Avengers Assemble ! Or just plain The Avengers , whichever! Either way one of the biggest movies of the year is now officially happening right at our faces and as we're two weeks in, there's a good chance you've seen it if you were going to. If you haven't and were planning to, then please, for the love of all things Holy, do not read further. Huge face melting spoilers will of course abound.
Onwards! Activate the WhedonJet! Avengers Assemble! And Banter!
There were genuine belly-laughs, a plot which worked, and characters which all complemented one-another. At 142 minutes for an action movie you don't find yourself wondering whether it'll end soon; instead you leave, check the time, and go, "Woah, that was a really long film!"
I hadn't seen Captain America before, but the Avengers quickly covers all the necessary ground without it seeming like heavy exposition. I would certainly recommend seeing both Thor and the first Iron Man film before Avengers Assemble , but they aren't absolutely required if you haven't already and don't have the time.
Would happily see again. Several times.
John Cooper I Loved it. My main worry was the Hulk, as he's my favourite character, especially after Ed Norton declined to take on the role again. Thought Ed Norton was a great Banner even though I prefer the Ang Lee movie, but Mark Ruffalo does a great job with what he's given and the brief face-off between Hulk and Loki is easily my favourite moment of the movie. Of all the characters, Captain America seemed the most short-changed and stylistically at odds with the movie going on around him. There wasn't really much plot, but it really doesn't need one. Big brash, and colourful, like the Marvel comics themselves.
SPOILERY BIT: And on that painful subject, I'm going to miss Agent Coulson. I’m not the biggest superhero fan and Phil Coulson has been my favourite character through the previous films. I hate to see him go but I did love how his character’s death was used. He managed to interact with pretty much everyone in the first half of the film which made his death really mean something to everybody and be the perfect catalyst for the second half.
I only have one minor niggle and that's the “blowing up the base switches off all the bad guys” thing. It’s lame. It's been lame since they did it in Episode One. I don't know if this is a known thing with the Chitauri or not, but it's just lame when the bad guys have a big off switch like that. It's only a teeny tiny niggle but there you go.
Best moments: Hulk smacking Thor off the screen. Stark poking Banner with a pointy thing. Agent Coulson's interactions with Captain America. Black Widow interrogating Loki. Stark’s various nicknames for everyone. “Puny God.” The Black Widow/Coulson phone conversation. And many, many others...
Will Salmon I thought it was great. Really exciting and with just the right amount of heart too. It's not quite a 5 star movie, for me, but definitely orbiting 4.5.
I'm a huge fan of Joss's work, but one thing that I appreciated here was that he seems to have toned his voice down, a little. There are still plenty of Whedonisms (half of Tony Stark's lines could easily have been delivered by Xander Harris), but they never jar with the rest of the Marvel movies. I also love that the whole thing hinges on the death of one rather minor character. As in Cabin In The Woods , no one is expendable. That doesn't mean they won't die though.
Highlights? Black Widow confronting Loki. A genuinely chilling moment, full of barely suppressed sexual violence and misogyny that’s then brilliantly flipped on its head when Black Widow takes control. Every scene that Hulk is in is golden, with Mark Ruffalo instantly burying memories of the previous two films. And while some have grumbled that the first half is a little slow, I loved the fact that it was a blockbuster than took the time to build relationships between these characters.
Yeah, the aliens were completely forgettable. But given that this was a movie with six heroic leads, plus Fury and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Operatives, PLUS Loki, I think that was probably a good idea. I'm looking forward to the sequel – and the threequel (Civil War? Oh go on then...) immensely.
Alasdair Stuart The thing that really struck me about it was how considered the pace was. Bear in mind this is a movie that has to tie together four other franchises ( Captain America , Iron Man , Thor and yes, Hulk still counts), introduce several new characters, create a coherent plot out of elements from those four franchises, introduce a new character and still stand on its own.
The fact that it does all of these things is, frankly, extraordinary and the thing which amazes me the most is how Whedon refuses to be rushed and yet still packs the thing with incident. My favourite stuff by a mile is the team on the Helicarrier, working the problem even as Loki moves everything into place because you can feel these characters take a step out into a larger world and see them start to grow. Thor's awareness of how much damage they do, Cap's growing acceptance of the world he lives in now, Banner's incredibly odd and compelling combination of charm and rage, Widow's quiet, desperate guilt, Hawkeye's panic at having control taken and Tony Stark being faced with an unwinnable situation are all plots which could and in some cases have carried a movie by themselves but here they not only work in a smaller space but build on each other.
There's not a second wasted and yet not every second is full of super people punching each other in the brains. It’s a genuinely extraordinary achievement and one that has the potential to change the grammar of action movies. The Avengers does so much, so well that you simply can't turn in a slack, lazy action movie anymore and have it be successful, at least not in the long term.
Plus it has the best “Villain gloats and then gets pummelled” joke EVER.
I loved the snarky dialogue, the humour, and the effects. Tony calling Clint “Legolas,” the Hulk bashing Loki around like a doll, and Thor uppercutting the Hulk with Mjolnir were all things of beauty.
And I disagree with the “too many characters were sidelined” criticism out there. I thought there was just enough of each character to carry a movie like this. Of course Tony Stark stole the show. That’s what Tony Stark does. But Cap held his own, Thor was the betrayed brother, and Bruce was beautiful in both of his forms. And while it’s true that they didn’t get as much screen time, the hints of some serious backstory involving Black Widow and Hawkeye made them feel real to me. It was enough. (“You and I remember Budapest very differently” had me grinning from ear to ear.) And Loki, of course, was perfect.
Now, the argument that the action was a bit hollow? That I’ll have to evaluate upon another viewing. For now, I’m still running high on the adrenaline of that, so I’m going to say it was just fine. Oh, and it was great to see Maria Hill stepping up here. We all expected some Nick Fury bad-assery, but to get Maria into the action was really nice.
Of course, we need her for the sequel, now, don’t we? Since, you know, Joss did that thing he does. Yes, I’m mad at him for killing Coulson, but it had to be done. RIP, Phil. We’ll miss you.
And speaking of that sequel, that big purple guy at the end?
Count. Me. In.
Matt Risley I utterly loved it. I had to review it for another site, and while I gave it five stars, I had to restrain myself for fear of my initial squealing, ejaculatory reaction being all but unpublishable. I'm not even kidding when I say that not only did I lose all coherent speech on emerging from the cinema (words lost meaning amidst all the squee-ing) but it had moments so fanboy-pleasingly perfect I felt like crying.
It's not perfect (the set-up’s clunky, the alien army are faceless, and there’s never a truly shocking sense of danger for the uber-powerful heroes… no, the very human Coulson doesn't count), but when you think about the sheer number of potential egos, plot threads, character arcs and more that Whedon and the cast had to juggle – and then that they managed to do so whilst imbuing it with a genuine wit and thrilling action – it's just all the more impressive.
So there you go, the general consensus is that Avengers Assemble is great fun and you should go and see it. But who's that watching from yonder rooftops? Look at the cowl... the tech... the growly voice... why it could only be... next week's question:
Who would you have on your superteam and why?