Is ‘Avengers’ The Best Marvel Movie Yet?

Joss Whedon masterfully balances larger-than-life characters, portrays conflict and wraps it all up in style.

“The Avengers” is the best Marvel movie to date. There — I said it.

Way back in 2008, Nick Fury made a surprise appearance in a post-credit scene in the first “Iron Man” movie, and with one bold statement, he made a promise that has kept fans waiting with baited breath: “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.”

Fast forward four years and four more movies (“The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”) and not only has Marvel delivered on their promise — they have presented us with the best Marvel movie yet.

Here are three really basic reasons why “Avengers” has excelled where some of the other Marvel movies have fallen flat:

Character Balance
It speaks volumes to Joss Whedon’s skill as a master writer/director that he managed to cram so many central characters into one story without it feeling bloated or misdirected. More importantly, every character in “Avengers” feels like they serving a purpose and aren’t just added for fan service. Compare this to the bloated roster of characters and story lines in “Iron Man 2″ or the Warrior’s Three and Sif in “Thor,” who didn’t seem to be used to their full potential.

“The Avengers” has one narrative, and each character has its own role in pushing the narrative forward. (A caveat, however: Thor definitely pulled the short straw story wise — which is surprising, considering the villain is his brother.)

Film Conflict Vs. Film Villain
Yes, Loki is the antagonist in “Avengers,” but the film’s true conflict comes from within the Avengers team. Out of all the previous Marvel movies, “Iron Man” is generally considered to be the favorite, and I would argue that this is because there is a really clear conflict and eventual resolution within the character of Tony Stark: Nobody is out there arguing that Iron Monger (Obadiah Stane) was a great cinematic villain. The other movies did their best, but always seemed to fall short when it came to realizing internal conflict.

For those of you wondering, the Avengers’ team conflict is more than just bickering. Without giving too much away, things definitely get physical between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Third Act
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been thoroughly enjoying a Marvel film, only to become bored and a little disappointed as the film winds down. Actually, I can: five times. But not so for “Avengers.” Yes, the last third is a bit of a generic smackdown in New York City, but it felt big and cinematic, and gave each of the central characters their moment to shine.

I’ll admit that the final confrontation wasn’t perfect: For one thing, the army of interdimensional invaders didn’t feel very threatening. But seeing the Avengers come together and work as a team was really what we had all showed up for in the first place. To some extent, it didn’t matter who they were fighting or what they were doing.

After four years and five movies, fans cashed in on a promise made, and it was well worth the wait.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Marvel’s The Avengers.”

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