Dispatches From The MCU: Surviving A 30-Hour Marvel Movie Marathon Before 'Avengers: Infinity War'

It's 3:30 AM and my body hates me. My butt is numb, my back hurts, and my eyes are watering from staring at a movie screen for the past 14 hours. My brain is sludge, as is my stomach, and I stare with grim regret at the empty pizza boxes and popcorn buckets surrounding me.

14 hours. I've been in this theater for 14 hours, and I'm not even halfway done. My body is going to kill me before this over.

Hollywood's El Capitan Theater is hosting a 30-hour Marvel Movie Marathon ending with a screening of Avengers: Infinity War. Jon, my fiancé who loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe more than most things, had bought two tickets for the event weeks ago. I also am a fan of the MCU — I've seen each movie (except The Incredible Hulk) several times. But my biggest fandom is sleep, so when he bought the tickets, I hoped he would find a friend to go with him.

Shockingly, none of his friends wanted to watch 12 movies back-to-back in a room with unwashed strangers. So he asked me if I would go with him, and for some dumb reason I said yes.

This is our story.

infinity war recations

Day One: April 25th, 2018

11:00 AM 

I'm heading to the theater PREPARED. My overstuffed backpack holds a neck pillow, a travel blanket, an eye mask, earplugs, a water bottle, a phone charger, a change of clothes, and a toiletry kit. I've also dressed for the occasion and am wearing compression socks, pants with a stretchy waistband and, of course, a Marvel t-shirt.

I'm going to kick this marathon's ass.

12:02 PM

Jon and I arrive at the El Capitan, a beautiful theater in the heart of Hollywood that is surrounded by tourists and those trying to take money from said tourists. The first movie — Iron Man — is set to start at 1:00 PM but we came early to get our bearings. Turns out, it's a good thing we came an hour early, because the line to get in is around the block. We navigate around the fake Iron Man and the even faker Black Panther who cajole people to take pictures with them (and give them money), and head to the end of the line.

We wait. My guess is it'll take an hour for us to get in.

12:49 PM

We get inside in just under an hour! After showing our tickets, we get our credentials, a bunch of vouchers for free popcorn and meals, and a raffle ticket. We have reserved seating, so we're in no rush to get to our teeny tiny balcony seats; Jon waits in line to get our first large popcorn and I head to the bathroom, where I meet a lovely Lady Loki helping a Lady Thor with her cape. Not surprisingly, everyone here is a hardcore MCU fan. A few, like Lady Loki and Lady Thor, are cosplaying, though most have followed my strategy of Marvel-branded attire and comfortable pants. The excitement and energy are palpable. Who knows how we'll all feel by tomorrow night, but we're off to a good start.

1:19 PM

They're running late, most likely because of the long line to get in. We don't mind; we have popcorn and extra time to settle into our cramped balcony seats. The good news is it looks like they didn't sell tickets for the last few rows, so we're going to move back to get some more space.

1:21 PM

Clark Gregg just came on stage! He's the best — so excited to see him back on the big screen as Agent Coulson in Captain Marvel next year. He wishes us good luck. Thank you, Clark Gregg. We'll need it.

1:29 PM

Costume contest! I see Lady Loki and Lady Thor head to the stage, as well as a few Gamoras, Doctor Stranges, Black Panthers and a Deadpool, even though he's not part of the MCU! The final three come down to Deadpool (not in the MCU!!!), a Doctor Strange and a 5-year-old Black Panther. Black Panther wins, as he should.

1:35 PM

Iron Man still hasn't started, but Jon and I have already finished off a large popcorn. I think we're doing this marathon thing right.

1:39 PM

Iron Man begins! I'm so excited I don't care that I'm out of popcorn!

3:45 PM

Iron Man is over, and this is the best audience ever! Whenever a new character comes on screen (Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, even Happy), everyone cheers. I hadn't thought about how great it will be to re-watch these movies with hundreds of enthusiastic MCU fans. We all love this world and the characters in them, and our shared excitement will make the experience even better.

It's great to see Iron Man on the big screen, which I haven't done since it was first in theaters ten years ago. Except for a MySpace comment and out-of-date cell phones, it ages well. Really well. Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow have such great chemistry, and Jeff Bridges kills it as Obadiah Stane. It's the ending, however, that made me jump on the MCU train a decade ago. I saw it then with my mom, and both of us pumped our fists into the air when Tony Stark revealed to the world that he's Iron Man. It had been so unexpected, so different from anything I had seen in a superhero movie before. I loved it.

I also love popcorn, so I need to get a refill before the next movie, The Incredible Hulk.

3:50 PM

The Incredible Hulk begins. Yay?

5:42 PM

I survived watching The Incredible Hulk. I saw it in the theater when it first came out, and while I didn't love it, I didn't hate it either.

