My hubby and I took the whole family to see The Avengers today. My kids are 5, 8 and 16, and they all loved it, although the sound system was too much for my youngest, who spent most of the movie with her fingers in her ears. There are plenty of reviews out there, so I'm going to take a different tact on talking about this movie and play "How do you know you're watching a Joss Whedon production?" If you haven't seen The Avengers -- or any of Joss Whedon's various television shows or movies -- and you don't want to be spoiled, stop now.
I'll say it again: HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD.
OK, you've been warned.
1. The script
Watch enough stuff written by Mr. Whedon and you start to catch onto the snappy back-and-forth between the characters and the action-oriented bait-and-switch. Thor is lecturing his brother Loki when out of nowhere, Iron Man swoops down to carry off Thor, and Loki snarks at the empty air. Captain America gives orders to his team amid an alien invasion; he finally gets to Hulk and says, "Hulk ... smash." Loki lectures Hulk about how high and mighty he is compared with puny humans, and Hulk slams him around the room like a rag doll a few times and leaves him whimpering in the floor. (Yes, in the floor, not on it.) All this is vintage Whedon.
2. Someone important dies
Tara ... Wash ... Wesley ... Anya ... Penny ... Ballard ... and now Agent Colson. Someone will die going into the big finale. Watch enough Joss Whedon shows, and you know it's coming. The reasons are myriad, but in this case, it's to make the heroes realize they need to stop fighting one another and go kill some bad guys.
3. There's a giant pit where a town/military complex used to be
Remember what happened to Sunnydale in the series finale? Yeah, there wasn't much left but a giant crater. Watch the opening sequence of "The Avengers," and you're going to experience some serious deja vu.
4. There's a big, bad portal that needs closing
In "The Gift," a goddess' henchman opens a portal to a hell dimension and lots of nightmarish creatures come pouring out until Buffy closes it with her own blood, sacrificing her life in the process. In "The Avengers," a god's henchman opens a portal into outer space and lots of aliens and flying fish things come pouring out. No one dies closing it, but Tony Stark comes close.
Alexis Denisof and Enver Gjokaj both make appearances.
And in an aside, the introduction of Black Widow has a lot in common with the introduction of Sydney Bristow on "Alias." A beautiful red-haired woman dressed in black is tied to a chair while someone threatens to pull out her teeth. Maybe Joss and J.J. are comparing notes.