I’ve never experienced anything like it in a theater. Captain America (Chris Evans), overwhelmed, picks himself up off of the ground. He prepares to face Thanos (Josh Brolin) when suddenly, he hears a voice. “Hey Cap, it’s Sam,” the Avenger hears in his ear. “On your left.” It’s what has become known as The Portals Scene from Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Endgame, and it gives me chills every time that I think about it. Or watch it. And especially when I watch one of those incredible reaction videos where an opening weekend crowd reacts in unison to Portals, and the return of all of the “snapped” Marvel superheroes.
You know who else watches those videos and gets emotional? Marvel President Kevin Feige, who told me during a recent press day for WandaVison that he went to see Avengers: Endgame with a crowd three times. And that moment still hits him in all of the feels, but for a very specific reason. Watch his video above for the answer.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve never seen an audience react that like to a movie in a movie theater. Marvel fans watching the conclusion to the Infinity Saga treated Avengers: Endgame like a rock concert, screaming and cheering and hollering at the screen as their favorite characters returned from the “dusting.” Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) gets a massive cheer. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man usually gets a loud cheer when you rewatch the audience reaction videos. And of course, when Cap (Chris Evans) whispers “assemble,” the audience tends to lose it.
For Kevin Feige, though, that moment (and the footage) means something else. To him, it’s a reminder of the communal experience of enjoying a movie together, like so many of us did for Avengers: Endgame, but haven’t in a long while thanks to the theaters being shutdown. Feige told CinemaBlend:
I've seen those videos. Joe (Russo) has sent them around tlo show me. He may have recorded one or two of them, and shared them with us occasionally as they popped up online. It's good, especially spending almost a year alone -- all of us in our homes -- feeling that again. That's where I get emotional, is the experience of being in an audience, sharing an experience with a bunch of strangers, a positive experience with a bunch of strangers again. Which is what was always meaningful to me -- not just as a fan, as an audience member primarily, but also as a filmmaker.
This partially explains why Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios have been so rigid about maintaining theatrical windows for movies like Black Widow or Eternals, not allowing them to go to Disney+. He wants to create memorable theatrical experiences, and we WANT him to give those to us. WandaVision is totally different, and works very well for television. But we are chomping at the bit to get back to a point where we all can enjoy an MCU story together on the big screen. Hopefully by May.