"Marvel's The Avengers" is the cinematic equivalent of a Chipotle burrito.
It's made up of a lot of ingredients you love (Robert Downey Jr., Joss Whedon's snarky wit, massive visual effects, explosions), some you don't (a third dimension, roughly 20 minutes of unnecessary and dragged-out exposition, what feels like the entire third act of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"), and winds up being perfectly acceptable as summer entertainment. You can enjoy "The Avengers" without feeling too guilty or gross afterward; it's not like going to McDonald's.
Which is why Marvel's latest blockbuster doesn't come close to living up to the hype.
Make no mistake: "The Avengers" is good. It's not "sick." It's not "awesome." It's not "epic" (except in length). If you're a comic book guy or gal (or even a wannabe comic book guy or gal), you'll love it; if you don't know the Tesseract from Burt Bacharach, you'll sit there twiddling your thumbs and waiting for the next big set piece to happen. (Have I mentioned that this thing is long?)
Because, however, of the overwhelming marketing campaign, the chipper tweets of those lucky enough to have seen "The Avengers" already, and the high critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, you might go into the film expecting something like "The Dark Knight." Or, perhaps more appropriately, "Iron Man." The problem is that "The Avengers" isn't like those films, because it's not a fresh take on the comic-book genre. Whedon doesn't reinvent the wheel with "The Avengers" -- despite what the hype might have you expecting -- he just continues the yeomanly work done previously by Kenneth Branagh, Joe Johnston and Louis Leterrier in the previous Marvel burritos "Thor," "Captain America" and "The Incredible Hulk." As such, headlines like "Five Best Movie Summers Ever--Where Will 'The Avengers' Rank?" might be a little much. After all, how "best" could a movie be when it has such an uninteresting villain? No offense to Tom Hiddleston (swoon and all), but does anyone actually think Loki is diabolical enough to defeat the "Avengers" superhero super-team? This guy got beat up by Thor alone in "Thor"; even with an army of alien robot-things picked up off Michael Bay's "Transformers" cutting room floor, Loki is less than imposing. Because of that, there are no stakes in "The Avengers." Because there are no stakes, Whedon's film becomes a waiting game for all that third-act stuff Marvel has already given away in the trailers. After a while, that waiting wears on you.
(Speaking of stakes, it's difficult to get really invested in something where nearly every character is immortal and/or invincible. Just sayin'.)
Not to sound too preachy (too late), but hype is a dangerous weapon. In the wrong hands, it can spiral out of control, create unreasonable expectations and result in a swift backlash. Unfortunately for the Avengers, defeating "Avengers" hype proves a lot more difficult than defeating Loki.