Twitter Plot Summary: All of Marvel’s cinematic characters unite to defeat Loki and an unknown alien menace.
It had been a long time coming, but in 2012 Marvel finally did the impossible by uniting several different franchises in Avengers Assemble and formally linking all of the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The concept was always a risk. Would audiences accept these characters outside of their solo outings? Would the script truly reflect the characters and encompass everything that made them work in the first place? More importantly, was there enough room in one film for each of them to get their own fair share of characterisation and development? Luckily for Marvel and the audience, Avengers Assemble hits the mark on almost every level.
It must also have come as somewhat of a relief for Joss Whedon, a man who at almost every turn (Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel being the two main exceptions) has had his various projects cancelled or cut short before their time. Giving him the reigns to Marvel’s cinematic team-up was a huge gamble, but one that has paid off in abundance. His ear for good dialogue is apparent, demonstrated through some witty retorts, snappy comebacks and in one instance an archaic swear word that somehow made it through the censors untouched. And amazingly, not all of those witty lines are allocated to Tony Stark. In fact some of the best lines come from Thor and Bruce Banner/The Hulk, proving that Robert Downey Jr, whilst a master of the art of sarcasm, isn’t the only one who can do this. Whedon also proves to be adept at setting up clear and concise action sequences which find a perfect blend between live action and CGI.
There isn’t much to the plot – Loki has made off with the Arkenstone and incites mayhem across the globe, marking the first stage of an assault being controlled from afar by a character yet to be fully explored but who is infinitely recognisable to readers of the comics. The rest of the story is an excuse for our various heroes to have a few scraps before ultimately realising that they need to unite in order to defeat evil. Standard superhero stuff, but it works.
If there’s anybody who pulls the short straw it’s Hawkeye, who spends most of his time an unwilling pawn of Loki, and only gets chance to show off his true personality in the final act, and the existence of his seemingly inexhaustible supply of specialist arrows. In terms of the story, the generic alien hordes look impressive and cause a fair amount of damage but are otherwise reduced to being one dimensional. They are more than compensated for by the presence of Loki, played again by Tom Hiddleston and looking like he’s having the time of his life as the God of Mischief.
But then these are minor complaints, especially when you consider alongside everything else that this is the first film to get The Hulk right. Finally. The character failed to hit the mark in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk and Edward Norton was subsequently recast as Mark Ruffalo. This turned out to be a piece of casting genius as Ruffalo brings a previously unseen quality to the human side of the character, and the combination of writing and solid CGI prove to be just what the green, angry side of his personality needed all those years ago. The Hulk may not be in a position to carry his own film at present (although with the right story this would be a very good move) but Avengers Assemble is perhaps proof that he works best as part of an ensemble.
Plus it helped kick off Marvel’s Stage 2 movie plans and hinted at a much wider universe waiting to be explored. As time would later prove, Marvel would go on and take similar risks and achieve similar rewards.