So let’s get right to it. Marvel’s The Avengers nails it. It now stands as the most deliberate (and best) superhero movie ever brought to the big screen. It’s on-the-edge-of-my-seat-I-can’t-believe-they-pulled-it-off exciting. It’s hardcore Marvel. It’s not afraid to reach the heights of eye-winking humor and even at times just plain silliness. And it’s damn cool. The masterful direction, courtesy of Joss Whedon, is stripped-down when needed and action packed. The Avengers, based on the long-running ‘60s comic, simply works. Brief synopsis: The banished, evil, power hungry and emotionally-damaged Loki (Tom Hiddleston)—the mystical half-brother of future Avengers member Thor—is in payback mode after being banished from his world of Asgard. He has strong disdain for his heroic, hammer-wielding Thunder God sibling, but even more loathing hate for the human race. Loki decides to put an end to the world with a little help from an alien army ready for destruction (“The humans, what can they do but burn?”).
So what do you do when you are faced with such a heart-wrenching threat? You gather together Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (yeah, I know…so sue me). Or rather the head of the highly secretive S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate) Nick Fury—played with much two-fisted attitude by the omnipresent Samuel L. Jackson—gathers the troops. Avengers roll call: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr .); Captain America (Chris Evans); the aforementioned Thor (Chris Hemsworth); Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Loki has all the power because 1) he’s a cunning, brilliantly diabolical bastard and 2) he has taken the uber powerful Cosmic Cube, the ultimate energy source that can do major damage.
From there we get Avengers-style dysfunctional infighting; a fan approved dream smack down between Iron Man-Thor-Hulk-Cap; and some bad-ass lines courtesy of a cantankerous, patch-eyed Fury. There’s also some pretty strong special effects on a smartly handled budget (The Avengers’ price tag came in at $218 million, a discount when compared to this summer’s other Marvel-based blockbuster—the $258 million Spiderman reboot); and an alien-raining battle over Manhattan that will make even the most jaded action movie head stand up and applaud with a shit-eating grin. The culmination of a successful string of Marvel Studios’ bankrolled films featuring Iron Man, Captain America and Thor was worth the wait. Of course, there are more reasons why The Avengers stands as the greatest comic book flip of all-time (where does the epic Batman vehicle Dark Knight stand? Hmmmm…). Read on, true believers.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)