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Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Brie Larson and Danai Gurira pay tribute to the beginning and the end.

The cast of "Avengers: Endgame" has been all over the place in recent weeks promoting the upcoming blockbuster film, but the most touching and genuine tribute came unexpectedly in a parody video on "The Tonight Show."

Jimmy Fallon took the role of Billy Joel in this tribute to his 1989 classic "We Didn't Star the Fire," but it was a rundown of key characters from the entire film series as presented by the actors who brought them to life. Interspersed were pages from their comic book origins, in a way its own tribute to the Marvel Studios intros.

Of course, the only characters we saw were some of those that survived Thanos' snap in "Infinity War," because to show anyone else would mean spoilers.

The lyrics of Billy Joel's original was an exploration of 40 years of American history, and so Fallon and his team paid tribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe int eh same way, with allusions to the characters and storyline beats of every film in the franchise through "Captain Marvel."

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Brie Larson and Danai Gurira each contribute to their relevant portions of the montage, adding poignancy as we built toward what will truly be the end of an era.

But the final reveal was worth the price of admission alone as it paid tribute to the end of an era and one of the key figures in the genesis of the Marvel age of comic books, and now cinema. All of the comic book images and film stills coalesced into a photo montage of Stan Lee, who is expected to make his final cameo in "Endgame."

There have been a lot of short films and parodies and moments created as we anticipate the film sure to set all kinds of box office records, but none as emotionally resonant as this one ... and we did not see that coming.

Fallon is not known for sincerity, and we doubt it was intended here, but for fans of the MCU, this is just what they need to see before it all comes crashing down with "Avengers: Endgame," in theaters Friday, April 26.

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