One year ago, there was no such thing as social distancing.
On April 26, 2019, Disney released Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of its multibillion-dollar Marvel “Infinity Saga.” The film, a direct sequel to 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, broke box office records with its story of the despondent Avengers reuniting to make their final stand against Thanos, the alien menace who annihilated half the universe.
When Endgame opened worldwide, fans everywhere from Boston to Belgrade packed into theaters, united by a shared love for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the determination to see the culmination of 21 movies and 11 years — together.
Below is the oral history of Avengers: Endgame’s opening weekend, surveyed from almost a hundred Inverse readers. Their stories paint a mosaic of the highs and lows of fandom, and the joy we hope to find when we all get together again.
Four Days in April
Avengers: Endgame shattered multiple box office records, grossing $1.2 billion to beat the previous Avengers movie by a wide margin ($640 million). Endgame was the fastest movie to gross a billion dollars, the biggest international debut, and the highest opening weekend in 44 markets, including Australia, China, Brazil, Mexico, Korea, and the U.K.
The geography of Inverse readers reflect the movie’s global reach. They told us exactly when and where they saw the movie. Some even remember their seats.
TOM CASWELL, 28: A Regal in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
BILLY GREENE, 22: Danbury Connecticut at 11 p.m. on Friday, April 26th.
ERVIN AERON SANTOS, 25: April 28 at the Conrad Hotel VIP Cinemas here in the Philippines.
CLAIRE, 26: The Friday it was released at the AMC at the Newport Mall in Jersey City.
SHELLEY HIE, 40: London, Ontario. 11 a.m. on opening day.
VELKO, 32: It was the premiere theatrical showing, in one of the cinemas in Belgrade.
ANONYMOUS: At a screening room on the Disney lot in Burbank.
JOHN, 42: The Odeon IMAX at the Metrocentre in Gateshead (England).
CODY MARTIN, 28: Regal Hadley Theatre in South Plainfield, New Jersey.
SUDESHNA GHOSH, 23: 10.30 am. First day, first show at South City Mall INOX in Kolkata.
CYNTHIA, 62: Thursday, 7:00 pm at the Harkins theater in Denver, Colorado.
PETER ROSA, 14: On the Friday it came out at the Metro Movie Theater in Middletown, Connecticut.
GAVIN GOUGE, 16: Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 in Knoxville, Tennessee. IMAX at 6:00 PM on Thursday, April 25th.
DAN, 38: Maryland Science Center in IMAX, opening day.
CHRISTIAN, 35: Midnight, the day of the premiere, at a theater I don't usually visit (but where I could find tickets) in Zapopan, Mexico.
CHRIS O., 48: Opening day -- at our local theater -- Smitty's in Sanford, Maine.
BRIANNE, 35: AMC Dine-In Theatre at the Shops at Riverside in New Jersey, the night before the worldwide release.
LEAH GOMEZ, 43: Harkins Tucson Spectrum. April 26th, 2019.
LIZA, 17: Century 20 Downtown Redwood City and XD in California at 7:40 pm opening night with D-box seats.
CHERISE TRICIA FUNG, 45: Manhattan, at AMC Empire 25's fan event on Thursday, April 25th.
ANONYMOUS (“STORM”): The cutting room, December 2017.
Fighting With Fandango
Even getting tickets was like racing to get all six Infinity Stones. Many Inverse readers recalled the difficulty in reserving a seat ahead of time.
TOM CASWELL, 28: I spent 4 hours trying to get tickets. I was up at 8 a.m. the day they went on sale with three f-cking devices.
CLAIRE, 26: I saw it with my boyfriend at the time. I attempted to get tickets for the both of us the day that preorders opened, but because everyone else was trying, all ticketing sites crashed. Everything was down for hours. I was so panicked I wouldn't be able to get opening weekend tickets and then I'd have everything spoiled for me.
JESSICA, 31: I bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale. I had an alert on my phone and was very stressed about not getting two for opening day. I felt a weird combination of stress and excitement as I purchased the tickets weeks (months?) in advance.
