I didn't see The Cabin in the Woods, so I finally had to catch The Avengers, just to keep my Joss Whedon Continuing Education credits current.
Chases, explosions and city-demolishing action are lost on me, so I have no opinion about those, but I found the characters likable and appreciated the humorous dialogue.
There's not much to say about this romp. It was fun, not deep. So, I'll just point out things that left me with questions.
I was not familiar with Tom Hiddleston going in and I found him especially good as the villain Loki. He's the bad guy up against 6 superheroes, so we know he's going to lose very badly (but oddly enough they don't kill him, I suppose out of deference to his brother Thor) and he's often made a buffoon. The script lets him puff up his arrogance just to make the inevitable deflation fun, so it would be easy for him to come off as weak or ineffectual. But he's not. He's never really threatening, but the movie is as much a battle of wits (or witty) as it is a battle of brawn. On that score, the polished Loki can hold his own against the other 6.
I knew a fair amount about The Hulk's origin story from the old Bill Bixby television series, but I still don't understand how much control Bannon's brain has over the monster. I suppose it's clear that he will destroy anyone who is around when there are slim pickings, but it seems that if he has a crowd of victims to choose from, Hulk goes after the bad guys first and helps his allies. Plus, he's cerebral enough to understand Loki's archaic ramblings, grunting that Loki is a "puny giant," after humorously pounding the villain like a ragdoll, to quickly end a proud speech exalting the superiority of Gods.
Hulk seems to understand and make choices fairly well. How unbridled is this beast really? Sure, after quelling all of their enemies temporarily, Hulk hauls off and punches Thor for lack of anything better to do (which reminded me of a hilarious Buffy scene when Angel, soul intact, slugs Xander declaring, "that guy just bugs me."), but he also actually rescues Ironman and screams in frustration (or grief) when it seems that Stark is dead. He was definitely controlling his violence to some extent. I don't know if this means the writer cheated a bit or if Hulk is really more complex than I thought.
I was also surprised that Hulk doesn't just jump really high. He actually flies for all intent and purposes.
This was my first time seeing Cobie Smulders outside of How I Met Your Mother. She slimmed down for the role and is sporting a sleek, futuristic haircut. Though her role was small, it was substantive and her character survived, so there's hope she'll make the sequel. Nice going for her.
Captain America was frozen for 70 years, yet when he and Stark meet, he doesn't seem to be completely unaware of who Stark is and Stark knows him too. It's almost like they have a history (did they develop one in some movie that I missed?). Stark mentions that his father idolized Captain America, so maybe he only knows the man's legend, but it seemed like they had been rivals in the past. I better go watch the last Ironman movie, to see what is eluding me.
I think it's ridiculous that Pepper didn't pick up her cell phone when Tony was calling to say goodbye, right at the end of his suicide mission. She knows him and the chances he takes. She knows that he is just the type of person who would try to get a message to her even while hurtling towards death. It would be not be a time for her to let it go to voicemail.
I know nothing about the backstories for Hawkeye and The Black Widow and found myself wanting to know more about their relationship. So, that would be a spinoff movie that I'm up for.
During all of the fighting, we saw the K fall off of the giant STARK building. I loved the ending where all but one letter has been destroyed. The "A" remains for Avengers. Nice way to end with the title.