My boys had a tough decision to make this morning, after they’d finished breakfast and had to get dressed:
Which superheroes would they be dressing up as to go see Marvel Universe LIVE?
My youngest opted for Captain America, muscle-bound, and carrying his trust shield/Frisbee with him everywhere he went.
My oldest opted for Spider-Man, but — ever the practical one — after wearing the mask for a short time he figured it blocked his view too much, and (wanting to be able to see every bit of the show)decided instead to wear his Spider-Man-print Hawaiian shirt, and attend the show as Peter Parker in disguise.
These tough choices decided, we packed up and headed to the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, found our seats, and waited for the show to begin.
I think if there’s one word I would use to sum up the Marvel Universe LIVE experience, it would be this:
There is nothing subtle about this show.
The plot is fairly basic: To keep it out of the hands of evil-doers, Thor has smashed the all-powerful tesseract (the blue glowing cube seen in the Captain America and Avengers movies) into pieces and scattered them around the world. But when Thor’s ne’er-do-well half-brother Loki uses the dust from the smashing, along with power harnessed from a few kidnapped X-Men, to create his OWN tesseract, our heroes must join forces to defeat Loki and the forces of evil he rallies behind him.
The costumes, like the performances, are bright and colorful and exaggerated. It’s in many ways like a classic Disney On Ice performance, only with superheroes, flying, explosions (surprisingly loud ones), dirt bikes, and roundhouse kicks, followed by more dirt bikes and more explosions. Yes, it is cheesy at times, but it also features a guy impaled by claws, another set on fire, and another having a wall dropped on top of him. Or was that the same guy? Does it matter? It was, as I said, a spectacle.
Because there were a lot of them, and they were impressive. I expected the stunts from Captain America and Black Widow, but I had no idea that Wolverine and Bruce Banner were such accomplished dirt bike riders too. The sight of Wolvie doing a flip on a bike in front of us was something my boys won’t forget soon.
Suffice to say, we all had a lot of fun. I asked the boys what their favorite parts were, and they were quick to answer (spoilers?) the long-awaited transformation of Bruce Banner into the Hulk (“I can’t figure out how they did it!”), and when Iron Man first flew down from the rafters, hand repulsors blasting away alien baddies.
As a longtime fan of Marvel comics, I was really pleased with how well they blended the wider-known elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with elements from the comics and cartoons. For instance, it was a kick to have Nick Fury and Maria Hill on hand, but in their classic comics blue and white S.H.I.E.L.D. outfits rather than the movie versions.
In particular, I was really happy to see Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (seen at right) in action. I have a feeling a lot of kids and parents who only know the Marvel movies are going to be wondering why this is the first they’ve seen her. It made me even more excited about her coming solo movie.
If I have any complaints about the show, it would not be the show itself, but the merchandising surrounding it. More specifically the incredibly high cost of it all.
Now, to be honest this would be the same complaint I have about all shows like this. Any event in a stadium is going to have ridiculous prices for food and souvenirs, and I am sure there are reasons they need higher prices. But it seemed amped up for this show to a degree that borders on unreasonable gouging. In all honesty, part of me appreciated that they had so many fun toys and character-branded goodies (the spinning boomerang-like version of Cap’s shield was pretty cool, I have to say). But $27 to stand in front of a green screen for a photo of you with your favorite hero? $22 for a quick face painting? $15 for cotton candy? Knowing how many parents were going to be indulging in these things for their kids, even just to stem the tide of begging for a little while, the prices seem like an overreach to me given how much they’ve likely already paid for tickets and parking. I don’t expect them to give these things away, but yowza, the mark-up must be pretty enormous.
That aside, we had a marvelous (see what I did there?) time and really appreciated the chance to go! If your little ones are fans of the Marvel cast of characters and you have a chance, check out the show and I’m sure you and your family will love it too.
The Marvel Universe LIVE Tour continues on from Portland and on to cities this month like Milwaukee, Green Bay, Grand Rapids, and Minneapolis. See the tour schedule here.
Disclaimer: In exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, Feld Entertainment is provided me with complimentary tickets to the show. All opinions, however, are my own and those of my kids!