It looks as though moviegoers won’t have to wait until The Avengers is released to see Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. reunited on film. The Iron Man 2 costars are in line to play the leads in director Alfonso Cuaron’s “race from space” thriller, Gravity.

Johansson has reportedly made a verbal commitment to star in Gravity, a project which Downey became associated with back in May.  The Lost in Translation star will take on the role that Angelina Jolie was at one point under consideration to play.

The film revolves around a group of U.S. astronauts – led by a medical engineer (Johansson) and “a talkative ‘mile-a-minute’ veteran” (Downey, presumably) – who are on a mission to fix the Hubble telescope. Events take a turn for the dangerous when several Russian satellites begin to implode and force the U.S. team to race back to Earth in order to survive the resulting avalanche of debris.

Cuaron’s Children of Men was an intelligent, white-knuckle, thrill ride of a sci-fi film – and Gravity looks to amp up the thrills something fierce. The 3D project will reportedly be very FX heavy, with possibly 60% of the film featuring CG imagery. Fans of Cuaron’s preference for long takes will be pleased to hear that the opening shot of Gravity alone is expected to be over 20 minutes in duration.

Iron Man 2 didn’t exactly require Johansson to flex her acting muscles much, and she only shared a few moments of screen time with Downey, so it will be interesting to see what kind of dynamic the two strike as professionals working together in order to survive in Gravity.

Production on Cuaron’s sci-fi feature will have to begin soon if Warner Bros. still hopes to have Downey complete most of his scenes before he departs for Sherlock Holmes 2 this fall. However, the studio has a deal with IMAX to release Gravity sometime in 2012 so there is room for flexibility with regard to the film’s shooting schedule.

Both Johansson and Downey are hot commodities and there are currently no other major names attached to star in Gravity. Expect that to change in the near future.

In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted on the development of Gravity as more news comes our way.

Source: NY Daily News via The Playlist