The Tesseract is a powerful energy source being stored on Earth under the careful gaze of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. However, demi-god Loki opens a portal from Asgard to Earth to steal the Tesseract in return for a Chituari army with which he can enslave Earth. This leads Nick Fury to put into place the Avengers Initiative, gathering the world's most powerful superheroes: Steve Rogers aka Captain America, Tony Stark aka Iron Man, Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, the demi-god Thor, and Bruce Banner aka Hulk must put aside their differences and unite to defeat Loki and save Manhattan...
Fine, in the UK, it's officially Marvel Avengers Assemble, the film I watched was Marvel Avengers Assemble. I thought the name change was stupid, and that no-one would confuse it with either The Avengers UK TV series from the 1960's or the American film remake of the TV show from the 1990's, until I spoke to no less than three different people assumed The Avengers was another remake of the Patrick Macnee/Diana Rigg TV series. Name change justified. However, a name does make a movie not, and whatever you call it, this is arguably the biggest superhero film of all time. The 12 year renaissance of comic book based-films has led to this: An amalgamation of Marvel's finest heroes in one two hour spectacular. Does it live up to the hype? Well, yeah, but it was always going to.
It was always going to because Marvel has set a high standard for superhero films: Thor was surprisingly great, Iron Man was fantastic even if Iron Man 2 was disappointing, and Captain America was refreshingly different for what was becoming a very samey genre. Let's disregard the two failed attempts at making The Incredible Hulk a film franchise, Marvel knows how to transfer its characters from page to screen with relative ease, and given that the task of every MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) film since Iron Man has been to establish characters in the lead up to this, I would say mission accomplished, Marvel. I'll admit, I'm a DC man myself (think Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash), but Marvel have been turning my head for years with their films and now, after this, my head is fully turned and I'm willing to give Marvel my full attention.
In regards to the film, I think Joss Whedon did a great job with something that could have been extremely clusterfucky. He gives each character equal screen time and equal importance when certain characters could easily have stolen the show and hogged the screen time. The exposition was there certainly, given the massive amount of plot wrangling required to assemble the Avengers, but it was kept to a minimum and even then it fit the tone of the film. There was tension, PLENTY of action sequences, and even some Whedon humour now and again to which the film benefited greatly. The film doesn't drag in its 143 minutes, or at least the second half doesn't. While everyone's "assembling" and working out their problems, there's more exposition than usual to fill the gaps and it drags the film, but once everyone gets along, it whistles through to its conclusion. Also, the final climatic battle in Manhattan was fantastic, I won't lie. It so easily could have been another clusterfuck of action and flying heroes, but everything was kept under control by Whedon, who's impressed me yet again after constantly impressing me with his earlier TV work. Every hero is given their chance and their focus, and the camera work is impressive, especially the long crane tracking shots which gave every hero their 30 seconds.
One thing I was extremely pleased with was the development of The Incredible Hulk. For once, the emphasis of the character was placed on Banner, not "the other guy", and the film's re-imagining of the Hulk character pathos (Banner as always-angry but calm on the surface scientist able to keep Hulk under control) was great, and will no doubt lead to a third attempt at an Incredible Hulk film franchise launch within 15 years. However, I was left disappointed by another character. To me, Hawkeye seemed entirely unnecessary and only included because of his inclusion at the end of Thor. His role could easily have been taken by any other missing Avengers member (Ant Man, any one of the Fantastic Four, even Spider Man). Also, he isn't scouted out as a hero like the other Avengers, he's just an agent who's involved with the Tesseract and just so happens to be good at archery as well. It feels as if Marvel haven't given Hawkeye a fair chance before nowm and it reflects badly on the character in this, feeling as though they're testing the waters for a Hawkeye film AFTER this.
Overall, the Avengers film had quite possibly the best set up of all time, with 4 massive franchise films starring characters known the world over, so it was never going to fail unless it was poorly executed, which Joss Whedon was pretty much nailed on not to do. There's something for everyone, from not in the loop moviegoers to action fanatics to full-on comic book nerds (for once, a Marvel post-credits scene where almost no-one knew the tease!). It's hugely entertaining, but then, like I said before, you didn't need me to tell you any of this, because this film has reached $1 billion worldwide box-office faster than any other film. A lot of you have seen it, and though some may not have been as excited as others, the silence coming from the haters is deafening.