It explodes with eye-popping action sequences and rollicking dialogue, while keeping all the super-powered plates spinning at the same time.
Mark Ruffalo's Hulk really steals the show in The Avengers
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth
After making their collective comic-book debut almost 50 years ago, The Avengers's recent push towards the big screen has seemed like a well-organised military campaign, with five solo movies featuring the characters Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk setting the epic stage. But while a superhero tag-team match such as this was always going to make fanboys drool, how could such a film hope to juggle its brightly coloured cast in a way that would keep the average moviegoer's attention?
The answer, it seems, was to hire the Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon – a man well versed in not only handling multiple storylines, but also in making the ridiculous seem plausible – to write and direct.
As well as delivering a movie that explodes with eye-popping action sequences and rollicking dialogue, he also succeeds at keeping all the super-powered plates spinning at the same time. Downey's Iron Man is as enthralling as ever, however, it's Ruffalo's seething Hulk that really steals the show. But where the film falls down is in its story.
Despite clocking in at more than two hours and 20 minutes, The Avengers can be summarised thus: they meet, they fight one another, they fight aliens, the end.
In the past, comic-book movies were not known for their brains, but the recent Batman and X-Men franchises proved that superheroes could indeed grapple with big ideas. The Avengers, however, has more in common with 1980's Flash Gordon: it's noisy, it's fun, it's camp, but it's thinner than the pages from which its characters sprung.