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I never used to be a Marvel fan. Just like I never used to be a Harry Potter fan, or a Lord of the Rings fan, or a Star Wars fan. Then, as with all fandoms, a story spoke to me. With Star Wars, it was those darn adorable ewoks back in 1983. I was 8, and during a time when my sticker collection and unicorns filled most of my time, Star Wars lured me in with fuzzy teddy bear-like creatures. What was their story? What was going to happen to them? And I became a fan. (As a side-note, that fandom has faded for me since I feel like it’s been overdone and shoved down our throats for a few years now, the original trilogy will always be where my heart lies.)

With Lord of the Rings, I took longer to discover this amazing series. I had read The Hobbit in 4th grade and haaaaated it. It seemed so boring to me and I did not enjoy the story at all. Fast forward to many years later, when the buzz was everywhere about The Lord of the Rings. I had grown up loving fantasy and fairytale stories, so I figured I better read the Lord of the Rings trilogy before the movies came out. I dug in and was lost in those books for an entire summer, following up with The Silmarillion and a Tolkien biography. I became a super fan. (Like, obsessed for a while. Tolkien was a genius and I am still in awe of the worlds and entire languages he created!)

With Harry Potter, I tried to avoid them as long as I could. I felt like J.K. Rowling was totally ripping off Lord of the Rings lore, and I refused to read or see any of the movies. One night, Chamber of Secrets was on ABC Family. I got sucked in. I actually liked it. (Oddly it’s now my least favorite of the movie series.) So I read all the books (that were out at that time) and even attending midnight release parties of the last few books. Yet another super fan was born. [And yes, I promise we’ll get to EndGame – but if you are going to see it, get used to long backstories leading up to the action. 😉 ]

But with Marvel, it was different. I never read Marvel comics growing up. I read Donald Duck and Casper and Archie comics to pass the time during summers in Ogunquit, Maine. I was never really into superheroes and aside from Superman movies in the 80’s didn’t care too much about any of them.

Then, Iron Man happened. I have always loved Robert Downey, Jr. and instantly fell in love with his egotistic-but-brilliant-bad-boy-billionaire-with-a-change-of-heart character. The stories, the visuals, the blurring of lines between good and evil, I loved it all. What I found so interesting is that while the Marvel Comics already existed for decades, how a story ended or crossed over with another character, did not mean it would end up that way on screen. So there were still surprises in many cases for everyone, even the comic fanboys and girls.

I guess then I became a Marvel fan, because each movie drew me in and I wanted more. (I still have never seen 2008’s The Incredible Hulk but eventually I’m sure I will just for completist reasons along with Captain Marvel which I missed the screening for and just haven’t had time to see but I will, I swear!) I loved that they were funny while still having tons of dramatic action and also showing life lessons that each of the characters learn along the way. That’s part of what makes the series so great; there is a hero for everyone. I love something about every single Avenger. The dynamics that have grown and shifted between all of them are a great legacy for fans.

So as a fan, of course, the prospect of an “end game” of any sort was a tad depressing. Just as I did not relish the ending of the LotR trilogy in Return of the King, or the final book or movie in the Harry Potter series, I was not looking forward to the ending of such an epic, 10+ year set of stories. That said, it was an action-packed, shocking, cathartic, dramatic, draining, and satisfying (in most cases) ending to this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What follows is the rest of my spoiler-free review of Avengers: Endgame – (You can read Christian’s spoiler-free review here)

I was very glad that EndGame picked right up with what everyone had been doing since the end of Infinity War. After Infinity War ended, we were all dumbstruck. We needed to see that it we weren’t alone in our grief. I think we all hoped for the best to happen with most of the characters who became dust, and were less hopeful for those who had truly met their end, like my dear Loki (but you just never know with that trickster). I think this may be why the runtime of the movie was so long. There is a LOT to cover and explain and get to, and I’m glad they did. [sidenote: I was very worried about making it thru the entire movie without a bathroom break, but I drank nothing for 2 hours before and was fine :P]

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I can’t really say too much else without giving away any plot points…I wish I could…if you see the movie and want to discuss, come find me! 😉 What I can and will say is that I cried. A LOT. There are thankfully also a lot of comedic moments to cut the tension of these big, serious themes, so it is a balance. (I anticipate quite a few memes being born from EndGame.) I definitely heard a few sniffs of crying in our audience, but nothing major, so I will just say that I am an emotional person, I cry at anything even remotely resembling any sort of relationship bond. I have always been a mushy person, a trait which has been further compounded by 20 years of motherhood and the passing of ever-fleeting time. Your mileage may vary.

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These weren’t just sad tears, though. What I felt every time I cried was a gratefulness for the family that Marvel created and shared with all of us. If they didn’t do a good job of establishing these bonds of friendship and kinship, we wouldn’t care enough to even get emotional when it all ends. There are several moments throughout the film where this display of family is pretty epic.

To bring it back to Lord of the Rings again, it really reminded me of the final Return of the King. I remember being so sad that it was over, but thankful for being able to experience the entire journey over the years. These are the life-changing moments that allow us to see and appreciate how far they’ve come, how far we’ve come, and be able to move on.

It’s been eleven years. Eleven. How much has your life changed in that time? I know mine has changed immensely since then. Eleven years ago, I had 2 kids, not 3. And those two were 8 and 9 years old. Now they are 20 and 18, and I have a 10 year old. I have gotten divorced and remarried and moved 4 times, gone back to work full time. Even this blog didn’t exist 11 years ago (though we’re coming up on the 10th anniversary!). I’m pretty much a completely different person. And so are our Avengers. To quote that 90’s hit by Semisonic, “…every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” And that is what EndGame is.

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Marvel Studios’ Avengers: EndGame opens everywhere April 26.

Disney provided us a complimentary press screening, but my opinions and thoughts are my own.