I hate it now. Even this room full of MCU fans had trouble getting excited about it. It's such a stark contrast (no pun intended) to watch this right after Iron Man. Ed Norton and Liv Tyler have no chemistry, and the story trudges along so slowly I found it hard to pay attention, much less care. The only bright spot was seeing Ty Burrell from Modern Family playing Liv Tyler's love interest before Ed Norton came back and ruined everything. Speaking of bad scripting, Burrell's character disappears after they manage to set up a nice potential conflict between him and Banner. If I never see this movie again, I'll have lived a good life.

5:58 PM

Thor begins! Thank Valhalla.

7:53 PM

Just finished Thor! I haven't seen it since Black Panther came out, and the early shot of flying into Asgard reminds me of when T'Challa, Nakia and Okoye fly into Wakanda at the beginning of the movie. Both are great introductions to unknown worlds (at least unknown to the average human), and it makes me excited to see Black Panther again, which I will do in 23 hours or so!

The Frost Giants — the big bad of Thor — also reminded me of something: the White Walkers in Game of Thrones. Thor and Season 1 of GoT both came out in the Spring of 2011. I wonder if the same guy worked on both of them or if there's a group of frozen monster people that are good at getting acting gigs.

We're now three movies in, and the whole marathon thing is starting to sink in. My butt keeps falling asleep, and the popcorn combined with the Chick-fil-A sandwiches they just fed us rest uneasily in my stomach. Everyone is still in good spirits though. Onward!

8:22 PM

We have another guest! It's Sebastian Stan, AKA Bucky Barnes, coming to say hello before we watch Captain America: The First Avenger. The crowd loves him, as do I, though of course he tells us nothing about Infinity War except to joke that Tom Holland gets too much screen time.

8:33 PM

Captain America: The First Avenger begins! Time to see Chris Evans' head on a small skinny body!

10:37 PM

Captain America is done, and I'm officially getting a bit sleepy. Other audience members are tired as well, and a few have set up camp in the lobby for the night. Jon and I are chugging along though, and we get two mini-pizzas and a soda to sustain our mortal forms, as Thor would say. I'm grateful my mortal form is wearing pants with an elastic waist.

I enjoyed Captain America but have no profound insights other than realizing that Clara from Doctor Who plays Bucky Barnes' date at the World Expo of Tomorrow, and that the steak Tommy Lee Jones eats when interrogating Dr. Zola looks much better than the popcorn and Chick-fil-A I've been eating. I like steak.

We also have another guest! Paul Bettany, AKA Jarvis/Vision is here to give us well wishes. He tells us to stay hydrated. You're very wise, Paul Bettany. Very wise.

10:50 PM

The Avengers is up! I have also taken out my neck pillow and blanket. As I said, I came PREPARED, and I'm very thankful I did so. Neck pillows are the best.

Day Two: April 26th, 2018

1:13 AM

The Avengers is done, and we are all superheroes. At least that's what the moderator tells us. I believe him.

The Avengers is a solid movie, and — since we skipped Iron Man 2 — the first one tonight where we see Black Widow, who is one of my favorites. We also get more Tony Stark-Pepper Potts time, which I always enjoy.

Things have calmed down a bit in the audience, but the vibe is still positive. I'm also still in a good mood, and very grateful for my neck pillow and my compression socks, which are keeping my legs from cramping. They're not paying me or anything, but everyone should get compression socks. I'm serious — I thought they were just overpriced socks before I tried them, but they are life-changing.

We also have another guest! It's Michael Rooker, giving us good cheer before our next movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. Rooker is being Rooker (i.e., awesome), and he is wearing a white-brimmed hat that only he could pull off. He has boosted our spirits, and I'm ready to move on to movie #6.

1:28 AM

Guardians of the Galaxy begins! Let's go, a-holes.

3:29 AM

Guardians is over, and for some inexplicable reason I'm hungry. My brain is also mush at this point. Total mush.

Things I am thankful for right now: neck pillows, earplugs (I can still hear everything, but they dampen the throbbing inside my skull), compression socks, and the fact we moved back to the empty seats to have more space. Others, however, have discovered the empty rows, and our space is dwindling again. I still love this audience though—we're in this together.

There's a longer break this time around, and we have another guest! It's Brian Tyler, the composer for Avengers: Age of Ultron (our next movie) and other MCU movies like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.  He's introduced by Erika Ishii from the Nerdist, who has an enviable amount of energy for 3:30 in the morning. She can also speak in coherent sentences, something I not can do right now.

Brian sings some of the theme songs for the characters. Fun! I try to listen, but I'm distracted by his pants, which have this weird pattern that blurs when I stare at it. The blurring, I think, is more from me not seeing straight rather than the pattern. I like pants.

