"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, The Avengers were born - to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand..."
The Avengers have finally assembled in Joss Whedon's much-hyped blockbuster and, after all the scene-setting in previous movies, one question hangs over our harassed heroes' heads: is it worth the wait?
In the grand old Marvel tradition these mismatched heroes spend some time bitching and fighting amongst themselves before putting aside their differences to tackle their common foes. All these verbal and physical smack-downs are great fun and cinematic catnip for super hero fans. The three-way scrap between Thor, Cap and Iron Man is like a 1970's issue of Marvel Team-Up blown up for the silver screen: repulsor rays versus shield versus hammer. When the action hits the streets of New York the Avengers are forced to become a team and it's a delight to see the characters slotting into their familiar roles... and kickin' arse. I've only been waiting 40 years for this :-)
Whedon does a great job of tackling the large cast and giving them all ( with the possible exception of Hawkeye ) their chance to shine. As always, Robert Downey Jr gets all the best snarky lines as Tony Stark ( Tony Snark? ); Chris Evans is touching as the man out of time, struggling to understand the 21st century; Scarlet Johannson is given some suitably Whedon-esque issues to deal with; and Mark Ruffalo is subtle and witty as probably the best screen Bruce Banner yet.
Some favourite moments ( may contain spoilers ) :
The Helicarrier rising out of the sea
The first, ripped-shirt sighting of the Hulk
Lovely cameos by Harry Dean Stanton, Jenny Agutter and Stan The Man
The Black Widow / Loki confrontation
Thor bringing the lightning
Cap showing the NYPD how to tackle alien invaders
Agent Coulson's moment of glory
That teaser at the end! Please don't walk out before the credits are over...