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Image Credit: Supplied

The Avengers have crushed an opponent: the modern Hollywood record books. Marvel's new superhero entry, 'Avengers: Endgame', has taken the world of cinema by storm to create a new benchmark: It became the first film ever to top $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) in its opening. 'Endgame' is a billion-dollar behemoth, largely because of an ideal culmination of brilliantly-marketed global interest, positive critical reception (96 per cent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes) and virtually no competition. In addition, theatre owners around the world – including several in the UAE – have eagerly turned thousands of screens over to 'Avengers' for continuous 24 hours a day. Gulf News deconstructs the phenomenon called Avengers for you, and captures how fans have reacted to the blockbuster. And don’t worry – there are no spoilers here! So read on…

What is 'Avengers' all about and why this global craze?

By Dona Cherian/News Editor – Web

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An endgame is literally that; the final stage of a game.

For the record-breaking 'Avengers: Endgame' this is a culmination of 22 movies over 11 years, and an ode to over 56 years of 'The Avengers' comics. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the comics published by Marvel Comics, which first appeared in 1963, initially featured pre-existing superhero characters. The first Avengers group in the comics had Ant-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the Wasp. Later Captain America, Hercules, Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Spiderman among others join the team in the comics; the roster keeps changing, with a few leaving, some staying and some rejoining over the years.

The key to why the 'Avengers: Endgame' is so important for the 'Avengers' universe is that this effectively ends the team-based movies of these superheroes in cinema. Each of the featured heroes or ex-villains or aliens have their own spin-offs and movie franchises, and the movie connects these dots in the ‘Endgame’. This movie is also a direct continuation of 'Avengers: Infinity War' where Thanos snaps his fingers wearing the gauntlet with the all-powerful infinity stones, wiping out 50 per cent of all living creatures in the universe. ‘Infinity War’ broke records too; in its opening weekend haul the film earned $380 million overseas for a global total of $640.5 million in April 2018. It became the first ever superhero film to gross over $2 billion.

For people who are unfamiliar with the 'Avengers' series, the plot is always about fighting evil foes but as a team, as the task at hand can never be fulfilled with just one superhero. It always has to be a team, with no place for a one-man or woman show of power.

Why is it so popular? Well, love and fandom for The Avengers has existed for decades and by now, spans generations – as comics, movies and spin-off TV shows. To everyone who has read the comics, or watched at least one of the individual super-hero movies if not an Avengers one, ‘Endgame’ fills a chink in the story, maybe an end, or a beginning.

How ‘Avengers: Endgame’ shattered UAE and global box-office records

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Cast member Chris Evans signs autographs for fans on the red carpet at the world premiere of the film "The Avengers: Endgame" in Los Angeles, California, April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni Image Credit: REUTERS

By Bindu Rai, Deputy Editor, Gulf News tabloid!

Marvel’s rallying call by its biggest superheroes has wielded a success akin to the thundering force of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir as ‘Avengers: Endgame’ electrifies the box office with a record-breaking opening weekend that saw the film rake in $1.2 billion (Dh4.4 billion) globally.

According to a Disney source, ‘Endgame’ has set a new record in the UAE as well, collecting Dh26.4 million since its April 24 opening, having released across 300 screens. A well placed UAE cinema source has further stated the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe recorded well over 500,000 admissions across the first five days of its screening, becoming the biggest film to ever release in the country and shattering the previous one held by its predecessor, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Fast and Furious 7’.

The source further added that ‘Endgame’ will continue to break records going by its current momentum. “The Marvel film has already broken the pre-sales, the opening day, two-day, three-day and five-day record in the UAE,” the source stated. “With no big film releasing over the next few weeks, along with Ramadan, we can see this number increase exponentially. In fact, I don’t see any film in future coming even close to this, at least not for another five years.”

Local exhibitor Vox Cinemas has also confirmed ‘Endgame’s record run since its opening. “‘Avengers: Endgame’ broke our record for advance ticket sales, more than doubling the number of tickets sold in our previous record for the film ‘Baahubali 2’,” a Vox Cinemas spokesperson stated. “‘Avengers: Endgame’ contributed [towards] 80 per cent of the three-day weekend box office and the highest recorded admissions across Vox Cinemas on April 26.”

