MARSHALL - They came from as far away as Montevideo for the midnight premier of "The Avengers" on Friday morning with high hopes and anticipation.
"Oh yeah, I'm a big fan," said Matt Yoder in the lobby of the Marshall 6 theater. "I have colossal hopes for this."
Some were long-time Marvel Comics fans, some had been introduced to the characters solely through the movies.
"I've been a fan since the first 'Iron Man' movie," said Yoder's friend Grant Carlson, "not so much the comics. I watched the cartoons like the 'X-Men.' If it's bad I'll be severely disappointed, but I don't think it will be."
Carlson's friend Chris DiSanto also came to the Marvel universe via the movies.
"I expect to see awesome teamwork between the superheroes," DiSanto said, "and some butt-kicking too."
Their friends, Claire Ziecina and Heather Yoder, just shrugged tolerantly.
"We're just with them," Ziecina said.
"The Avengers" brings together the Marvel characters: Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Natasha Romanov "the Black Widow," superspy Nick Fury and Hawkeye. The Marshall 6 offered both standard and 3-D showings of the movie.
"The Avengers" was set up by a series of six movies by Marvel Studios featuring the characters that come together in the film as a superhero team to fight an alien menace led by Thor's adopted brother Loki.
"My hope is they'll continue to set up the plots from the comic books," said Marvel fan Mason Hammerlund. "Especially the civil war where everybody picks a side with Captain America or Iron Man."
Schonna Reisdorfer brought her children Garrett, 11, and Ellie, 9, proving this phenomenon transcends generations.
"We're big fans of all of them," Reisdorfer said. "Plus it's a treat for doing well in school."
Most fans were enthusiastic about the characters and the action, but there were also fans who take their superheroes very seriously.
Jim Radloff comes from Lynd and is pursuing a master's degree in English literature at South Dakota State University in Brookings.
"Marvel in general is so much fun to read," Radloff said. "The way Marvel deals with the characters, the powers are almost secondary. Captain America starts out as this wimp who wants to stand up to bullies. The Hulk is a scientist who just wants to learn. Tony Stark ('Iron Man') wants to improve the world through technology, he has no super powers."
Tickets had been available for several weeks in advance, and come showtime there were few seats left in the theater. If a sample of the moviegoers' reactions was representative, "The Avengers" did the job expected of it.
"I liked it," said Marshall resident Kimberly Edwards after the show. "I thought it had a lot of comic relief and a good plot."
Jacob Gilmore came from Tracy to see the film and wasn't disappointed.
"Pretty awesome," Gilmore said. "Really well done."
There were however some scholarly caveats from dedicated fans who know the minutiae of the Marvel Comics universe going back generations.
"I don't know what to think, I'm kind of frustrated," Radloff said. "To understand 'The Avengers' you have to know storylines going back to the '30s, and they've restarted that so you don't have to know that."
Radloff said in the original Marvel universe there were characters from as early as 1939, earlier than Captain America's origin in World War II, whose existence has been wiped out.
This didn't seem to bother a new generation of fans, and if box office receipts from the opening are any indication, there'll be plenty more movies featuring "The Avengers."