AS we enter the age of post retro-revival it would be sensible to assume that the recent infatuation with big screen incarnations of comic book characters in Hollywood is also on the wane. But not yet, not over Bruce Wayne’s parents graves.
Comic book reincarnations are in rude health and you need not look any further than The Avengers for proof, an A-list cast of characters as well as actors to portray those characters.
Someone like me could be forgiven for approaching the snappily title Marvel Avengers Assemble with a degree of cynicism. The biggest pitfall is the lack of character depth to a lot of superheroes when they’re transferred to the big screen. But that is not the case here, people told me I’d enjoy and I did.
In terms of plot devices it is kept simple and as clear as the view through a freshly polished window pane in Andalusia in August. But slowly Joss Whedon adds layers in the form of characters and they are far from being the hokey comic book parodies. The characters are played with such impressive guile that they leave even the non-comic book nerd on edge.
Tom Hiddlestone as Loki is what makes this film tick. He isn’t an all-powerful villain in fact he is a bit of a weasel, but has an ability to enchant a few people to work for his cause, all so that he can fulfil his narcissistic ambition of leading an army. Hiddlestone allows the other characters to dovetail around him.
His interactions with Fury played by Samuel L Jackson provide a touch of humour. Whilst his truly petrifying but electric interaction with Black Widow is a moment to be cherished, going as far as calling Scarlett Johansson a “Mewling quim.”
Johansson all credit to her is really good as Natasha Romanov. She doesn’t fall into the folly of trying to be Sigourney Weaver as a lot of female actresses in similar roles have in the past and she isn’t a shrivelling violet. The way she extracts the information out of Loki in their epic confrontation in the galss chamber is masterfully done by Johansson as is the terror on her face during the scene with her and Bruce Banner just as he is Hulking up.
A lot of people have said that Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk is the real star of this film. It’s difficult to say that there is a star of the show. Each character has scene stealing performances, but Ruffalo definitely brings a level of humanity to the role of Hulk that you could never imagine Ed Norton being able to. Simply as a result of Ruffalo’s likeability seeping onto the screen and into his character.
The film consists of three acts, the assembling of the Avengers, the bickering amongst the Avengers and then the dovetailing of the Avengers, with all three acts having a major action sequence running through it. But there is enough substance in the story and most importantly in the characters to stop you from contemplating a loo break.
At the climax of the film a lot is going on and it can be hard to follow, but Joss Whedon has you at a point where you are in the palm of his hand lapping it up. The apocalyptic attack from the Chitauri on New York could easily have been seen as evoking memories of the tragic events of 9/11 and maybe even distasteful, but Whedon is a canny director extracting a degree of reality by cutting to the news like footage and using New York the city as a symbol as opposed to an icon associated with it.
The Avengers isn’t without its flaws, it can feel a bit crash bang wallop. But at the climax as Whedon is cutting from one Avenger to the next you get a sense that you’ve been on a journey with them and you’re left with a good feeling. The ending inevitably hints at a sequel. But I just hope that this isn’t going to be the start of money spinning pointless sequels. As for the Avengers Assemble well it’s a Marvel.