Avengers Assemble - THOR (Chris Hemsworth) and CAPTAIN AMERICA (Chris Evans)

Geeky fanboys will be in heaven. After their recent solo outings, Marvel comic-book heroes Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America finally get to do cool things as a team in Avengers Assemble.

Pulled together by Samuel L Jackson’s spy boss Nick Fury, alongside Scarlett Johansson’s slinky Black Widow and Jeremy Renner’s bow-wielding Hawkeye, to fend off the threat posed by Thor’s evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), these supersized egos spend almost as much time fighting each other as they do fighting their foe. Until, that is, Loki opens the cosmic gates to hordes of skull-faced alien invaders, forcing the Avengers to adopt a united front to save the planet.

THE AVENGERS - BLACK WIDOW (Scarlett Johansson)

The seismic superhero smackdowns will leave comic-book nerds arguing who deserves to come out on top long after the final credits have rolled (can a man in a metal suit really take on a god?), but everyone else can enjoy the film’s sly humour and slick special effects.

Writer-director Joss Whedon, clearly a fanboy himself, keeps the CGI-boosted action from getting too ridiculous and serves up plenty of witty zingers in his script. Not everyone in the cast gets their fair share, though. Jokey presences in their solo outings, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Evans’s Captain America are largely humourless figures here, and Renner’s Hawkeye is sidelined by the plot. All three make less of an impression, in their non-biff-bam-splat moments, than Clark Gregg’s straight-arrow grey-flannel back-up guy, Agent Coulson.

But Mark Ruffalo gives the Hulk heart and Johansson’s Black Widow is delightfully droll. Best of all, Robert Downey Jr’s billionaire playboy inventor Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, gets the film’s self-aware, tongue-in-cheek tone spot on, delivering Whedon’s wisecracks with sardonic charm.

Movie Talk star rating:

Avengers Assemble on general release from Thursday 26th April.

“Captain America: The First Avenger – Marvel’s red-white-and-blue hero socks it to the Nazis”

“Thor – Kenneth Branagh turns from Shakespeare to Marvel for a hero with real clout”

“Iron Man 2 – Hero or scoundrel: Robert Downey Jr’s still a Marvel”

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