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DVD of the Week: 'Avengers'

Here's a recipe for disaster: take some of the comic world's biggest superheroes; cast talented, even A-list, actors to play them; promise an exciting plot and pristine special effects to a community known for being rabid about storyline and continuity; and put in charge of it all a guy who was, really, best known for a '90s TV show about a vampire killer.

But, guess what? The dish that resulted? The Avengers. Which, in fact, turned out to be very, very good. Whedon's signature blend of action, humor, whipsmart dialogue and dramatic moments come together in what some have argued is the best superhero movie ever. And even if you don't buy that (settle down, Batman fans--I'm not picking sides), at least it has to be one of the most enjoyably rewatchable. (Fandango's very own editor in chief Chuck Walton saw the film a whopping 12 times in theaters.)

In a nutshell, the story follows where Thor left off, with the hammer-wielding god's troublemaking brother Loki (a terrific Tom Hiddleston) running amok and planning a takeover of Earth. S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) collects his dream team of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk/Bruce Banner (scene-stealing Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to save the day.

It certainly doesn't need to be watched in 3D--the theatrical release didn't need it, either--but if you have the luxury of doing so, definitely check out the 3D BD version, which looks spec-TAC-ular. Some scenes particularly stand out--when Black Widown pulls a gun on Bruce Banner (you stare right down its barrel); overlooking the lab with the tesseract; the dizzying shots of superheroes racing through city structures; and the final battle looks awesome. It's all crisp, clean, the contrast is good--no complaints to be had about the visuals. And if your home theater is equipped with Audio 7.1 surround sound, well, turn it upppp.

Extras: Featurettes: "Assembling the Ultimate Team" (casting) and "A Visual Journey" (technical challenges); smart and funny Joss Whedon commentary; gag reel (surprisingly entertaining); deleted scenes (including an alternate beginning and ending, you be the judge); Soundgarden music video; and "Second Screen," an interactive guide to the Marvel universe accessible via iPhone/iPad/laptop (available on both the 2-disc and 4-disc combo; the 4-disc includes 3D Blu-ray and digital copy). A 1-disc DVD version is available with the casting featurette and Whedon commentary.

What say you....will you be getting this release? Or will you wait until 2013, when the delayed 10-disc Marvel collector's edition comes out?

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