I want to start this review with a criticism, which is not directly towards the film, but the decision to change the title for some countries, including the UK. In order to avoid confusion with the classic British spy-fi television series The Avengers, the marketing people have dropped the The and inserted the word Assemble, and thus you have Avengers Assemble. This is highly unnecessary as if you have seen the trailers and posters, we see Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk, all in a heroic pose; while the Marvel logo is shown above the title. As for the film itself featuring this ensemble of superheroes, there is a lot to say in a positive manner.
When the God of Mischief Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plans to rule the human race with an alien army and a powerful glowing cube, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates the Avenger Initiative which brings Earth’s mightiest heroes together. As the planet is on the brink of war, can this group of superheroes get through their differences and become the team which will save the world?
Initially established in the post-credits scene of the first Iron Man film from 2008, the making of The Avengers has been a big challenge, in terms of getting a man in armor, a WWII super soldier, a demigod and an angry green giant into one film, which makes sense. Who better than Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Joss Whedon to direct this superhero epic, as his background from television, film (Serenity) and comics (Astonishing X-Men) is clear evidence that he was born to do this. Although he is known for his own creations which dealt with complex ideas, Whedon clearly knows these characters that were conceived in the pages of Marvel comics.
As Whedon is one of the great writers of dialogue, a lot of the best scenes in the film are the humorous conversations between the Avengers, who differ from one another, including Robert Downey, Jr. as the self-aware narcissistic Tony Stark/Iron Man to Chris Evans as the more straight-laced Steve Rogers/Captain America. While Jeremy Renner is underused as Hawkeye, there is more depth to the only female Avenger Black Widow than what Scarlett Johansson previously established in Iron Man 2, as she shows both toughness and vulnerability here, which begs the neverending question of why Whedon writes such strong female characters. Despite Downey, Jr’s scene-stealing talent, the surprise star is Mark Ruffalo who is clearly having fun in the role of Bruce Banner who turns into the best depiction of the incredible Hulk we’ve seen on screen.
If there are any flaws, it is that the narrative is so expansive, one would wish for a longer cut of the film in order to explain certain aspects, such as Thor’s introduction, as well as more characterisations. On the villain’s perspective, the MacGuffin (which made its intro in last year’s Captain America) is fairly simple and the well-designed alien army just want to blow stuff up, although Tom Hiddleston tremendously retains the theatrical villainous of Loki.
Whilst this lacks the complexity of his debut film Serenity, this action-packed superhero fest is appropriately an Avengers film with Joss Whedon at the helm, as well as having more heart and engagement than any Michael Bay/Transformers flick out there. This is a blockbuster clearly made for comic book fans, who will enjoy this from start to finish. Note: stay during the end credits!
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: JOSS WHEDON
STARRING: ROBERT DOWNEY JR, CHRIS EVANS, MARK RUFFALO, CHRIS HEMSWORTH, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, JEREMY RENNER, TOM HIDDLESTON, SAMUEL L. JACKSON
RUNTIME: 142 MINS APPROX