Avengers Assemble

Here’s a question for UK geeks out there- which of  the UK comics of the 1970s that reprinted Marvel’s comics of the 1960s onwards featured The Avengers? I remember Spiderman Comics Weekly contained Spiderman, Iron Man and Thor. I seem to remember the Mighty World of Marvel comic contained Hulk, Fantastic Four and, I believe, Dr.Strange. But The Avengers? When did they get into the mix (becaue I distinctly recall reading them)? Was it The Silver Surfer comic from sometime around 1975? I can’t recall. Must be old age. Worst thing I ever did was give away all those old comics. I couldn’t wait for every Saturday to come around with my copy of Spiderman Comics Weekly pushed through the letterbox. Weekends like that couldn’t be beat- Hammer horror film on a Friday night, and my favourite comic early the next morning.

So Avengers Assemble– well, The Avengers everywhere else, it seems, but as we Brits get it confused with a sixties cult tv show apparently, we are stuck with ‘Assemble’ at the end. Pity, as Avengers Assemble will make a great title in every other territory for the inevitable sequel (beats Avengers 2 anyway).  In some ways The Avengers is the unlikeliest comicbook movie of them all. Too much of a comic geek’s wet dream to be possibly real. I mean, sure, Spiderman, Daredevil, Hulk, all those ‘solo’ superhero movies… fine as most of them are, it’s one thing to make a film with one hero to deal with (and lets face it, many struggle just with that), but to somehow juggle several superheroes in one film? Its got shambolic mess written all over it. Part of the ‘knowing’ humor of Watchmen is how daft the superheroes look lined up for their group photos, and the X-Men movies buckled under the strain with each sequel.

But somehow this film, against all odds, pulls it off with considerable aplomb. Indeed, its enough to make one giddy how well elements from the Thor and Captain America films dovetail so neatly into the Avengers plot, particularly the Tesseract. The way we are brought up to speed with the current fortunes of all of the seperate heroes, and how they are brought together, is all confidently done, as is the return of Loki and the threat that the world faces. It should be such a huge sprawling mess saved by big effects sequences- you know, like how most blockbusters are. But there are real character arcs here, great acting, wonderful dialogue and humor, a few interesting twists and turns. Maybe it sags a little midway through but its certainly redeemed by the huge last hour, which is simply a comicbook fans greatest dream come true.  Or Transformers:Dark Side of The Moon with a script, as that is what it generally looks like. In some ways similarities to that Transformers film are inevitable and unfortunate, but anyone who read the 1960s Marvel comics will tell you, that New York skyline is an utterly iconic Marvel image, particularly in huge battles. I kept thinking back to the ‘Coming of Galactus’ storyline from The Fantastic Four… that last hour of Avengers Assemble is like a love letter to the great Jack Kirby.   

Fantastic stuff. Like Thor last May, a great surprise and I just wonder if this summers further blockbusters can live up to it? To think we’ve got Prometheus, the next Dark Knight movie and the Spiderman reboot to follow. Frightening.

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