3:49 AM

Avengers: Age of Ultron begins! I wish I was a robot right now. Robots don't need sleep or have to eat Chick-fil-A.

6:07 AM

We're done with our seventh movie and Infinity War is only 12 hours away! My neck pillow and earplugs worked too well for this one, and I muddled through it in a weird semi-conscious state. My only two notes while watching it are: "He threw a bike" and "Sea whale trip." Deep. Very deep.

The only other thing I remember during the movie is that my feet kept falling asleep. This marathon is getting real.

We also got served breakfast: two Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits and two fruit cups. We also got two iced teas for caffeine and have moved back another row, as the empty seat area continues to suffer from suburban sprawl.

6:43 AM

Captain America: Civil War begins! My stomach, full of chicken biscuits, is having a civil war of its own right now.

9:10 AM

Civil War is done and my mind is now only slightly sludgy, not full-on mush. It was fun to see this one on the big screen again, especially when everyone fights at the airport. This viewing of the movie also had a special guest – a pair of socked feet draped over the seat next to me. Do they smell? I'm not sure. I smell something, but I could just be smelling myself. I guess we'll never know.

The audience cheers loudly as the moderator asks us how we liked Civil War, and much less loudly when he follows up by asking if we're excited to see our next movie, Doctor Strange. I personally like Doctor Strange, though I agree with the general audience that Civil War is a better movie.

Know what else I like? Popcorn. I navigate through the empty soda cups and pizza boxes that now litter the seats and get another bucket.

9:30 AM

Doctor Strange begins! Iffy American accent aside, I love it when Benedict Cumberbatch plays smart, arrogant jerks.

11:25 AM

I lost my brain. Again. Doctor Strange is trippy on almost no sleep, and I watched the movie in a fugue-like state. Jon was also in his own fugue-like state during the movie and snored on my shoulder for most of the film. No deep insights came to mind during the movie — as I said, I lost my brain. I also feel a little less than human after being here for almost 24 hours, and I forget what regular life is like. Does the world still exist outside of the El Capitan? I'm not sure.

Jon senses me losing my grip on reality and suggests we take a walk outside the theater. It's our first time outside since the marathon started. The sun hurts, but we trek to the closest Starbucks and order two large iced teas to complement the Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets we get for lunch. I'm so out of it, I can barely talk to the barista. She went with it though — I'm sure she's seen worse.

Now back to the theater for our chicken nuggets. I appreciate the "free" food and all, but I'm getting a little sick of Chick-fil-A.

12:21 PM

The moderator told us we had a slight delay and now I know why: Tom Holland is here! He's enthusiastic as always and says he's going to watch Spiderman: Homecoming with us. The audience, of course, goes creepily crazy, and I wonder if he really is going to stay. He says nothing about Infinity War, of course, except that he loved improvising with "Downey." Am I allowed to call RDJ "Downey?" Am I allowed to call him RDJ? Some questions will always be left unanswered.

12:28 PM

Spiderman: Homecoming begins! I'm still rocking the neck pillow. I think I'll see all movies now with a neck pillow.

2:43 PM

Spiderman: Homecoming is finished! The end credit scene with Captain America talking about patience is TRUTH. I, like the entire audience, am chock full of patience — just one more movie before the premiere of Infinity War! We're all getting excited again, our tiredness replaced by adrenaline. We're almost there!

The next movie is Black Panther, and both Winston Duke, who plays M'Baku, and T'Challa himself, Chadwick Boseman, come on stage beforehand. They are both great, and this movie is great, and I can't think of a better film to watch before Infinity War.

3:01 PM

Black Panther begins! Wakanda forever!

5:15 PM

Black Panther is over, and we've made it! The audience buzzes with anticipation, and they feed us more Chick-fil-A. I take one bite of chicken and stop; if I eat any more Chick-fil-A, I'll throw up all over myself. But I'm hungry, so I get another mini-pizza. Did I mention that my body hates me?

They're not going to show the movie until 6:00 PM, so they bring out a DJ and give away some raffle prizes. The 5-year-old Black Panther who won the costume contest also wins a big Marvel gift bag. That kid is dominating this marathon.

Right before the movie begins, Anthony Russo of the Russo brothers (you know, the brothers who directed Infinity War) comes out! We all go nuts, and he says he hopes we like it. I hope so too.

6:03 PM

We made it! Infinity War begins...after some trailers.

8:32 PM

It's done. All done. And...WTF.

Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil anything. All I'll say is that this experience — re-watching all the old movies, falling in love with the characters all over again, and then seeing Infinity War with a room full of serious MCU fans — was a devastatingly perfect way to see Infinity War and an experience I'll never forget.

Now it's time to go home, get some sleep, and see Infinity War again tomorrow.