In its current form, The Avengers is one of my all-time favorite comic book films, not to mention one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's best installments. This fan-edit attempts to integrate previously deleted material into Joss Whedon's narrative with surprising success. While I did miss the chilling original opening with Loki encountering the Other, I loved the addition of Maria Hill talking to the World Security Council about the Avengers and Nick Fury. The way that this interrogation is written and acted adds a lot to the story and also adds a lot to Hill's character, which I really appreciated. I also really liked that there were more moments with Ashley Johnson's waitress character to add more of a ground-level human perspective to the Battle of New York. All the footage is put together fantastically from start to finish, and it further strengthens what was already a strong plot and characters in the theatrical cut of the film. This runs at just a little over two and a half hours long and yet the pacing is always smooth. I loved this, and it kind of makes me wish the deleted footage was kept in for its release in theaters, because they really do offer genuinely terrific character moments. Not to mention, more Ashley Johnson and more Harry Dean Stanton will never not be a plus.
This edit is very technically sound, but I felt the scenes included did little to add to the viewing experience. I feel like while the new scenes explain and expand on some stuff, it makes the rest of the film less charming. The subplot showcasing Maria Hill as a mole or cool, but the new prologue that comes with it feels incredibly atonal compared to the rest of the film. The alternate Fury/Council scene, while explaining why Hawkeye didn't kill Fury, feels unnecessary, and it removes the line about wars being one by soldiers, thus making the transition over to Captain America more abrupt. Speaking of unnecessary explanations, it's easy to see why the scene where Loki devises to break the Avengers was cut, especially since it doesn't change the fact that it's, as Tony said, "not a great plan." Lastly, I didn't care for Cap handing the Chitauri weapon to the police officer, since that results in us seeing him get killed, which is a real downer, and at the point in the movie the audience shouldn't be feeling down.
There are only two scenes that I felt should have gone back into the film. The extended Captain America scene (maybe excising or doctoring the part where it says Peggy is in London, since she seems to be living in America by Winter Soldier) and the part where Harry Dean Stanton convinces Bruce to go back into the fight (cutting out where Bruce explicitly states that he's going to Stark Tower, we should figure out what the endgame is when Tony does. The scene would have Bruce going "yes...no...I don't know.").
I do feel bad being so negative in my review, but sometimes less really is more.
I am very grateful toward samspider3 for making this edit, it is well made and the cuts are very seamless.
Unfortunately most of the added stuff has been cut from the final movie for a reason, and I think that only 1 or 2 scenes should really have made it in because they detract from the main story, especially the waitress scenes, the added Loki scene, and Maria Hill replacing Nick Fury in the council scenes I'm not too fond of because 1. Nick Fury is a much more interesting character and is better written and 2. Samuel L. Jackson is a better actor than Cobie Smulders, at least in my opinion.
However, the editing is VERY well done, 10/10 from a technical standpoint this is a marvelous edit, really worth your time. Video/Audio quality is much better on the original but that's only because the deleted scenes are not available in HD (they're not on the blu-ray). The added scenes add a depth to some of the side characters and even some of the main ones, like Cap. His additional scenes really stand out as the best in my opinion.
Still, the action intercuts toward the end detract from the story so I don't think this will replace my Avengers copy for this movie seeing as most of it is really superfluous. I do think every MCU fan should watch this at least once though, it's well worth it.
First, let me comment on the skill of the fan-editor, samspider3: in a word, Excellent. The edits here are virtually seamless -- it was only my familiarity with the source material that clued me in to what was being added and changed. If you aren't familiar with the theatrical release, you would never guess what was changed (except for one scene, which was unfinished in the source).
Now as for the movie itself, I have less kind words. The Avengers as theatrically released is practically a perfect movie. Sometimes movies are cut for timing, sometimes because of studio meddling -- but sometimes scenes are cut out because they just don't work. An archetypical example of this is the Jabba the Hutt scene from Star Wars Episode IV: not only is it a clumsy scene in itself, but it simply restates the much better earlier Greedo scene -- and in the larger scope, completely spoils Jabba's arrival in Episode VI. It is better and rightfully left on the cutting room floor.
Just about all of the scenes added in Avengers EE are of this nature. While I love Maria Hill, she's just not a significant enough of a character to bookend the entire movie around. Scenes with The Waitress just stop the movie cold, especially during the Battle. An added scene with Loki and Hawkeye seriously spoils the later scene where Black Widow "interrogates" Loki. And is there any one person in the world who is finally satisfied knowing where Banner got the motorcycle from?
Even so, as a die-hard MCU fan, I would recommend this edit for an MCU fan's collection. I enjoy the Universe, and this EE allows me to spend 11 more minutes in the Universe, and for that I am grateful.
In closing, here's an idea I'd like to throw out there: Kevin Feige recently commented that they would not be doing any more One-Shots. It might be interesting (if possible) to take a bunch of deleted and other scenes and re-cut new One-Shots out of it. The Waitress, for example: make a little mini-movie with her as the main character. You'd even get a Stan Lee cameo in it. Other possibilities are out there, too. That would be fun to watch.