By Jennina Rose Gorman, Altoona

First and foremost,  I  am a nerd. I need you to understand that to preface this story. I come from a long line of family who love The Shire, wished others to “Live long and Prosper”, believed in the power of the force,  and looked up to Stan Lee and the hero’s of his Marvel Universe as guides in my own life. It is in the Marvel universe and  that this particular tale takes place.

April 26th 2019- the national release date of Avengers Endgame. The movie we are told will end an era of super hero’s and super villains.  The brilliant culmination of all of Stan Lee’s most famous creations, and the fate of the Marvel universe,  rest in this last chapter.

My husband and I , like many other Marvel fans, are determined to see it, on the 1st night of its release. I excitedly got off from work, dressed myself in a Gamora t-shirt and Spider-Man hoodie, and went to my local theater. We arrive 30 minutes early,  even though we pre-purchased our tickets.

I have NEVER seen the parking lot so full. Indeed,  I can only find parking 2 lots away in an area that isn’t even paved yet. I see many parents with children, ages newborn to teens, all wearing something of their favorite hero’s. Some adults even showed up in full cosplay, and are greeted with compliments and instant comradery- the Wakanda costumes are particularly beautiful and well done.      We arrive in the theater, drinks in hand, strangers call out to us “How many seats do you need?” “There’s room over here!”. The seats we find are in the middle of a middle row.  Our new row-mates stand up and smile as we pass, complimenting my Spiderman hoodie, or Gamora t-shirt.

Now seated and ready, I take in the now overflowing theater around me. There’s working-class families, with 2-4 kids, each with popcorn and drinks. The retired  couple holding hands in front of us. The whole row of black sorority girls, who yell out “Wakanda Forever!” during the battles.  My husband makes a sarcastic joke and it’s echoed throughout the theater with laughter and approval from a room full of strangers.

This movie theater is filled with people from all walks of life. Different ages, varying incomes, different races, religions and sexes- but none of that matters right now. For the next 3 hours, we will all laugh, cry, cheer and wait on baited breath – together. We will comfort the strangers next to us, while they weep, and smile knowingly when our eyes meet.For 3 hours, we are in this together. We are a community, believing in something so much, that none of our differences matter.

My brother Josh had a similar experience when he took my nephew to see this movie. He reflected afterwards: ” In the old days  Stan would have his “editorial” in his comic books and his message was often one of how we all need to stick together and respect one another despite our differences. I could imagine him beaming down from above and saying “This is what it’s all about, folks. Excelsior!” Maybe we’d be better off if our first questions about one another were “D.C. or Marvel?”, “Captain America or Iron Man?”, “Ant Man or Wasp?” etc. etc. I don’t know, it’s stupid, but it was one of those rare moments where I actually felt connected to the rest of the universe and the human race. Well done, Stan.”

The work we do, in Put People First, and The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, of uniting the poor and dispossessed, is hard work, but it’s necessary.  We must come together and work together to achieve a better society for all. There are those who scoff at this goal, and call it impossible.  They are wrong. I’ve seen it, I  lived it, for 3 hours and 2 min. It would be a beautiful place to remain.  Trust me brothers and sisters- it’s worth fighting for.  Excelsior. 

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