Joss Whedon sparks Avengers Assemble into lifeCultureCinemaMovie reviews
The first reaction to a new vehicle for our superheroes from bona fide movie fans has to be a long, drawn-out yawn. The mythology has been so over-played, it’s become as cliché as a romcom, and with a few honourable exceptions, the more we see of our heroes, the more they seem to be returning to the screen in an attempt to extract yet more money from our pockets, rather than to enhance their own reputations.
In the Marvel stable alone we’ve seen Ironman/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), The Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and co more times than most relatives over the past few years, and before one has entered the Avengers Assemble, one is tempted to ask whether we need to see them again, let alone whether we would choose to!
The film follows our heroes and ace spy Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansen), as they attempt to save the world from Thor’s mischievous-but-slightly-unhinged brother Loki (the excellent Tom Hiddlestone). Loki has set his sights on a device he steals from Nick Fury’s secret government programme. This device can open a gateway to an alien force that would secure Loki as an evil overlord on Earth. Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) in desperation, calls upon the planet’s maddest and baddest superheroes to repatriate the device and ultimately save the world.
Seeing all our superheroes together is in theory about as appealing as running into the entirety of the cabinet. Yet when they get on screen, it is indeed a joy to behold – despite the vast majority of the film being set on the relatively claustrophobic surroundings of an aircraft carrier.
The first reason for the film’s success is that Joss Whedon was the perfect man to direct this film. If there is one man who has made a career out of making the potentially daft in principle seem profound, funny and moving then it is Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Whedon.
Secondly, Whedon’s direction enables a very good cast to centre in on the important thing about superhero films: relationships. In Avengers Assemble we have the sibling hatred of Thor and Loki, professional respect between Bruce Banner and Tony Stark, Stark mocking Captain America for being old fashioned, and of course mistrust between Fury and everyone. It gives Avengers Assemble the important social depth, reinforced with some killer lines as they battle Loki and their own egos.
Whether it’s Lois and Clark, Spidey and Mary Jane, or Batman and Robin, what makes these films work is how the characters interact and add a touch of humanity to the inevitably excellent special effects. Whedon has successfully made the film all the more appealing by emphasizing the relationships between the characters. This adds another dimension to the plot, rather than the film being an irrelevant excuse to show off how far CGI has come.
There are three things this film has aimed at its target audience: humour, action and wit, and it delivers on all fronts. In fact Avengers Assemble has far exceeded what could have been a cynical exercise in making money into a film in which Whedon has given the characters room to flourish. The actors clearly had fun and consequently have breathed new life into what was becoming a tired genre.
Children, adults, fans of Marvel, and superhero newbies alike, will all have a super time watching our superheroes in Avengers Assemble. And if you are a comic book fan, look out for a rather amusing cameo by Stan Lee to really leave you satisfied!
Watch Marvel’s Avengers Assemble trailer here