Nick Cassaveteshas signed to direct the Marvel comic adaptation Iron Man for New Line.

Marvel Studios'chief executive officer Avi Arad will produce with Angry Films' Don Murphy,based on a script by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and David Hayter.

Marvel and New Line willbegin casting immediately and the picture is due to open in US theatres in2006.

The storycentres on Tony Stark, a brilliant inventor and heir to the Stark Enterprisesfortune, who dons a multi-million dollar metallic outfit by night to fightterrorism and corporate espionage.

The deal marksthe second comic book adaptation undertaken by New Line and Marvel followingtheir collaboration on the Blade series. The third installment in that franchise, Blade:Trinity, is due to openin the US on Dec 8.

"This is anideal situation because Nick is a tremendous talent with a passion for thematerial, and we have had such incredible success working with both him andMarvel in the past," New Line production president Toby Emmerich said in astatement.

"Teaming upagain to launch a franchise as promising as Iron Man is very exciting."

"Being able to work with such an acclaimedwriter-director as Nick Cassavetes to bring one of our pre-eminent Super Herofranchises to the big screen is really special," Arad added.

"Nick grew upreading Iron Man andpersonally loves the character. He shares our vision of how to bring IronMan to life in a waythat will appeal to a mass audience as well as the core Super Hero fan base.

Cassavetes'credits include the New Line romance The Notebook; and the drama John Q. He is currently in production on thedrama Alpha Dog,which features an ensemble cast including Bruce Willis, Justin Timberlake,Sharon Stone and Emile Hirsch.

Emmerich isoverseeing Iron Manfor New Line along with the studio's senior vice president of productionStokely Chaffin, vice president George Waud and creative executive Jeff Katz.

Kevin Feige andArad will oversee for Marvel Studios.