Marvel Avengers Assemble ★★★★★
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a wizard wheeze dreamed up by Marvel Studios to wring every last dollar out of its superhero brands after previously licensing them to other studios for measly returns. Phase One began in 2008 with origins and stories for Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth – climaxing with the gang’s-all-here Avengers Assemble (as it’s known in the UK and Ireland) in 2012. Co-written and directed by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), it’s witty and coherent, and finds screen time for Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki the boss-level baddie. There’s nothing to stop newcomers sitting down cold and enjoying this barnstorming ride, which leavens CGI spectacle with bickering, and stages a climactic Manhattan showdown.We are currently halfway through Phase Three, with adventures for Spider-Man, Thor and Black Panther due for release before Avengers: Infinity War next spring.
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