Speaking to Gamespot, Marvel has confirmed that the video game rights to "The Avengers" IP have reverted back to the company, enabling it to explore "potential publishing and licensing opportunities."

Marvel's film division is on the verge of successfully concluding a multi-year plan to bring its greatest heroes, The Avengers, together in a blockbuster outing. Directed by Joss Whedon and scheduled to smash cinemas in May 2012, The Avengers is preceded and supported by films centered on each of the team's most prominent individuals. And alongside each of those films has been a tie-in game. Marvel's film strategy and culmination was mirrored by game publishers with Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America games -- right until The Avengers climax was canceled behind the scenes.

Presumed to be in the hands of THQ's now-shuttered Australian studio (one of many victims in THQ's shift away from licensed titles), The Avengers looked to be a first-person action game starring an irradiated scientist, a $#@!y technologist, a norse god, a temporally misplaced super soldier and some guy with a bow. Whether that blueprint will survive or transfer to a new publisher is a question that won't be answered fully until Marvel confirms a new licensor.

With the movie due in 2012 and the marketing guys insisting on synergy, there's very little time to start over and develop a quality game -- so, probably plenty of time to develop an average licensed game.

(With an apologetic nod to the decent Captain America: Super Soldier.)