LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth and other members of the Avengers superhero team on Monday (April 22) celebrated the final lap in a 22-movie journey that ranks as the movie industry's highest-grossing franchise of all time.
At a lavish 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 begins rolling out in theatres around the world on Wednesday (April 24).
Downey Jr (Iron Man), Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Evans (Captain America) and others walked a purple carpet inside the Los Angeles Convention Centre.
"I'm excited that 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.
Other A-list stars packed the premiere, including Chris Hemsworth's brother Liam and his wife Miley Cyrus, and Matt Damon, who had a cameo in 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 the villain Thanos, played by Josh Brolin.
After the screening, the stars gathered on stage and hugged.
Evans told the crowd that he "cried like six times" while watching the film.
"I cried more than six times," Chris Hemsworth said.
Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk, said working on the films had been "the trip of a lifetime".
The 21 previous movies from the 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.
Initial reactions to Endgame were positive.
While it wraps up the Avengers story, many Marvel characters will live on in future movies. Spider-Man returns to the big screen in July in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
A Black Panther sequel is also in the works.