Avengers Assemble

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(2012) ★★★

BBC1: PREMIERE Monday 25 May, 8pm

Alien invasion in the offing unless a band of heroes – Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Eric Bana’s Hulk, etc – can get their act together and form a superhuman Shield. Perversely high-toned comic book action fancied up with a few fringe Firefly benefits and an entertaining villain in Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, the baddie who was the only good thing about Thor. Captain America is also unimpressed by the Norse god: “There’s only one God, ma’am,” he tells Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, “and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.” Brave of Ms Johansson to side with Samuel L. Jackson so soon after wearing Gestapo outfits in the 2008 flop The Spirit, but this joky fanboy extravaganza is in a different league of freakshow costumed capers. The world is seemingly doomed and still it insists on putting on a happy face. While blowing up stuff with extreme Transformers prejudice, of course. It has pretty much everything – a flying aircraft carrier for starters, and giant alien monsters trashing the streets of Manhattan – except any emotional resonance. Even writer-director Joss Whedon, opting out of Infinity War, admits defeat: “There’s just too many characters.” Everything is at stake, yet nothing seems to matter except the next money shot. Talking of which, China’s box office takings have made Age of Ulton a billion-dollar proposition. Austin Powers’ nemesis Dr Evil wouldn’t even know what that means.

Certificate: 12
Duration: 143min