With advance ticket sales and hype growing bigger than The Hulk's anger issues and Tony Stark's ego combined -- chances are if you're at the movies this weekend, you'll be watching Earth's mightiest heroes assemble to kick Loki's butt all the way back to Asgard!
But what if none of that last sentence even made sense and you haven't seen the slew of Marvel movies leading up to this fanboy explosion of superhero-ness?
Fear not, non-geek Marvel Universe newbies, we're here to break down "The Avengers"!
(*Some minor spoilers ahead!*)
"The Avengers" (directed by Joss Whedon) unites some of Marvel's most beloved characters (Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury) to save the earth from Loki (Thor's brother) and his army. Before you start wondering where Spider-Man and Wolverine are (wrong franchise!) and why there's no Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman (wrong comic book universe!), let's just focus on the seven heroes at hand.
Here is a primer on who makes up the often dysfunctional family that is The Avengers!
Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) : The man with best gadgets this side of Apple Headquarters returns for his third big screen appearance reluctantly agreeing to join forces -- he tends to love being the center of his own universe -- with the rest of the heroes when he realizes the future of Earth hangs in the balance. With tricked-out battle-suits (capable of flying, shooting lasers, missiles and more!), wealth that would make Oprah cower and brains to back it all up (and even more snarky one-liners), Tony Stark is the backbone of the team -- or maybe the crazy, sometimes drunk uncle, who has the coolest stuff at his bachelor pad. Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans): He might be The Avengers' grandpa (he's a WWII war hero who was frozen in time and thawed out just in time to help save the world from the forces of evil -- what he lives for!) but he's far from weak thanks to the Super Solider serum (think steroids on crack -- giving him amazing intelligence, agility, strength, speed & endurance) and his virtually indestructible overtly patriotic shield. Steve is the team's model citizen, leader, and sometimes annoying dad.
Bruce Banner / The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) : This marks The Hulk's third time on the big screen (Eric Bana first played the big green guy, then Ed Norton). Like most comic book origin stories, The Hulk's teaches us that when there's anything radioactive, one should stay away! After a serious dose of gamma radiation and even more serious unchecked anger issues (somebody get this guy some herbal tea and a lavender scented candle!) The Hulk is an unstoppable force when he goes berserk -- which seems to happen a lot! Bad news for bad guys and good guys - he tends to have trouble distinguishing friend from foe. The Hulk is the team's 1,400-pound unruly beast of a toddler who just dropped his sucker and is going to destroy anything and everything until he gets a new one.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) : If you missed out on his feature with Natalie Portman, let's try and catch you up on the guy we like to think of as the team's the super-hot Scandinavian foreign exchange student -- who just happens to be from the magical land of Asgard... like Mount Olympus, but better skiing and has a rainbow bridge that connects it to our world...just go with it, we don't completely get it either! The son of a God, with a badass hammer (called the Mjolnir -- if you're looking to impress your date) that allows him to fly and control the weather, Thor is deeply connected to The Avengers even coming together in the first place. His adopted half-brother, Loki, is the one stirring the pot on Earth, and Thor has come back to mop up his half-brother's mess.
Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) : This marks Black Widow's second big screen appearance (first in "Iron Man 2") and she's back to kicking butt -- sometimes with both hands tied behind her back while in her underwear -- a skill that needs to be noted. She's one of the team's members with no actual superhuman powers - though she's had her aging slowed and she's an amazing athlete and gymnast, expert martial artist and... ballerina!? (This little known fact about her has yet to be explored on the big screen, but we're sure looking forward to the possibility of it.) The team's plucky - beyond deadly - little sister member is a force to be reckoned with and definitely deserves her own movie!
Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) : After making a memorable appearance in "Thor," Hawkeye - the team's strong, silent brother type - is back and he's got plenty of deadly bow and arrow gadgets to make up for the fact that he (like Black Widow) doesn't have any superhuman powers. An unfortunate turn of events for Marvel's most skilled member leaves the future of the team hanging in the balance.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) : The one bringing all these heroes together is Nicky Fury -- head of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) - think U.N. meets C.I.A. meets F.B.I. with better technology and a massive ship that can fly! But can Nick make a god, the big green guy, a billionaire, a WWII hero and two of his agents get along long enough to save the world?
Find out this weekend, when "The Avengers" takes over the box office!
-- Jesse Spero
Copyright 2012 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.