There’s been a lot of critical breakdown of The Avengers success, but The House Next Door’s Ted Pigeon really nails it:
As you might guess, just about every plot turn is recycled from other fantasy or superhero stories…But it’s worth noting that Whedon, to his credit, never pretends that the story arc is particularly significant. He instead supports it from the bottom up, with solid structuring and careful characterization. For example, despite a weak plot, Whedon gets all the mileage he needs out of Hiddleston’s exceptional performance. He bellows phrases like “Kneel before me!” about as convincingly as an actor can, and his demonic smile works to great effect when beaming through that metal-horned helmet of his.
How often do we see such a strong directorial hand or style in a $300 million plus summer blockbuster? Exactly. Without Whedon, The Avengers would have been merely average.