Marvel Studios have finally delivered a film with a decent script, a reasonably coherent plot, some decent performances and a proper sense of spectacle. True, it did take them five atttempts to manage all of these at once. But we've set the controls for praise not burial, so let's continue in this vein.
It's safe to assume the 200% increase in genuinely funny one-liners compared to the previous films is due to the presence of Joss Whedon at the controls. RDJ and Mark Ruffalo (taking over the Bruce Banner role from Edward Norton) are well served by this film (or vice versa). For diffferent reasons, so is Scarlett Johanssen (Black Widow), supplying Whedon's deep-seated need to have a badass female martial artist in anything he does. Ever.
Neither Chris Hemsworth or Chris Evans have to carry the film and are much the better for it. Tom Hiddleston continues his evil Withnail schtick as Loki to good effect (We must have some booze! We demand to have some booze! And the total subjugation of humanity!). Samuel L Jackson is entertainingly hammy, but can someone give him a decent screen role again?
The aliens were from H R Giger via Michael Bay, and the battle for New York was – even for someone like me who prefers his action slow motion and stylised rather than a whirlwind of CGI chaos – was very well done.
I was grateful that Avengers Assemble was not yet another origin story, nor was it crushed by the need to explore a metaphor with mind-numbing literality. Instead, it could concentrate on its core business of smart-ass remarks and diorama-drama and was all the better for it.