Is it “Avengers Assemble” or just “The Avengers”? Who knows, but we all knew it was coming, with the biggest superhero movies of the last 5 years littered with foreshadowing for an ambitious project that would draw them all together. So we have Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye as the big team, as well as supporting action from Nick Fury, post-credits teaser whore Agent Coulson, Pepper Potts, the old guy from Thor, her from How I Met You Mother, probably some others. They’re all fighting Thor’s chief antagonist Loki. With me so far? Oh and there were vibrating chairs!
For such a grand-scaled effort it really paid off, it looked amazing, the plot made sense for the most part (actually why was Loki doing all this?) and for a 140-minute feature it really didn’t drag, even despite a rather protracted mid-section. What was that title card though? The least ostentatious thing I’ve ever seen, it was just THERE. It might as well have been in Times New Roman. I want a crazy-assed opening title sequence!
Joss Whedon is a king among nerds, and I’m glad the Buffy creator made this work for everybody in the same way JJ Abrams made the similarly mythology-heavy Star Trek accessible to everyone. There were some in-jokes sure, but most of it hung on the interaction of these very different personalities, and he made it work. Should I go through this hero by hero?
Captain America held his own with a strong sense of moral fibre and gosh-darned patriotism. AMERICA! Him vs Thor was a pretty spectacular moment. I was pleased to see him not treated as the butt of the jokes, though they got plenty of mileage with that. Talking of butts, did he have some sort of padding in those sweatpants? Not much freedom going on in there…
Iron Man was an attention-hog as per usual, but all-in-all didn’t feel too overwhelming, especially considering his two films so far are probably the biggest grossing. I’m still not totally sold on his character, but he’s a bit of comic relief and good for a bit of plot exposition.
Thor was burly and brilliant as always, his movie was pretty solid, and I missed the small-town / interdimensional Nordic feel to that movie. I guess it would have got pretty crowded with love interests if Natalie Portman had been in on the action, but it felt a little strange for him not to get any mileage to his character, other than some scenes with Loki. I guess in such a long film they couldn’t deal with something as big to the franchise as his reunion with her, so it’s at least understandable. And look at him fly, wheeee!!
Hulk was a surprise, after a few false starts I wasn’t sure where we were. I mean everyone knows him, but there was no tie to the most recent film (including the casting of Hulk himself). That aside, he got some great scenes and Mark Ruffalo played him really well. His scenes were a bit slapstick in places, and the “oh I’m bad news” doom and gloom was laid on a bit thick, but his ‘fight’ with Loki was a fun scene, and his general carnage-wreaking was spectacular.
Who’s left? Black Widow was pretty kick-ass, and she proved her worth several times, but ultimately I did feel she was a bit shoe-horned into some action just for gender balance. The final battle alongside Hawkeye was markedly smaller in scale, while Hulk and the gang were smashing the big guys. Hawkeye didn’t exactly develop his minimal role in Thor, and spent most of the movie out of the action, or picking off a few baddies with his versatile but ulimately limited weapon.
Oh I’m exhausted! Everyone else was good too, Nick was furious, her from How I Met You Mother was … her, and Agent Coulson was touching but a little ineffectual. Even his ‘big scene’ left me feeling a bit indifferent, which I’m sure wasn’t the desired effect. Loki did his best as a smirking reptilian pain-in-the-ass, and somehow lacked the weight of a major threat. Pitting his wit against the Avengers’ might was a good idea, but it turns out you can win the day just by smashing everything up. Outsmarting him would have been a little more satisfying I think.
I haven’t even said about the vibrating chairs! Our local Cineworld became only the second cinema in the country to get these “D-Box” seats installed in one of the screens, an island of about 40-odd in the middle. You pay more (on top of the already extortionate 3D prices), but the seat tilts and vibrates to the action. So there were plenty of aerial shots in the film, the seat tilts around to match the point-of-view. I thought it was a novel idea, but I can’t imagine that ever becoming more than a gimmick in the same way 3D managed impressively well. Fun to try though! Only problem was that the seats themselves were really quite uncomfortable. Too high to put my feet on the floor, and solid enough to stop you getting properly comfortable.
Anyway, bottom line is that it was great. Go and see it if you have any interest in any of the supporting films.