Marvel's ensemble action comedy is a smashing success
The beauty of Marvel’s recent efforts like Iron Man and Thor is that they’ve displayed a level of wit you’d never find in the old comic books. Marvel and Paramount must have known all along that writer-director Joss Whedon would pick up the comedic balls of the different franchises and hit them all out of the park with ease. Working on the multi-strand, tongue-in-cheek narratives of Buffy and Angel has prepared him well for the structural challenges of an all-action flick with a surfeit of heroes, and when they’re not battling an army of monsters from across the universe these Avengers are working out their issues with each other in delicious scenes of banter.
Brought together by Nick Fury (Jackson), they include slippery spy Black Widow (Johansson), Hulk (Ruffalo, surpassing Bana and Norton’s shots at the role) and Captain America (Evans), whose sudden appearance 70 years after World War II is hurriedly explained by some trapped-in-ice flashbacks. The fact that he’s missed the last 70 years of pop culture puts the Captain on the back foot in this company: when someone makes a Wizard of Oz joke, he’s delighted to have understood the reference.