hey! how did i miss this spoiler feature on these boards?
anyway, i agree with what ella says, some of the cinematography certainly stepped outside of the superhero movie genre and elevated the film. the scene where iron man, cap, and thor are standing in the woods (pre or post kicking each other's asses- can't remember), was great with the back lighting of the trees. the lighting of hulk chasing black widow through the corridor of explosions was terrific too.
i think the story had plenty of interesting build-ups...the relationships were just as engaging as the action sequences. the intensity of the simultaneous chaos in the SHIELD aircraft was pretty great too, with widow fighting hawkeye, hulk fighting thor, hulk fighting widow, all while cap and iron man try to maintain flight...that whole sequence was perfect.
i also like how they handled hulk's characteristics....i read where ruffalo said he wanted the CGI guys to own the character as much as he did and the fact that hulk actually resembles him helped create the illusion. ruffalo actually acted all of those hulk scenes out in one of those body suits so the movements are based on his physicality as well, and that level of detail i can really appreciate.
another minor detail i thought was really effective was when the final battle raged on, they had already wasted tens of those "soldiers" an there was this distinct moment where you sense cap's exhaustion, i think they even showed a wound of his, as he stood in the street. there was this distinct sense that they knew they might not win the battle. did you pick up on that? it was stuff like that which is why this film is so much better than it's predecessors. x-men first class managed to do that also, actually tie in relationships between characters you give a damn about.
and yes, when hulk whipped the shit out of loki, people went nuts in my theater! the cheap shot on thor got quite a reaction too.
my one complaint, and it's not a big one, was how fortuitous it was when people were either leaping on or off those soldiers' crafts that were moving so fast. i mean, i realize that is how it works in comics, there is always a flagpole for spiderman to bounce off of, but those effects somehow took me out of the movie ever-so-briefly. it is a strange hang-up, i know, but those felt like cliché moves....or at least they were executed that way
really, the only other thing is i'm kind of over samuel l. jackson. he did a good job, don't get me wrong, but nick fury was always a scruffy white dude with grey sideburns and a cigar when i was growing up, and jackson seems to be the go-to guy anymore for a certain type of role.
it was like when the completely changed the kingpin's character in daredevil. that is not who he is! the cynic in me thinks it is an effort to attract more of a black audience in some way....
in the big picture, that isn't a dealbreaker here.