Marvel's The Avengers (classified under the name Marvel Avengers Assemble in the United Kingdom and Ireland), or simply The Avengers, is a 2012 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner as the titular Avengers team, alongside Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, and Samuel L. Jackson. In the film, Nick Fury, director of the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Tony Stark, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor to form a team that must stop Thor's brother Loki from subjugating Earth.
The film's development began when Marvel Studios received a loan from Merrill Lynch in April 2005. After the success of the film Iron Man in May 2008, Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the original screenplay by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in August and New York City in September. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.
The Avengers premiered on April 11, 2012, at Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre and was released in the United States on May 4, 2012. The film received positive reviews from critics, as well as numerous awards and nominations including Academy Award and BAFTA nominations for achievements in visual effects. It set or tied numerous box office records, including the biggest opening weekend in the United States and Canada. The Avengers grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide and became the third-highest-grossing film of all time, as well as the highest-grossing film of 2012. It is the first Marvel production to generate $1 billion in ticket sales.
Two sequels, titled Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War, were released in May 2015 and April 2018, respectively, while an untitled third sequel is scheduled for release in 2019.