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'Avengers' NYC marathon and midnight premiere

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Avengers Fans 02
Michelle Profis

by Michelle Profis and Grady Smith

Avengers Fans 02
Michelle Profis

The Avengers blasted into theaters just after midnight last night, but for many passionate fans of the Marvel universe, the premiere was a culmination of an entire day with their favorite superheroes. Starting at about 11:30 a.m., fans who paid $40 for tickets, got to see five Marvel films as part of the Ultimate Marvel Marathon, a 13-hour event taking place at 10 AMC theaters across the country that lead up to the midnight premiere. Fans watched (in order) Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor in 3-D, Captain America in 3-D, and then, of course, Joss Whedon’s brand new, well-reviewed 3-D spectacle.

Entertainment Weekly was there to capture all the fandemonium and checked in with marathon-attendees before, during, and after the event to see how they were holding up. Here’s what they had to say!

BEFORE – 11:00 AM

As fans, most of whom are dressed in Marvel T-shirts, eagerly wait in line for their special 3-D glasses (each pair is stylized to resemble one of the six Avengers), some are posing for photos with three costumed ladies: Jen Guzman, 28, who’s dressed up as Thor; Sarah Cotten, 29, Captain America; and MaryBeth Schroeder, 25, as the Hulk.

The vibrant trio, who left Long Island at 6 a.m. and traveled into Manhattan to assure they’d nab good seats, aren’t worried about the energy needed for 16 hours of film viewing. “I think I’ve built the stamina over years of being a nerd,” says Schroeder. “I watched Star Trek: Voyager for 14 hours the other day.”

Across the room, three other ladies are attracting attention, but they aren’t dressed as superheroes. They’re each donning costumes that represent various versions of Avengers super-villain Loki throughout his comic history. They are (from left to right in the photo above) Anna Kenzie, 23, Loki from the comic book The Trials of Loki; Jenna Fisch, 22, Loki from the movie Thor; and Amanda Collar, 19, kid Loki from Journey into Mystery.

Their excitement is written all over their faces (and costumes). “The last week, actually preparing, doing the different adjustments on the outfits and stuff, it’s really just kind of like, ‘Wow, this is really happening,'” says Fisch.

Fortunately for them, their somewhat cumbersome outfits won’t prevent them from enjoying the movies. “All three days of Comic-Con we were in these,” explains Fisch. (The girls got to meet Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki, at Comic-Con.) Adds Kenzie, “We’re used to being uncomfortable in costumes.”

They’re hoping for a thrilling afternoon, although only Kenzie, who’s wearing green contacts to match Loki’s eyes, knows what the experience of a movie marathon is like. “I did the Lord of the Rings extended editions in theaters,” Kenzie says, describing that marathon as “a very long, ‘Oh my god I need the bathroom!’ type experience. But good.”

Inside the still-lit but totally packed theater (one of three screens at the Empire which showcased the Marathon), it’s tough to miss Doug McCue, 27, who spent 30 minutes painting himself entirely green for the event. “It probably would have been easier if I’d followed directions and used a brush versus just using my hand,” he says with a laugh. Remarkably, none of the paint seems to have rubbed off on his chair, which Doug will occupy for the better part of the day. He’s ready, though. “[I expect] a lot of soreness, probably, from sitting around for a while, but I don’t plan on leaving!”

12 hours later…

Just over 12 hours after the marathon kicked off, the atmosphere of the theater has become markedly different. Fans have become friends throughout the day, and now talk about meeting up after the movie, while new arrivals for the midnight premiere form long lines snaking down the hallways. “It has been everything we thought it would be,” says Fisch, as she gapes at the floods of latecomers crowding the theater. “This has been the best decision ever.”

By the 11th hour, Fisch and Kenzie had become experts at the opportune times for bathroom breaks, choosing to carefully select the moments they dart out of the theater as they try not to miss a second of the action. “In Thor, I really had to go to the bathroom,” says Fisch. “But I managed to time it well.”

Surely, though, superfans such as these didn’t dare fall asleep during this epic event! Well, it would seem that the music of Captain America can provide some pleasant, soothing tones. “The second the marching song came on, our heads just fell back,” continues Fisch. “We’d been in the theater since 11 a.m.! We had to snooze sometime.”

For Cotten and Guzman, their excitement only escalated as the day went on. “The thing that I’ve noticed watching the movies all in a row is that the continuity is really amazing,” says Cotten, still donning her Captain America costume (complete with shades and shield) and showcasing the same pride she demonstrated in the morning. The Marathon-goers also used the small gaps between films to stock up on food, grabbing several rounds of popcorn, darting downstairs to a neighboring McDonald’s, and making coffee runs at various times throughout the day. “As much as I love these movies, sitting in a theater for 16 hours is a really long time,” she admits.

Inside the theater, Cotten smiles at the fact that a bond has formed between the devoted fans spending long hours together. “It’s like watching a live show,” she says.  “We clap and cheer every time something good happens.” Guzman, Cotten, Fisch and Kenzie posed for one last epic picture, though the two pairs of friends did not know each other before today. “The community here is really tight,” says Cotten.

As for our green-covered superfan McCue, he has no regrets about swathing himself in green paint for over 16 hours. “Best movie experience of my life,” he says, with only five minutes to spare until the premiere. “Glad I painted myself green and repped the Hulk.”

The Next Morning…

At 3 a.m., our fans emerge from the theater fully awake, electrified from the experience, and itching to share their opinions on the film. The parts they count among their Avengers Must List are any scene with Loki, Iron Man, or an emotionally-charged Thor. Guzman won’t divulge any spoilers other than emphasizing that the laughs and tears flowed equally throughout the film. “My friends and I all went from being tired before the movie to exhilarated and hyped up at its awesomeness,” she says.

Cotten echoes her sentiments, gushing more about her thrill at watching the relationships develop between the characters. “I was a little worried that it would be weird the first time [the characters] met, but we didn’t need to worry about that,” she says. “Their interaction was flawless, and neatly tied all the movies together.”

In spite of a popcorn diet and a day of speedy bathroom breaks, one question remains: Was it worth it?

Cotten is the first to volunteer that she would gladly sit through the saga again, proclaiming that she’s still riding an Avengers high. “It seriously blew my mind,” she admits. But let’s leave it to our green giant McCue to best sum up the feelings our superfans heroically expressed: “Best movie experience ever!! Can’t wait for next! Avengers by far best action movie ever! #hulksmash”

Read more:

Your Avengers marathon survival guide: When to pee, get a snack, and check in with Mom and Dad

Box office preview: Will ‘The Avengers’ score the largest opening ever?

EW Review: The Avengers