Alyssa Rosenberg, with whom I saw The Avengers last night:

A grand, funny action picture, The Avengers is also fundamentally if subtly about our reaction to superheroes: it manufactures joy (sometimes to slight excess—it clocks in at almost two and a half hours) even as it argues for the importance of that reaction and that belief in great power and great responsibility.

Joss’ achievement in The Avengers is rivaled only by Nolan’s in The Dark Knight: both made a superhero movie that never stops being a superhero movie, even as the themes in it are instantly recognizable and relatable to people who have no interest in superheroes. Obviously, Nolan’s is more operatic while Whedon’s is panoramic. The Dark Knight transcends genre movies. The Avengers wants to be the greatest movie the superhero genre has ever produced. And it is. You owe it to yourself to see the movie. And to stay past the credits — twice.

For an excellent overview of how it is and it isn’t a Joss Whedon movie, read my colleague Adam Rogers’ profile of Joss for the current issue of WIRED. (Also, my colleagues at Underwire have done an amazing job all week long of producing bonkers Avengers-pegged material.) The best I can contextualize The Avengers in the Whedonverse is like this: it’s not really a Joss show like Buffy or a movie like Serenity (with some exceptions for uniquely Whedonesque dialogue). But it is most certainly a Joss comic book. In particular, with the way it deftly handles an ensemble cast and makes that ensemble greater than the sum of its parts — weaving character development, theme and a very clear plot — it’s Astonishing X-Men. Joss made his Astonishing Avengers.

Look at that. No spoilers. And this is a movie whose twists I want so very badly to enthuse about and whose dialogue I want so very badly to quote.

One last thing, something I discussed with Alyssa after the film. As long as whichever studio owns the rights to the X-Men and is rebooting the franchise after (the very strong) X-Men: First Class, how about hiring Joss to adapt the story he clearly loves so dearly and has told time and again in Buffy and Angel: The Dark Phoenix Saga.