Review: Avengers Assemble

Jim Ross 14 May 2012

Avengers Assemble

Joss Whedon, 12A, 142 mins

4/5

Film adaptations of Marvel Comics have had their hits and misses over the years. But by looking to emulate comic book crossovers, Avengers Assemble had a lot riding on it. Bringing together four major franchises (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Incredible Hulk) and supporting characters, the film sees S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assemble the title gang in order to save Earth from an invasion of unprecedented proportion orchestrated by Loki, the villainous brother of demigod Thor. If that sounds confusing, then don’t worry – despite preaching to the choir, and being unashamed of the comic book roots, the enjoyment of watching the film makes it work even for the sceptic.

Fortunately, Joss Whedon has applied a lightness and wit, and prevents the film from collapsing under the superhero heft, with no one hero dominating. However, it still strains a little, with the squeeze falling on the development of previously peripheral characters such as Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. The dialogue sparkles with off-beat humour, helpfully cloaking some of the script’s cheesier moments. Despite arguably not having the thematic depth of Chris Nolan’s comic book output, this is a different beast that achieves highly as a cinema-going experience whilst not taking itself too seriously.

It is also to Whedon’s credit that, in an ensemble piece, he has created easily the best film about Hulk yet committed to the big screen. Mark Ruffalo’s turn as the witty but constantly on edge Banner is the film’s most surprising delight. Good action, great wit and the style of Whedon mean the Avengers have assembled the best Marvel Comics adaptation by some margin.

Jim Ross