24hour

screenings during the opening weekend to keep up with demand for 'Endgame' tickets in the UAE

Aside from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Vox further confirmed that the film also broke records in Muscat and Kuwait. “‘Avengers Endgame’ is showing across the Vox Cinemas footprint in the region which includes over 400 screens. We expect the momentum to continue as many fans are already booking to watch the movie for a second time…” the spokesperson further added. Showcaser Reel Cinemas has also reported a ‘record-shattering opening weekend with the release of Disney Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’, adding that it had ‘doubled its box-office results over the previous ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, which took six days to reach the same collection’ with them.

Such has been the fan frenzy that several cinema houses ran 24-hour screenings during the opening weekend to keep up with demand for tickets. Earlier numbers had forecast the opening to range between $260 million and $300 million in the US and Canada, but the film has already crossed $350 million in the US alone. With this number, ‘Endgame’ has already beaten the record set by ‘Infinity War’ last year, which raked in $257.7 million. Internationally, ‘Endgame’ has set a new weekend record in China where it made $330.5 million. “This weekend's monumental success is a testament to the world they’ve envisioned, the talent involved, and their collective passion, matched by the irrepressible enthusiasm of fans around the world,” Alan Horn, Disney chairman, was quoted by AP, while crediting Marvel Studios and its president, Kevin Feige.

What is the watch order for Marvel Movies?

Here is the Marvel movies list in order of release dates:

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Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in the first Ironman film. Image Credit: ©Marvel Studios

■ Iron Man (2008)

■ The Incredible Hulk (2008)

■ Iron Man 2 (2010)

■ Thor (2011)

■ Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

■ The Avengers (2012)

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The Avengers fight against the Chitauri. Image Credit: ©Marvel Studios

■ Iron Man 3 (2013)

■ Thor: The Dark World (2013)

■ Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

■ Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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Quill, Rocket, Groot, Drax and Gamora work together to escape the Kyln. Image Credit: ©Marvel Studios

■ Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

■ Ant-Man (2015)

■ Captain America: Civil War (2016)

■ Doctor Strange (2016)

■ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

■ Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

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Spider-Man Image Credit: ©Marvel Studios

■ Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

■ Black Panther (2018)

■ Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

■ Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 2018)

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The Wasp/Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Image Credit: ©Marvel Studios

■ Captain Marvel (March 2019)

■ Avengers: Endgame (April 27, 2019)

What fans in the UAE had to say

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Clockwise from top left: Kanika Sharma, Toni Adegbie, Aida Naseri and Raunak Agarwal Image Credit: Supplied

By Yousra Zaki/Web Features Editor AND Ashlin Bangera/Intern

From “the best movie ever” to “What is Avengers?” UAE movie buffs reacted with vigor to the Avengers finale – and here is a selection of them:

Paul Espie, 45: “Right! Well this is the end of 22 movies. Nothing has been on the same level as this including the likes of Harry Potter. Star Wars debatably is getting there. However, no way did me or any of us think when Iron Man started the whole thing many years ago we’d get to here 22 movies later. I’ve seen it twice already. I will watch it at least one more time before it finishes on the cinemas. As I do my work now at home I’m watching Thor Ragnarok and last night I watched Iron Man again. I don’t believe any movies spark the debates like these have. This morning I was teaching an American mother of two tennis, who said she couldn’t believe how good it was. Again it’s just the good versus evil thing each time. I love how often they overlap and turn from one to another. I was asked this morning if I would have chosen the Star Wars franchise over the Marvel one. I still believe the Star Wars ones would win but mainly coz they defined so much of my childhood. I was five years old when I first watched Star Wars. The Marvel one is not as restricted however so the imagination can go completely crazy. I have to say too that I love the female empowerment side of Engame too. Valkerie and Captain Marvel are just immense. But Thor is my favourite character. He is hilarious.”

