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Marvel has produced the perfect blockbuster to herald the summer movie season with The Avengers.

A compelling storyline, epic battles, caustic comedy, a Stan Lee cameo… The Avengers has it all!

Earth’s mightiest heroes collide and eventually team up to combat the global threat that is Loki in Marvel Studios’ latest release. It’s not easy to bring together a super soldier, a demi-god, a genius billionaire playboy, two master assassins and the Hulk. Somehow, though, Samuel L. Jackson pulls it off as Nick Fury.

While it would have been easy for Marvel to rely on big explosions and lightning-quick action sequences with lots of distracting elements, the studio took care to come up with a story that viewers could invest in.

There were plenty of sight gags and inside jokes for comic fans to enjoy (Hulk…smash), along with buckets of sarcastic wit, but the writers also did a great job of revealing some of the motivations behind the characters’ actions. 

For example, while Loki usually has a grand old time stirring up trouble for the hell of it, there’s something weightier at stake if he doesn’t conquer Earth. He’s still as entitled as ever, but he’s shook by a bigger and badder force. 

Meanwhile, Nick isn’t just running the show and looking like a complete boss for no reason; he’s trying to save lives by any means necessary. Each of the heroes struggles to figure out how they fit in to Nick’s plans to salvage humanity. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Bruce Banner all have reason to stay out of the fight.

We weren’t completely sold on this lineup for The Avengers at first, but after considering the heroes’ strengths and weaknesses, we appreciate how they complement each other.

Iron Man is something of a diva. Things always have to be done his way and he’s not one to follow orders for the sake of the mission, unlike Captain America, who is all about teamwork. Bruce (aka The Hulk) is rather mild-mannered and prefers to be more reserved, while Thor has no problem flexing a little muscle and throwing his weight around to get the job done.

As such, there’s quite a bit of head-butting and the obligatory chest-pounding when these heroes meet. Find out how they come together when you see The Avengers, which lands in theaters on May 4.

Grade: A

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