"The Avengers" are back with a vengeance.

That they're all back makes for competition for screen time. Even the Imax 3D screen on which I saw the "Avengers" didn't seem big enough.

"The Avengers" brings together the Marvel Comics superheroes of previous big-screen blockbusters. Well, most were hits.

There's Nick Fury, leader of the S.H.I.E.L.D. superhero team, played with eye-patch solemnity by Samuel L. Jackson.

The evil aliens are led by Loki, a god prone to wearing a helmet with horns. Tom Hiddleston does his best to make Loki act, well, loco. This god - he must be crazy.

Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, played with natural aplomb by Robert Downey Jr. seems to have the most screen time. As his aide de camp, Pepper Potts, Gwyneth Paltrow has what amounts to a cameo.

Chris Evans is all-suited up and ready to go, shield in hand, as Captain America, aka Steve Rogers.

This time, The Hulk is played by Mark Ruffalo. He's very likeable in his pre-Hulk mode as Bruce Banner.

Chris Hemsworth is taciturn as Thor. No one laughs when he says, "It's hammer time."

Scarlett Johansson is the most intriguing as Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff. She seems to get the second-most amount of screen time and, as with Downey and Ruffalo, humanizes the film.

That's also true of Jeremy Renner, who as Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton, brings a human dimension to "The Avengers."

There are not only battles between the superheroes and the earth-invaders, but between the superheroes themselves.

Director Joss Whedon ("Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer,"), who wrote the screenplay from a story by Zak Penn ("The Incredible Hulk," "X-Men: The Last Stand"), based on the comic book characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, gets the smug know-it-all tone, and uses nifty camera angles to mimic the extreme angles, close ups and point of view of comic-book, er, graphic novel, panels.

Story writer Zak Penn's reliance on action, action, action and violence, violence, violence is at the expense of character development. Of course, you might say that Marvel superheroes are already well-developed. Still, how many car roll-overs and smashed Fifth Avenue New York City office buildings do you want to see?

Apparently, based on the phenomenal success of "The Avengers": lots.

As a boy, I preferred the Walt Disney comic books with stories about Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. I was never much of a fan of Marvel Comics or DC Comics.

Oh, I admired their artistry, but I didn't collect them.

I can say much the same about "The Avengers." I admire its craft, but it's not my kind of movie.

"The Avengers": MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference; Genre, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi; Run Time: 2 hours, 23 min.; Distributed by Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: My son Elias convinced his friends and I convinced my friend, Mike, to stay to the very end. The scene is comical.

Box Office, May 11: "Marvel's The Avengers" continued at No. 1, with an amazing second weekend tally of $103.1 million, totaling $373.1 million for two weeks, keeping "Dark Shadows" way back, opening at No. 2 with a decent $28.8 million.

3. "Think Like a Man," $6.3 million, $81.9 million, four weeks; 4. "The Hunger Games," $4.4 million, $386.9 million, eight weeks; 5. "The Lucky One," $4 million, $53.7 million, four weeks; 6. "Pirates! Band of Misfits," $3.2 million, $23.1 million, three weeks; 7. "The Five-Year Engagement," $3.1 million, $24.3 million, three weeks; 8. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $2.6 million, $3.7 million, two weeks; 9. "Chimpanzee," $1.6 million, $25.5 million, four weeks; 10. "Girl in Progress," $1.3 million, opening

Unreel, May 18:

"Battleship," PG-13: From board game to big screen, a fleet of ships battles aliens. Peter Berg directs the sci-fi action-thriller starring Liam Neeson, Rihanna and Brooklyn Decker.

"What to Expect When You're Expecting," PG-13: The romantic comedy based on the bestseller is about five couples who have babies. Kirk Jones directs Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks and Brooklyn Decker (there she is again).

"The Dictator," R: Sacha Baron Cohen is such a guise, this time in the title role. Larry Charles directs the comedy that also stars Anna Faris, John C. Reilly and Ben Kingsley.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.com. Email Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com [1] and on Facebook.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes