My husband shows off his Green Lantern ring the way a newly engaged woman displays her engagement band. So it was no surprise that he was as excited about seeing Marvel Universe Live! as our nine-year-old daughter (she's also a superhero fan). While there were certainly a lot of families at this live-action superhero spectacle, which is hitting New Jersey, Brooklyn and Long Island on its arena tour, it was clearly created with fans of all ages in mind.
Spidey swinging, Black Widow kicking, Captain America motorcycling, the Hulk smashing—this Marvel mash-up has lots of awesome stunts to please even the littlest superhero lovers. However, there are potentially scary bits, too. Here's how my family fared at Marvel Universe Live!.
Marvel Universe Live! is definitely ambitious. The producers, Feld Entertainment, are the same folks behind those huge Disney on Ice shows and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus, so they know a thing or two about presenting family entertainment on a grand scale. This two-hour show (with a 20-minute intermission so you can run up your credit card bill buying Marvel tchotchkes) reassembles the Avengers along with Spider-Man, Wolverine and some lesser known characters (I'm looking at you, Captain Marvel) to thwart Loki's evil plans to dominate the world. And I haven't even mentioned the kidnapped X-Men or the smashed remnants of the Tesseract that need to be recovered from all over the globe. To say the story is convoluted is an understatement. But even if your kids don't follow it all (I admit, I had trouble figuring out how all the scenes fit together), the main attraction is the action.
And there's plenty of it. Motorcycle chases and stunts, intricately choreographed fight scenes (as the mother of a daughter I loved that Black Widow kicked some serious butt), gravity-defying wire work (Spider-Man's battle with Green Goblin on his flyer was a highlight) and lots of loud explosions. That last bit was especially frightening for preschoolers. My friend's three-year-old apparently freaked out at first but was rapt by the end. It's important to prepare young or sensitive kids to expect loud noises and sudden sparks. Also, the video game-style projections, which give you a bird's-eye view of far-flung locales, might trigger queasiness, kind of like seeing a movie in IMAX.
Speaking of movies, young kids used to multimillion dollar CGI film effects may wonder why you can see Spidey's wires or how come Bruce Banner needs to transform into the Hulk behind a billow of smoke or why there are some slow parts when nothing seems to happen. Marvel Universe Live! does require the suspension of disbelief, and it's never too early to introduce kids to that concept. So is it worth your time and money? If you have a superhero fan at home (even a middle-aged one), absolutely. (My husband and daughter want to see it again!) But if your kids aren't already into the Marvel universe, this probably won't convert them (the three young girls behind us spent the entire show begging to play on their mom's phone, they were that bored.) Hey, even superheroes can't overcome the power of indifference.
Marvel Universe Live! is playing at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ through Sunday, August 10; Brooklyn's Barclays Center Wednesday, August 13-Sunday, August 17 and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island Thursday, August 21-Sunday, August 24. Find the complete schedule and prices on the website and save money on tickets to select performances with Goldstar. Here are links for Brooklyn and Long Island. And go ahead and opt for the cheap tickets, this show reads well even from the nosebleed seats.
Read about other fun ways to geek out with your kids, including the interactive installation Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. The Exhibition at Discovery Times Square.
Photos courtesy of Feld Entertainment