I did not expect that I would come out of it with the two most interesting characters being Hulk and Black Widow. Black Widow got a lot of action and important stuff to do, but for me the most interesting thing was that the character worked 1) *as a spy* and 2) as a person with believable human reactions. I think there were points where Johansson played it a little too remote, but I liked her performance quite well overall, and I was amazed at how much I liked the friendship between Black Widow and Hawkeye. (It really hit the Modesty-Blaise-and-Willie-Garvin button, which series I have only lately read all the way through and OH MY GOD is it ever awesome.)
And Hulk -- ) look, the Hulk is the Marvel superhero I always identified with growing up, and still do, so I was predisposed to like Hulk. But Mark Ruffalo really nailed Banner, better than anyone since Bill Bixby. And this may seem strange, but you know something shallow that I really liked? *Mark Ruffalo looks like a grown-ass man.* He's not a pretty plastic boy; he's good looking, but he's got a very masculine face. And Whedon writes the part like a Banner's a grown-ass man, too: Banner isn't macho, he's gentle, but he doesn't glorify his emotions, either: he understands them, and accepts them, and learns to deal with them. And that's terrific. (I wonder, actually, if Whedon's sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen's ongoing battle with lupus informed the writing of the Hulk -- Banner's confession that he's *always* angry strikes me as being *very* true to chronic illness, and Tancharoen's blogging of her condition has not skimped on her anger.)
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