Earth’s mightiest heroes are returning next week to restore order in the universe, and fans in China can’t wait to be among the first to see it.

Avengers: Endgame has raked in nearly US$15 million in China for presale tickets to the midnight opening on April 24, setting a new record, according to Chinese ticketing giant Maoyan. The previous record holder was 2017’s The Fate of the Furious.

Chinese posters featuring the Avengers against Shanghai’s iconic skyline. (Picture: Marvel Studios via Weibo)

US blockbusters don’t always do well in China, where American favorites like Black Panther and The Last Jedi struggled to match their performance overseas. But the fourth installment of the Avengers series appears to be building on the momentum of Infinity War, which was the highest grossing foreign film in China for 2018.

Across the country, tickets for Endgame are selling out quickly. Some netizens even joked that they are harder to get than train tickets during China’s notoriously busy Lunar New Year travel rush. Seats for the midnight show reportedly cost up to US$60 in Beijing and Shanghai, compared to around US$15 for an average movie ticket during the New Year holidays.

The excitement around Endgame was palpable in Shanghai on Thursday night, as stars from the Avengers gathered for a 1.5-hour meet and greet. Star Paul Rudd courted fans by speaking in Mandarin while flanked by co-stars Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans. (Or as they're probably better known, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Thor and Captain America.)

“My Chinese isn’t good, but it’s better than theirs,” Rudd joked, drawing appreciative laughter from the audience.

In fairness to Thor, it's unlikely that he learned any Mandarin on Asgard. (Picture: Marvel Studios via Weibo)

Endgame’s directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who were also in Shanghai, promised that future Marvel films will star Chinese actors, said Maoyan.

No further details have emerged on who those actors will be, but Marvel Studios is reportedly working on a film featuring the Chinese superhero Shang-Chi with Destin Daniel Cretton set to direct. This won’t be the first Marvel film to have a Chinese actor, though. Fan Bingbing played Blink in X-Men: Days of the Future Past and made an appearance in Iron Man 3 in a scene exclusive to China.

For now, though, the spotlight is still on the Avengers. Even Weibo is participating by releasing 21 superhero emoji, which makes up part of the collection that Marvel created for Twitter.