BUCKETS MURPHY, 29: I remember creating a free ATOM account just to buy my first pair of tickets. I persistently waited two hours for the app to allow me on! Mostly to obtain those free BossLogic posters.
GAVIN GOUGE, 16: I was getting ready for school when they did go on sale. It was like trying to get tickets to see your favorite musician in concert. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but my heart was pounding, and I was worried that my shaking hands would screw something up. Once you did get tickets, especially if they were for Thursday, you boasted to everyone.
CHRIS O., 48: It was a rainy afternoon and the middle school baseball game I was supposed to coach (and my son was supposed to play in) was cancelled. I went online, saw that tickets for the early afternoon show were still available, bought four, scooped up my children right at the end of classes. We ran to the car, drove faster than we ought to have, and then ran across the parking lot to arrive on time.
LIZA, 17: I was in Hawai’i on vacation when tickets went on sale, so I had set my alarm for two in the morning, Hawai’i time. I got tickets for opening night quickly, but wanted to go see it again with my friend the day after. That’s when both the Fandango browser and the mobile app crashed. I spent an hour getting tickets using my laptop, phone, and iPad.
CHERISE TRICIA FUNG, 45: I saw it with my boyfriend and had gotten us tickets as an AMC Stubs member… mainly to get the limited edition metal popcorn bucket. Acquiring tickets online was nerve-wracking, but I managed to punch through a sliver that opened up around 8:30 a.m.
DAN, 38: I preordered tickets a few weeks in advance. My oldest son and I have watched all the MCU movies. I acted like I was taking him to school and just drove past. He said, “You missed my school.” I said, “I know. We are going to see Endgame.” He lost his mind.
Cosplay has always been a huge part of the Marvel fan experience. Millions of people dressed up for the occasion.
SUDESHNA GHOSH, 23: We made custom t-shirts for that day, [My friend] had one of Doctor Strange, I had one of Loki. We went to the mall at 9 a.m. with thousands of Marvel fans, lots of others cosplaying. All of them felt like friends. We all were part of the Marvel bunch.
ELENI TRAPP, 22: I wore my Captain Marvel high socks and had red, gold, and blue eye makeup, which was essentially ruined by the end of the movie due to the tears I was crying.
CHARLES, 22: When the day came, I dressed up in my Captain America cosplay... for the entire day. I didn’t care: I waited 11 years for this moment, and for all I knew, this is the last time I’m seeing my favorite MCU hero.
CHRISTIAN, 35: I bought a "quantum suit" long-sleeved shirt to wear to the premiere (because I could not get a hoodie on-time).
BRIANNE, 35: My husband and I had only just moved to New Jersey, so had never been to Shops at Riverside -- apparently, a very fancy mall! When we rocked up to the place in our Marvel gear (hubby, wearing Iron Man, me, Team Cap, as always), the security outside Louis Vuitton pointed us in the right direction to the movie theater!
“That’s When the Ugly Crying Started”
The dramatic turns of Endgame’s story brought fans even closer together, and many recalled both the laugh-out-loud gags and devastating losses in intricate detail.
CHRIS O., 48: My kids and I loved it. We laughed, we cried. We loved Fat Thor.
JOHN, 42: When Star-Lord was kneed in the testicles by Gamora, I was still laughing when Tony Stark made his ultimate sacrifice, leaving me in a position where I didn’t know whether I wanted to laugh or cry.
SHELLEY HIE, 40: I cried like a baby when Tony [Stark] died. I still cry at the scene even now.
ANONYMOUS: I remember the dead silence when the camera zoomed out over Natasha's body.
EVA, 14: We left in tears. As soon as we got home, I began madly Googling to find theories that proved that Tony, in fact, did not die, and that Natasha wasn’t dead, just sleeping. We were unsuccessful. Cried some more. My art teacher kicked a boy out of the classroom to sit out in the hall because he spoiled the ending. He still hasn’t forgiven him a year later.
RAELENE, 28: When it dawned on me what stone Clint and Natasha were paired up to get, I started to cry. Not only because they are my favorite, but because they are the two that would sacrifice themselves with no questions. It had to be them. Their relationship is a beautiful example of love. Not in a romantic sense. It was heartbreaking, but I wouldn't change it. It was a perfect ending for someone who tried to prove herself for years.
