I’m no comic book aficionado (far from it), but I really liked The Avengers. And that’s mostly because I really like watching Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. You’ve got to love a superhero who’s cynical, sarcastic, witty and walks around in tight jeans and a “Black Sabbath” tee-shirt when he’s not suited up for battle.

The movie also features a host of other reluctant heroes from the Marvel Comic Universe, including the Shakespearean thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the recently defrosted World War Two soldier-extraordinaire, Captain America (Chris Evans), the mild-mannered doctor-turned-green-monster-when-he’s-angry The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), the brooding guy who’s good with arrows, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the psychologically damaged superspy chick in a form-fitting bodysuit, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

They’re called into action by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the persuasive head of an international spy agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., to retrieve some little blue box of energy called The Tesseract and save the world from an army of aliens led by Thor’s evil adopted brother Loki. I’ve gotta admit, the plot kinda lost me. But it really didn’t matter. The Avengers has a kick-ass cast and it’s a ton of fun watching the mish-mash of superheroes spar with each other, physically and verbally, then have each other’s backs – sort of – when the obligatory epic battle scenes commence. Go Team!?

The interactions between Captain America and Iron Man, between Iron Man and Thor, and between Thor and The Hulk provide the bulk of the entertainment. And Loki (Tom Hiddleston) makes for a quirky and engaging villain. Hawkeye and Black Widow definitely take a back seat in this one (and it’s easy to see why their characters don’t have their own movie franchises.)

The Avengers is written and directed by the uber-talented Joss Whedon, who knows how to make a well-paced crowd-pleaser. The movie is nearly two and a half hours long, but time – like Iron Man – flies. I’m not sure the 3D added all that much, but it’s definitely worth trying to see it in IMAX, or at least on a really big screen.

Bottom line: Even if you don’t know a Loki from a gnocchi, The Avengers is good for a solid cinematic escape.

Be sure and stick around for the end-credits, especially if you’re a comic book geek. There’s a small hint of what’s to come. Because – duh – the studios are already working on a sequel. And did I mention that Iron Man 3 is due out May 3, 2013… the Thor sequel on Nov. 13, 2013… and Captain America 2 in April 2014?  But first, we’ve got to get through the next Batman, Spiderman and Superman sequels and reboots! Ah, summer. Bring it on!

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