A team of super heroes being brought together from three different blockbuster movie franchises. An alien invasion. A shadowy Chancellor Palpatine-style intergalactic villain. A shady government organisation with dubious plans. Various back stories and sub plots.
Joss Whedon has a lot of plates to keep spinning with Avengers Assemble. Somehow, though, it works. It doesn’t just work – it’s a rollicking triumph.
Whedon, a lifelong Marvel fanboy, squeezes in enough geeky references to keep the hardcore happy. The first hour – the whole film is two and a half hours, although you would never guess – skirts close to too-much-yapping-not-enough-slapping territory, but is broken up by enough set pieces to keep your attention. It’s a veritable game of schoolboy Top Trumps; ever wanted to know who would win in a fight between Thor and Iron Man? Black Widow and Hawkeye? Captain America and Loki? It’s all here.
The dialogue is – as you’d expect from Whedon – snappy and the characterisation is pitch perfect. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk deserves the most applause, providing the stand-out performance of the movie and the biggest hairs-sticking-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck line of dialogue. Samuel L Jackson is also finally uncaged to terrific effect, having been restricted to cameos before Avengers Assemble.One slight downside is that Scarlett Johansson feels a little miscast as Black Widow, but she works with what she's got.
It’s all slightly tongue in cheek, with some excellent physical jokes thrown in for good measure – The Dark Knight it ain’t. Avengers Assemble is exactly what a summer blockbuster should be – smart, funny and visually stunning.