MISSY: I hated that Black Widow died. She deserved so much better. Honestly it would have been more heroic for Hawkeye. He never did much anyway.
TOM CASWELL, 28: The moment I lost it was when Tony’s first mini arc reactor was floating across the lake at the funeral. That was a thread that had been laid since the first Iron Man, which came out when I was 16 f-cking years old. Yeah, that’s when the ugly crying started.
SUDESHNA GHOSH, 23: After we came out of the theatre, we couldn't move on. Me, my friends, and all of the Facebook Marvel groups, we started reading and writing lots of fanfiction, discussing lots of theories of the multiverse, multiple timelines, multiple realities, where everything is just as we want. I cried a lot watching the movie, but I was never crying alone. All the people in the entire movie theatre were crying together, the unity made us have goosebumps. In the end, we all were standing in salute position for the entire credits.
“We Erupted Into Pandemonium”
For many, finally seeing all the heroes on-screen at once was a moment they’ll never forget. It’s up there with Captain America picking up the fabled hammer of Thor, Mjolnir.
BILLY GREENE, 22: The moment the audience heard "Avengers Assemble!" we erupted into pandemonium. By far my favorite moment of the film, which I will remember for decades if not forever.
GAVIN GOUGE, 16: I will never forget the deafening cheers. My screening in IMAX was sold out—over 400 fans in attendance. Everyone collectively gasped, laughed, and cried. The defining scene of the entire MCU; the result of eleven years worth of one meticulously interwoven narrative. I cheered when Spider-Man swung back onscreen. When it was finally over, I went home and just sat on the end of my bed. I tried to process everything that I had just seen and experienced but, more than anything, I tried to figure out when I could see it again. It was the most epic experience of my life, something I hope I’ll be able to tell my kids about one day.
BRANDON, 23: I remember seeing everyone come through the portals. Once Spider-Man came through the tears began to flow. Afterward I tried to find another showing immediately.
CYNTHIA, 62: After the portals open and Cap realizes he is not alone, I cried then and every time I see it.
ERVIN AERON SANTOS, 25: As I saw the dusted heroes come out of those portals and ran into battle, I remembered everything I went through from 2008's Iron Man up to Endgame. Like a cliché flashback, reminiscing life experiences with the MCU. I couldn't help myself. Knowing that all the tragedies and victories of the heroes we admire led them to this moment. A pleasant and timely reminder for us all, that no matter what we are going through in life, no matter how hard it is for us, there will always be hope.
ELENI TRAPP, 22: The Avengers came out when I was a freshman in high school. Watching the battle scene in Endgame and seeing all these new characters I’ve come to love stepping out of their portals still makes me tear up. I remember thinking: “THIS is why I’ve stuck with these movies and these characters.” For this moment right here, to see them all come together. The Avengers have been there through graduations, heartbreak, new apartments, and jobs; it was really a special thing to experience the energy of the audience in the theater that night.
ANONYMOUS (“STORM”): It was the hardest secret I’ve had to keep. To this day, my favorite moment is when the portals begin to open and all of those lost reappear, because I’ve never felt more proud of something I’ve worked on then in that moment, when the audience went insane.
BLAKE NUGEN, 25: Seeing Captain America pick up Mjolnir was awesome. I was speechless when I saw that while the rest was cheering and screaming.
SHELLEY HIE, 40: I don't really like Captain America, but I screamed when he had Mjolnir.
“Their Stories Were Like Parts of Ours”
After Avengers: Endgame, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will continue. At San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Feige unveiled Phase Four, the future roadmap for the MCU. Familiar faces will return and new heroes, like Shang-Chi and Blade, will join the fold from now until 2022.
In the meantime, memories of experiencing Avengers: Endgame in theaters continue to resonate with longtime fans and series newcomers.
CHRIS O., 48: For someone who is fairly late to the Marvel movie world, it left me so hungry for more.
GAVIN GOUGE, 16: It was an event that truly no one had ever experienced before. One year later, we are still talking about its impact—especially now with movie theaters shut down due to COVID-19.
