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MATTOON -- Danielle King and her family have become big Marvel superhero fans while watching all 21 movies leading up to "Avengers: Endgame," so they decided to do something special for the debut of this climactic film Thursday evening.

"We have never gone on opening night before, so we figured we might as well go big or go home," King said as they arrived two hours early for the 6 p.m. Thursday first showing of "Endgame" at the AMC Classic Mattoon 10. "We have been looking forward to it."

King said she and her husband, Joe, purchased movie tickets for them and their children Tyler, 15; Jill, 13; and Logan, 7 two weeks ago. She said the children did their homework during the drive to the theater and her husband planned to join them there after work.

To keep her children occupied during the two-hour wait in the auditorium for "Endgame" to begin, King said she brought along a Nintendo Switch video game system and two tablets for them to use.

"We are just going to hang out and hope our battery life lasts," King said.

"Endgame" will bring to a close a Marvel movie story arc that began in 2008 with the first "Iron Man" film. King said Tony Stark's "Iron Man," who once described himself as a "genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist," is her favorite Avenger because he is "just awesome."

Logan, 7, explained that scientist Bruce Banner's hulking, smashing green alter ego is his favorite Avenger, "Because he is like a person and when that person gets mad he turns into the Hulk."

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Iron Man got a hulk sized share of attention on the theater's front walk, where two "Iron Man Matte Gray" 2019 Hyundai Kona compact sport utility vehicles were on display. The two vehicles provided by the K.C. Summers dealership in Mattoon have small Iron Man and Marvel logos on the exteriors, plus Tony Stark's signature on the dashes.

Thomas Dial of Charleston; his girlfriend, Tapanga Morgan of Charleston; his cousin, Sam Hansen of Charleston; and friend Keenan Muse of Iowa excitedly looked over the two vehicles as they waited to purchase tickets for one of the theater's 11 showings of "Endgame." A dozen more showings are set for Friday, starting at noon.

"This has been 11 years in the making and I am not missing this for anything," Dial said, describing "Endgame" as the explosive conclusion of an epic fireworks show.

Dial said his favorite Avenger is Thor, the hammer-wielding God of Thunder, but Iron Man is a close second. Muse said he got hooked on Spider-Man in childhood when he saw the 2002 movie starring Tobey Maguire. Hansen said her favorites include the relatable everyman "Ant-Man." Morgan said she liked the most recent solo Avenger movie -- "Captain Marvel."

"Our whole family is absolutely obsessed with these movies," Hansen said, adding that they have enjoyed comparing notes on the previous movies in the Avengers saga. "Everything has led up to this point and that is what is so exciting about it."

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud

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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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