I spent Sunday afternoon trying to figure out what makes Avengers so remarkable. Here’s what I think it is: there have been so many disappointments lately. The Star Wars prequels. The later seasons in Lost. The ending of Battlestar Galactica. The Matrix sequels. I very clearly remember watching the first season of Lost as it aired and thinking, “they can’t possibly keep this going, can they?” And of course they didn’t, because it’s hard.

Avengers is the sort of thing that my friends and I really did muse about as kids. We literally did talk about how cool it would be if they made a movie for each of the characters that lead up to a team-up film. Then Marvel Studios started doing it, and Iron Man was actually very good. Then the other movies weren’t quite as good but definitely fun. Then Avengers comes out, and it’s better than all of them. How often does that happen? I guess Lord of the Rings did it, but it’s very rare and wonderful when it does.