The Avengers is the creme de la creme of summer movies, the extravaganza of a fan's lifetime. You will not find a film more epic and more fun than The Avengers in 2012.....before July 20th....when The Dark Knight Rises takes this crown.
For now though, let's dissect The Avengers and all its component parts. Four years ago, a little movie called Iron Man was released and Robert Downey Jr. went straight to the top of the A-list. Then came the paltry The Incredible Hulk, the weakest link and biggest excuse of advertisement for The Avengers. Iron Man 2 came and went in 2010, then Thor & Captain America: The First Avenger followed a year later with enough spice in the tanks to get fans excited for the real reason of these films existence, The Avengers. If this film didn't deliver, we would be seeing a complete overhaul in Hollywood this Monday morning. The movie opened to $200 million and has become a fan's and critic's favorite. Ah, the sweet smell of success.
For all of this, you can thank Joss Whedon (Serenity, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer), a truly inspiring directorial choice for Marvel. If you want to please the fans, join them. Whedon is the go-to-guy for fanboys and mainstream audiences alike. He knows what he has and how to use it. You could not ask for a better-constructed script for this kind of film.
The Avengers takes place just days after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is still rattled by his 70-year time jump to the future. For him, World War II was just moments ago and he is still grappling from its effects. In the meantime, Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, a fine choice to take over the role) is trying to stay calm by staying out of the way. He is tracked down by Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) in India to be recruited for the Avengers Initiative. Meanwhile, Tony Star/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is kicking it in his Stark Tower in Manhattan while Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is trying to take down his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the ultimate villain, for many reasons. Not only does Loki want his home world destroyed, but Earth too. This in turn, forces Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to unite all the superheroes to protect the world from total destruction.
Despite the fact that Manhattan gets plummeted in this film (and for many people seeing a city destructed over and over again can be nauseating), what Joss Whedon does that makes the film work is his masterful ability to not let things be taken too seriously. We have aliens and superheroes battling against each other so clearly Manhattan is just a fancy backdrop for a fantasy-themed battleground.
The difference here is that The Avengers was designed for fun where something like Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise is meant to be a statement on society. While The Dark Knight Rises looks for Oscar gold, The Avengers doesn't mind being the escapist entertainment it was meant to be. The best example: Loki is staring down the Hulk and screams something like, "I am a God and I will not be...", then the Hulk interrupts him by picking him up and smashing him to the ground numerous times. In The Avengers, humor goes a long way. Looking for the feelings of summer? Look no further.