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Where to begin?
Story: The fantastic script was both written and masterfully directed by Joss Whedon. Winding these various heroes' stories and back stories together was no small feat. He far exceeded my already high expectations for this story. I was actually nervous that I would be disappointed because I was looking forward to this film so much. He truly surpassed what I was hoping for. Whedon blended together wit, humor, laugh-out-loud comedic moments with a deeply disturbed Loki, scary alien baddies and hearth-thumping battle and hand-to-hand combat scenes (thankfully, with no shakey-cam or extreme close-up cheater shots).
Characters: (Following images taken from HERE )
Thor- I love Thor. He may well be my favorite of the group. He and his blue eyes were amazing in this movie-- dare I say I liked Chris Hemsworth even more this time around? He was funny, smart, and seemed a lot more comfortable both in character and wielding his hammer. And those muscles... wow.
Captain America- Adorable. His solo film was great, but I loved him here even more. Chris Evans just gets better and better. He looks great, the new costume is fantastic, and his sincere-good-boy character is authentic and sweet. He is a fearless, calming force on the team. I thought his character development was great, and his humorous moments were flawless.
Iron Man- Good old Tony Stark returns, full of clever quips, smart-aleck remarks and genius intelligence. He is funnier than ever, brave and stout-hearted. He likes to stir up trouble with his teammates, but comes through when he's needed. I always enjoy his scenes with Pepper Potts, and their two short scenes in this movie were perfect. I like how in each successive movie, his Iron Man suit deployment is improved and enhanced. Clever technology keeps us coming back for more.
Hulk- I've never really liked the Hulk much. His story is so sad and though I enjoyed "The Incredible Hulk" and Edward Norton's turn as Bruce Banner and the "big green rage machine", I wasn't really sure what to expect from Ruffalo. I was floored. In my opinion, Hulk steals the show. I don't want to say more- no spoilers from me, but he is excellent.
Black Widow- I didn't really like Scarlett Johanssen in this role in "Iron Man 2". I felt like she had some good fight choreography, but most of her stuff involved flashy posing for the camera and showing off her tiny body. This time around, however, she is given so much more to do. Whedon really fleshes out female characters well, and Black Widow is no exception. She has heart, substance and gets a couple of the films biggest laughs. I enjoyed the fact that she is able to emotionally connect with each member of the team-- this seems realistic to me. She's not romantically involved with any of them, but women generally have a gift for empathy, and I liked that she has a deep understanding of the men she works with. She is also seriously good at kicking butt, too; she's easy to root for.
Hawkeye- I really like Jason Renner, and I think he's well cast in this role. He isn't given as much to do as some of the others, but what he does is integral to the movie and to the team and I look forward to seeing more of him in this year's new "Bourne" movie.
Others:Nick Fury- Samuel L. Jackson revises his role, complete with eye patch and long leather coat. I've never really forgiven Jackson for his terrible acting in the Star Wars movies, but certain members of my family tell me I need to give him a chance and that he's actually a good actor, so I tried to with this movie. He was fine. Not bad, not too over-the-top, and probably delivered. I'm not familiar with his character from comic book lore, so I can't be sure, but I was satisfied and not annoyed by him, so that's an improvement.
Loki- Tom Hiddleston returns to wreak havoc on the world. He is fantastic in this role and it is enriched and deepened by Whedon's script and Hiddleston's performance. Superb. I loved him in this movie.
Agent Colson- one of my favorite guys, Colson has some great scenes and, as always, dry, subtle humor that threatens to steal the scenes from the flashier characters around him.
Viewers leave this movie feeling so happy and satisfied, I can't say enough glowing things. Just go see it. You won't regret it.
For those sensitive viewers (you know who you are...), there is the expected violence: punches thrown, cars flipping, explosions, arrows and bullets flying, etc. No more than you expect, though. As for sexuality, this movie is almost squeaky clean, the only exception, really, being the short dress worn by Black Widow at the beginning, but it's not so bad. There is very minimal cleavage-- most kids see much worse in the line at WalMart or even at church, I daresay. She does wear a skin-tight costume, but so do the men. I didn't find any of them offensive in the least. I don't remember any cussing at all...
I had many more intelligent and well-worded things to say about this movie, but my brain is very tired and I can't remember anything else for now, so I'll end here. Go see it. Oh, and stay through ALL the credits, to the very, very end. Not halfway-- wait for the very tail end of all the credits. You won't regret it.
I added more in second entry here. Clicky clicky!!
For more reading fun, check out this great spoiler-free review of the movie from MTV.