There’s no denying it. The Marvel Universe is huge. For much of my youth, it always played second fiddle to competitor DC Comics–who seemed to have the somewhat unfair advantage of Superman and Batman.
However, for much of my kids’ lives, Marvel has simply dominated the pop cultural landscape. The Marvel Cinematic Universe launched with unlikely B-list superhero Iron Man in 2008 and hasn’t had a flop (or genuinely bad movie) since.
Since then, Marvel and the Marvel characters have dominated the big screen, the small screen, the direct-to-DVD market, toy aisles, and now…arenas.
Marvel Universe Live! is a new production from Feld Entertainment, the group behind other kid-friendly arena shows such as Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
There was a lot of hype leading up to the premiere of Marvel Universe Live!, and I for one was very intrigued. We finally got the opportunity to see the show last weekend in Fairfax, VA.
Does it live up to the hype? I think so. If we use kids as a barometer of awesomeness–and kids are the true target audience here–the show is a downright runaway success. I don’t think my 3- and 5-year-olds (one boy, one girl) blinked once.
Does it hold up to the more…discerning…eye of an adult? I’m a huge fan of the Marvel universe, and I was hugely entertained. If you’re not a fan of the characters, the movies, or comic book superheroes in general? Well, you might be a little bored, but I don’t know what you were expecting going in.
Since this isn’t a movie, Marvel is free to utilize all of their characters, completely free of copyright restrictions. That means, in addition to the Avengers, the show also includes characters from the Spider-verse and X-Men. The only missing characters were the Fantastic Four.
So who all shows up? Well, if the character was in a movie (made by Marvel Studios or otherwise), he or she was here. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk, Falcon, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Captain Marvel (one of the few non-movie characters…for now). And those are just the good guys.
There are also more villains than you can count. Loki, Red Skull, Green Goblin, Electro, Rhino, the Lizard, a Chitauri army, and on and on…
The show features an original story that centers on the heroes teaming up to find three fractals of a cosmic cube that Thor smashed. Loki is also trying to gather up the fractals, so it’s a good ol’ fashioned battle of good vs evil….with a lot of pyrotechnics, acrobatics, stunts, special effects, and cool costumes thrown in for good measure.
Some of the costumes and actors are better than others, but that’s hardly a complaint with as many as are in this show. Also, there’s a lot of rope work by the flying characters, and the fight sequences are heavily choreographed (which slows down the action a bit). All of this might look a little hokey to older kids expecting the fast-paced and smooth effects they might see in the movies or on TV.
Still, I didn’t hear any complaints among the audience. Those I did hear were from adults and mostly centered on the obscenely expensive plastic and sugar for sale at concessions. I can’t (and won’t) fault the show for that. It’s sort of par for the course at these types of shows…..but it was egregiously overpriced. Especially when the average ticket price for Marvel Universe Live! is already at the very high end of the spectrum.
Despite that, we highly recommend the show if you’ve got kids that are into superheroes. It really immerses little ones in the world of Marvel superheroes in a wholly remarkable and thrilling way.
The show will be at the Patriot Center in Fairfax through this weekend before moving on. It’s scheduled to visit dozens of cities across the country in the coming weeks and months, so odds are it’ll be somewhere near you. Check the schedule and buy tickets here.
(Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, which means I receive certain benefits from Feld Entertainment, including complimentary tickets. My opinions are 100% my own, and this post was in no way sponsored by Feld.)