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Darren says

It’s the impossible dream. Big budget. Joss Whedon. Iron Man. Hulk. Thor. Cap. Black Widow. Hawkeye. Nick Fury. IN the SAME MOVIE.

Tym says

The pinnacle; Whedon meshes all the solo films while lifting them to a higher level.

Ciaran says

A childhood dream comes true and hits all the right notes with the characters.

History

Joss Whedon molded a miracle with this film.

Faced with interlacing three solo film heroes, he goes bigger and better, tripling the players and the sweep with exhilerating ease. His ensemble piece makes the team the star while letting every character shine and refine, major and minor, lifting each out of themselves into something larger. Here, each lead gains in the context. Here, Fury, Coulson, and Natasha graduate from loose cameos into lucid characters, and Pepper has a better scene than in the whole Iron Man trilogy.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby built the heart of the House of Ideas on conflict. It was the bickering of the Fantastic Four, the turmoil of Peter Parker, the pathos of Silver Surfer that brought a common humanity to the medium that made their Distiguished Competition look starchy at the time. This was amplified in all the colossal battles that always ensue (eventually to the point of cliche and overkill). It is the interplay and in-fighting of the mismatched that drives the comics and this film. Joss is deft here at wringing sparks from contradictory personalities, and subtle about how the Tesseract is inflaming this discord. Of special note here are the first fissures between Iron Man and Captain America (impulse and ego vs. experience and identity) that foretell the Civil War, an ideology clash that will tear the team apart in later films.

The Avengers are an ad hoc from polyglot, cobbled from many sources. Rather than recoil from the oxymoronic mix of gods, aliens, changelings, archers, and spies, Whedon eagerly bearhugs it all like old friends.

James Bond kicked off a spy mania in pop culture from 1962 to a peak in 1967: his style, gadgets, spectacle, and villains were cloned in countless films, shows, books, comics, strips, and music. Marvel thus revamped their war hero Nick Fury into a futurist superspy, first by Kirby and then most especially by the incomparable mvp Jim Steranko: enter S.H.I.E.L.D., the Helicarrier, and Cold War intrigue. The Black Widow also jumped in from Russia with lunge. So the intro of Widow in this film is a deliberate Bond riff, swiftly given a firm Feminist kick in the ass. And making her screen debut is Agent Hill, a recent character invented by the prolific Brian Michael Bendis.

In the early ’70s, Jack Kirby gave DC Comics a celestial structural mythos with the New Gods and their nemesis, Darkseid. Jim Starlin responded at Marvel with the cosmic machinations of his villain, Thanos. By choosing Thanos as the man behind the curtain here, Joss set up the throughline of the the Marvel films (the Infinity Stones) and the cosmic playing field that spans from Thor to the Guardians to Dr. Strange.

Joss Whedon had written many great films, shows, and comics. He was the perfect person to do it all correctly, and he exceeded it.

Few directors can balance an ensemble cast correctly, allowing the time for each character to flourish, without overly distracting from the main storyline, but Joss is a mastermind at it. Moment after moment is deftly executed, bringing to the screen a magnitude and spectacle we’ve been clamoring for since comics films have been brought forth. 

The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron