What a perfect movie! I just can't believe how amazing it is, but at the same time, it's just SO very Whedon-like that its brilliancy should be expected.
Joss Whedon brought everything to a whole new level: he got great performances out of everyone, he fleshed out every character -even the ones who were already very much defined and developed-, threw some jokes at all the right times, found a perfect balance between emotional moments and action sequences, and had a central plot that tied everything and everyone together.
All the other movies were structured pretty much in the same way: the first 30 minutes were dedicated to introducing the hero, and throwing in some background information. Then came a bit of development of the central conflict, a little fight to show off the heroes' powers and abilities, and then the last 30 minutes for the big battle.
But this one is nothing like that. Yes, there's an introduction, but the last hour and a half consists solely on big and bigger fights! I was having trouble imagining how big of a baddie they'd need to make me believe that the heroes weren't going to win right away, but they totally managed to do it! At a certain point, I was counting heads, like "ok, how many heroes are there, because I don't think it's enough." And yeah, I knew they were going to win, they are The Avengers after all, but I've been ~Whedoned before, I wouldn't have put it past him to kill one of the good guys at the last second.
Ugh, okay, let's just get done with it: I knew Coulson was going to die, I was spoiled by Tumblr. But knowing that didn't make much of a difference, because it still made me cry. Him saying that "this was never gonna work, they didn't have something to-" and then seeing each of The Avengers react to his death was devastating, the kind that only Whedon can pull. Throughout the movies, one keeps on getting to know Phil a bit more, and this one was no exception. Him witnessing a moment between Stark and Pepper and kind of chuckling and ducking his head was hilarious. "I watched you while you were sleeping," what a perfectly stalkerish line that is! I won't lie here: I kind of do hate Fury for manipulating the situation, it was such a low blow to throw the fake-stained cards at Steve (I guess bringing back the "old fashioned" notion might have been a coincidence, Whedon's way to have Fury pull on some strings without even knowing it).
Now I need to talk about Ruffalo. I had liked Norton's take well enough but Ruffalo's Hulk is fantastic. I don't know if it's Mark's or Whedon's responsability, but this Bruce is refreshing. Here's the thing: out of all the heroes I've ever heard of, Hulk was the one that was the least appealing to me. The whole getting huge and green while not being in control of your actions didn't feel very heroic to me. I didn't know much beyond that before watching Norton playing that role, and what I liked the most about his movie were the times where it felt like Bruce was struggling with his green persona, and when he was at his most human. But this time around, Bruce and the Hulk were one and the same, the line was blurred. He was still a brilliant scientist with a -much improved- sense of humour, but he was still isolated, and he'd learned better than to trust people, he was angry, and with good reason. The delivery of that line was just brilliant, it's said humorously while he's about to consciously take on his green form and get into the fight. But it's also really poignant, because Tony kept trying to get the secret out of him, and there was no trick, no potion or yoga, it was just Bruce learning to live angry. (The line immediatly took me to Harry Potter and the OotP, with Harry saying he's "angry all the time" when Voldemort is getting to him through his scar. It made it all the more powerful and sad when Bruce said it, because I couldn't help but make the connection.)
I still don't get why everyone is crazy in love with Loki. He's a great villain, and he's not a one-dimensional character. There's a struggle within him, he's got daddy issues, and you can understand to some extent what it is that drives him. I was glad that he didn't take Thor's way out when he offered it, and remained a villain. But I don't think I can like him, or root for him like most people seem to do. And he keeps reminding me of Zod with his kneel-before-me obsession. Maybe those two aliens should get together, if only they were from the same universe... as in, no DC and Marvel getting in their way.
I really liked seeing more of both Natasha and Clint. Whedon convinced me that those two are the best of friends, and Scarlett and Jeremy played each other really well. I LOLed at Natasha tricking Loki, it was such a Whedon move! As far as I could tell, she's the only one out of the whole gang who doesn't have gagdets or superpowers, it's just her ability to kick ass that helps her beat up the bad guys, so it's really great to see her fighting side by side with the rest. And Clint really caught my attention because he seemed like such a broken character a lot of the time. I don't know anything about his history, maybe it was just what Jeremy brought to the character, but I was hoping to learn more about him, and there wasn't much beyond him saving Natasha. I wonder if these two will get their own movies. Guess I can rule out her dying on a car crash with Justin Timberlake singing on the background... I do know Natasha has something going on with Bucky, and I'd looooove to see that! (Already planning some graphics because DO WANT!)
Steve was another one that looked a bit broken and lost. Tony has Pepper, Natasha and Clint have each other, Thor has Loki to worry about (and even Selvig!), but Steve and Bruce are very much on their own. Bruce has to stay away to avoid hurting the people he cares about, but Steve doesn't have a choice, he doesn't have anyone. It's really sad, and I guess that's why Coulson dying, after the little bonding time they had, affected him greatly. He seemed to be the most reasonable a lot of the times, I liked that a lot. Maybe it's just another Whedon effect, but he also seemed less naïve. And I'd like to think that deep down he was thinking about Bucky. Yep, I'm gonna think that.
Tony is having a weird effect on me lately. Maybe he's gotten way too pedantic for my liking, but I didn't enjoy him as a character as much as I did on Iron Man. I still laughed and enjoyed his scenes, but I felt that I liked him a lot when I was first introduced to the character, and it was all downhill from there. I guess the thing that attracted me the most about him got lost the moment he decided to let the world know it was him behind the iron suit. I don't really appreciate the heroes who seek attention to feed their ego.
Looking at you, Booster! I did love the scenes in which it was just Tony, and not superhero extraordinaire, talking. Highlights being his jealousy over Pepper calling Coulson "Phil," his reaction to Fury's speech after Coulson died, him talking to Steve about it, and his little talk with Loki. LOL, these are all connected to Coulson, I'm starting to see a pattern!
Maria's not very prominent, and most times she's just following orders. I did like her pointing out, maybe even side-eyeing, Fury and his lies.
I'm probably forgetting things I wanted to mention, but this review is huge enough as it is. I cannot wait to see more of each of these superheroes and, needless to say, Marvel must get Whedon involved in all the movies to come. I'm fairly new in the Whedonverse, but it feels like poetic justice that he is the man behind this huge success.