Calling all geeks, nerds and comic book dweebs (myself included.)

It’s the end of a saga (but not the end of an era) as Avengers: Endgame opens this weekend. Haven’t bought a ticket yet? So sorry – it’s all sold out.

If you’ve never seen one of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU – yes, it has its own acronym), I cannot overstate the importance these 22 movies have played in current western pop culture, starting with Iron Man in 2008.

Marvel took a huge chance on this movie — it was a lesser-known comic series, with a character no one thought valuable — and spun a fun, rollicking tale with a twist at the end when Tony Stark blurts out “The truth is … I am Iron Man” to a shocked gaggle of reporters. End scene.

There was no initial plan to have the movies reference each other, and no timeline to complete the story. But they started to come together.

That one Iron Man movie spun out nearly two dozen more and introduced us to the Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Nic Fury, Captain Marvel and so many more. It also spun out a well-liked TV series (The Agents of SHIELD,) a well-received but little-watched series (Agent Carter) and a TV series that was quickly cancelled (Inhumans.) Several other shows are in the works, as are other movies.

The movies set up a few inside jokes that quickly became tradition. Each movie has a Stan Lee cameo (as does several Marvel movies outside the MCU, including the X-men series and the Spiderman movies that are outside the MCU) so knowing this one will not due to his death is, frankly, a downer. But each one also has an end credits scene that people now expect, and it generally sets up the next film in the MCU. (My favourite – The Avengers eating shawama. Cracks me up every time.)

University of Manitoba film instructor David Annandale said there are several key elements that have made the MCU massively popular.

“It has all the pleasures from everything from say a Robin Hood film to an Indiana Jones film to a James Bond film, and also a lot of the pleasures from say a Star Wars piece,” he said.

“One of the factors has been the advance of technology and special effects, that film can now essentially perfectly replicate the comic book experience,” he added.

“They have generally been able to give to the audience this mixture that they want of humour, with a dash of tragedy, or perhaps a bit more tragedy depending on the film.”

But, in my opinion, what kept it all together and made it so successful was one thing that the writers kept in mind — while destroying New York is fun, and blasting aliens to bits is exciting, and defending Wakanda is suspenseful — it’s the characters and the relationships between those characters that make it worth watching.

It’s something DC movie writers mostly have failed to do so far.

Couch potato Brett Mcgarry’s spoiler-free review:

4.5 couch cushions out of 5

“Only one big movie this weekend. It’s Avengers Endgame, the culmination of an 11-year-journey for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Twenty-one films all coming to a head in Endgame.

“This movie follows last year’s Avengers Infinity War that saw Earth’s mightiest heroes assemble to fight a big purple guy from space, a guy who wanted to wipe out half of life everywhere — and he succeeded. Now the Avengers are trying to fight back.

YOU CAN BELIEVE THE HYPE. Avengers Endgame delivers in spades. Yes, it’s three hours long, but it never feels like a drag, because the movie is surprisingly light-hearted.

Given the gravity of what’s at stake, this movie is pretty much everything I was hoping for — a solid mix of fun and heft with some big and surprising crowd pleasing moments combined with some big emotional payoffs to conclude this chapter of the MCU.

Speaking of spoilers

OK, people. Do NOT be that person who posts spoilers on social media. Nobody likes that person. Ever. It’s not funny, it just makes you a jerk. No spoilers. Not even vague ones, we’re smart enough to figure things out.

The general consensus for a blockbuster movie is that you give people a month to see it before you talk about it online.

However, we know that you may run into them online – so you can mute certain keywords on Twitter … and maybe just stay off social media for a few weeks. Your mental health will thank you anyway.

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