|Starring||Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L Jackson, Tom Hiddleston|
|Release||4 MAY (US) 26 APR (UK) Certificate 12A|
And it's hard to hand all the credit to anyone other than writer/director Joss Whedon. With his pitch-perfect script, not only does everyone get their moment to impress, they all have their own fan-pleasing showdowns with each other as well and even the lesser characters - like Clark Gregg's Agent Punchline - are given depth and scenes that actually advance the plot, rather than just pad out the running time.
Did you think Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow was a periphery character included just to provide some much-needed glamour and oestrogen to this macho-fest? Wrong - not only does her character excel in the action sequences, but she hints at a history that will want you crying out for her own movie. Thought the Hulk was a boring beast that just can't work on the big screen? Well, he practically steals the whole film here and may just end up being your favourite of the whole boyband bunch.
However, it's easy to let the bombastic fun smooth over some niggly cracks, of which there are a few. Most critically, this is a film with very little plot. Our UK title of Avengers Assemble is closer to the truth than that of its global, easier name of just The Avengers, because this is very much a film of meet-and-greets rather than a chance to see our team perform at their best. This also makes for a very slow start to the film as each character gets their own worthy introduction before establishing them into this particular adventure. To continue with the nit-picking, a half-way set-piece involving the assembled Avengers sees them trying to stop a giant aircraft carrier from crashing, and it all seems just a little...beneath our heroes. It's more like a high-stakes team-building exercise rather than a 'save the world' situation.
But then this is a film that constantly grows, increasing the fun with every passing minute until it culminates in a full-on climactic onslaught that takes up the entire final act and will have you devouring every joyous moment on screen. It's never boring, relentless action either, it's well-paced, well-performed and constantly feels like it progresses the story rather than just being a blur of big-budget destruction (take note Wrath of The Titans, Battleship and any number of other films I could mention).
Ultimately, it’s a huge triumph. A film that surpasses its impossibly high expectations. Between this and The Cabin In The Woods vying for Best Film Of The Year so far, 2012 is, without a doubt, Joss Whedon's year - and that agonisingly irritating sound you just heard was a million Whedonites yelling "I told you so". Get used to it - they'll be saying that any chance they get from now on.