‘Avengers’ opens May 4

Since 2008 there has been a steady stream of movies building to one culminating moment.

This Friday “The Avengers” finishes up a long and wild ride.

In the summer of 2008, Robert Downey Jr. burst onto the scene of super hero movies with “Iron Man.” The story of a billionaire playboy who sold weapons to the world and then experienced a change in his life and became a protector of the world.

Its warm reception at the box office resulted in a follow up film, “Iron Man 2,” which began the process of getting the “Avengers” track started. Samuel L. Jackson’s first appearance in the film as Nick Fury was the beginning of a teaser series setting up “The Avengers” movie.

At the same time that “Iron Man” was receiving wide acclaim, another movie in 2008 brought another of the super hero franchises back. After a disappointing movie simply titled, “Hulk” in 2003, Marvel chose to reboot the series, providing the series with an actor in Edward Norton that was more watchable than was Eric Bana who portrayed Bruce Banner in the earlier film. In the upcoming Avengers film, however, Hulk will be played by Mark Ruffalo. How he will be judged by fans and critics alike is something that viewers will have to wait and see.

After a brief hiatus from super hero movies, 2011 was another banner year for the Avengers team as “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Thor” both debuted.

In Captain America, Chris Evans, who had been a part of the “Fantastic Four” series of movies playing the Human Torch, took on the role of the all-American hero from World War II. The movie was a smash hit at the box office. From a story standpoint, the tie-in of “Iron Man” to Captain America is portrayed when Tony Stark’s father, Howard Stark, makes an appearance in the film. The film ends with Captain America being thawed from a frozen tomb in modern day New York City where Nick Fury once again makes an appearance and foreshadows the creation of the Avengers.

Perhaps the film that had the most potential for turning into a campy film out of all of them was “Thor.” Chris Hemsworth plays the title character of “Thor,” who is expelled from the fantastical land of Asgard to earth. Through the evolution of the film, Thor goes from a conceited and arrogant character to one that comes to understand the human condition, learning sacrifice and humility along the way. In the process of his journey, Nick Fury once again makes an appearance helping to tie the film to the rest.

Moving forward now into “The Avengers,” the world is in danger and Fury’s job is to bring the seemingly lone warriors together as a team who can take on the main villain of the film, Loki, who also portrayed the main villain in “Thor.” With an army that he has risen, Loki is looking to conquer Earth. The movie will tell the story of the various super heros coming together to defend against something none of them can overcome singly.

The film promises to be a tour de force of action and adventure. Hopefully, audiences will be as excited about the film as they have been about the franchises leading up to this moment.

Check out “The Avengers” in theaters May 4 to see what happens next.