Running more than two hours and with a cast of eight major characters, Avengers Assemble is a BIG film.
If you’re not aware, it builds on Marvel’s earlier Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and, to a lesser extent, Hulk films and it’s from these that it gets its cast of superheroes and their human allies who are brought together by agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) after the world’s security is threatened.
Returning from the earlier films are Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton / Hawkeye).
Don’t worry if you’ve not seen any of the previous movies because writers Zak Penn and Joss Whedon (who also directs) have ensured this film is accessible to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the characters.
If you have seen the earlier films you’re likely to get an extra thrill or two along the way, those who haven’t are guaranteed enough thrills to ensure they still have a great night out.
The cast is well served by a script which is primarily about the characters and their relationships and which focuses on their humanity as much as it does the action.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t some fantastic stunts and effects, it’s just that Whedon uses them as tools to help tell a story rather than – as is often the case – to cover for the absence of one.
In billing and plot it’s Downey Jr. who takes centre stage but for me the real stand-out star is Mark Ruffalo who joins the film as Bruce Banner / The Hulk following the earlier big screen performances of Edward Norton and Eric Bana.
Unlike his predecessors, Ruffalo exhibits the perfect mix of fragility and inner steel needed by a man horrified by the beast he struggles to keep within. Think Bill Bixby from the hit TV series and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.
It’ll be a massive waste of talent if Marvel doesn’t bring Ruffalo’s Banner / Hulk back in a series of standalone films.
Avengers Assemble offers lots of fun, some great interplay between the leads and some genuine laughs. It’s going to be the year’s biggest film and, for a nice change, it deserves to be.
Our verdict: 4/5
Avengers Assemble on April 26th 2012