Thor not only kicks off the summer movie season of 2011, but it sets in motion the events that will culminate in the Marvel superhero team-up epic, The Avengers, the following year. With story elements of Thor taking place in New Mexico, and the production actually shooting in Santa Fe and Galisteo, it’s no surprise to see Marvel Studios returning to the mountainous state once again for their biggest project ever.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Marvel Studios officially announced the agreement today, making The Avengers the single largest film production in the state’s history. The current schedule has Joss Whedon’s The Avengers shooting in New Mexico between April and September of next year, using both Albuquerque Studios and of course, the beautiful and vast surrounding locations that so many other major Hollywood films have used in the past.

The Avengers also is set to shoot scenes in Michigan and New York but production will primarily take place in New Mexico’s largest city Albuquerque. Having been there myself earlier this year on the set of Cowboys & Aliens, there are not many areas in the U.S. that offer such a wide variety of natural and vast scenery to take advantage of for on-location shooting.

Governor Richardson highlights some of the local economic benefits to New Mexico:

“In addition to being our biggest production to date, The Avengers will be the most technologically advanced and will provide cutting-edge training opportunities for our crew… I’m announcing this as a Christmas present of sorts to the people of New Mexico. This is a perfect example of the incredible job creation, economic impact and global visibility this industry has brought our state over the past eight years, and of the need to keep it moving forward.”

If you live in the area, you may get a chance to see your favorite Marvel heroes played by played by Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg and Samuel L. Jackson in costume fighting Loki, the Skrulls or whatever villains play a part in the first Avengers installment.

Be sure to read up on the latest Marvel movie updates!

Thor opens May 5, 2011; The First Avenger: Captain America hits July 22, 2011 and The Avengers is scheduled to debut May 4, 2012.

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Source: New Mexico Film