ERIC TINDAL, 15: I felt like the eleven-year journey that I, like many other fans went through, was complete. I saw the first movie with Iron Man with my father in 2008 and the last film with Iron Man with my father in 2019. I was only three when I watched the first Iron Man, but I knew something bigger was happening.
ERVIN AERON SANTOS, 25: Endgame was no ordinary movie for me. Intertwined with multiple installments was my own life experiences. I grew up with the MCU. I watched Iron Man back when I was an eighth-grader. I didn't know what to expect then but I knew it could be the start of something special. It was. Every milestone or worthwhile experience I had in my life, like entering college, meeting the love of my life, failing a subject, repeating that subject and passing it, graduating college, getting a job and a whole lot more, the MCU was with me all the way. You could name a movie and I could pinpoint what was happening in my life. Growing up with the stories of Tony, Steve and Thor, their stories were like parts of ours. It was not Tony's armor or Steve's serum that saved everyone. It was their character, their innate heroism. The same kind of heroism that we can find in each one of us. That is what being an Avenger is.
BILLY GREENE, 22: A lot of people dismiss Marvel movies as "samey, popcorn, cookie cutter" films, but I think that's a severe misunderstanding of the kind of impact these movies can have on people. No movie has made me cry from sheer awe, then again from sadness, then again from joy. No movie has made me believe in the true power of superheroes, to inspire all of us to become the best version of ourselves, to remember that we aren't alone in our battles. That's powerful. That's why these "silly superhero movies" mean so much to so many people.
SUDESHNA GHOSH, 23: Now sadly because of the worldwide epidemic, God knows what is going to happen, we all are praying all day. Hoping for the best. Hope we all win this endgame.
CODY MARTIN, 28: There were things I needed to happen: “Avengers Assemble,” a final Stan Lee cameo, and, based on behind the scenes pictures, time-travel. But I also received things I didn’t know I needed until they were happening. The place card of “New Jersey” erupted my Jersey theatre into cheers that carried through Lee’s cameo. I laughed and cried and spent nearly three hours on the edge of my seat. It was a profound end to a chapter of my life I had always dreamed of as a kid.
ALI HANSAT, 22: An event like this is not likely to come within the next ten years. I am thankful that I lived in the era of this event.
TOM CASWELL, 28: It’s a blockbuster that I likely doubt will ever be touched again, particularly because I don’t know if we’ll ever have movie theaters again. I mean that with all sincerity.
JESSICA, 31: Avengers: Endgame is a special piece of mastery that is truly a feat to behold. The failure of other cinematic universes to achieve even a fraction of the character development, plot coherence, levity, depth, and appeal to a mainstream audience proves exactly how special the MCU is.
BRENNA, 24: I will never forget how silent the theater was after the final battle scene, and then immediately you just start to hear a cacophony of sniffles as we all processed what was happening. I went to bed and could not stop thinking about it. As plot points raced through my head, I was contemplating everything from time travel to the Infinity Stones to life itself.
CHARLES, 22: Before we entered the theatre, one fan from the previous screening walked up to me and handed me his box of tissues. “You’re going to need it.” Boy I did. It’s a great example of how to send off iconic characters with almost a decade worth of buildup and development.
MIKE REYES, 36: I don't know how Marvel will ever top it, or how anyone will ever equal it in their own right.
CHERISE TRICIA FUNG, 45: I was very proud to be part of a big cultural moment. Last year's moment was much more enjoyable than this year's moment with the coronavirus pandemic.
BRIANNE, 35: My husband and I are BIG Nerds and Marvel movies have always been part of our relationship. Watching the MCU from Avengers to Endgame has been a unique way to mark our relationship. We bonded over the MCU. Endgame was the end of an era and a well-deserved victory lap.
BRENNA, 24: I laughed. I cried. I loved it 3000.
ALL WEEK LONG, INVERSE IS CELEBRATING THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF AVENGERS: ENDGAME, THE EPIC CONCLUSION OF 22 MARVEL FILMS AND THE BIGGEST BOX OFFICE MOVIE OF ALL TIME.