Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returns to earth via a portal created by the Tesseract and vows to enslave the human race. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. gather the members of the Avengers Initiative in order to defeat him, but first, the Avengers have to overcome their differences.
Ever since the first Iron Man film was released in 2008, we have known that Marvel has been gearing up for an Avengers movie. After four years and several stand alone movies, it’s finally here and the good news is that it rocks.
Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor and the Hulk take on the threat of Loki – a demi god who is more than a little miffed with humanity and has vowed to destroy the earth… Or at least colonise it. You could be forgiven for thinking that Tony Stark – aka Iron Man – would be the leader of this merry band of superheroes, after all, he is the character who has had the most stand alone movies (bar the Hulk’s various incarnations) and he is certainly a larger than life character. This is not the case however; each of the Avengers is given a chance to shine. Scarlett Johansson kicks all kind of informer ass while tied to a chair, Hawkeye is dragged into both sides of the conflict and Iron Man is not the only character who gets the good jokes.
Staring with the newer additions to the Avengers team; Mark Ruffalo finally captures Bruce Banner in a relatable manner. Banner is a man who has exiled himself for the safety of those around him, and has created a calm and serene life. Ruffalo allows the all-important rage to bubble under the surface of Banner so that the audience is always aware that this is a man who is holding himself in check. Gone, however, is the air of smugness and whinginess that previous actors brought to the role, Banner still feels put upon by his alter ego, but he is slightly confused by and respects the darkness within himself rather than complains about it. Ruffalo has managed to take on a character that has been portrayed on screen many times before, and makes him all his own; he plays Banner with a world weariness that becomes the character and allows the audience to warm to him. Ruffalo is also the first actor to play both The Hulk and Bruce Banner, and he makes a fantastic job of both.
Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is another new introduction to the Avengers gang, a member of S.H.I.E.L.D who is a crack shot with a bow and arrow. Renner gets to have some fun with the character, as he plays both side of the divide between good and evil. Scarlett Johansson is as pouty and borderline evil as she was in Iron Man 2 and Chris Hemsworth gets to show off his incredible physical prowess as well as spout some surprising and wonderfully funny lines as Thor.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is one of the main sources of conflict between the Avengers themselves as he breaks into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s confidential files and generally cracks wise about everyone he encounters. Robert Downey Jr is fantastic in the role – quick, smart and funny, yet human underneath all of his bravado – but we wouldn’t expect anything less from the actor who has carried two great stand-alone movies. Chris Evans plays mediator between Stark and the many people he insults and has some fun playing with Steve Rogers/Captain America’s chivalry and his anachronistic placing in this world.
Tom Hiddleston is the villain of the piece as Loki. Gone is the whiny god child we encountered in Thor, and in his place is a charismatic and charming villain who drips malice. Hiddleston is beautifully evil in the role; every movement he makes is studied and poised. This is a character who has grown since we last saw him, but he has not put his newfound maturity to use for good. Hiddleston shines every single time he is on the screen; no mean feat when you consider who he is up against. As well as this, Hiddleston gets to use the best cinematic insult in years; quim. Look it up.
Joss Whedon has created a wonderful film in Avengers Assemble. The script is hilarious and wonderfully silly, and he has shared out the humour, slapstick gags and day saving between everyone. That said, the greatest moment in the movie may well be a single punch from The Hulk… Or two well-timed words from Thor. The pacing is tight, the set pieces spectacular and Whedon has managed to include enough of his trademarks that it actually feels like a Joss Whedon movie. That said, however, those who are not fans of the Buffy creator will not be alienated; Whedon captures the world of the superheroes entirely while keeping the plot relatively simple and easy to follow, without talking down to the audience.
In all, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble looks great – the CGI for the Hulk in particular is excellent – it sounds great and is a fantastically silly and over the top adventure. Some prior knowledge of the films that have gone before is beneficial, but the bar has been set for the summer blockbuster of 2012, and Marvel’s Avengers Assemble has set it high. For the first time in years, the hype over a big movie is justified.