A God, a super soldier, a “millionaire/playboy/industrialist/philanthropist”, an expert marksman, a Russian spy, and scientist/angry green giant. To any comic book illiterate, that would sound like one crazy assortment. To the rest, they are the Avengers.

Director Joss Whedon unites Tony Stark aka Iron Man, Thor, Dr. Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow and Steve Rogers aka Captain America to present a wonderfully grand spectacle called The Avengers.

Loki, who we saw disappearing into an inter-galactic abyss at the end of Thor returns as the chief antagonist. He uses the Tesseract, a source of unlimited power, to open up a portal into another realm, usher in a swarm of alien soldiers, and thus, unleash war on humanity. So Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D, assembles this strange assortment of heroes to fight on behalf of Earth. Would they be able to ward off Loki and his army? More importantly…would they be able to co-exist?

Joss Whedon manages to balance adrenaline pumping action sequences with interesting and witty interactions between the characters brilliantly. It’s a risky affair, throwing in six of Marvel’s biggest names together. But The Avengers manages to give equal importance to each of its protagonists, never letting anyone out of the circle. No one plays second fiddle in this team.

It also manages to bring out some spectacular performances. For me, the performance that simply stood out was that of Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo is simply brilliant as Bruce Banner (and his alter ego, The Hulk). For someone who was never a big fan of The Hulk, Ruffalo’s portrayal of the angry green giant has instilled newfound admiration for the character in me. Among the others, Robert Downey Jr. impresses yet again as the brash, stylish and wisecracking Tony Stark.

The lineup for 2012 includes three of the most awaited super hero movies of all time. And The Avengers has set the ball rolling in style. The bar has certainly been raised. I give this smartly packaged spectacle 4 out of 5. Can the web-slinger and the caped crusader rise up to this challenge? We can only wait and watch.



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