'The Avengers': What the Critics Are Saying

The Avengers (Marvel Studios)

Joss Whedon's The Avengers went on to earn $1.5 billion worldwide. 

The reviews are in for Joss Whedon's superhero film, in which Iron Man, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye and the Black Widow join forces to protect the Earth.

Named one of the most anticipated movies of the year, The Avengers has finally hit theaters.

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The film is already scaring up monstrous box office numbers and is projected to bring in $65 million to $67 million on Friday, surpassing all previous Marvel titles and among the top opening days ever. While the fanboys (and girls) throw their enthusiastic support behind the ensemble superhero pic, are the critics in agreement?

Mostly, yes. The reviews have culminated in a 93% score on RottenTomatoes, with nearly all giving praise to Joss Whedon's action-packed epic. Of course, one lonely New York Times' critic found himself on the receiving end of some harsh words from none other than Samuel L. Jackson -- Nick Fury, himself -- slamming his negative review on Twitter. Ouch.

Read below for a sampling of (mostly positive) reviews:

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The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy says, "The All-Star Game of modern superhero extravaganzas, The Avengers is humongous -- the film Marvel and its legions of fans have been waiting for."

The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan points out, "What really makes the difference in The Avengers is the emphasis on character as the film's storytelling core. Many of the superheroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), have had features of their own, but both what they say and how they say it is a step up here."

Claudia Puig from the USA Today says, "It's essentially six movies in one, which might account for the nearly 2½ hour length. While it's slow getting started, The Avengers is a splashy superhero mash-up that should please breathless fanboys. It also has a broader appeal for mass audiences with its fast-paced comic banter and exhilarating action sequences under the capable helm of director/co-writer/unabashed fan Joss Whedon."

Huffington Post's Marshall Fine says of the movie, "It offers a couple of the biggest laughs in recent memory, including a slapstick gag worthy of Chuck Jones in his Looney Tunes heyday," and he continues, "A Marvel mash-up featuring a group of superheroes who (almost) all have had their own movies. Don't think of this as a sequel to the others; it's its own thing unto itself."

New York Times' A. O. Scott criticized the movie saying, "This movie revels in the individuality of its mighty, mythical characters, pinpointing insecurities that are amplified by superhuman power and catching sparks that fly when big, rough-edged egos (and alter egos) collide. 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."

CNN's Tom Charity says, "The movie delivers the kind of pleasures usually reserved for fan fiction or playground stand-offs. Not surprisingly, Robert Downey Jr.'s flip, cynical Stark (Iron Man) gets a good measure of the movie's best lines, bouncing off Steve Rogers' (Captain America) boy scout idealism and Thor's guileless sledgehammer style (sometimes literally). Whedon also crafts a couple of choice scenes beautifully tailored for Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a far more interesting character here than she appeared to be in Iron Man 2."

Indiewire's Todd Gilchrist writes, "Ultimately, even though the film acquiesces to contemporary blockbuster architecture and builds its scenes around its locations rather than the other way around, The Avengers feels expansive, operatic, and immersive, which are essential qualities that all superhero movies should possess. But Whedon has certainly earned his commercial bona fides with this film, whose final scenes alone place him among the top tier of Hollywood’s purveyors of big (in every sense of the word) thrills, after his previous work established his aptitude for marrying smarts and spectacle."