They came wearing Captain America gear. They ended up cheering the guy with the checkered movie career.
The spoiler-free findings from a midnight screening of The Avengers:
Mix of Fanboys to Fangirls: At our 12:05 a.m., Los Angeles-area 3-D screening, the ratio was about 50-50, perhaps even slightly more female than male, and certainly enough to warrant a new read of the PopMatters essay, "The Avengers: The First Superhero Chick Flick?"
Length of Time It Takes to Build a Homemade Iron Man Costume, Complete With Glowing Chest Repulsor: A month-and-a-half, according to 33-year-old Jesse Lopez, who stood in the theater lobby wearing a homemade Iron Man costume, complete with glowing chest repulsor.
How Long You Can Expect to Stand in a Theater Lobby While Wearing a Homemade Iron Man Costume, Complete With Glowing Chest Repulsor: Long enough to pose for, in Lopez's estimation, 80 pictures.
Other Notable Apparel Sightings: Multiple Captain America hoodies, various Captain America T-shirts, a Captain America shield and a lone Green Lantern logo tee that presumably was excited to be taken at last to a theater full of paying customers.
Reaction to The Dark Knight Rises Trailer: Some mild hoots, some mild applause, and that was it. The Amazing Spider-Man and Prometheus clips didn't even get that much; the comic trailers for Tim Burton's Frankenweenie and Pixar's Brave went over the best. Your results might have varied, but that's what happened here. In Batman's defense, it's plausible that Dark Knight Rises geeks either had already seen and dissected the new trailer online, or were quietly and intently listening to Tom Hardy's Bane.
Early Reaction to The Avengers: Some louder hoots, some louder applause—and big laughs. Filmmaker Joss Whedon's script consistently elicited happy noise from an audience that wasn't very vocal—at least not at first.
Later Reaction to The Avengers: When the Hulk cut loose, the crowd cut loose. The green giant, who twice before on the big screen had failed to impress, was a rock star. Finally.
Most Inexplicable Sight: The people heading for the exits the second the movie ended, as if the Avengers-affiliated Marvel movies ever actually end when they end.
Did the Audience Approve of the End-Credit Scenes That Shall Not Be Discussed Here in Detail? Yes, the audience approved; it approved a great deal, actually.
(Slightly Edited) Insta-Review Overheard in the Lobby: "That show was [exceedingly] awesome."
NOTE: This article's accompanying art is from The Avengers' April 19 European premiere in London. Didn't want you to think our crowd was that well-dressed.