Marvel™ Avengers Assemble has blustered its way into cinemas at last, its plot brimming with blood and vinegar, like a gross balloon at a horrid birthday party. And yet each frame drips with decadent effects, marking it out as a true bauble of a blockbuster. It has already made $174 million ahead of its US release, which suggests that it could easily eclipse The Hunger Games to become 2012’s biggest box office draw/whore.
But in a market so saturated with comic book movies, many of which have actually been produced in order to build up to this release, can it be worth spending another 143 minutes being shouted at by multimillionaires with latex-shrouded groins?
The answer is yes. But with conditions.
Like the all-star superheroes which it follows, Avengers Assemble seems to bear the weight of expectation without apparent effort, it’s improbable events steered with deft, tongue in cheek direction and writing from Joss Whedon. With interstellar prankster Loki (Tom Hiddleston) threatening to destroy the world with the help of the illusive Tesseract artefact, the team of quite likely heroes have to put aside their egos and combine forces to save the world.
What follows is a surprisingly breezy jaunt through the potential collapse of a planet. It is this lightness of tone and persistent self-awareness which keeps Avengers Assemble from getting bogged down in grittiness, as can be an issue with rival comic book franchises like Batman. For example, it’s easier to accept that there is a character called Pepper Potts in a film which never barks moralistically at you about heroes being needed or wanted or whatever.
This does mean that you have to deal with a movie that is sillier than eight clowns up a wicker ladder, but if you go into Avengers Assemble without knowing what to expect it’s really your own fault.
For all its polish, the film’s resolution occurs in what feels like a rushed manner. Having bombarded the audience with 30 minutes of fighting during a sequence that is so drawn out it almost ceases to have context, one of the Avengers does a Ewan McGregor from the end of Angles & Demons, after which things are wrapped up pretty quickly.
Further to this, context in itself becomes a bit of an issue. While I’ve seen all of the movies in this pseudo-franchise, I’m not a comic book reader, so any winks and nods to long time fans went over my head. Meanwhile there are fairly obvious points during the film (Thor’s arrival in particular) when it is painfully apparent that things are being missed out in order to set up individual sequels for certain characters. Marvel and its paymasters at Disney know that they can keep wringing pennies out of the public with this IP for years to come, but this does cost Avengers Assemble some of its coherence.
If you have avidly enjoyed all of the separate avengers in their own exploits on the silver screen, then seeing them in their assembled form will be almost orgasmically satisfying. But before you reach for the post-coital cigarettes, it’s worth remembering that this isn’t the last time you’ll see catastrophe averted by these characters in a blockbuster. And excitement can only be sustained for so long.
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