Director: Joss Whedon
Screenplay: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson
Runtime: 143 Minutes
Original UK Release: 2012
After 4 years of set up and success at the box-office, it was time for Marvel Studios to achieve the unthinkable, to take all off their most recent superhero’s and place them within a single picture. This is possibly the single largest undertaking for a Hollywood movie studio since The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It could have gone wrong; it could have bombed and taken the franchise with it. But writer/director Joss Whedon and his team managed to pull it off in astounding measure.
The plot is an unassuming MacGuffin centric premise, but it’s handled beautifully thanks to its simplicity. It’s the structure in which the film choses to place its characters, fully formed and established back in their own movies, and balance of the main cast is the most impressive thing here. Giving most of them fleshed out personas and room to breathe, finding new wrinkles in the surprising dynamics and wordplay that evolve naturally from Whedon’s energetic and brilliantly written screenplay,
The dialogue and interactions all work seamlessly, with different universes and ideals merging into one without much baggage. Loki’s return as the films antagonist is memorable, as are nearly all the performances, with newcomer Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (replacing Edward Norton) manages to epitomise the best version of The Incredible Hulk ever put to screen.
The action comes fast and ably, but most importantly it all keeps its sense of fun. This is not a strait-laced affair; it’s a candyfloss and popcorn blockbuster of the highest order that knows what it wants and doesn’t dwell on dour tones – as is elevated by Alan Silvestri’s valiant score. The final stretch is like being on a rollercoaster, with enough scenes to make all audiences applaud and laugh together with childlike glee.
The machinery of the film works so well that it actually puts the few poorer hands it deals into the background of attentions as it plays. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is the most side-lined of the main cast, and the Chitauri army are little more than cannon fodder there to fulfil a specific function, and are dispatched in a similarly handwaving way that feels tight if a little convenient.
Avengers Assemble works because it understands the components it needs to nail and the marks it needs to hit in order to work. It doesn’t revolutionise from a narrative position, at least in the way in which this genre tells its stories, but it does deliver on one of the most colourful, high-octane and raucously entertaining films of its kind.