I remember the post-credit scene in Iron Man in 2008 and getting tense with excitement at the very thought of an Avengers movie. Four years later, after the last credit rolled on Joss Whedon's superhero-packed opus, I sighed with relief. He did it. And not just well--he knocked it out of the frickin' park. It's safe to say that it's one of the best action comedies of all time, certainly one of the all-time best superhero movies. It’s belly-achingly funny, has great dialogue, creates interesting relationships between characters, is easy to understand without being insulting, looks fantastic, and ultimately is the movie that all of those iconic comic book characters deserve.
I am unfamiliar with the comic book, but I had no trouble keeping up and appreciating it right alongside fanboys in the audience who also seemed pleased. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), leader of the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., has been hard at work on super-secret stuff, including harnessing the glowy power source called a Tesseract that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) shows up to pilfer. Fury knows getting it back will take his crack team of superheroes, who can't resist the chance to help save the planet. So The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) board the high-tech flying Helicarrier to hunt him down. It's sort of like Superhero Big Brother, as their enormous world-saving egos clash and create magnificent friction. This is exactly where Whedon excels—bringing together ensembles of people who are all distinct, witty, and necessary. He makes them seem human--even The Hulk smashing things finally gets his due and in fact steals the show.
The constant to and fro between crazy action and great dialogue gives the movie enormous momentum. Every time I thought, "That was the coolest thing I have ever seen," it was immediately followed by something even cooler. By the time Loki and the Avengers are duking it out underneath an open portal to a very hostile universe, it felt like it only took 30 minutes to get there. It made me angry at other recent action flicks with their lame love subplots and cringeworthy one-liners-- does this mean that Joss Whedon has to write all of your scripts now, Hollywood? Or do you need to encourage other talented screenwriters to think outside the box? (hint: this is a trick question)
I could make this review twice as long, but it would just be more praise heaped on top of praise. I had more fun watching this movie than all of the Avengers' previous individual films combined, and some of them were pretty good. I cannot wait to see what kind of genius moves Whedon and co. are going to come up with next, but I am confident they can do it--because this team is full of the new cinematic superheroes, here to make our moviegoing experience fun again.