Menna Hani, 26: “I was super excited to watch Endgame. I watched the film with my sister and two best friends. On our way to the movie, the car was shaking from how much we were dancing and singing and generally just super excited about it. Then when we watched it, I was in awe the entire time. The movie was so amazing, that the drive back home was completely silent. We were all just sitting there, contemplating life.”

Kanika Sharma, 25: "A conclusion to the last 12 years of my life, a large part of my childhood stringed together in this epic saga of 22 films, Avengers Endgame was the perfect ode to bid it goodbye. Despite juggling between multiple storylines and strong characters, the film managed to give each of them their shining moment, no matter how brief."

Toni Adegbie, 23: “It was really good! I was super emotional but it was a seamless script and very well played. I was holding back tears at the end. Before the movie came out, I was super excited! I am a huge Marvel fan and I almost didn’t watch it because I know it’s literally “the end” and I didn’t want to close the chapter in my mind. I actually blocked someone who posted spoilers. That is how serious I was about it.

Sahil Phule, 27: “The concept of time travel and the quantum realm has always excited me and Endgame uses these elements in a fascinating way. The movie was a roller coaster of a ride, from its very beginning to its climatic end. As a fan of the marvel franchise from 2008, this felt like a perfect closure to the various character arcs that have been building throughout these pervious 21 movies. Endgame felt more like a TV show finale, given the fact that we have witnessed significant character development in all the characters. It was easy to relate to them and understand the stakes of the film.”

Aida Naseri, 27: “Best movie ever! I was excited when it came out, but also sad at the same time because I knew it was, like, the end. Honestly, while watching it, I laughed, I cried and as cliché as it sounds: The movie exceeded my expectations. I started watching all the previous movies in September, so I could be ready by the time Endgame came out. I would watch like one movie a week. I can easily say it was the best Marvel film ever.“

Joseph DeGuzman, 36: “I cried several times and I am still gathering my feelings. The end game movie is one of the best movies I ever saw, many surprises, the only movie I cried several times in and people looked like they just went to a funeral after watching it. I had to sit down afterwards and just get myself together.”

Raunak Agarwal, 19: "My first contact with the marvel franchise was The Avengers (2012). From then on, I have gone back and watched most of the films from the franchise. Endgame was arguably the most awaited movie of all time, and needless to say, it was a perfect conclusion to the franchise. The visuals of the movie were amazing. The connection between all the marvel movies played a crucial role in creating an emotional impact on the audience."

Tushar Deshpande, 27: “I have been following the MCU since its inception with Robert Downey Jr.' Iron Man (2008). Endgame was a perfect finale and very moment of the film filled us with excitement of what is to come. The action sequences and humor were on point. Certain scenes carried more weight with it because we, as audiences were so familiar with the characters that we could understand each characters wishes and desires. The actor's, in particular Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. along with Josh Brolin as Thanos gave a stellar performance to further the impact of the film."

Khalid Walid Saleh, 27: “I’ve never heard of it. What is Endgame? I kind of live under a rock.” After he was told it was the newest Avenger movie. “Ahh yeah! The Avengers film. Yes I heard of it, but I am not a superhero movie fan at all. So I will just pass.”

Shraddhaa Beena, 19: “As a marvel fan from Iron Man (2008), End game feels like the finale we have all been waiting for. The plot twists throughout the entirety of the movie, kept the audiences at the edge of their seats. The element of humor was used dramatically in the film. Certain elements which were missing from its previous movies were fulfilled effectively in this film. It was an emotional journey for all marvel fans and was indeed a nail biting climax. “

ALSO READ

What draws millions of us to super heroes?

By Karishma H. Nandkeolyar/ News Editor – Web

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Avengers fans gather at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to attend the opening screening of "Avengers: Endgame" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 25, 2019. Image Credit: Reuters

Survival trait or party trick? Perhaps a bit of both. Storytelling as a mode of communication has existed for millennia even before words were born. Tales came in pictures drawn crudely on any available material – sand and slate, walls of caves – some have lasted to communicate a structure to the current generation, others have been lost in time. What remains however is the fact that we love to share our experiences.

