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The Avengers (****)
directed by Joss Whedon
written by Joss Whedon, from a story by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, based on the comic book created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Principal Cast
Robert Downey Jr. -- Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans -- Steve Rogers / Captain America
Mark Ruffalo -- Bruce Banner / The Hulk
Chris Hemsworth -- Thor
Scarlett Johansson -- Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner -- Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston -- Loki
Clark Gregg -- Agent Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders -- Agent Maria Hill
Stellan Skarsgård -- Selvig
Samuel L. Jackson -- Nick Fury
Gwyneth Paltrow -- Pepper Potts
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

The Avengers John Steed and Mrs. Peel join forces when the Earth is attacked by gods and monsters. No? All right, you know better. You've almost certainly already seen The Avengers, and chances are you loved it. It may be the best superhero movie ever, and while it is a little too much of a fanboy film to win the Oscar for best picture, it will be on the short list. (The fanboy in me is glad to see Jasper Sitwell make a brief appearance.) Among the many things it gets right: the non-superpowered characters have a lot to do. The subtext is that physical strength isn't everything.

In the Marvel Age of Comics, The Avengers was Marvel's answer to DC's Justice League of America. The difference between the two is that you can still read Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's The Avengers with pleasure, while the early Justice League comics by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowski can only be read with difficulty. I have in my collection a Justice League script by Fox (with copious rewriting by editor Julie Schwartz) and the characterization is so minimal that, no matter to whom Fox gave a line of dialogue, Sekowski just put the word balloon into the art wherever it fit, so Aquaman might well be given a line intended for Superman. It really didn't make any difference.

In The Avengers comic book the contrast could not have been greater. Try giving a line spoken by Thor to The Hulk!

I'm glad the film omits the other original Avengers, Ant Man and The Wasp. They were silly characters at best, and only existed because Stan Lee wanted a Marvel version of the DC character The Atom.

The theme of heroes who don't get along, but who learn to work together, is in both the original comic book and the movie. It would be foolish to pretend that the comic book was a good as the movie, but the comic book did come first.

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Copyright © 2012 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon. Visit his web site at

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