Primer: The Avengers (2012)

What is it? The Avengers film is based on the Marvel Comic of the same name, which features the company’s biggest heroes all on one team. The Avengers originally appeared in 1963 and were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Why is it important? This is pretty much a comic book reader’s dream, and will be the first Marvel film distributed by Disney. It is currently filming in New Mexico.
The Avengers is a landmark achievement, as it will actually be the sixth film in this franchise, making it the longest running comic book film franchise ever. But wait, you may be asking, how is it the sixth film? I’ve never heard of this before! 

What Marvel has been doing is launching each of the four major characters in their own film(s) and then bringing them all together under the banner of The Avengers. This may have been the only way to accomplish this without having a film with 10 hours of exposition establishing the major characters. Here are the films in the series so far:
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Thor (2011)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Not only are the principle stars of each of these films returning for The Avengers (with the exception of Ed Norton being replaced by Mark Ruffalo for The Hulk), but there is a supporting cast and writing that tie all of these films together, especially with Samuel L. Jackson’s character of Nick Fury popping up pretty much all over the place. Nick Fury, is the head of a governmental agency called S.H.I.E.L.D., that deals with secret science and super powers.
The best thing about this series to date, though, is that the films have all been of exceptionally high quality. Iron Man 2 is probably the least well-made of the bunch so far, though that opinion may lessen in hindsight, as that entry suffered as a standalone film at the expense for laying a lot of groundwork for next year’s Avengers.
The plot of this film has not been fully revealed yet, but in the comics, The Avengers formed after Thor’s brother Loki goaded the Hulk into attacking some railroad tracks and attempted to trick Thor into fighting him, although Iron Man (and Ant Man and Wasp, both of whom will not be in the film) also responded. The heroes and the Hulk then banded together to defeat Loki. Then, in the fourth issue of the comic, the heroes found Captain America frozen since World War II in a block of ice in the arctic and added him to the team.
Fan favorite Joss Whedon is directing the Avengers film, and many expect him to be a solid choice in that he has a gift for balancing super heroics with actual human drama, treating the characters as more than action figures in CGI set pieces. Time will tell.
Have you been enjoying the Marvel films so far? Which one is your favorite?