More is less in Avengers Assemble, the special effects-laden amalgamation of four Marvel Comics franchises.
Bringing together characters from Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk, Joss Whedon’s frenetic romp deftly knits together plot strands from the earlier films, threaded with tongue-in-cheek humour.
There’s a clear presumption that audiences will have seen the pictures that inspire this battle royale, accounting for a paucity of fresh character development, which undermines the relationship between the two heroes without a franchise.
However, while psychological substance may be thin, exhilarating action-packed sequences abound, choreographed at breakneck pace by writer-director Whedon, who knows how to seamlessly meld live action with digital trickery for maximum impact.
Interestingly, he keeps the Avengers disjointed for most of the film, only bringing everyone together in the same location for the protracted final showdown to decide mankind’s fate.
Thor’s evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots to exterminate mankind by harnessing the power of the pulsating Tesseract cube.
Aided by an army of aliens, Loki steals the artefact from the subterranean headquarters of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D.
“As of now, we are at war,” declares Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Desperate times call for innovative measures and Fury scours the globe for the ultimate team of superheroes, uniting the inflated egos and rippling muscles of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).