One thing I consider a sign of a great movie is when you go to the theater and people applaud during the film. This has only ever happened to me a few times, and those movies turned out to be some of my favorites of all time. There's a catch though. Normally there's only one moment one (awesome moment mind you) that gets this applause. People only clap once. Last night The Avengers broke that rule, and I lost count of the number of times people clapped for this movie. If you had any doubts that such an ambitious film, involving the main characters from five different franchises, lay them to rest. The Avengers is an awesome movie.
It takes a while for The Avengers to (ahem) assemble, but assemble they do, and it's a blast from start to finish. With so many main characters, some of whom had no movie of their own to speak of, there was a danger that such a movie could feel cluttered or rushed, but it all comes together nicely. Though some characters naturally get more screen time than the rest, just about every character is in just enough to feel like they've earned their spot.
This is a good thing as The Avengers is extremely well cast. A few standouts include Robert Downey Jr., highly entertaining as Iron Man, as usual. Chris Evans does well as the soldier and leader Captain America, Chris Hemsworth channels the intensity and otherworldliness of Thor, and Mark Ruffalo proves to be the best Hulk yet, nailing Bruce Banner, afraid of the damage his power can cause. His alter ego is a truly menacing motion captured Hulk. I also have to mention Tom Hiddleston as Loki, a truly great villain. The whole movie is cast brilliantly.
The fight scenes are also standout, delivering some of the most spectacular superhero action since Spider-Man 2 and 3, and the recent Batman films. While none of the previous Marvel made movies had truly spectacular action (though Iron Man and Thor came close) The Avengers is a roller coaster ride from start to finish. The Avengers is also rife with humor. Some might say it's a little sillier than previous Marvel films, but it works. The audience busted out laughing on a regular basis. The film had great action and humor, and while some movies think that is enough (I'm looking at you Transformers) The Avengers also tells a worthwhile story.