And there’s a natural affinity for fantasy, especially superheroes. “We love superheroes because they are like us, normal people who have feelings. But at the same time [they] have superpowers that we don’t have…some heroes even have a normal job, but then they can do things we cannot do. They save the world for example,” explains Dr Valeria Risoli, Clinical Psychologist, Dubai Physiotherapy & Family Medicine Clinic

Besides, the genre sanitizes the fertile ground of imagination; for THAT could never happen to you. And safe in your space you can tell good from bad, experience a cathartic moment, empathise or just enjoy things from another viewpoint.

The blood and gore used to be incidental. But the evolution of the genre has meant a gape at the macabre. And it is into this framework the latest wave of fantasy washes up – in adult land – just in time.

A number of generations have grown up with the MCU – 22 movies culminate in the ‘End Game’. It’s turned into a compulsion, a commitment to see things through. We have invested in the characters’ growth spurts and their emotional pains and gains.

There’s also a less glamourous element: peer pressure. Socialisation is a basic need of a human being, and by that logic so is watching tales of fantasy.

Survival trait or party trick? Perhaps a bit of both.

Analysis: Why the success of Avengers comes at a cost

By Chiranjib Sengupta/Assistant Editor

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Moviegoers on opening night of "Avengers: Endgame" at Williamsburg Cinemas in New York, April 25, 2019. Some theaters overseas are providing an intermission for the blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame,” but American moviegoers who want to step away must strategize Image Credit: NYT

An avalanche of global fans have catapulted ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to the pinnacle of box-office glory, seemingly providing a fitting finale to the culmination of a story told in 22 Marvel films that have drawn gigantic crowds to cinemas for a decade.

But is the craze around the Marvel universe all good for the industry and the cinema-loving public?

Fans showed up at three in the morning for a three-hour movie; a sign at a London subway station urged riders not to spoil the movie’s plot; some fans in China paid more than 500 yuan, or $75, for tickets on the grey market – about 10 times the normal price; and in Hollywood, the historic El Capitan Theatre ran a sold-out marathon of all 22 Marvel films that concluded with “Endgame.”

Even though “Endgame” has proved to be a global cultural phenomenon, we are in completely uncharted territory and the impact of this stupendous success will be felt for the rest of the year. The first of these is about Disney/Marvel creating a complete stranglehold over public imagination and popular culture. Consider this: nearly 60 per cent of the gross sales for 2019 will come from films that are sequels, franchises, horror or based on comic books.

And then consider this: a remake of 'Lion King' due this summer is still widely expected to be Disney’s biggest movie of 2019, not 'Avengers'!

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The remake of 'Lion King' due this summer is still widely expected to be Disney’s biggest movie

With a line-up that also includes 'Spider-Man: Far From Home', 'Toy Story 4', a remake of 'Aladdin', 'Frozen 2' and 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker', Disney has possibly the most formidable film inventory in the industry’s history this year.

While Marvel Studios won’t make any official announcements until after July, apparently there are at least six more movies currently in the works, and there are eight release dates on Disney’s theatrical-release schedule for yet-to-be-titled Marvel movies.

And Marvel’s Cinematic Universe will soon expand beyond the widescreen. Disney is developing Marvel TV shows for an upcoming streaming platform and has confirmed three of the shows, including ‘Loki’ and ‘The Falcon and Winter Soldier’. When combined, all these phenomenon also reinforce a dangerous trend among both film-makers and film-goers to stay with the familiar. And more films based on pre-created events mean fewer independent and even mainstream film releases overall.

Disney’s grip on the public imagination will thus leave a lasting impression for years, accelerating a trend that began with its acquisition of Marvel Studios. A decade ago, industry experts questioned the price tag when Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion – now the opening gross of ‘Endgame’ represents nearly one-third of that purchase price! The Marvel machine has turned out to be a new El Dorado for Disney – with profits pouring in also from TV, toys and bespoke merchandise. It remains to be seen whether it turns its customers and fans also into machines incapable of imagining beyond its universe.

