By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood April 20, 2012 at 9:16AM
Stakes and anticipation were high for "Marvel's The Avengers," which finally brings together a half dozen superheroes. The take-home message from most reviewers is that the super hero mash-up more than met expectations--it set the bar higher for summer blockbusters and other superhero movies alike.
In fact, some enthusiastic reviewers were baffled at having too little to complain about, while others questioned whether "Marvel's The Avengers" might be the best super hero movie of all time, or the purest comic book adaptation ever. No consensus yet, but as of writing, Rotten Tomatoes shows a 100% Fresh rating.
Critics across the board praise the writer/director Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer" "The Cabin in the Woods") for ably managing a prodigious cast: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
The movie opens in the UK and internationally on April 26 (it's titled "Avengers Assemble" in the UK; Disney opens "Marvel's The Avengers" in the US on May 4. (Trailer below)
Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist
"The Avengers" (or as it is called in the U.K, where we saw the film ahead of its opening next week, "Marvel Avengers Assemble") is thrilling, hilarious and brilliantly executed. It's not just the best Marvel movie to date (although it is that), and it's not just in the very top tier of superhero movies (although it is), but it's one of the most all-around satisfying summer blockbusters since God-knows-when.
Justin Chang, Variety
Like a superior, state-of-the-art model built from reconstituted parts, Joss Whedon's buoyant, witty and robustly entertaining superhero smash-up is escapism of a sophisticated order, boasting a tonal assurance and rich reserves of humor that offset the potentially lumbering and unavoidably formulaic aspects of this 143-minute team-origin story.
Catherine Bray, Film 4
If you watch "Avengers" without your brain engaged, you’ll still have a pretty good time, but you’ll also miss out, since this is filmmaking as smart as it is colourful and exciting. Smart yes, dark, no - Avengers Assemble is also bright and funny, skilfully sidestepping the nihilism fallacy, which seeks to suggest comic book movies are somehow more valid when they’re “dark”.
Robbie Collin, Telegraph UK
As the first of this summer’s three superhero blockbusters (the others are The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man), Avengers sets the bar impressively high, and that it does it with a smile is all the more refreshing. A lot of this stuff has been done before, and recently – but never quite as well as this.
Andrew Urban, Louise Keller, Urban Cinefile
The key cast provides the necessary air of importance, but some of their lines get lost in the chaos. Not that it matters. The film doesn't have the emotional involvement of the best of sci-fi action films, but it's a thrashing good big dipper ride and the 3D actually works
Lovers of the genre will be hard pressed to name their favourite superhero or moment - egos, powers, personalities and conflicts let rip, as extravagant action, awe-inspiring stunts and extraordinary special effects in 3D fill the screen in a blaze of spectacle. There's humour too, with in-jokes for those in the know, wry lines and tantalising situations in which each of the superheroes can shine.
James White, Empire
For Whedon has taken the various threads of the Marvel universe and weaved an impressive tapestry filled with action, humour, charm and heart. There was always the danger that this could become The Tony Stark Hour (Featuring His Costumed Chums), but Whedon is canny enough to realise that he’s got a well-balanced cast, and everyone shoulders their respective portion of the storyline with ease. It’s not really surprising coming from the man who handled a large, charismatic set of characters in the undervalued Serenity, and it’s even more satisfying to see him pull off the same trick twice.
Simon Miraudo, QuickFlix
The Avengers is an experiment, both artistic and financial: the culmination of multiple projects released over a number of years, for which anticipation had reached fever pitch, but, expectations would stand unreasonably high. Astoundingly, it’s a success. Not only is it the best of the series, it even enriches the others (especially "Thor" which had always been the weak link; Loki is a much more interesting adversary now, and he’s given plenty to chew on).
Simon Gallagher, What Culture
Headlined: The Purest Comic Book Adaptation Of All Time.
It is not quite a resounding success however, with a number of developmental issues holding it back from being an unblemished masterpiece, including some clunking sections of dialogue that are a little too reminiscent of Michael Bay for comfort and the occasional imbalanced story choices that inspire little more than a slight frown but which gestate quickly and frustratingly offer a picture of what have been.