With great power comes great banter in writer director Joss Whedon's blockbuster multiplier, which if not the best superhero movie ever, it might well be the funniest. Avengers Assemble is a power play that's unprecedented in Hollywood history, launching three different 100 million dollar franchises to construct one super mega franchise. And it has to be said, handing it to a fanboy whose single previous feature film (Serenity) couldn't even scrape back its budget at the worldwide box office was a massive dice roll.
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) on the big screen together was always going to be a massive kick. But could any screen be big enough for all them? Would Avengers Assemble look like four bodybuilders in an elevator? The suit, the smash, the hammer, the shield, the hype! Like X Men The Last Stand, Spiderman 3 and Iron Man 2 there was a real danger of hero verload. Sure enough, it takes Whedon a while to assemble his Avengers, as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L.Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Phil Coulson (Gregg Clark) recruit the superheroes to save Earth after Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor's power mad brother, returns to enslave mankind with an all powerful cosmic cub, "What does he want me to do, swallow it?" asks Ruffalo's Dr. Bruce Banner. And from there, the outstanding one liners keep coming, With X Men and X2, Bryan Singer showed how you could disguise a compelling ensemble drama as a superhero actioner. This is exactly Whedon's speciality as well as creating cult TV phenomenon Buffy, he worked on the scripts for X Men and Toy Story and his screenplay drags together a group of characters with pretty much zero interest in each other. How? By locking big egos in small rooms and letting the funnies fly. Lifting the movie's pace every time he steps on screen in the first half, RDJ's Tony Stark catalyses the Avengers with machine gun wit. He gives both barrels to Thor. The one liners are priceless and really drag the viewer into the fun of it all. Arguably the least interesting and most poorly dressed of the Avengers, Cap duly suffers in his first brawl with Loki and finds his 1940's brain drubbed like a punch bag by the sarcastic Stark. But affectionately, Whedon plays to his characters weaknesses as well as their strengths as his comic book heroes bounce off each other. And I do mean that literally. Despite being mere mortals, Jeremy Renner's laser sighted archer Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson's gymnastic spy Black Widow find key roles in the story. There's no sex factor in this superhero smack down. Instead, maybe the most interesting frisson sparks between fellow brainiacs Tony Stark and Dr. Banner. Once the green giant bursts free, he grabs hold of the movie and yanks it out of Downey Jr.'s hands. The best moments and the biggest laughs belong to Hulk's smash happy personality and only one of them is blown by the trailer. Behind the camera, Whedon managers put his money (more than 200million Dollars of it) where his mouth is, after an airship siege high in the clouds, the movie surges towards an exciting, epic extended finale of city smashing carnage that stretches for a Transformers level of mass destruction. As Loki's army pours in from another dimension, one showboating unbroken action shot swoops through the battle to track each Avenger fighting against gigantic flying robo fish and alien warriors riding space chariots. This 142 minute romp between gods, monsters, men and supermen packs so much crowd pleasing colour and humour that it's impossible not to walk out grinning. It's excellent and for once lives up to the Hype!