Fans of "The Avengers" will have to wait a little longer to see their favourite superheroes on the big screen.

Marvel Entertainment Inc. said Thursday it will debut the flick May 4, 2012, nearly a year after its previously announced launch date of July 15, 2011.

"The Avengers," which features a team of comic book superheroes, will be the culmination of a series of movies based on individual Marvel characters that will be released leading up to it.

"Iron Man 2" will launch on May 7, 2010, as scheduled. It will be followed by "Thor" on June 17, 2011, instead of its previously planned release date of July 16, 2010. "The First Avenger: Captain America" is now coming out on July 22, 2011 instead of May 6, 2011.

Separately, Marvel confirmed that "Spider-Man 4" from Sony Pictures Entertainment, is slated to hit theatres on May 6, 2011.

The new schedule "maximizes the visibility of our single character-focused films, leading to the highly anticipated release of the multi-character 'The Avengers,"' said David Maisel, chairman of Marvel Studios, in a statement.

Cowen and Co. analyst Doug Creutz downgraded Marvel to "Neutral" from "Outperform," saying the delays of both "Thor" and "The Avengers" are "an indication that Marvel is unlikely to achieve its stated strategy of two self-produced film releases per year."

Marvel's shares fell 55 cents, or 2.2 per cent, to US$24 in afternoon trading despite a broader market rally. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $23 to $38.50.

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