Had this deleted scene from The Avengers been left in place, the finale's widespread destruction might have resonated more directly with some sad, tragic notes. It's not that there's no sense of "disaster" in the film as it stands, just that this opening really nailed that on the head.
I absolutely love this scene. It speaks to me – particularly the reveal of Steve Rogers, wielding his shield but looking down, reflecting. I wish it had been left in place. Time for a Connelly fan edit, maybe.
Brilliant stuff. There's acknowledgment of the costs of war, and while I don't think it goes so far as to paint the climax of the film as a pyrrhic victory, it does delve deeper into the widespread death and destruction in a way that was always locked up in the theatrical cut.
I'll be very curious to hear what, if anything, Joss Whedon has to say about this scene on the DVD and Blu-ray.