Recruited by the enigmatic and always cool Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, some of the heaviest hitters in the Marvel universe must come together to save the world. “The Avengers” follows Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as they run, fly, fight and banter their way into an epic battle orchestrated by Thor’s evil half-brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

The Good Stuff: Director Joss Whedon is a master at writing and directing large groups of people who do amazing things. He’s worked on “Firefly,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel”, and even “Toy Story.” Even though “The Avengers” is bursting at the seams with individuals who can easily carry a film, each of these heroes is given enough time to shine in this nearly two and a half hour movie.

“The Avengers” also has a bit of everything. It has drama, all-out action and lots of great laughs. Even though Tony Stark is always amusingly arrogant, Hulk has some of the funniest moments in this movie. But really, how can you take a guy who transforms into a big green monster in cut-off shorts seriously?

The Annoying Stuff: Loki talked entirely too much about nothing! I get it. He’s the god of mischief. He’s supposed to trick and confuse people. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who really seems confused in this film. Does he want to jump on a flying cycle and go rampaging through the streets with his demonic horde or discuss the merits of war over a bottle of cognac with Tony Stark? If he was going to be a formidable opponent for six of Marvel’s big guns, he should have jumped whole-heatedly into his trickster role. Instead, this character came off as a second-rate villain with daddy issues

Final Verdict: Go see “The Avengers.” Loki may not be the best villain in the Avenger’s book of bad guys, but this is still a terrific movie. The visuals are spectacular, the acting is superb, and the film is surprisingly hilarious. “The Avengers” sets the bar high for the summer blockbuster season and marks another success in the long line of well-made Marvel films.

Comic Book First Appearances: Below is a list of the first comic book appearances of each of the major characters in “The Avengers.” Yes, I am a fanboy.

Avengers team - “The Avengers” #1, 1963

Captain America - “Captain America Comics” #1, 1941

Black Widow - “Tales of Suspense” #52, 1964

Hawkeye - “Tales of Suspense” #57, 1964

Hulk - “The Incredible Hulk” #1, 1962

Iron Man - “Tales of Suspense” #39, 1963

Loki - “Venus” #6, 1949

Nick Fury - “Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos” #1, 1963

Thor - “Journey into Mystery,” #83, 1962