Comic book fans are gearing up for a huge year, with The Avengers - starring Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo - already breaking records at the box-office. Early tracking estimates suggest the Marvel epic could beat 'The Dark Knight's record opening from 2008 - which was subsequently eclipsed by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2' last summer, reports CNN.

Though Joss Whedon and his Avengers cast will be celebrating after the weekend, comic book fans appear to be the real winners here. Christopher Nolan is currently putting the finishing touches to his final movie in the Batman Trilogy 'The Dark Knight Rises', which hits cinemas on June 20. Once the dust settles from the first two comic book blockbusters, The Amazing Spider-Man will attempt to outdo both when it hits theaters on July 3, a holiday weekend. As for who will come out on top, Gitesh Pandya of Boxofficeguru.com said, "The Avengers' has that challenge of going beyond the superhero crowd and to a more mainstream action crowd, but it seems to me that they have successfully done that. Excitement seems to be there among all groups and around the world. I see 'The Avengers' breaking the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office". Heath Ledger's Oscar winning performance in The Dark Knight was a huge draw for cinemagoers, and Pandaya explained, "The Dark Knight Rises' will have to enter the marketplace without the Heath Ledger factor.however, the last film was so well-loved that the new film will benefit from those coattails".

Though it looks to be the end for Nolan's Batman movies, The Avengers and Spider-Man are already looking to capitalize on the resurgence of the comic book movie, with both planning sequels or spin-offs.