Avengers Assemble review

The hype…
Most films are teased by a few clips, a trailer and maybe a viral video or two if the studio's feeling fancy. ‘Avengers Assemble’, however, was preceded by a string of Marvel tales from 'Iron Man' to 'Thor', and it's finally about to come together. We couldn't be more excited.

The story…
S.H.I.E.L.D. is in turmoil. Latest testing on the mysterious, powerful cube of energy known as The Tesseract (the 'cosmic cube' to comic fans) has failed to control its power, and now Asgardian demi-god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has escaped into the realm of Earth - and he has an army waiting to join him.

[Related gallery: All the pics from the 'Avengers Assemble' UK premiere]
[Related video: Watch our exclusive Marvel’s 'Avengers Assemble’ clip]

Top dog Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has a plan to stop him though: and it involves resurrecting an old, experimental protocol known as the Avengers initiative. In order for it to work, he must unite a disparate band of heroes, and they all come with their own baggage.

‘Playboy billionaire philanthropist’ (to use his own words) Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is busy running Stark Industries, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is worlds away in Asgard, Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Hemsworth) is still living in the past, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is on an espionage mission in her native Russia and Bruce Banner aka The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is attempting to stay out of trouble in India. Only S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is close by, but his mind seems to have been co-opted to Loki's cause.

So can the shrewd Nick Fury unite them against this new threat? And can we keep track of these many and varied stories in the process?

The breakdown…
It's a gargantuan task to fit so many huge Marvel characters into one summer blockbuster, but we can't think of anyone better for the job than Joss Whedon. His fanboy love for his material is renowned and his ability to drop knowing genre nods into his stories is unparalleled. This isn't just idle praise either; he proves both of those things repeatedly in this action-packed, laughter-powered, big, bold and brilliant film.

With so much back story to get in, and a run time of almost two-and-a-half hours, we feared that there would be a lot of repetition and time-consuming scene setting from the offset. We were wrong. Whedon proved a master of rapidly establishing the characters, capturing the essence of their situations in quick and clever shots.

That's not to say that any character receives short shrift, far from it. Every one of these iconic figures is exactly what you'd hope for. As well as the well-established wit of Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, we get a Captain America in full bombastic form and, finally, a Hulk worthy of the comics.

Whedon's superb dialogue has a huge part to play in this. Every line sizzles with wit and flair as each ego vies for his space in the group. Surprising connections pop up between the genius minds of Banner and Stark, tempers flare, gods belittle men and moralisers tread on the toes of less controlled powers, and Loki finally gets a chance for some grandstanding (as well being taken down a peg or two in some hilarious scenes). The emotional politics are almost as much fun as the character building.

Of course, it wouldn't be a worthy summer blockbuster without some large scale action, and boy does this film deliver on that. The skill set of each character is ably illustrated in punchy scenes of muscle-flexing skirmishes that comfortably match the set pieces of previous Marvel efforts, but when they unite for an epic final battle it will blow your mind.

In one giant, stunningly choreographed shot, we carve through a citywide battle taking in each of the Avengers at full throttle. It's a masterful illustration of the potent power of each one of these heroes, a brilliant exercise in the cinema of spectacle, and proof of what can be achieved with top-notch effects and a real vision.

The verdict…
Joss Whedon has taken the genre up a gear, and it's a non-stop thrill ride you won't want to end.

Rating: 5/5

Watch the 'Avengers Assemble' movie trailer

‘Avengers Assemble' is released in the UK on 26 April. Certificate: 12A.

Watch our 'Avengers Assemble' UK premiere report