Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders with Stellan Skarsgard and Samuel L. Jackson
Plot: When Norse god, Loki (Hiddleston) attacks Earth, S.H.I.E.L.D’s only option is to try a scrapped plan: creating the Avengers.
Let’s be honest: no one here expected this film to work. Or at least no one expected Avengers Assemble to become the hit it was. True, we hoped at one point. The team was made of heroes that had, against all odds, turned out quite cinematically adept, Joss Whedon was given total control of proceedings and Loki was brought back to play the big bad. When rumours began circling that this movie was as good as we all wanted it to be, we cautiously wandered down to the cinema, fingers crossed that the news was true. Avengers Assemble had finally happened.
The main worry now is that Avengers Assemble has spoilt us. The reason we were so apprehensive was because superhero films are still a fairly tricky creature to get right, especially when you have six of them battling for the top spot. Any other director would have made it the Iron Man show and let all of the great supporting cast go to waste on the bench. The most impressive about Avengers Assemble is that so much could have gone wrong, but thanks to a carefully laid-out plan, a suitable amount of risks and a desire to simply have fun with the superhero genre, we were given the dream movie of 2012. And this was the superhero movie that had to stand alongside Christopher Nolan’s finale with the Dark Knight trilogy.
The ensemble is terrific. Whedon balances the heroes perfectly. He understands that odds are your favourite would be Iron Man (thanks to Robert Downey Jr perfecting every line, movement and breath). However, he also builds a strong character in Captain America, who wasn’t as successful compared to the other solo movies, gives us a brand new Hulk and introduces some heroes who haven’t had their own superhero movie before. No one expected the Black Widow or Hawkeye to get much of a look in here, but no, they are awesome in their own right. Despite, Renner being made as ‘brainwashed henchman’ for the first half of the movie, he is given time for redemption in the final act and shows us what he is made of. We even have time for the heroes who don’t have any powers, Clark Gregg getting some fantastic moments that would ultimately lead to his own TV show.
Looking back, I am amazed at how well the movie handles exposition. There is a lot to get through, but Whedon’s natural talent with crafting eloquent scripts gets put to the test and we get a story that never slows down. When it does, he gives one of the heroes a witty line that will have any Whedon fan squealing with nerdy delight and every outsider, just here for the superheroes, chuckling at the humour. Despite this being the biggest superhero gamble in a long while, the producers just want to have fun and this is essentially an excuse to spend two and a half hours with your favourite characters, as they level a city.
This movie has its critics: fans unconvinced by Whedon’s blockbuster dream team. The final fight does stretch credibility. It is hard to not question the fact that the six heroes take on an entire alien invasion without too much damage being suffered. However, while comic book fans might rage at the very idea of this, I actually think that this sequence is the truest cinematic representation of a comic fight yet: a massive set piece jumping between each hero taking on countless foes. It reminds me of the double page drawing that boasts a single panel, depicting a massive fight in Manhattan. There is also the small matter of Whedon trying to explain about the Hulk’s inability to tell friend from foe with a few throwaway jokes. However, I am the kind of movie fan that is willing to overlook plot holes, when I am given one of the most entertaining action sequences of the year… possibly the genre.
Man of the match? It’s a tough one, but it has to go to Mark Ruffalo, who amazingly is the newcomer. I love his approach to a tricky character and how the movie focuses on Bruce Banner more than the green monster within. He always seems moments away from bursting into a fit of rage, yet he keeps a charming exterior all the while. Edward Norton might be missed, but Ruffalo is a worthy replacement.
Final Verdict: This movie teaches us that sometimes we can risk dreaming big and still achieve our dream movie. A round of applause to everyone involved in making this film.