The Gist: Thor's stepbrother Loki, rescued from exile by an unknown alien race, seeks revenge and dominion over Earth. His new allies agree to attack and conquer Earth for him in exchange for the Tesseract, a self-sustaining energy source that can open a portal between Earth and Thor's home world, Asgard, as well as a host of other worlds and universes. Given the supernatural nature of Loki, he's no match for Earth's ordinary defenses, so S.H.I.E.L.D. calls upon a ragtag group of fighters to take on Loki and his army.
The Avengers broke a bunch of records upon release and was very well received by both public and critics, and now I know why.
Director Joss Whedon, a comic fanboy himself, was the perfect choice to bring together a bunch of characters from many different movies, come up with a plot that wouldn't undermine what had previously happened in those other movies and that also made sense for this one, and piece it all together in a cohesive fashion.
The product of his toils is an excellent and highly entertaining movie that offers plenty of action and destruction, but all in the service of a great story, propelled by astounding visual effects.
The cast is excellent and the eye candy abounds: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgård, and the gorgeous Scarlett Johansson.
The Bottom Line: The first Avengers movie was such a smashing success that a sequel was all but guaranteed, but with end results this good, who can complain? An excellent addition to the comic book universe for sure.