Fair warning, y'all, I'm going to play fast and loose with spoilers.
Looking back on my formative years, there were three major influences on me: Katherine Applegate, Xena, and Joss Whedon. (And when you think about it, that explains so much. It's miracle that I turned out as borderline-normal as I did.) So when I learned that Joss Whedon was going to be both writing and directing the Avengers movie, which I already had high hopes for, I...might have squeaked and flailed my arms about like a Jibbles the Gerbil/Muppet hybrid. But, you know, in a dignified way.
It was even better than I had hoped it would be.
Marvel's been knocking it out of the park with its superhero movies for a long time now, for reasons that I've listed in this blog before: they all feel as though they belong to a coherent world, they don't forget to be fun, and they actually treat the women in their audience and their casts as people. (Looking at you on those last two, Mr. Nolan.) Joss Whedon was the perfect person to take on this movie. He toned down his particular dialogue quirks enough so that there were tons of punny one-liners, but no one beat you over the head with their quippiness. He got to the emotional meat of these screwed-up people finding common ground and becoming more than the sum of their parts, and he whupped ass with Natasha Romanoff (and pulled ScarJo's best performance yet out of her). Seriously, Marvel, get on the Black Widow movie, already, these flicks have been a boys' club long enough. He does give in to the Joss Whedon School of Killing Everyone You Love, but I honestly think it was earned. (And it's comics, okay. Do you remember the Bucky Rule? Yeah, well, he has his own comics line and Sebastian Stan is contracted for six movies. IJS.)
Apart from Joss's writing, the acting in this movie is seriously top-notch. I raised my eyebrows when I heard that Mark Ruffalo was going to be playing Bruce Banner (you would think I would know better by now, given Chris Evans as Captain America), but he's the first actor to get Banner right. Much has also been made of Tom Hiddleston's turn as Loki, and he deserves every second of it. Between his acting and Joss's writing, a bridge is drawn between the flailing, damaged Loki of Thor and the homicidal lunatic of Avengers. I would commit minor crimes to find out what really went down between Loki and Thanos in deep space, and I cannot wait for the potential villain(s) of Thor 2.
Seriously. Go see this movie. If you like comics, heroes, or shit going BOOM, you are in for a treat.