The Avengers

The Avengers

(M) Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner

It’s not often these days that one walks out of a cinema having actually being entertained.

With The Avengers, director Joss Whedon has pulled off Marvel’s ultimate mash up with his excellently-directed, ultimate assembly movie.

Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye and the Black Widow. All in the same movie. This was always going to be a kick for fans of the comics.

At the premiere screening the publicist for Disney dared to suggest that this is the greatest superhero ever made. And after seeing this amazingly entertaining thrill ride I have to agree it comes very close.

The story in some ways is almost inconsequential, because what you want from this movie is for the heroes to interact in the way that befits their characters and super egos and this is achieved with humour, camaraderie and full-tilt action sequences that are unrelenting.

The most refreshing surprise in the film is the humour … and there is a lot of it.

Each hero’s backstory is cleverly bought up to speed.

Captain America (Chris Evans) has been thawed from his frozen grave and is not dealing with the 21st century too well. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who has spent time off the radar, is brought in to deal with his demons and assist in locating a dangerous new weapon — the tesseract — found in the ice with Captain America and promptly stolen from its housing facility.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has the unfortunate problem of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) wanting to enslave humanity and must do all he can to thwart his efforts. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) has been designing a fuel source that will ensure there is no need to use fossil fuels and is in charge of finding a way of locating the tesseract in time.

Avengers assembler and S.H.I.E.L.D head Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) along with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) must assemble this egocentric lot in order to stop Loki enslaving the planet.

What Whedon has achieved well is giving each character time and space to make a mark, although Downey Jr does have the lion’s share of the comic lines. His brief scene with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) reveals just why their chemistry has made his films work and makes him the brains of the operation.

Far from being second-string heroes, Hawkeye and Black Widow play integral parts in this behemoth of a film, with Johansson particularly getting an excellent story arc and lots of action as the only female in this ultimate alpha male pack.

The most refreshing surprise in the film is the humour … and there is a lot of it.

Iron Man gives both barrels to Thor, whether it’s his cape (“Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”), his kingly lingo (“What is this, Shakespeare In The Park?”) or the fact he hasn’t had a haircut since his own movie came out (“No hard feelings, Point Break”).

And from there, the zingers keep coming.

Key to the film was getting all the characterisations right, something Whedon has achieved even with Hulk. As Ruffalo is the third actor to play him, Whedon has done an excellent job of jettisoning the previous films.

Ruffalo captures a far more dangerous (and humorous) Hulk in the few scenes he has and, once Bruce Banner bursts into “the other guy”, it feels more seamless and the CGI matches his real-life counterpart. In a few very funny scenes Hulk even steals the show from Iron Man.

As Whedon has both written and directed this film, he has achieved a lightness of touch as well as an excellent meld of previous films to bring these gigantic egos into a team working together to save the world.

If the woops and clapping during the screening are anything to go by, Whedon has achieved a sort of fan nirvana with this film. It’s a crowd pleaser in every sense of the word.

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.

Just don’t walk out too soon. Like every other film in the series, there are a few tantalising post-credits seconds, revealing a villain who’s ready for the sequel(s).

Adrian Drayton

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