Avengers Assemble

Avenger's AssembleBack in 2008, the release of Iron Man garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics alike.  This opened the door for Marvel to move forward with bringing its epic universe to the big screen.

The grand plan of having Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk springboard from their own movies into a single all-out action fest, with scope to continue their own stories afterwards, has come to fruition, with the big green guy’s recasting proving the only real continuity blip.

Downey Jr.’s wise-cracking, arrogant but hugely likeable Tony Stark has made for a great Iron Man, even if the second movie was a little weak. Chris Hemsworth has also proved a genius piece of casting for Thor, blending brash with stoic to give viewers a hugely watchable embodiment of the mythological god, and the film was a fast, fun affair.

Chris Evans as Captain America is certainly better than the film itself, as the second half struggles to deliver on a promising start. Evans does a great job of merging the all-American action hero with a man driven purely by his morals, so he looked a smart choice for the role.  It was just a shame that the film came loose.

Edward Norton was entrusted with the role of Bruce Banner. The Incredible Hulk was itself a reboot after the dullard, lifeless effort Hulk from Ang Lee, and whilst Norton’s movie was a stark improvement, Marvel obviously felt he didn’t fit going forward, and recast him with Mark Ruffalo. Rumours suggest it was actually about money, but surely, in Hollywood, the land of charity and low wages, this cannot be true.

So, with all this in mind, it was never guaranteed that Avenger’s Assemble would be a success, even if geek-extraordinaire, script-doctor and doting lover of comics Joss Whedon was at the helm.  It’s a tough, daunting job; he has to bring various stories together without forcing it, stay within range of other directors’ choices for characters and style, learn from each prior movie’s mistakes and keep everything moving along comfortably without jeopardising the integrity of the film.

Whedon’s Avengers Assemble begins as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is working with Erik Selvig (good guy scientist from Thor) to study the Tesseract, a powerful cube discovered during the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, and rediscovered later on by Howard Stark, Iron Man’s daddy.

Loki, Thor’s homicidal, power-mad lunatic of an adopted brother, finds the lab and steals the Tesseract, whilst also turning Selvig and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye into loyal slaves. Loki plans to use the Tesseract as a makeweight in a deal to bring an alien army to earth, which will help him destroy things.

Nick Fury realises that seeing as how the Tesseract holds the key to unlimited power and stuff, it’s probably a good time to get the horribly mismatched Avengers together and see if, as a team, they can save the world.  And stuff.

Bearing in mind that two of them are painfully arrogant, one of them spent several years as an ice cube, another has uncontrollable green beast syndrome, and one of the arrogant ones is living life as a god in another plane of existence, it does not bode well.

Cue several insane action sequences, including a breathtaking collection of insane events taking place in the sky, and some great fights between members of The Avengers. The idea of putting these main characters, all of whom have carried whole movies, together in one film is frankly ludicrous, but it works and it is a great watch.

It should be crowded, but Whedon has found a great balance where the story switches around smoothly and everyone has their chance to impact on the movie. The real treat is Mark Ruffalo as Banner; his character’s calm and overall reluctance gradually make way as he edges unnervingly towards the inevitable. This works very well, threaded through the film’s first half, and the CGI Hulk has been used to spectacular effect. One moment between the ‘other guy’ and Loki is priceless.

All the returning characters have simply honed their performances, and the careful integration of multiple storylines has paid off to provide a grand scale fitting for these much-loved superheroes. There are plenty of laughs, a touch of tragedy, sparkling dialogue, countless explosions, arguments, in-fighting, out-fighting and Scarlett Johansson’s own brand of counter-interrogation. It’s awesome.

Whedon’s epic, fluid direction leaves us with a colourful, fun, frantic and consistently satisfying comic book adaptation. The story may be a little thin, as essentially it boils down to a guy stealing something and some other guys trying to get it back, but it is a perfect way to bring these characters together. We expect action, and we get it, but we also want great, eye-catching performances throughout an enjoyable, free-flowing story which breathlessly entertains, and we get that in spades.

The next phase of Marvel’s master plan sees Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World hit cinemas in 2013, followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier and new comic adaptation Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014.

Then The Avengers will be together again in a 2015 sequel, wisely placed back in the hands of Whedon. It is going to make a lot of money.

DVD Rental Rating 9/10

2 Responses to “Avengers Assemble”

  1. matt clarkosn says:

    cant wait for 2015! i loved this film and a sequel is just what I need in my life. Also, I love downey jr, he is a legend!

  2. simon livermore says:

    now this is a review!! love your style of writing and cant wait to see more of what you have to offer! i personally didn’t like this film, but really like your review!

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