More than anything else, "The Avengers" is a triumph for Joss Whedon, who wrote the script and directed the movie and is now, after years of smaller-scale wizardry in the fantasy genre, firmly installed in the top echelon of the Hollywood big time.
Without his expert ministrations, the picture might have been just another comic-book superhero exercise. True, several of the characters he was handed here—Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk—were already well-established among fan folk by nearly 50 years of Marvel comics and in more recent blockbuster franchise films of their own.
But herding them together into one big super-pileup—and under the closely controlling hand of Marvel Studios—required a gifted traffic cop; and Whedon, who demonstrated a knack for ensemble maneuvering in his TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," and "Firefly," was, as we now see, the ideal man for the job.
He also proves himself a master of big-budget action and CGI integration, and, most important, of maintaining focus on his many characters’ famous idiosyncrasies through even the most distracting clamor. The movie kicks to life with an attack on the headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D.—the Earth-guarding agency helmed by one-eyed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson in full scowl)—by the renegade god Loki (Tom Hiddleston), adoptive son of faraway Odin and thus resentful brother of the blindingly blond Thor (Chris Hemsworth).
Read the full review at Reason.com