Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were on full display at the Barclays Center from Thursday, February 22 through Sunday, February 25 during the live production of Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes, a show featuring essentially every character you know and love from both Marvel Studios feature films, which continue to shatter records with each release, and the original source material, the comics.
When these characters were conceived — most created by the legendary Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko — it was likely beyond their wildest dreams that such a performance would be plausible in 2018.
A lot of these performances with live action heroes come across as a way to sell toys, geared only for very young kids, with cheesy dialogue. The good news is that while merchandising is still a key component, the other preconceived notions have been destroyed in Age of Heroes.
Mixing a plethora of material from both the movies and comics, it all somehow works, with most of your favorite characters from the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The show starts with some backstory told by Dr. Strange. It can sound convoluted to the non-comic geek, but it’s pretty basic. Loki, from Thor’s world of Asgard, is trying to gain power over the world and the galaxy by recovering the powerful Wand of Watoomb.
The giant screen at the back of the stage plays an integral part in the show. It serves as a beautiful and extremely effective backdrop for several settings, including jungles, volcano, New York City and space, just to name a few.
The show starts with the Guardians of the Galaxy, who steal the show. The characters of Rocket, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax and the beautifully crafted Groot were as funny for adults as children, not an easy feat. Their banter and tiffs were right out of the cinema. The costume designers were on their A-game, especially with Groot, a giant walking character made out of a tree. Their stunts were also a standout, with fireworks and pyro accompanying their blasters.
Spider-Man, one of Marvel’s most treasured characters, had his own moment. Watching him swing across the sizable stage was perhaps more impressive than the infamous Broadway “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” And audiences got a chance to see an impressive gallery of villains before the team helps him out.
The combat played out like a seven-ring circus with many impressive choreographed battles and stunts to watch at once. It was difficult to take it all in, but I assume audiences gravitated to their favorite character.
Every character had his or her moment, but due to the phenomenon that is “Black Panther,” the appearance of the king received the loudest ovation of the show. It was pretty great timing.
The show is filled with memorable stunts. Besides the seamless flying on harnesses, Captain America and Black Widow spent a great deal of time on motorcycles. There was a great sequence in the second act during which several characters are on bikes with both Captain America and Black Widow riding theirs to breathtaking heights.
The finale didn’t disappoint either, with the Incredible Hulk finally making his appearance. It would have been nice to see the rage monster earlier in the show, but the introduction was worth the wait.
The costumes are also noteworthy. These costumes have looked like cheap knockoffs in other iterations, but here they look fantastic, a mix between comics and movies.
Brooklyn resident Gjermund Gjesme who plays Thor, told this paper that the audiences have been incredible.
“The response we get is incredible both throughout the show and also at the end,” Gjesme said. “There are specific stunts that are spectacular and you know every time they’re being performed, people are going to go wild. Like when you have Spider-Man do a backflip on a motorcycle or we have a huge number with fire spinning, which I’m in as well. People always go nuts.”
The show moves quickly. It’s around 90 minutes long with an intermission and it never felt like it was dragging. The characters are often separated in different settings, which prevents the show from ever feeling stagnant. Kids never seemed bored. Adults that grew up hoping for a high quality show featuring their favorite heroes got their wish, even if it’s likely meant for younger audiences.
As this is the second iteration of Marvel Universe Live! shows, the future seems bright. It may be tough to up the ante, but this tour run has been an impressive glimpse into the possibilities of this form of entertainment.
Avengers assemble, indeed.