Like pretty much the rest of the known galaxy, I really enjoyed The Avengers. It was note perfect, with great jokes and amazing fight scenes and well developed characters, something one does not usually say about a comic-book based movie.
What I really appreciated though, and what is somewhat ironic given that I am a romance writer, was that Whedon left almost all the romance out of the movie. There. I said it.
Personally, I think both the Thor and Captain America movies would have been vastly improved by ditching the romantic sub-plots. It’s not that I’m anti-romance in my action-adventure movies so much as I’m anti-shoehorning-in-the-romance, which is often how it happens. The Iron Man movies, on the whole, kept the romance between Stark and Pepper at a low flame which really worked (although personally, I simply cannot believe Stark is the monogamous type, no matter how much he loves Pepper…he craves the thrill of adventure too much. And I believe Pepper is totally comfortable with that because she loves Stark for who he is. /2 cents).
In the end, action adventure movies are about the action and adventure. Romance is always a nice spice to add to the mix, but usually it is unnecessarily crammed into the plot for the sake of “appealing to the female audience.” This makes it clunky and downright unromantic, IMHO (ref. Thor). I’d rather watch Black Widow beat the bajeezus out of Hawkeye than for the two of them to make mooney eyes at each other (or even make out), because one of those scenarios serves the actual plot while the other doesn’t.
The Avengers had a great plot, and it did not need many bells and whistles. Whedon gave the script humor and pathos while keeping the ball rolling, and as both a writer and a watcher I appreciated that. It’s a great movie not just for what it did right–fantastic fight scenes and jaw-dropping CGI and OMG PRETTY PEOPLE and snarky one-liners–but also for what it did not do at all. That’s something I can respect.