Friday, 20 April 2012

Marvel Avengers Agglomerate

Iron Man: Bearable. The Incredible Hulk: Brain-thumpingly shit. Iron Man 2: Unbearable. Thor: Great. Captain America: Initially promising, ultimately disappointing. It has to be said, my expectations for The Avengers Movie Formerly Known As The Avengers were not high. Fortunately though - like a massive box of jelly babies or a hip flask full of rum - low expectations are great things to take into a cinema with you, because Marvel Avengers Assemble confounds them all, combining smarts, action and absolute skipfuls of LOLs better than any other superhero movie in history.
The world's supply of kudos must go to Man Of The Movie Moment Joss Whedon: after turning in a deliciously ingenious script for The Cabin In The Woods (yes that was three years ago, just go with it), he's now achieved the not inconsiderable feat of writing and directing a film which assembles the Avengers in a way that doesn't feel remotely forced. Not only that but he also gives each of his leads just the right balance of screen time and allows them to interact exactly as you'd hope they would. On the basis of this film alone, I'm almost prepared to forgive Whedon for Serenity. *ducks*

Marvel Avengers Assemble benefits enormously from its format. It's essentially superhero tapas: bite-sized chunks of each hero are far more palatable than an entire main course of any of them. Tony Stark doesn't get the chance to become exhaustingly irritating, Captain America is never allowed to get too dull and Mark Ruffalo's Hulk is sensibly marginalised, given that the previous 252 minutes of screen time devoted to his character have been such catastrophic cackpats. That's not to say The Ruffles lets the side down: he's by far the most charismatic of all the leads, and his CG alter ego is easily the best screen incarnation of the character yet. Bring an umbrella, because when Hulk eventually gets to smash, there'll be a shower of geekjizz.
Even Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow doesn't get lumbered with the love interest label she might have done: in fact the only arguable sexual tension present in the film unexpectedly features S.H.I.E.L.D.'s chief superhero-botherer Agent Coulson. It would have been great to see his affections returned, but the sad fact is that if they had been, nobody would have talked about anything else when discussing the film.

The biggest surprise about Whedon's script is how ridiculously hilarious it is. Of all the actual "comedies" dumped on audiences lately, none are this ROFLsome, and the film does it without a single swear, cock joke or wacky scene of inadvertent drug use. And Loki's assessment of Black Widow as a "mewling quim" is the most bizarrely brilliant insult I've heard for yonks. Expect it to enter the cultural consciousness very soon.
Obviously it's not perfect. The story isn't as complex as, say, a glass of water; the second act goes all floppy while everyone hits each other or blows shit up, and Hulk conveniently shifts from uncontrollable rage monster to compliant ally with little explanation. And don't expect any further development on the relationships left hanging at the end of Thor and Captain America: there's no time for love when New York's being attacked by a giant armoured flying dragon alien thing.

Nevertheless, Marvel Avengers Assemble is a big bucket of megafunballs, thanks to the ginger-bearded genius of Joss. Big and loud, but never dumb (Whedon even slips in a few un-blockbustery meditations on the nature of war), it's the year's funnest - and funniest - film so far.

Shit title though.


  1. Call me wind because I am blown away by your post!

  2. So there's nothing even mentioned/said about Thor and Jane at the end? Or Thor doesn't mention her at all?

  3. She's mentioned, but only in a throwaway line about why she's nowhere to be seen. I think it goes something like "Natalie Portman wasn't available and was too expensive anyway, so we wrote her out."

  4. *Throws a srunched up bit of paper and misses because you ducked* - forgive for Serenity? What's to forgive! (Yeah, I know, lame-ass fan girl)
    Glad to hear something positive about this though, I was reeeeally worried it might be a dud, because I reeeeeallly wanted it to be good and my worship of Joss Wheedon to be at least maintained, if not actualy vindicated! =P =)

  5. You just made this reader very happy... Even if you don't worship the ground RDJ walks on (as I do haha)... Thanks for the interesting write-up!

    I so want this film to do well!

  6. The film does well and it totally deserves so! It's been a long time I heard an audience laugh so hard in cinema. Joss is a master of timing, an almost forgotten art in block buster cinema - incidently we had a trailer for Lockout (aka Luc Bessons latest shit) before The Avengers and that was a 2 minute lesson in how to never deliver one-liners.
    But boy, you have to duck low for that Serenity remark!