Avengers, assemble (in Brooklyn)!
Starting Thursday, February 22, Barclays Center will play host to “Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes,” a live show that features stunts, top-notch special effects and all of your favorite Marvel superheroes.
This all-new show unites Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange in a race against time to recover the Wand of Watoomb before the villainous Loki gains control.
The man who plays Thor, aka the God of Thunder, Gjermund Gjesme discussed the excitement of the show.
“It is a live arena stunt show. What that means is that you’re going to see the spectacular stunts that you’re used to seeing in the movies but you’re going to see them performed right in front of you by stunt performers,” he said. “You have fire, motorcycles, a whole lot of combat, and it’s just a really great show.”
What adds to the excitement are the classic Marvel heroes that were conceived as far back as the 1940s.
“It pulls an engaging and entertaining story just like you would expect from Marvel movies,” he said. “It includes all the characters we know and love, like Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man, all the Guardians of the Galaxy like Groot, Star-Lord, Rocket. We have 25 actors plus a whole bunch of evil minions as well.”
Playing Thor has special meaning for Gjesme.
“It’s funny for me because when I moved to New York about four years ago, people gave me the nickname Thor because my actual name is hard to pronounce but also because I’m from Norway like Thor and also look like him,” said the Bedford-Stuyvesant resident. “Norway is a place very tied to Viking mythology, Thor was the Viking god of thunder so he was a mythological figure I have a personal connection with.”
His studies have helped him master the role. “I can call to a hammer and it comes flying through the air and I catch it. I have superpowers when I fight villains which makes it just a very satisfying character to play,” Gjesme said. “I draw from both the comics and movies. I’ve seen all the Thor movies. I learned a lot from what Chris Hemsworth does and I take from that. The show itself is built from the original source material, from the comic books, so I’ve taken from the comics too.”
The show opened last July at the Staples Center and fans have been loving it ever since.
“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.”
Fans of Marvel old and new will also get a kick out of how each character is portrayed.
“One of the cool parts of the show is you have all these specific characters with very specific skill sets,” he said. “You see Black Panther and Spider-Man bring acrobatics into their fighting. Then you have Captain America and Thor in a very different fight style but it’s just as powerful. Captain America and Black Widow drive motorcycles which is great because you get such a wide variety of exciting stunts.”
The setting and costumes also help make the show exciting.
“That’s a huge part of it. Everyone has a very specific idea of what these characters look like and I think the show does justice to all of that,” Gjesme added. “The sets are incredible. There are projections and beautifully crafted scenery across the stage. We have platforms that can be elevated.”
Those live superhero shows have been performed for years, but Gjseme believes this story stands out from the rest.
“It’s just an incredibly well-put-together performance. We have an engaging story and the level of stunt performers is the same level that you would see in Hollywood movies,” he explained. “Then you have the massive spectacle and the explosions and special effects going on.”
Seeing kids wowed by the action has been greatly satisfying for Gjseme.
“When I see some kid with a Thor helmet on and a hammer, it’s awesome,” he said, adding that it’s a show for adults as well, “Because of the level of the stunts and how beautifully the show is crafted. The show was created with kids in mind but I could watch the show hundreds of times and there’s so much to look at.”
The Brooklyn resident has been looking forward to performing in his home borough.
“I’ve been looking forward to that ever since I got the job,” he said. “It’s really cool to go across the country and play in all these cities but to be able to perform in Brooklyn which I love so much, that’s going to be incredible.”
“Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes” premieres Thursday, February 22 at 7 p.m. Additional shows will be performed throughout the weekend, including matinees, until Sunday, February 25 at 4 p.m. Tickets start at $19 depending on the date. For more information, visit www.barclayscenter.com.