H’wood marks ‘Avengers’ movies finale

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Brie Larson takes a selfie with a fan as she arrives at the premiere of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ at the Los Angeles Convention Center on April 22. (AP)

‘Endgame’ stars make emotional speeches

LOS ANGELES, April 23, (RTRS): Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth and other members of the Avengers superhero team on Monday celebrated the final chapter in a 22-movie saga that ranks as the movie industry’s highest-grossing franchise of all time.

At a lavish premiere in Los Angeles, hundreds of industry VIPs, cast members, fans and media watched the first showing of “Avengers: Endgame”, the three-hour action spectacle that has been held tightly under wraps.

The movie begins rolling out in theaters around the world on Wednesday.

Downey Jr (Iron Man), Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Evans (Captain America) and others walked a purple carpet underneath a giant, spinning Avengers logo set up inside the Los Angeles Convention Center. A cavernous exhibit hall was turned into a movie theater with a large screen and stadium-style seating.

“I’m excited that I’m finally going to get to see the movie,” said Paul Rudd, who plays Ant-Man and, like other cast members, had not seen the finished film due to Marvel’s secrecy around the project.

Rudd said he had been traveling the world to promote the movie and “trying to talk about it the best we can, and to do all of that without having seen the film is a strange experience. So now, to finally see the movie is great.”

Other A-list stars packed the premiere, including Chris Hemsworth’s brother Liam and his wife Miley Cyrus, and Matt Damon, who had a cameo in 2017 film “Thor: Ragnarok”.

“Endgame” concludes the story of the six original Avengers in Marvel’s cinematic universe – Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk and Thor.

It picks up after last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” left fans hanging when many of the Marvel heroes seemed to turn to dust at the hand of the villain Thanos, played by Josh Brolin. In “Endgame”, the surviving superheroes plot to kill Thanos and try to undo his damage.

After the screening, the stars gathered on stage and hugged. Evans told the crowd that he “cried like six times” while watching the film. “I cried more than six times, Chris,” Hemsworth said.

Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk, said working on the films had been “the trip of a lifetime”.

The 21 previous movies from the Walt Disney Co-owned Marvel studio are the highest-grossing franchise in film history, generating more than $18.6 billion at global box offices since 2007.


“Endgame” may set an opening weekend record in the domestic market, according to box office analysts. “Infinity War” holds the current record of $257.7 million over its first three days in the United States and Canada.

Initial reactions to “Endgame” were positive.

Erik Davis, managing editor at Fandango, called the movie a “masterful epic”. “If Infinity War is the brawn, Endgame is the brains. And wow, what an ending!” Davis wrote on Twitter.

While “Endgame” wraps up the “Avengers” story, many Marvel characters will live on in future movies. Spider-Man, for example, returns to the big screen in July in “Spider-Man: Far from Home”.

A “Black Panther” sequel is also in the works.

“There will be new beginnings,” said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. “There will be new stories. There will be new ways of doing it, but for now the focus is on the endgame.”

If more than twenty worldwide blockbusters over ten years sounds like a big undertaking, try locking up the cell phones and smartwatches of Hollywood’s most important people for four hours.

Only a franchise with the cache of the “Avengers” series could have A-list talent, celebrity fans, agents and executives gladly turn over their gadgets for a chance to watch the dazzling spectacle of this caped assemblage four days before it opens – the end of three phases of comic book films kicked off in 2008 by unwitting dice-rollers Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow and director Jon Favreau on the first “Iron Man”.

“It’s been an amazing ride and so moving, I love all of you guys so much. It’s been the trip of a lifetime, and what you did up there tonight was so beautiful. My brother and sister Avengers, I love you so much,” gushed Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, after a three-hour screening that saw possibly as many sniffles as it did rousing calls from the audience.

“I have a lot of my friends and family here tonight, and a lot of them are right up here,” said Captain America Chris Evans. “We have this bond that transcends what we do for a living … I cried like six times”.

Scarlett Johansson, who has played the lethal and empowered Black Widow for a decade, was overcome by the “beautiful, open-minded people” she got to work with. Jeremy Renner, the bow-and-arrow wielding Hawkeye, went down a line expressing love to people including Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and the “Endgame” directors Joe and Anthony Russo.

Chris Hemsworth, who plays the beloved Thor, resented speaking last but expressed the same affection for his castmates and shouted out his family – brothers Luke and Liam, and sister-in-law Miley Cyrus.

The man of the hour, the first Avenger (at the cinema, anyway) was Robert Downey Jr. The on-screen Tony Stark arrived true to form in a sleek Audi, suited and in shades with wife Susan Downey. After the carpet, the actor changed into jeans and a hoodie.

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