After looking through the extras on The Avengers (downloaded automagically via iTunes the instant it became available) and reading through the online directors’ commentary (found here for those who don’t have DVD), a couple of things jump to mind:
1) The only deleted scene I would have left in would be the Steve Rogers “Man Out of Time” sequence. That extra couple of beats of him coping with the fact that almost everyone he knew is dead – that Howard Stark’s SON is dragging forty-five, that you’ve got a black President and Buck Rogers phones in everyone’s hand and all the best cars are Japanese or German…he’s truly lost without that costume and a battle to point at. I’m hoping that the forthcoming sequel delves into that more.
2) Apparently Tony Stark’s line about how the arc reactor was “a terrible privilege” was an ad-lib by RDJ, which just proves what a phenomenal actor the guy is. That might have been the most meaningful line in the picture for me, and he just tossed it out there on a whim.
3) The notes on Mark Ruffalo really make a good point of noting that in the end, there are two Hulks – the one Banner chooses to become, and the one he can’t help becoming. There’s a lot in there about breathtaking anger-management issues that bears contemplating…
4) It looks like they intended to do more with Agent Marla Hill, Nick Fury’s aide-de-camp, and a lot of it ended up on the cutting room floor. As it is, she still feels slightly superfluous to me – unless she’s in there as a nod to future use in the same way Hawkeye was in Thor.
5) Along those lines, I find it interesting that only Captain America and, to a lesser extent, the Hulk actually go by their super-heroic names. Hawkeye and Black Widow are almost universally “Barton” and “Romanov” and Tony Stark, being publicly known as Iron Man, almost always gets called by name. Only Captain America – who has probably been known that way for seventy years – has something distinct from his real name. Thor is, well, Thor, and you can pretty clearly tell which is Bruce Banner and which is the Hulk. Interesting to think about when most people follow the traditional superhero trope that superheroes always have a secret identity and that the hero is the “real” version of them, something Marvel worked on subverting from the beginning.
Now I just wonder if the Academy will acknowledge anything besides the CGI…