LOS ANGELES • There were tears amid the celebrations.
Chris Evans told the crowd gathered at a lavish premiere of Avengers: Endgame that he "cried like six times" while watching the film.
Chris Hemsworth jokingly claimed his share of bragging rights over Evans, noting: "I cried more than six times, Chris."
The two 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 the 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 began rolling out in theatres around the world yesterday.
Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Evans (Captain America) and others walked a purple carpet in the Los Angeles Convention Centre.
A cavernous exhibition hall was turned into a movie theatre with a large screen and stadium-style seating.
"I'm excited 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 travelling 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 Hemsworth's brother Liam and his wife Miley Cyrus, and Matt Damon, who had a cameo in the 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 supervillain 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.
Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk, said working on the films had been "the trip of a lifetime".
The 21 previous movies from Walt Disney-owned Marvel studio are the highest-grossing franchise in film history, generating more than US$18.6 billion (S$25.3 billion) at global box offices since 2007.
Endgame may set an opening weekend record in the North American market, according to box-office analysts.
Infinity War holds the current record of US$257.7 million over its first three days in the United States and Canada.
Initial reactions to Endgame were positive.
Mr 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," he tweeted.
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."