Avengers Assemble (Joss Whedon, 2012)

What's it about? Not content with starring in their own movies, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) team up - nay, assemble - to save the world. Rounding out the gang are S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). On villain duties is Thor's half brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who has got a bit more bad-ass since his outing in Thor and who is naturally hell-bent on world domination. If this all sounds like gobbledegook to you, better brush up on your Marvel universe here.

Is it any good? Remember the time all those famous pop stars got together to do Band Aid? This is a bit like the video for that song. It's packed with famous faces, everyone is diplomatically afforded their moment in the limelight to deliver their lines, and everyone seems to be having fun larking around, before they all get down to serious business and join together for a rousing climax. It's all pretty good fun, with well-realised action sequences and some funny lines ("Point Break" - heh heh), so Whedon deserves credit for efficiently assembling the whole thing without leaving any of the characters behind. As you would expect, Downey Jr, Hemsworth and Evans slip comfortably back into their respective roles, trading blows and wisecracks with ease, whilst Renner is suitably moody and Ruffalo improves on previous screen incarnations of the Hulk. Only Johansson seems slightly uncomfortable, wearing an expression which suggests she is slightly suspicious that she's only included here as a token bit of ass (and given the numerous shots of her leather-clad ass, she might well be right).

Paula Yates? Never heard of her.

Right, let me get back to labouring that Band Aid analogy. The major flaw of the film is that, unlike Band Aid, it lacks any emotional impact whatsoever. Okay, I wasn't expecting to see starving children in danger, but for a film in which the safety of the entire world is threatened, and parts of it destroyed, this didn't really seem to be much of an issue for either our heroes or humanity in general. I never really got any sense of loss or personal sacrifice on the part of our heroes (unlike, say, the excellent X2, still the highpoint of these superhero team films), which means it lacks a bit of substance, something to really make me think this is more than just a colourful action flick. And it's not that it didn't have the chance, but it bottles out in the end, leaving the only real sacrifice to one superfluous character who I was surprised to learn had apparently deeply touched our heroes in various ways. News to me. Anyway, thank (demi-)God for Hiddleston, who is the only one who actually demonstrates some vulnerability and who therefore steals the show as the malevolent Loki (as well as bearing a passing resemblence to Bob Geldof, incidentally). The Avengers, on the other hand, seem fairly impervious to any sort of lasting mental or physical pain, so it will come as no surprise at all to find at the end they have indeed Freed the World.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Well, like Band Aid, this made an absolute shedload of money (Dear The Fast Picture Show, Please stop with Band Aid comparisons. It's not funny any more. I'm not sure it ever was. Yours, Disgruntled, Tunbridge Wells). At the time of writing it is the third most successful film of all-time. OF ALL-TIME! So someone liked it. To be fair, it has been well-received by critics too, so everybody is happy, hence the sequel is already greenlit. Which reminds me, stick around for a couple of post-credit sequences in this film to whet your appetite for that.

What does the Fonz think? Not bad. I look forward to the sequel. I think it's going to be called Live Aid.

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