Avengers Assemble (2012)
But, it turns out this was actually the superhero movie I’d been waiting for. Forever we have been bogged down in ‘Origins’ films: the story of the emergence of our (normally gamma-radiated) hero, and their coming to terms with being an outsider, of great-responsibility coming with great power, and zzz… Yes, it’s always the same story repackaged with a new super power, but Stan Lee and the Marvel universe were always about so much more than a hero’s origin.
Acting as, effectively, a three-way sequel to Iron Man (which was unusually enjoyable thanks to Robert Downey Jnr’s brilliant Tony Stark), Captain America and Thor, this jettisons any concern with origins, only giving simple nods to newcomers Black Widow and Hawkeye’s backstory, and we get to see the heroes clash against each other, their lofty world-views coming face-to-face with someone whose iron fist is as mighty as your magic hammer or girly shield. We get to see them enjoying being themselves, exercising their talents freely – exactly what superhero movies SHOULD be.
Joss Whedon demonstrates his excellence at crafting a multi-protagonist story, sharing screen-time about equally, and giving everyone valid and important roles, something that X-Men across it’s four films, rarely managed.
The limits imposed by the lack of dimensionality to Chris Evan’s Captain America and Chris Hemworth’s Thor, are easily masked by Tony Stark’s brillance, a brilliant superhero turn from Scarlett Johansson and the best damn screen portrayal of Hulk, I’ve ever seen – Mark Ruffalo is simply brilliant, as the hulk-in-waiting, and is a real pleasure to watch.
The film is long, but doesn’t feel it, and the mammoth act-spanning action sequence that is the climax of the film, maintains pace and interest across the multiple battles taking place in the ever-destructible Manhattan island.
Still, seeing New York destroyed, yet again, gives you a little ‘been there, seen it, done it’ feeling and something more original could have made it truly stand-out, but it’s still enjoyable and pays off everything set up through the film well.
Loki, Thor’s step-brother and the movie’s bad guy, chews the scenery appropriately, but doesn’t quite menace in a way that these superheroes deserve, and I guess that their all encompassing might, when stacked against this one single villain, feels like they’re never really at his mercy – a note even made in the dialogue – and this could have been addressed to better push the heroes to their absolute limit, but really these are minor flaws in an otherwise sterling effort.
WHAT I’VE LEARNT
WHEN TO WATCH
WHEN NOT TO WATCH