Marvel Avengers Assemble


Reviewed by: Sophie Monks-Kaufman

"There is the air of a dysfunctional family agreeing to get together for Auntie Sheila’s wedding."

Full disclosure: I am not one of legions of Marvel fans watching breathlessly as beloved comic book characters decamp to the big screen en masse. Thor, Captain America and Iron Man have all passed me by like incredibly buff strangers on a train. An entirely fair question would be, “why wade in for the hotly anticipated assembly of these characters?” Embarrassingly, my interest stems from affectionate memories of the Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman film of a similar name. They thought no one would confuse the two films…they misunderestimated me.

Fortunately, an important part of Avengers Assemble’s MO is appealing to virgin audiences. As producer Kevin Feige said, “I told Joss [Whedon] that one of the most important things with The Avengers is it needs to stand alone and you need to structure it in a way so that people can watch the film without having seen any of the other Marvel films and get the story start to finish.” So we’re all clear, I’m not a bozo who wandered into the wrong screen, I’m the voice of the new market.

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Charming Brit Tom Hiddleston is playing Loki, a villainous demigod who just goes right ahead and steals the Tesseract, a glowing blue energy source, from under the gaze of Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson plus eyepatch). That just ain’t going to wash and an enjoyable half an hour is given over to Fury and his SHIELD agency calling in their A-team. We see everything from the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) back-flipping her way out of a now defunct mission, to a show-stealing Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) grudgingly agreeing to return from his Indian hideout. There is the air of a dysfunctional family agreeing to get together for Auntie Sheila’s wedding.

As we have come to expect from sharp-shooting, paradigm-riffing Whedon, the dialogue is a dream. Lines manage to clue us into individual backstories and provide a sense of the superhero pecking order while a breezy, bickering gloss means you laugh while you learn. A running source of awe among the avengers is Bruce Banner’s seeming ability to control his Hulk-morphing tendencies. “What’s you secret?” asks the wise-cracking Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Junior)), “mellow jazz…a huge bag of weed?”

In a cast of fine actors gifted fine characters, it’s interesting that the stand out performance is a new franchise addition, Mark Ruffalo. His extreme reluctance, self-loathing and quiet sense of duty as Bruce Banner mingled with the cast’s collective interest in the rampaging, green “other guy”, create palpable anticipation. When is he going to Hulk it up? What’s going to happen when he does?

Unfortunately for fans of character drama there is only one place for Avengers Assemble to go and that’s one lengthy action sequence. Graphic flourishes like the ground collapsing and machines rising out of the sea are peppered throughout but are nothing compared to the explosion/killer line/explosion/explosion finale.

Reviewed on: 24 Apr 2012
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Marvel Avengers Assemble packshot
Marvel Superheros assemble to fight dastardly demigod Loki who’s only gone and stolen the Tesseract.
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Director: Joss Whedon

Writer: Joss Whedon, Zak Penn

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow

Year: 2012

Runtime: 142 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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