Avengers Assemble DVD Review

When I was a teenager routinely foraging for comics at my local Forbidden Planet, there were only two sides of the fence to stand on.

Marvel or DC.

I’d always sidestepped the former, which seemed garish and childish, and opted instead for more ‘believable’ DC superheroes like Batman.

And, er, Superman?

Yet my inner fanboy couldn’t help but feel excited at the prospect of Avengers Assemble, the cinematic equivalent of a comic book crossover.

That said, my inner critic couldn’t help but feel nervous for Joss Whedon, on whose shoulders the franchise’s success weighed heavily upon.

Though worshipped for his great TV work such as Firefly, Dollhouse and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Whedon had only directed one film before signing up for this herculean task; the enjoyable but sadly underappreciated Firefly adaptation, Serenity.

Despite his many writing credits on major films including Toy Story, you can imagine studio heads might have had some concerns about Whedon’s finished product.

Concerns which this cult auteur swats aside with aplomb.

A lot of Whedon’s work had already been done, with most of these comic book heroes origin stories having been told in previous films, and the larger than life actors having been accepted by the most demanding of fans.

With the exception of that big, green hulking chap.

Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner with a sort of nervy weariness: a man who forever cursed and tired of living with this.

As the not-so-jolly green giant, Ruffalo’s Hulk is also the only interpretation so far that in any way physically resembles his alter ego.

So a big thumbs up goes to this version of the character.

Whedon’s biggest challenge would be to allow each character equal air time and, with Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man being the most popular actor and hero of the team, preventing this ensemble affair descending into “Iron Man and Friends”.

And manage the characters he does.

Thor’s bombast is nicely punctured by Iron Man’s predictably scene-stealing one-liners, while Captain America is steered just the right side of staid; acting as a down to earth hero that the audience can more easily identify with.

Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow see some further fleshing out of their backstories, having been fleetingly introduced in Thor and Iron Man 2 respectively.

The suitably bad-ass Samuel L Jackson enjoys extended screen time as Nick Fury and Tom Hiddleston is clearly having fun hamming it up again as arch-villain Loki.

And fun is what Avengers Assemble is all about.

In amongst the impressive special effects and action setpieces, the characters verbally spar with each other as much as they do physically; with some genuinely laugh out loud moments you wouldn’t find in other, more self-important comic book adaptations released this summer.

And I don’t mean The Amazing Spiderman.

The sequel to Avengers Assemble is already being written by Whedon, with the director’s chair once more patted down for the no longer cult man’s return, and I for one am already looking forward to it.

Maybe I was wrong about Marvel after all?

Conor Brennan

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September 2012
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