First-person account: “I fell asleep while watching Avengers”

By Alex Abraham/International Editor

“Dad, can you book film tickets for me please. It’s urgent. Only four tickets are left.” I was in office poring over some of the Indian election related stories when I received the call from my son. After enquiring about the film and why he was so desperate, I managed to buy time till I got home that day. I was told that 10 boys from my son’s class wanted to see the film together and that it was important to buy the tickets before they ran out. So I obliged.

Two days later, after hearing my colleagues in office also talking about the same film, I decided to book tickets for myself and my wife – same day, same show, but on the other side of the hall to let the boys have their share of fun.

And so began two weeks of preparation to see Marvel’s latest blockbuster 'Avengers: Endgame'. I had seen 'Infinity War' and a few other Marvel heroes in action, so I thought I knew enough to sit through the grand finale.

Truth be told, it was difficult staying awake for the first 30 minutes of the film (the action kept me awake for the rest). The scriptwriter and director did a good job of stretching the movie. It was almost as if the producer said: “You have three hours to fill. Now write a script.” The film could have been finished in two hours without losing any of the emotion.

I also realised there were too many superheroes jostling for space. Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Tony Stark – all out to get back at Thanos. The screen was just not enough to accommodate everyone.

To many in the hall it was an emotional moment. “I have seen every single Marvel movie,” one movie-goer confided. “So this is pretty emotional.”

I heard one girl say: “I cried.” Another chimed in: “I too couldn’t control myself.” I guess it was the emotional quotient that made so many line up for the movie.

Endgame was not the best Marvel movie I had seen, but I was happy for the kids in the hall. All they wanted to see was some of their heroes in action and they got their money’s worth.

So I asked myself: “Why do we end up watching films of superheroes?” We all know they are not real. We also know they are not a panacea to the problems human beings face. Then what motivates us to spend money on something unreal. Is it because we have given up hope on the peacemakers and politicians around us? Or is it just the feel good factor? Or maybe it’s a longing deep in our hearts that someday, someone will pick us up out of the daily regimen of killings, wars and negativity prevalent around the world.

As I left the hall I met an old friend who had just finished watching the movie. “I didn’t know you were interested in watching Marvel movies,” I said.

“I am not,” she replied. “But this was the best three hours I had in a long time.”

“Really, was the movie so good?”

“Well, actually, my husband had to wake me up.”

Trivia: Popcorn in record demand as box office soars

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For many people, a trip to the movies isn't complete without a big tub of popcorn. Image Credit: Supplied

■ The blockbuster is being shown in more than 4,600 theaters in America and Canada, making it the widest release in movie history.

■ Many theaters are screening for 24-hours to accommodate the demand to see the final installment of the "Avengers” series.

■ The film runs 3 hours and 58 seconds, making it the longest movie in Marvel’s history.

■ Cinemas across the US have ordered a record amount of extra popcorn and butter to cope with the rush.

■ For those fans wanting to freshen up, some cinemas have even installed portable showers and yoga pods.

■ Two Android phones make an appearance in the film: a Nearly Pink Pixel 3 makes an appearance when two characters are asked by a fan to take a picture; and the Galaxy S8 makes a very fleeting appearance.

■ Endgame has grossed nearly as much money in China as it has in the North American market, according to Variety.

■ Worldwide, "Endgame" is already the sixth-biggest movie in the Marvel universe. It will set its longer-term sights on the "Avengers" film that preceded it - last year's "Infinity War," which grossed $2.05 billion worldwide.

■ Both films were guided by sibling directors Joe and Anthony Russo, with stars Robert Downey Jr., Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle and Josh Brolin leading the expansive cast.

Top 10 biggest films of all time
1 Avatar (2009) $2.78 billion
2 Titanic (1997) $2.18 billion
3 Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) $2.06 billon
4 Avengers: Infinity War (2018): $2.048 billion
5 Jurassic World (2015) $1.67 billion
6 Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) $1.51 billion
7 Furious 7 (2015) $1.51 billion
8 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) $1.4 billion
9 Black Panther (2018) $1.346 billion
10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) $1.3 billion
Source: Boxofficemojo.com