This finally came out on DVD last month, and it was worth the wait. I know that back when I listed my 5 Favorite Superhero Movies That Were Based on Comic-Books, I speculated that this film could end up replacing Iron Man as my #1, and I was right!

The story is relatively simple. The evil god Loki (played to perfection by Tom Hiddleston) has teamed up with some mysterious alien being, to gain an army of alien soldiers which to use to conquer Earth. And to bring them to Earth, he steals a special artifact, a cosmic cube, from SHIELD and attempts to use it to open a wormhole for the alien army to reach us. Nick Fury then gathers a group of individuals, including SHIELD agents Black Widow & Hawkeye, along with Tony Stark aka Iron Man, and WWII super soldier Captain America, who has recently been revived after spending decades in suspended animation, to help stop Loki. Black Widow also recruits the fugitive Dr. Bruce Banner, who has supposedly been cured of his affliction which transforms him into the Hulk, to help work on a solution. And then Loki’s brother Thor also shows up to capture Loki. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to say that the team succeeds in the end.

Let me just give the lion’s share of the praise to director Joss Whedon. He turned out to be the perfect man for this job, which is no surprise considering not only his history with ensemble casts, but also as a writer of comic-books. This film could have easily been made as just a non-stop action movie, with Iron Man front and center (since RDJ is the biggest star of the bunch, and the Iron Man films the biggest hits previously), and the rest playing supporting roles. But Whedon managed to give each character some spotlight time, and shows them working as a team. There’s plenty of nice little character moments in the dialog that flows naturally and doesn’t sound like the typical forced banter you see in far too many ensemble action films (yeah, I’m lookin’ @ YOU, Expendables), and lots of throwbacks to classic superhero team-ups that comic-book fans expect, where heroes initially fight each other, before realizing that they’re on the same side.

A lot of folks have singled out THE HULK as a breakout character in this film. And I agree that Mark Ruffalo did an excellent job, he worked perfectly, despite my initial reservations about the lack of Edward Norton. But I also feel the need to point out how great Scarlett Johansson was as Black Widow. I WAS surprised because, as the “weakest” member of the team, she could have been sidelined but, again, give praise to Whedon, who has much experience writing strong female characters, for making her seem essential to the team in all of her scenes. RDJ as Tony Stark/Iron Man also was pitch-perfect, it was a seamless continuation of his role in the solo Iron Man films (helped by the cameo appearances of Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts). I was also impressed with how easily characters like Thor and Loki were made to fit in with the more “realistic” characters. And the special effects, in general, were very good. It was awesome to see the SHIELD Helicarrier live. My one and only complaint would be. . .

….the death of Agent Coulson. Even though that served a purpose within the context of the story, I wish they wouldn’t have done that. He was the glue that tied all those characters together in the earlier films. I don’t know if Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hunt will be filling that role in future solo films, of if they’ll be having Nick Fury appear more, but I’ll still miss Clark Gregg as Coulson.

But, other than that, this film was perfect! Two Thumbs Up! 5 out of 5 Stars! Bravo!

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