Avengers Assemble is one nerdgasmic explosion!
It may possess the least exciting sounding title of the year but in every other respect Avengers Assemble is a success from the first frame to the last. Whether or not you’ve been following the individual protagonists’ movies, there’s enough to satisfy the lover of Big Films with slices of action and drama delivered on a plate by the resurrected Joss Whedon. For some of us, of course, he never went anywhere but even the most loyal fan would admit that Dollhouse was an acquired taste rather than a mainstream event. This film, hot on the heels of his co-written triumph with Cabin in the Woods sees the former Buffy maestro back at the top of the tree where he belongs.
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Having so many iconic heroes hanging around together is enough to give fans multiple nerdgasms and more importantly the writer a headache. How do you marshal such resources? Whedon has form of course, having achieved such feats with his various ensemble TV shows and here he again proves able to give everyone their moment while keeping the forward momentum. He writes, he directs and he does both with gusto, aplomb, style and humour. In fact he does what seems almost as impossible as the herculean task faced by our superheroes. He manages to corral everyone into a blockbuster film while delivering action and dialogue which provide everyone with plenty to do and all makes sense. Nobody is “re-writing time” here; we’re back, thank goodness, to proper storytelling and it reminds you that when Whedon is writing at his best he has few equals. Sure, he can do post modern, Meta or whatever you call it but some of the spills n thrills here are the finest we’ve been served since that awesome second Spiderman film.
The action sequences are chaotic enough to be exciting yet rigorously directed so we know what’s happening and there are plenty of gasp worthy moments, particularly when the villains emerge through a portal in the sky nestled in what seem to be very large metal flying snakes or something. Then again we expect this sort of thing from blockbusters and where Whedon’s effect really shows is in the dialogue and character moments.
If his signature humour on TV was more sarcastic and peppered with pop culture he has shifted to a broader approach here. He often undercuts the most serious moments with slapstick or a quip. Two in particular, both involving the Hulk are funnier than anything you’ll see in a big screen comedy. Literally LOL moments and people do, even in the surreal environment of an enormo screen, 3D glasses wearing IMAX environment where nothing usually beats the bass bins.
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Whedon ensures that the usual po faced superhero persona is largely left behind. While the virtuous do –right approach suits Captain America – and makes him more of less the strategic leader when it comes to the final showdown- the others are painted for all their flaws to see. In each case this makes them more interesting than they were in their own films, even Iron Man who is very much a scene stealing character. As villain Loki, Tom Hiddleston is brilliant and Whedon’s script makes him far more interesting than most antagonists in these kinds of films. His playful malevolence threatens to overshadow the rest of the cast and he is an enemy that you can believe really is that powerful.
The ultimate victor though is Joss Whedon who brings home something for everyone. Now the next time you see his name on credits, wherever it is, you should see it because the big secret for the latecomers is, he’s always been this good.