Chris Hemsworth, left, Chris Evans star in "The Avengers." 


Yeah, it’s all that. A tent-pole cash cow for the studio, a dream come true for fans, and treat for action aficionados, “The Avengers” comes at you as the first true “summer movie spectacular” of the 2012 season.

Through the individual films focusing on the characters here, fans have watched and waited until they could see all the characters assembled. They won’t be disappointed.

To top it off, screenwriter and director is Joss Whedon of “Buffy” and “Firefly” renown, whose instant cult favorite “Cabin in the Woods” still is drawing in crowds.

He’s a storyteller’s storyteller who creates friction not only between the supervillains and superheroes but also between the Avengers themselves.

The first issue that the Avengers must address is the arrival of Loki (Tom Hiddleston, who reprises his role of “Thor” and whom you may recognize from “War Horse”), the jealous adopted brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth, straight from “The Cabin in the Woods” and from his first portrayal of “Thor”). Loki breaks into SHIELD headquarters to steal the Tesseract, a hub of extreme power, and he also takes with him Professor Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) can’t stop Loki by himself, so he calls in the troops: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, the successor to the role after Edward Norton in the 2008 movie and Eric Bana in the woefully underseen “Hulk” from 2003) and of course Thor. But Loki has a major trick up his sleeve, and it makes Loki himself look puny in comparison to the destruction that is to follow.

Iron Man and Thor don’t exactly hit it off. Most of the crew members are just plain leery of Banner, whose Hulk persona is dangerous and unpredictable. Captain America continues to try to find his place in contemporary times. And egos continue to clash.

The action is pulse-pounding, and all the more so if you see it in 3D. This is the stuff for which well-developed 3D is made: In-your-face movement and amazing battles.

And there are two “extra” scenes, one during the early credit roll and another at the very, very end that’s a nod to something Iron Man says earlier in the movie.

Hulk is not the only “smash.” A new franchise has begun.