REVIEW: Game-changing 'The Avengers' is super-hero movie to end all super hero-movies

Marvel’s “The Avengers” is the super-hero movie to end all super-hero movies.

Why? Joss Whedon.

The writer-director treats this super-hero ensemble as the end-all-be-all of comic book movies. He has intelligently and deftly vacuum compressed a library of comic culture into a two and a half hour movie brimming with adventure and humor. Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America and more assemble here versed in Whedon’s crackling wit, with action scenes that lay waste to all action sequences in the previous Marvel films combined.

Furthermore, there’s nearly a baker’s dozen of A-list actors kicking some serious butt: Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo (nicely replacing Edward Norton as The Hulk), Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Gwyneth Paltrow and more.


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VIDEO: Watch three trailers for 'The Avengers.'

After “The Avengers, there’s really no need to ever see another super hero movie again (okay, except Christopher Nolan’s upcoming “Batman” finale). But because of it, we’ll likely see plenty more super hero ensembles and crossovers from here on out.

“Justice League,” anyone?

If you have somehow missed the past four years of Marvel movies you have some homework to do. The prerequisites “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man,” “Thor” and “Captain America” have all culminated in this mighty production. While “The Avengers” takes key plot moments from each of those films, it most heavily relies on elements from “Thor” and “Cap.”

Thor’s malevolent brother, Loki comes to Earth to steal a device that will help aliens from another dimension enslave the human race. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury assembles his Shield team to stop the hell bent villain. Tension among the team is high and nobody gets along at first. Once tragedy strikes, the focus is set and the Avengers truly assemble.

While Whedon has given us a detailed and entertaining plot, character is king. Iron Man, Thor, Cap, Black Widow, The Hulk and Hawkeye are all given equal amounts of time to shine. Whedon humanizes each character through his signature banter – and what great banter it is. Whedon’s dialogue is razor sharp, layered and hysterical. He is smart to let us get comfortable with each member apart from the collective, making it so much more enjoyable when they do assemble side-by-side.

This cast works really well together. Each actor brings out the human side of their super hero persona. From Downey to Ruffalo, you’ll leave the theater remembering the performances more than the spectacle.

Although “The Avengers” has some of the best special effects we’ve seen yet in a summer blockbuster, they are never overwhelming. Marvel is wise to not take a “Transformers” route and have the film just be about the glitzy SFX. There’s a nice balance between the drama and the action; every set piece outdoes the previous one, leading up to a spectacular nail-biting final act.

If you aren’t one already, “The Avengers” just might make a comic book geek out of you. “The Avengers” is a game changer, setting the summer blockbuster bar to new heights. Now the question is how to further impress a genre culture that has just been given their coup de grâce.

Your move, Bruce Wayne.