Despite all of the early reactions and buzz surrounding The Avengers stemming from its press premieres around the world, the film doesn’t open in North American theaters until May 4th – a wait, we can agree, that is far too long. Most of Europe benefits from having the film open before this weekend, but some international markets enjoy an even earlier start.

The Avengers opened Wednesday night in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and several other smaller overseas markets, breaking a few box office records before it hits the rest of the international scene Thursday and Friday.

According to the early numbers, The Avengers – Marvel’s longest film to date – raked in nearly $8 million last night, $6 million of which came from its Australian premiere, home of Thor actor Chris Hemsworth. That haul places The Avengers as Australia’s second biggest opening ever, sitting behind only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, but earning more than twice that of Iron Man 2  – Marvel’s previous best opening in the region. In Taiwan however, The Avengers’ $1.2 million opening makes it their biggest ever. In North America, it’s practically guaranteed to break $100 million in its opening weekend, likely hitting The Hunger Games numbers at $150 million or more thanks to the 3D ticket price boost.

Marvel and Disney have struck a gold mine with The Avengers and it’s poised to not only be a contender for top grossing film of the year, but it’s earning the love from critics and fans alike as well. The first 39 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes have the film averaging an 8.4/10 score for a 97% fresh rating and according to IMDB users, it’s already made it into the top 250 list from nearly 8000 votes (how many actually saw the film, we can’t say).

The Avengers draws from the best parts of every Marvel film before it and by all accounts, director Joss Whedon has hit a home run for the franchise. If you’re a fan eagerly awaiting your chance to see it in theaters, check out these five Avengers comic stories that may help prepare you. If you have seen it, join our Avengers spoiler discussion. And for moviegoers who love the genre, The Avengers opening on May 4th comes packed with brand new trailers for both The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises.

The Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Tom Hiddleston and Stellan Skarsgard. It is of course written and directed by Joss Whedon, opening in theaters on May 4, 2012.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes if you’re a Marvel fan.

Sources: THR, The Sydney Morning Herald