The first thing they did right was getting Joss Whedon on board. He is perhaps best known for his creation of Buffy and Firefly, and is clearly someone who understands what is important in a superhero movie. His screenplay was spot on, full of clever lines, and making room for enough vs battles to satisfy a Marvel version of Tekken.
The heroes themselves are perfectly cast, and are, thankfully, continuations of the characters from their respective solo movies, and haven't been reduced to generic heroes. Mark Ruffalo is no second fiddle to Eric Norton as Dr Banner, and it's nice to see that no hero outshines the others. They have been given their roles and each gets their fair share of good lines and impressive moments. Special mention also goes to Tom Hiddlestone for turning in a more nuanced performance as antagonist Loki - his lingering jealousy adds a bit of depth to the classic 'bent on world domination' thing.
The special effects are also excellent, but whilst big, somehow never overwhelm the characters themselves. It's also nice to see responsible Captain America worrying about potential civilian casualties - usually ordinary people get forgotten in massive city-trashing action scenes.
This movie goes to show that people aren't tired of big loud special effects action films - but you need more than that to make a good film. By rigorously enforcing continuity through multi-film contracts, Marvel have constructed a believable universe with characters that we actually care about, and that makes all the difference. Michael Bay take note.
It'll be a tough act for the various sequels to follow, but Marvel have shown a sure hand so far. I just hope they can tie up some loose ends by getting Spiderman on board too, although I fear not.
Perhaps DC will get the message as well, and we'll one day see a Justice League of America movie. We can but hope.
What did you think? Have you seen it, what was your favourite part (try to avoid spoilers). Can The Dark Knight Rises top it?
Thor: Be careful what you say, Loki is my brother.
Black Widow: He killed 80 people in two days.
Thor: He's adopted.
(Seriously, I've never heard a cinema laugh that much in an action movie).