Don't get too excited or anything, but the first batch of reviews for The Avengers are out, now that it's coming out in the U.K. next week. And they're almost uniformly positive, if not gushing. The bottom line seems to be that this is not just the culmination of all of the Marvel movies' buildup and anticipation — but it's also a well-made, craftsmanlike film that keeps things moving and manages to keep the characters and action interesting. And some reviewers go so far as to call it the best superhero movie yet.
Den of Geek just lays it out there. They think this is the best superhero movie yet:
To Whedon's credit, he pulled it off. He didn't just make the best superhero action film that has ever been made, he somehow did it while making a Joss Whedon film – smart, funny and dramatic, but with all the trappings of a sci-fi action movie presented fully intact. Imagine if Transformers 3 had a plot, a script, actors you liked and comprehensible special effects: that's what Avengers feels like. It's all so very… big.
Crucially, sequences that might have played as laborious buildup are handled in a brisk, straight-ahead manner that quickly focuses attention while methodically elevating the stakes, scene by scene... The battles are excitingly staged, with a sweep and coherence that actually gain something from the 3D conversion, especially when the camera starts to pinball from building to building in a breathless flurry of digital zooms and tracking shots.
Though overlong and inevitably burdened by the need to juggle so many protagonists – not to mention their different emotional arcs and back stories – this much-anticipated kick-off to summer movie season manages to maintain a playful, crowd-pleasing spirit... The Avengers' tart comic timing and plethora of funny quip help keep this nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie as breezy as it is.
The Hollywood Reporter gets tangled up in cooking metaphors:
It's clamorous, the save-the-world story is one everyone's seen time and again, and the characters have been around for more than half a century in 500 comic book issues. But Whedon and his cohorts have managed to stir all the personalities and ingredients together so that the resulting dish, however familiar, is irresistibly tasty again.
Popcorn Junkie says it's not the best superhero movie, because it's not quite as good as The Dark Knight and Superman: The Movie:
The action is spectacular and every set piece is crafted to make jaws drop. It's so exciting that some people may shake so hard with excitement during the main sequences that they may spontaneously combust or travel back in time... As a long time comic book fan ‘The Avengers' is a dream come true and I can honestly say that I am so happy to have witnessed it. My future children will have to compete with the film for my love and attention.
Movie Web is also ecstatic:
Avengers Assemble is by far the most spectacular superhero ever made in terms of a visual extravagance, and is truly something that has been worth waiting for and it's the Marvel equivalence to Nolan's Batman. In final words prepare for something that is truly indescribable as your theatres roars in applause... Joss Whedon has officially created every fan boy's dream.
The Telegraph is also pleased:
Joss Whedon's lavishly enjoyable, chewily-titled film (the branding's there to warn British cinema-goers that John Steed will not be making an appearance) is an assemblage of everything that's good about contemporary popcorn cinema; just as importantly, it's a rejection of everything that isn't. Avengers might be short on bright ideas of its own, but co-writer and director Whedon has a magpie's eye for stealing other people's, and an enviable knack of improving them.
And Australia's Telegraph is even more thrilled:
Upcoming US summer blockbusters such as The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man had better be at the peak of their powers to match the absolute blast that is The Avengers. ... Overall, The Avengers is a fist-pumping cause for celebration for comic-book hard-liners and action fans alike.
But if you want a dissenting opinion, there's Box Office Magazine:
The Avengers almost works. It's funny and it's physical, but even at two and a half hours, it plays like it's on fast-forward. Forget character development-there's not even character explanation. The lesser Avengers are most slighted.... Samuel L. Jackson continues to be the franchise's weak link as an unconvincing military bureaucrat. Though his co-stars fight in horned helmets or turn green when enraged, he can't even credibly wear an eye patch.
And now I want to know what goes into eye-patch-wearing credibility. There should be a tutorial or something.
The Daily Mail is also dubious:
The biggest weakness is its premise, which is that the Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is plotting the downfall of the human race, yet we never really know why... The first half contains too much laboured exposition, and even the action-packed second half may not convert every-one who finds superhero movies immature. But this is a superior example of its kind, with sequences on a par with the best Spiderman and Batman movies. And technically, it's a real marvel.
The Guardian also feels that Loki is the weak link:
The hero-against-hero slugfest that the comics have been trading on for decades is entertaining at first, but the various combinations of Hulk v Thor v Iron Man quickly blow themselves out. Perhaps it would have helped if they had a properly combative adversary. Hiddleston's Loki, while a gloriously over-boiled caricature of the emotionally crippled boy-man we met in Thor, is backed by a horde of faceless, disposable allies, and it's hard to see how they put up much of a threat.
Empire is more sanguine, praising the movie's well-made sensibility:
This might not match the pyrotechnic power or CG clout of, say, the Transformers films. Yet there is something much more valuable - real human interaction and more of a brain on display. Whedon opens up the canvas and offers something that, with so many characters in play, feels epic and yet never loses sight of the real reason we've come to enjoy this particular dysfunctional super-family forced to play nicely together for the first time. In a few brief moments, the pace seems to sag, and the exposition needle pushes a little into the red zone once or twice, but even that is usually wrapped up with swift aplomb.
IGN says you'll have a huge grin on your face and possibly spontaneously applaud during the film:
The Avengers is an utterly unique film – both the payoff to something being set up by five other movies, yet also the launching point for its own series. Yes, with so much to deal with and so many characters, it can get a bit messy. But Whedon does an excellent job of giving nearly everyone their due and mixing and matching these amazing characters in several different ways, bouncing them off each other both physically and mentally and charting just what these heroes have to go through to find their footing as a team.
Total Film feels the need to deny Avengers the title of best superhero movie ever, as well:
With great power comes great banter in writer/director Joss Whedon's blockbuster multiplier, which isn't the best superhero movie ever – but might well be the funniest... Perhaps inevitably, there's never quite enough real drama or danger for our effectively invincible protagonists. But this 142-minute romp between gods, monsters, men and supermen packs so much crowd-pleasing colour and humour that it's impossible not to walk out grinning.
What Culture also has a few slight reservations, but calls it the purest comic adaptation ever:
Thanks to the talent and immeasurable passion of Joss Whedon, the film not only works, it excels and it is easily one of the most enjoyable and certainly the purest superhero movie ever made. 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.