Hollywood superstars Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L Jackson and Scarlett Johansson are coming to Scotland to film the new £400million Avengers movie Infinity War.
The biggest blockbuster ever made here is expected to boost the Scottish economy by £10million.
Makers Disney and Marvel have agreed a deal in secret for the Avengers to assemble at a range of locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Highlands.
Filming on the comic-book adventure is due to start at the end of February.
The movie’s colossal cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Josh Brolin, and Liv Tyler and Scotland’s Karen Gillan have reportedly been lined up for parts. It’s set for release in May 2018.
Sources close to the deal said Infinity War would easily be the largest film project in Scottish history, dwarfing Brad Pitt zombie film World War Z.
An industry insider said: “World War Z involved 1800 cast and crew but this is expected to be even bigger.
“It’s a massive boost for the Scottish film industry. As is normal, Disney have been keeping everything top secret, but executives have been scouting locations across Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Highlands.
“Filming is due to start on February 28 and is expected to take around six months.
“It’s incredibly exciting.
“It’s going to be a fun year for star-spotters. Braveheart and World War Z are probably the biggest movies to have been filmed in Scotland but this will blow them away.”
World War Z generated £3.33million for the Scottish economy in just 17 days on location in Glasgow in the summer of 2011. Infinity War is expected to surpass that total by far.
Scottish Labour culture spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “The fact such a successful franchise will be filmed in Scotland will excite the fans but also provide a welcome boost to the economy.
“I hope the producers take advantage of the skills people in Scotland have to offer, so as many local people as possible can find work and Scotland’s fantastic creative community can go from strength to strength.”
Colin Borland of the Federation of Small Businesses added: “This is a massive opportunity for small businesses.
“I’m sure bars and restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh and elsewhere will be busy with people coming in to do a bit of star-spotting. We all remember the buzz World War Z generated.
“Any money that drips into the local enonomy from a big project like this has to be a good thing.”
John Lamont of the Scottish Conservatives said: “Having stars like Robert Downey Jnr filming in Scotland will be a great advert for us and will hopefully encourage more movies to be shot here.”
The third Avengers superheroes movie is one of the most anticipated in recent years after the previous two raked in a combined £3billion at the box office.
The ultimate comic book crossover film will see superheroes including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk battling it out on screen.
Downey jnr, 51, is picking up a reported £58million plus bonuses for playing Iron Man for the eighth time.
He said last month: “We have a start date. I’m really excited at the way it’s being re-imagined.”
Robert is expected to fly to Scotland for filming, as are Captain America star Evans and Thor hunk Hemsworth.
Scarlett is also set to cross the Atlantic to play Black Widow in her second major film project here. She filmed around Scotland as a hitch-hiking alien serial killer in 2013 movie Under The Skin.
Sherlock star Benedict has confirmed he will return as Doctor Strange, and Jackson, Ruffalo and Renner are back as Nick Fury, the Hulk and Hawkeye.
Brie Larson of 21 Jump Street fame is expected to play Captain Marvel, while Liv, daughter of Aerosmith rocker Steven, is rumoured to be playing her Incredible Hulk character Betty Ross.
Inverness-born Karen, 29, is reportedly preparing to star as galactic supervillain Nebula.
American Gangster star Josh Brolin has confirmed he’ll play baddie Thanos the Mad Titan.
He said recently: “It’s an incredible story. I sat at a table and listened to it and was completely and utterly blown away.
“I was told it by all the people involved – it was a large table, I’ll put it that way.”
The new film is the first of two new Avengers blockbusters in the pipeline.
They will be directed by brothers Anthony and Jay Russo and are based on a back story involving the immensely powerful Infinity Gems. The plot has been described as Lord of the Rings in space.
The films will be made back to back, with the so-far-untitled second movie pencilled in for release on May 2019.
The Avengers have been a smash hit with fans since Marvel published the first comic story in 1963.
Writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby created the team after DC Comics’ success with Justice League of America.
Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Hank Pym, Thor and The Wasp made up the original line-up.
Glasgow City Council were tight-lipped about Infinity War last night. They said only: “Glasgow has a proud track record of helping deliver big-budget projects, and we are always keen to speak to people who want to come.”
Film Edinburgh boss Rosie Ellison said: “We have a complete blanket confidentiality policy.
“We’ve got a very hectic year of production coming up, so things are looking good for Edinburgh and Scotland.
“But as to which productions, my lips are sealed.”