“The best scenes are not the overblown, skull-assaulting action sequences—which add remarkably little that will be fresh or surprising to devotees of the ‘Transformers’ franchise — but the moments in between, when the assembled heroes have the opportunity to brag, banter, flirt and bicker. The secret of ‘The  Avengers’  is that it is a snappy little dialogue comedy dressed up as something else...The light, amusing bits cannot overcome the grinding, hectic emptiness, the bloated cynicism that is less a shortcoming of this particular film than a feature of the genre.” --A. O. SCOTT, The New York Times

“The movie would be all over the place if not for [director Joss] Whedon’s centrifugal seriousness. And it would be overbearingly pompous if not for his nifty ability to spoof his subjects without devaluing them. Like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and other Whedon wonders, ‘The Avengers’ is both campy and reverential. Comic-Con nerds will have multiple orgasms. I had a blast.” --DAVID EDELSTEIN, New York Magazine

“If superhero movies now shoulder the responsibility of being our era’s moral parables, then ‘The Avengers’ is a rocket-powered boost to the tops of mounts Olympus, Rushmore and Sinai. Or, in less highfalutin words: Folks, these flicks don’t get any better than this...‘The Avengers’ makes superhero movies new again—a colossal task indeed.” --JOE NEUMAIER,  The New York Daily News

“What I see in ‘The Avengers,’ unfortunately, is a diminished film despite its huge scale, and kind of a bore. It’s a diminishment of Whedon’s talents, as he squeezes himself into an ill-fitting narrative straitjacket, and it’s a diminished form that has become formula, that depends entirely on minor technical innovations and leaves virtually no room for drama or tragedy or anything else that might make the story actually interesting...To praise the movie lavishly, as so many people have done and will continue to do, basically requires making endless allowances. It’s really good (for being a comic-book movie). It’s really good (for being almost exactly like dozens of other things). It’s really good (for being utterly inconsequential).” —ANDREW O’HEHIR,

“Every now and then, director Joss Whedon executes a quirky camera set-up to assert that the film was created by him and not a team of marketing executives. Of the star-studded cast, only Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. bring any personality to the place-holder dialogue. Overlong, monotonous, violent, and simple-minded, this is like one of those ‘World’s Biggest Gang Bang’ videos, except that no one onscreen appears to be enjoying himself.” --BEN SACHS, Chicago Reader

“Joss Whedon's delicious ode to the Marvel universe boasts clarity, conviction and characters who live and breathe. There are moments of genuine pathos, genuine humor, genuine surprise. As much as the film adheres to the strictures of the standard comic-book movie, it also pops with a knowing, loving, Whedon-world jokiness that keeps everything barreling along.” –AMY BIANCOLLI,  San Francisco Chronicle

“The first half hour is murk, with too much gobbledygook on the Tesseract (a talisman that could save our environment, and yada yada). But once our heroes cram into a flying command station, it's Five Angry Supermen (and one superwoman)...In terms of storytelling, ‘The Avengers’ is for the most part a highly functional, banged-together vehicle that runs on synthetic franchise fuel. Yet the grand finale of CGI action, set in the streets of New York, is—in every sense—smashing.” –OWEN GLEIBERMAN, Entertainment Weekly

“A slow start, a single star performance surrounded by indifferent acting and an onslaught of computer effects that range from seen-it-all-in-‘Transformers’ to a whole sky full of spectacular stuff in the midtown Manhattan climax.” –JOE MORGENSTERN, Wall Street Journal

“Despite the assured performances, ‘The Avengers’ is unconvincing: The illusion doesn't stick. The story ties itself into knots to rationalize why these disparate superheroes would ever band together...Right from the opening scene, a belabored set piece boasting one of the most listless car chases ever filmed, the movie feels off. Everyone talks too much. The pace lumbers. Extraneous characters eat up screen time. You hunker down in your seat and shrug it off, patiently waiting for the film to kick into gear. By the end, you’re still waiting.”  --RENE RODRIGUEZ, Miami Herald

“If you are a Marvel fan, then ‘The Avengers’ will feel like Christmas. Thanks to the merry doings of the director, Joss Whedon, all your favorite characters are here, as shiny and as tempting as presents under the tree...If you are not a Marvel fan, on the other hand, then watching ‘The Avengers’ will feel like being mugged by a gang of rowdy sociopaths with high muscle tone. Absolutely no quarter is given to the ill-informed.”  --ANTHONY LANE, The New Yorker

 “If, as ‘The Avengers’ depressingly underlines, comic-book movies are the ultimate expression of today's Hollywood zeitgeist the way, say, ‘Gone With the Wind’ or ‘Casablanca’ epitomized an earlier time, it's good to at least have them done this well. If you have to watch ‘a handful of freaks, isolated and unbalanced’ saving the planet for the umpteenth time, you could do a whole lot worse.”  --KENNETH TURAN, The Los Angeles Times

“Not only does this eye-popping 3D display of visual effects fireworks feature an enormously high proportion of action scenes, but director Joss Whedon  has adroitly balanced the celebrity circus to give every single one of the superstar characters his or her due...Its clamorous, the save-the-world story is one everyone's seen time and again, and the characters have been around for more than half a century in 500 comic book issues. But Whedon and his cohorts have managed to stir all the personalities and ingredients together so that the resulting dish, however familiar, is irresistibly tasty again.” –TODD McCARTHY, The Hollywood Reporter

“‘The Avengers’ isn’t so much a movie as a kind of G-8 summit for action figures who have finally been allowed out of their cellophane boxes. They do action stuff, then they talk a little, then they do more action stuff. It’s a movie that, for all its dazzle, has forgotten that the whole point of reading comic books is for story and character development...there’s something self-congratulatory about Whedon’s whole approach, as if he were making a movie only for people who are already in on the in-joke. Comic-book aficionados who have always loved the Avengers may very well love ‘The Avengers’; those who wouldn’t know a Tesseract from a Rubik’s Cube may feel differently. That’s the thing about other people’s nostalgia: It’s always a bitch.”  --STEPHANIE ZACHAREK, Movieline

“Let me sprint right to the point: ‘The Avengers’ has it all. And then some. Six superheroes for the price of one ticket: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk. It's also the blockbuster I saw in my head when I imagined a movie that brought together the idols of the Marvel world in one shiny, stupendously exciting package. It's ‘Transformers’ with a brain, a heart and a working sense of humor. Suck on that, Michael Bay.” –PETER TRAVERS, Rolling Stone