Since the release of Iron Man, the MCU was ultimately leading to a team-up of Earth’s mightiest heroes: The Avengers. Debuting in The Avengers #1 in 1963, the initial team included Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, and the Wasp. Captain America was introduced later on, having been frozen in ice, and many more would soon join the team. Much like the comics, producer Kevin Feige imagined the series as having individual movies leading up to a crossover event. From 2008-2011, each of the films had little post-credits scenes that hinted at an eventual crossover. Finally, in 2012, Joss Whedon was brought on board to helm this crossover event, bringing all the established heroes together. While Edward Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo, all the other cast members returned for an ultimate showdown. Audiences got to witness that ultimate showdown with the release of the 2012 film, The Avengers.

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SHIELD has recently acquired the Tesseract, a strange cube-like object contained unknown and unlimited power. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) comes equipped with a mind-controlling spear, takes control of several agents, and steals the Tesseract. Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) moves forward with his Avengers initiative: to bring a team of extraordinary people together. He recruits Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) for starters. However, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) steps in, saying that Loki must face Asgardian justice, and ends up joining alongside the Avengers. Lastly, there’s Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, (Scarlett Johansson), but things don’t start off great initially. They manage to capture Loki, but this leads to the team almost splitting up and SHIELD being nearly crippled. Once Loki summons his army known as the Chitauri, they must put aside their differences and learn to work together.

While some of today’s audience might not understand, there was tons of hype well before this movie was even announced. Nothing like this had been done before: a series of individual superhero movies leading up to one big event movie. Luckily, not only did it work, but it turned out to be one of the best modern-day blockbusters ever made. By this point, we had gotten to know these characters well enough to get attached to them and actually care. What makes this movie work so well is that each of the main heroes is given their moment to shine. It never feels like one hero dominates the movie, but instead like equal time is given to each one. There’s some great character building, such as the feud between Rogers and Stark, and the relationship between Romanoff and Banner. It all builds to an exciting climax of superheroes fighting aliens.

If there are any negatives to the film, they’re very minor and border on being nitpicks. The movie does feel slightly longer than it really is, though it’s never boring or uninteresting. Also, there’s quite a few gaps where it feels like not much is happening, and you’re waiting for more action. While Joss Whedon’s direction isn’t terrible, it does feel homogenized compared to the styles of the other films. I think what throws me off is how all the other movies are in widescreen, whereas this is more fullscreen. Not that stuff is being cut out from the sides, but it feels slightly overcrowded and busy at times. But like I said, those are very minor complaints for what is, I feel, a phenomenal summer blockbuster. The Avengers is everything a huge blockbuster should be: fun, entertaining, heartfelt, engaging, and memorable.