When you have a motley collection of strong characters and a plot involving world invasion, who else do you get to direct but Joss Whedon? Long anticipated, The Avengers brings together the heroes of the Marvel universe for one almighty shin-dig. The question is: how do these superheroes, each worthy a film of their own, play together?

The answer is: extremely well. Once they figure out a few differences. It is those differences that are the highlight of this film. Sparkling with witty dialogue and well crafted battle scenes, we see Thor battle The Hulk, Captain America battle Thor, Black Widow fight Hawkeye, and in a battle of God-sized egos Iron Man fights Thor. Unlike some action films it’s never hard to follow what is happening and the effects for the most part are fantastic. But it is the characters that draw the most interest, and here writer-director Whedon performs a fine juggling act, giving each actor their moment to shine. Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the two more normal of the heroes and not having their own films, get almost their own mini-movie in the middle section as they share quiet reflection. Of all the characters it is Renner’s Hawkeye that seems to lose out the most – he’s barely developed, but one imagines a prequel for him in the future.

Black Widow
Definition of cool - not looking at explosions

As you would expect it is Robert Downey Jr as Iron man who receives the most attention and, with his dry delivery, the best lines. Though Tom Hiddleston as bad guy Loki certainly steps up from his earlier outing in Thor, lighting the screen with menace. Franchise newcomer Mark Ruffalo is great as Bruce Banner and The Hulk even looks like him thanks to motion capture. The Hulk deserves special mention: a few awesome moments with him that will certainly please the crowds disappointed by his earlier outings.

With most of the back story already told in previous films, The Avengers doesn’t have to worry too much about catching the audience up with everybody. Instead it concentrates on what Whedon does best – a ballet of characters with glorious dialogue dancing in and out of well orchestrated battle scenes. A Hulk load of fun.