In Whedon we trust. Whatever about the hype, the expectations around the cinematic debut of Marvel’s Avengers were as enormous as it gets, and this is perhaps the biggest single comic crossover event since the legendary US comic company first brought their superheroes to the cineplexes (yep, including Spidey's debut).

After Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America, the stage was set – and with Joss Whedon directing and co-writing the script, fans were zealously enthusiastic. Whedon – the man behind great TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse – is a highly respected figure in the geekdom universe. And fair play, he’s delivered.

Right from the off, this movie grabs you by the limited edition t-shirt and refuses to let go as it speeds through two hours-plus of comic book box-ticking. Lots of action? Check. Superb effects? Check. Robert Downey Jr? Check. Someone looking amazing in a catsuit? Double-check!

While Downey once again steals the show in a mega-budget blockbuster (that’s a run of five out of five movies between the two Iron Man flicks, a brace of Sherlock Holmes tales and this one), the unspoken, all-nodding talking-point for many a comic book geek will be the presence of Scarlett Johansson and the way she fits into Black Widow’s catsuit.

This movie may be about as subtle as a Hulk uppercut, but Mark Ruffalo shows a deft touch as Bruce Banner and his green alter ego. Chris Hemsworth is hunk-tastic as he repeats his gravel-voiced, Norse God thing as Thor, Chris Evans performs a similar, if more Stars-n-stripes task as Captain America, while Clark Gregg is an excellent everyman and SHIELD jobsworth in the pivotal role of Agent Coulson.

Nice, too, to see How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders (FYI: she’s Robin Scherbatsky) as the strong-willed sidekick of Samuel L Jackson’s SHIELD boss Nick Fury. And finally, hats off to the movie’s token baddie, Thor’s brother Loki, played with great presence by that very talented English actor, Tom Hiddleston. He also boasts the coolest on-screen overcoat since The Matrix. Nice.

But what makes Avengers Assemble really tick is Joss Whedon’s often humorous touch and ability to make it all seem, well, real. Seriously, that’s what a good superhero yarn has to be: believable.

Go forth and multiplex!

John Byrne