Avengers Assemble (2012) (143 min)
Directed by Joss Whedon.
aka The Avengers
Written by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn.
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.
Followed by Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Marvel’s Avengers Assemble is a film that has had the longest trailer in history, starting [in 2008] with the release of Iron Man, right up to [2011’s] conclusion with Captain America: The First Avenger; and with every fanboy and girl picking over ever titbit and morsel of news, image and video that has been available up to its release, the pressure has been on not to screw this one up, or those 4 years and 5 movies would have been all for nothing.
So who would take on such a hot potato and risk everything to bring The Avengers to the big screen? Who has the expertise of pulling together a group of miss-matched characters and forming them into a fighting force? Who has the support and the knowledge of these fanboys and girls, to keep them happy? None other than the geek god himself, Joss Whedon (Apologies for the Joss love; he did bring me the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I will always be thankful). However, with great power, come great responsibility; so does he pull it off and bring the culmination of these 5 films together and bring a movie that the fans deserve and want? Before answering this question, what’s the whole thing all about?
For all those have been keeping tabs on the stories of these heroes have been unfolding during the 5 previous Marvel films, each one having a teasing scene during the end credits pointing towards a wider world in which each of these superheroes live. From Nick Fury meeting with Tony Stark, Tony Stark meeting with General Ross, Thor’s hammer being found in the desert and Cap running around the modern streets of New York, all with S.H.E.I.L.D ever-present in the background.
So with each of the movies stories and their endings leading towards the inevitable Avengers pay-off, how do you get them all together without short changing any of the characters? Answer, with a very will written and tight script and smart direction, which Joss has managed to pull from the geeks gods themselves. He has managed to give each of the main character their own time on screen, one–to-one interaction with each of their team mates and a purpose to be there within the story. It seems that Joss has had some sort of formula or devise to make each character work, like some kind of giant Venn diagram making sure all the characters overlapped but never going outside the overall story of the film.
As the film unfolds, starting with S.H.E.I.L.D being under attack from Loki, played with villainous glee again by Tom Hiddleston. The story is set out fairly quickly, regarding an alien army wanting to take over earth with the help Loki and the use of an all power cosmic cube, last seen being used by the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. As a MacGuffin goes however, it is the weak link in Joss’s script and the bad guys, apart from Loki, are pretty much faceless and quite one dimensional. But in true honesty, this film isn’t about the bad guys or the impending destruction of humanity, it’s about the Avengers and how they interact with each other and how they come together as the ultimate superhero team.
However, worries such as Tony Stark becoming the lead character and everyone disappearing into the background, only appearing for his comedy zingers, or Steve Rogers turning into cardboard cut-out of boy scout goodness, or the Black Widow only being there for window dressing are all unfounded; as Joss uses his magical Venn diagram to keep everything and everyone on point.
Joss’s script is filled with warmth, humour, character and action (a good dose of action) and as I keep saying everyone gets a fair crack at the whip. However, standout nods go to Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and Hulk, and for me Chris Evan’s Captain America. Though the stiffest of Avengers, Evan’s IS Cap and Joss uses his trademark pop-culture references to highlight Caps awkwardness to adjusting to the changes around him, the Flying Monkeys is a nice moment for Cap. However, the biggest laughs are handed to the Hulk, especially when his with either Loki or Thor.
So back to the main question at the start of this review, did Joss pull it off? I can say a 95% yes. Yes there were issues with the faceless alien army and the use of the cosmic cube as the MacGuffin can be seen as kind of lazy, but this is more than made up for the great use of the main characters, the humour, the great action sequences and the standout moments for me and many others of the Hulk, he smashed it.