Things that made me GLEE:
Black Widow. Hands down, my favourite. We got to see her be smart, and tough, and human, and a hero. And it's not about who has super powers or super tech. it's about doing what needs doing. I LOVED her, start to finish.
Cap! I loved seeing Steve lead. We lost a lot of that, in Captain America, because it was all in montages. I loved seeing Steve as the tactician, and holding this group of people together. I adored that.
Maria Hill, what little we had of her, was also awesome and added a whole new dimension to S.H.I.E.L.D..
I actually ADORED Tony. I'd been prepared for him being angry and self-destructive, and instead we got a genuinely fabulous Tony who while still mouthy and arrogant was also smart, capable, and a genuine team player. I loved seeing Tony actually playing well with others. It really made his journey of the first two films feel like he had a destination in a way that IM2 didn't, for me.
Also, OMG PEPPER! So much of what I loved about Tony in this movie was also how Pepper is in his life. I love that we saw her without the suit and 5 inch stilettos. I love that we see how much more stable Tony is, with her.
Oh, Clint. Clint, Clint, Clint. You taking guys out with a bow and arrows and sometimes without even looking at them and being all spooky ninja is AWESOME. I really hope we get to see more of you. But having him and Tasha paired up was a great way to develop both characters, even if he doesn't really get to shine til the last third of the film.
You guys all know how much I ADORED Ed Norton's Bruce. But I really like Ruffalo in the role. The Bruce in my head, the entire time I was writing "Simple, Not Easy" was Norton. But I like this Bruce lots. I especially loved him and Stark. Let the Bromance commence!
And speaking of bros... I really really really loved Thor and Loki's continually evolving relationship. I had been fully expecting Loki to do an about face and double-cross the Chitauri. But having him follow through til the end is SO HIM. He knows he's making bad choices, but he commits to them. And weirdly, that works so well for me. And for him as a character.
I also really do love that Loki was not just a damaged woobie, but a genuinely frightening baddie. Go Hiddles! You rocked it.
OH HAI NICK MOTHERFUCKING FURY. You are badass incarnate. Please continue to be awesome, Sir.
Thing that made me go WTF?
Would it have killed them to have Phil say "Jane and Darcy" instead of just "Jane" when he was talking about relocating Dr Foster for her own safety? Darcy was just as much a friend to Thor as Eric. Leaving her out made me twitch.
Thing that made me genuinely angry that I am not getting over any time soon:
Fridging Phil Coulson.
I spent every moment after his final scene waiting for the reveal that Fury was lying and Phil was alive. That they weren't in fact taking the cheapest and easiest route to getting a reaction from both the characters and the audience by killing off a fan favourite. It made me angry, because it gets a reaction from the audience that isn't earned, it literally fridges Phil in order to motivate the rest of the team, turning a character into a symbol and taking a three dimensional character and flattening them out into a banner to be waved.
Unless Marvel shoots a new short with Steve finding out Coulson is in the medbay, waiting for his autograph, I will hold this against the franchise for a long, long time.
What made me angriest was that, structurally, it wasn't required for Phil to die. The effect would have been the same, had Maria Hill gone up to Fury and confronted him about Phil pulling through surgery, instead of Nick taking the trading cards from the locker. BOTH would have shown Fury is a fucking manipulative song of a bitch who will do what he believes needs to be done, to get the job done. Having Phil wounded and near death ACHIEVES THE EXACT SAME GOAL, without removing the character from the story, and removing the actor from future projects. I get angry when someone loses work over stupid storytelling choices.
It's cheap. It's stupid. And it's one of the main reasons why I have ALWAYS had issues with Joss Whedon's work as a writer (that and the dialogue being so pithy and stylised that it removes me as a viewer from the emotion of the story due to being aware that everyone is talking like a Whedon character). Because it's like using a tactical nuke to swat a damned fly, for the sake of a nice wide shot of the mushroom cloud. It's all flash, no substance, and it actually turned the movie from one I was genuinely enjoying--even loving at times--into yet another fandom I loved until one movie killed my joy.
EMETA: Okay, so I am less specifically angry at Whedon now that I have listened to the Kevin Feige interview where he said that it was Marvel's call, not Whedon's. But as far as I'm concerned, it's still a bad call. It's still cheap, it's still sloppy, and it still makes me angry. The explanation that we needed to see Loki do something truly horrible to buy him as the big bad? IS LAME. We already know that. He killed his birth father, and tried to kill his brother. We saw that movie.
All of my issues with the movie are structural, storytelling choices ones.
Loki's reason for allowing himself to be captured is a weak one, and felt like a cheap plot device. Revealing the aliens and Loki's plan in the first sequence (and having Thor reveal what the audience already knew to the Avengers as a cheap throwaway line that also makes NO LOGICAL SENSE) robbed the film of a lot of much-needed narrative cohesion for me. It would have made MUCH more sense, had Tasha got out of him that he was the scout for an alien invasion, than him targeting the Hulk. Particularly as LOKI DOESN'T KNOW THE HULK FROM ADAM and having Banner Hulk out doesn't achieve anything beyond some minor structural damage to the Hellicarrier.
It doesn't even truly divide the team. Getting captured on purpose explicitly to divide the team AFTER he knew who he was fighting? THAT makes sense, from both a storytelling POV, and tactical. That I would expect from Loki. That would have actually made his story make more sense.
I have kinda had it up to here with sloppy plotting, and I am still mystified as to how no-one during the entire long process from treatment to screen ever said "This needs some work..." and us getting a better story as a result.
Seriously. A few minor changes to the existing scenes would have resulted in a movie I would have clasped to my bosom with joy and love, and watched over and over again like the fangirl I am deep in my heart.
At the moment, I can't even really bask in the stuff I DID genuinely enjoy, because I am still angry over those structural choices.
ETA: For the record, I'm not just angry that they killed Phil off because I am invested in Coulson as a character. If they'd done the same thing with another character, I'd have been just as furious. Because it genuinely wasn't necessary and detracted rather than added to the story, for me as a viewer.