The Avengers is going to be the biggest movie of the summer. There's really no question about that. Sequels always do better than their predecessors (assuming the initial movie was well-liked), but never has a movie served as the simultaneous sequel to not one, not two, not three, not four, but five summer blockbusters.
The groundwork was laid in The Avengers by two Iron Man films, a Hulk film, and last years Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. None of those films grossed less than $100 million at the box office. Two, the Iron Man films, both broke the $300 million ceiling.
There's very clearly different audiences that will be seeing this film, each from a different flavor of fandom.
Add to that the masses looking for a fun action movie, and you've got a recipe for success, at least on paper.
But what about the script and the filmmakers? Studio meddling? There are a thousand things that could go wrong on a picture of this magnitude.
I'm happy to report that we've averted disaster and Joss Whedon's Avengers film is a home run. It's been almost a full week since I've seen it and I've been going through withdrawals. I need to see it again.
The thing this film has going for it, more than anything, is that it doesn't have to stop and take time to introduce each of the characters and tell us how they all got here. Marvel has done such a thorough job establishing the mechanics of this universe that you're giddily anticipating the arrival of each of your favorite characters and they each get a welcome to the film worthy of their stature.
The plot is basic, but it's exactly what it needs to be. If you've seen a trailer you know the plot. If you know anything about Loki or saw Thor, you know why he'd be trying to subjugate the Earth. That's it. That's the movie.
The devil is in the details, though. This movie is about how the team comes together, overcomes their egos, and beats the odds to save the Earth.
And every moment is entertaining.
If you're lucky, the superhero film you're watching has at least one moment that I like to call a "Hell Yeah!" moment. Actually, I call them something else, but I self-censored just a little bit. In Spider-Man 2, you've got those "Hell Yeah!" moments on the subway, fighting against Doc Ock, and that moment in the boathouse when Mary Jane finally discovers Peter's secret identity. Spider-Man 2 had more than most superhero films and it's one of my favorites.
The Avengers gives each member of the team at least three of these "Hell Yeah" moments. Each.
This movie raises the bar so high for summer blockbusters that I feel awful for all the films that must follow (except for Prometheus, that movie will do fine.)
More than anything, though, is that this movie delivers on a dream we had as children, hoping one day we'd see a movie that brings all of our favorite characters together from our favorite comics on screen, fighting together. With the way Hollywood works, that never seemed like a possibility, but the stars have aligned and we've finally been given exactly what we wanted. Watching each character get added to the story, slowly and carefully, one at a time, we are able to get more and more excited with the thrill that A-list characters like this have never shared the screen together.
At no time does any character unbalance the film. (Though Hulk, played to perfection by Mark Ruffalo, steals the show with the best moments.) Each is in the story for a purpose and each fulfills it with flying colors. Each of the actors playing these iconic characters work in harmony to give us a movie we barely deserve. In this wasteland of horrible summer movies (*cough*Pirates of the Caribbean*cough*Transformers*cough*) we're given a mature, well-told tale of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
It's something to be grateful for.
Our prayers to God for a movie like this have been answered.
And our God's name is Thor.
(Also: stay for the end-credits sequence. A lot of you won't know what the final scenes portend, but get to your comic book store (Saturday is Free Comic Book Day!) and ask them to get you some books about the character you saw. It will be worth it.)