universal is courting a pretty impressive trio for the director's chair now that Sanders isn't returning (and because the movie has to heavily outgross the original to make this franchise worth it). The biggest name in the mix for the gig is Frank Darabont, recently of the AMC series The Walking Dead. The last movie Darabont directed was 2007's The Mist, a spooky chiller from Stephen King's house of horrors. That said, Darabont is probably best known for making The Shawshank Redemption, the only film that, at every single minute, is playing on some television station somewhere in the world.

Frequent short-list participant Gavin O'Connor is also a possibility for Snow White and the Huntsman 2. O'Conner has made a living out of being rumored for directing gigs, and he's currently putting the finishing touches on Jane Got A Gun, where he steadied a troubled project after Lynne Ramsey, the film's original director, bailed on the first day of production. O'Conner's credits include Warrior and Pride And Glory, and he'd bring a gritty edge to the film.

The third contender for the gig is the suddenly-available Andy Muschietti, who became a known name in Hollywood thanks to his directorial debut, Mama. It's interesting that Universal wants to be in business with him give that he recently vacated the director's chair for their reboot of The Mummy. He'd be the freshest and cheapest option for Snow White And The Huntsman 2, but we still don't know what Muschietti can do with a budget quite yet. According to Deadline's report, the intention is to have the movie ready to be released in 2016.