Well, I'm skeptical of news that nameless "sources" provide to industry blogs. It wasn't that long ago that TrekMovie.com's anonymous sources "confirmed" that Leonard Nimoy would be in the upcoming Trek movie, which Nimoy soon refuted, and that Khan would be the villain, which Simon Pegg later shot down.
Also, as a rule, I'm skeptical of rumors that are exactly what you'd expect to hear, because they could easily be invented by people with no actual inside knowledge. In this case, though, I'll grant it's plausible that WB would've developed a plan like this in response to Marvel. But I'll wait for further confirmation before I assume it's all true.
I really have to disagree with the all of the Marvel movies save Iron Man just being "set-up for the Avengers" part of your statement. The only movie that really suffered from that was Iron Man 2 bringing in Black Widow in a part that really didn't contribute much.
Outside of end of movie sequences, Thor's only connections were a shared supporting character from the Iron Man movies and a blink-and-you-miss-it Hawkeye cameo. In Captain America, there was the cube, which had been a common thread in the movies leading to The Avengers, but story-wise it was just a MacGuffin. In The Incredible Hulk, again outside of end of movie sequences, there was some name dropping, but again, nothing in your face. Most of the "build-up to Avengers" in these movies were nothing more than Easter eggs and the movies stand alone just fine.
I dunno, I do think Captain America
might've been a stronger film if it hadn't needed to climax with Cap getting trapped in the ice and revived in the present. It might've been nice to get 2-3 WWII-era Cap films before getting him to that point.
Still, I don't really object to the idea of the prior films being lead-ins to The Avengers
. Sure, movies are usually meant to stand on their own, but the whole thing that's cool about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that it's not
something that's been done before. These movies are meant
to be an interconnected meta-series, and I don't see how that's a bad thing. It's great that these movies feel like parts of a greater universe, that they affect each other and feed into each other. I think there's a nice progression in the past four films -- Fury fills in Tony on the Avengers Initiative, then Coulson splits off to deal with the Asgardian incursion, which brings in Selvig, who gets introduced to the Tesseract; and then we flash back to the story of how the Tesseract came into play, which is also the backstory of Captain America; and then all those threads come together when Loki invades. It's very deftly done. If anything, I regret that The Incredible Hulk
doesn't fit into the tapestry better than it does.