"Joss Whedon has completely nailed it..."
Ask any fan of the Marvel franchise on their thoughts on the upcoming Avengers Assemble and I'd predict that the majority would admit to uncertainty about the project. Although what appears to be just another generic money-making ensemble feature, is instead one of the most memorable superhero blockbusters of all time.
Catching up with a few familiar faces, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is left with the task of assembling a group of superheroes to help counteract the evil forces brought to Earth by the evil villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston). The brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is attempting to form a portal from Earth to his planet of Asgard, where his monstrous army of aliens are planning an attack.
Fury manages to persuade all of the old gang to join forces for the first time, with heroes such as Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and finally Thor, of course, to help stop Loki and his army from destroying and taking over the planet Earth and attempt to keep the human race alive.
Despite any initial inclinations I had previously held, director Joss Whedon has completely nailed it. He played to his own strengths as well as that of the superhero genre. Almost like your favourite band playing your favourite songs, Whedon was aware of what the audience wanted, and he has given it to them. There is no one lead role as Whedon manages to perfectly bring them all together, allowing them all an even amount of screen time, and managing to implement all of their trademark quotes and powers without feeling at all contrived. With such an ensemble cast you also forget that not only are the great characters being brought together, but an all-star cast too, which certainly helps.
Whedon has managed to stamp his own identity into the film, as the Cabin in the Woods writer has looked to his past work in comedy writing, where he wrote a number of episodes of Roseanne as well as the Toy Story screenplay. He has a quirkiness to his writing and puts it to great effect within this. He manages to play on the whole superhero genre, getting away with a number of cliched one liners, which suit the jovial, overstated nature to the film. There is no let off in a comedic sense, as even some of the more action-orientated sequences are intertwined by hilarious dialogue, Downey Jr. often the perpetrator.
The only downside to such amiability comes within the lack of severity in Loki, the only true villain. Also involved in some of the tongue-in-cheek dialogue, it's difficult to take the character too seriously, as Whedon's film is certainly lacking in fear, which Christopher Nolan got spot on with Heath Ledger playing the Joker in The Dark Knight. Hiddleston is excellent and certainly has a dark side to him, but he perhaps needs an accomplice, someone else to carry the burden of being the bad guy. Also, his intentions for wanting Earth destroyed aren't made particularly clear. In that respect it feels like a plot merely formed just to help get the Avengers all together.
Despite the lack of understanding within some of the plot lines, it barely matters as Marvel Avengers Assemble is relentless fun, as two and a half hours simply fly by. The effects look great also, particularly in the concluding scenes in Manhattan, New York. Such battle sequences feel extremely traditional, with New York the home of supernatural carnage, something that both Spiderman and King Kong could vouch for. The poor insurance companies must be working overtime what with all of the destruction constantly taking place. The Hulk to blame for much of it - as Ruffalo proves to be the stand-out performer of the lot. There have of course been two somewhat unsuccessful attempts at bringing The Incredible Hulk to the big-screen - but third time lucky, he is bloody excellent.
The Marvel comics fanboys will adore this movie, but you certainly don't have to be a fan, or have seen any of the previous Marvel titles to enjoy this, although it would certainly help in regards to the meeting of the characters. They aren't properly introduced as such, as Whedon clearly assumed people will already know who they are.
What with The Dark Knight Rises coming soon it appears to be a strong year for the superhero movie (assuming Nolan hasn't fluffed it up) as this is a hugely enjoyable film, unrelenting edge-of-your seat fun from start to end, combining wonderful action with a highly witty script to great success. The only true stand out annoyance is that it changed its name for its British release from The Avengers to Marvel's Avengers Assemble, but hey, you can't have it all.