Having to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier after watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a bit anti-climatic in one or two scenes, but only a little, although it did raise the question as to what the new spy organisation will be called now. Watchers of the Joss Whedon small screen version of the Marvel verse may have been asking themselves that same question after last Tuesday’s episode. Whedon’s show about Agent Coulson and his small band of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents has received its fair share of complaints from viewers who wanted more crossover and tie-in episodes.
Could there possibly be anyone out there who isn’t aware of writer/director Joss Whedon‘s Avengers Assemble? Unless you live in a place with no television, radio, or newspapers, or you have been shipwrecked on a deserted island for the last two years, you have probably been aware of it for some time. Apparently as long ago as 2008 when both The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man were distributed, Joss had been pencilled in to direct this epic feature.
Epic is probably too small a word, but in the world of terms, it fits. The cast list alone qualifies the film in the category of ‘Wow’ and in the world of cinema, you have to go all out to get those bums on the seats. *or conversely guarantee future sales and rentals of the DVD.
I might just point out that in the US the film is titled Marvel’s The Avengers, while in the UK and Ireland the title has been changed to Avengers Assemble. I have never understood the English preoccupation with re-naming films. I am fairly certain that the audience that this film is aimed at will know who Marvel’s The Avengers are. Perhaps it has to do with the company logo of Marvel, although I doubt it. I have seen other films retitled for no apparent reason before. I think it might have to do with the fact that the English censors have had a jolly good go at hacking the film and have changed it from it’s original released form. I do know that the Teaser at the very end of the credits, which show the Avengers in an American fast food restaurant was missing from the print I saw last night.
I will not go into any detail of the plot. Like I said before, unless you’ve been totally removed from civilization you will know it anyway.
So, in true Readers Digest form, here is the plot. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is the head of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. which has the responsibility of guarding the Tesseract, an extremely powerful blue cube which is in essence a doorway to the far reaches of space. Evil villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) shows up, steals the Tesseract and three of Fury’s men, one of whom is Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). He escapes causing huge amounts of devastation to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.
Nick then gets permission from the ‘Council’ to recruit the following super-heroes to help get the Tesseract back: The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and eventually Thor ( Chris Hemsworth). Cue a long set of montages (scenes) which show what the super-heroes are doing when they get Nick’s call.
Some old favourites of mine reappear, Agent Phil (Clark Gregg playing one of the most low-key super agents in the world), Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow and how does this lady manage to keep looking so good?) Plus cameos from the Great Stan “the man” Lee, and my personal favourite, Harry Dean Stanton. I was also amazed to see at the end that Alexis Denisof had a role of The Other, one of the aliens that make a deal with Loki. I’ve got a fondness for Denisof, we both worked on the same film in the late 80’s.
This is a film that is packed with so many ‘star’ names it feels like a sort of awards ceremony prelude. But what this film does best is remind the world, in case they forgot, of the genius that is Joss Whedon. Just the snappy up-to-date topical dialogue alone is worth the price of admission. I found my self laughing out loud several times at the interaction between the players.
Agent Phil and his “fan-boy” dealings with Captain America. Iron Man poking Dr Banner (the Hulk) with a sharp pen-like object to see if it will cause Banner to “Hulk-out” and the bickering between Captain America and Iron Man. All the characters had that “touch of Whedon” in the way they interacted with each other. I completely fell apart when Loki first meets the Hulk for the first time. Loki informs the Hulk with disdain that all the Avengers are puny and cannot possibly cause him, A God, any problems. The Hulk wordlessly grabs Loki by the ankles and proceeds to swing him back and forth into the floor, leaving Loki whimpering in pain. The Hulk strides off muttering, “Puny God.” I also loved the Black Widow putting Agent Phil on hold while she deals with the criminals who have her tied to a chair and, in their minds, about to die.
My only complaint was that the film, necessarily, spent a large amount of screen time getting the Avengers together and getting them to start working as a team. But that was needed as each of the super heroes was a “solo” act. That screen time was essential to show them bonding and realizing that they could work as a team.
I only hope that when the sequels start, Joss Wedon is in the drivers seat again.