Geek Out: 5 Fun Ways NYC Kids Can Tap Into Their Inner Comic Book Superhero
I admit it: My nine-year-old enjoys a lot of stuff that I just can't get into: Minecraft, Rainbow Loom, ballet—I'm the dutiful supportive mom of course, but oh, how my mind wanders (the same way hers does when I tell her to go clean her room). That's why I'm glad my daughter and I share a deep love of comic-book superheroes. Whenever there's a new movie coming out or comic convention coming up, we are equally excited to experience it together.
Summer is typically the season of superheroes since it's when all the big-budget blockbusters are released. But over the next few months in NYC, there are five extra-special superhero-inspired happenings that sound a lot more fun than just sitting passively in a movie theater. From the interactive Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. in Times Square to Kids Day at New York Comic Con to a live Marvel superhero stage show at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, here are five ways to geek out with your comic-loving kids in NYC.
Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. The Exhibition – Midtown West
Times Square Discovery Exhibition, 226 West 44th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
On view through Sunday, January 4, 2015
$27 for adults, $19.50 for children ages 3-11
We already picked this interactive installation as one of our top summer museum exhibits for families, but now that I've been with my family, I have a better idea of what's cool and what's not. Inspired by Marvel's 2012 hit The Avengers, the exhibit invites visitors to "train" to become agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (that's Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division for the uninitiated) who back up the superheroes when needed. Before entering, you're issued a customized badge that tracks your progress (you can even tie your profile into your Facebook account so your friends can see how you're doing). Once inside the sleek, space-age-style installation, you'll see a brief original training video (starring Titus Welliver from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series) and lots of footage from The Avengers, plus props and costumes. The big attractions are the interactive stations based on each superhero's particular powers. The Iron Man room was my family's favorite hands-down. It has a seriously cool simulator where you can learn how to fly and operate Iron Man's suit (my daughter did it twice and would have gone a third time if I hadn't stopped her). You can also operate his mechanical arm and see through his eyes at other stations. We also enjoyed the Captain America room, where you can see how you match up to the super-soldier in strength and weight (I skipped that last one). The Hulk room had a cute faux DNA test and in Thor's room you could navigate a giant digital map of the universe. But overall we didn't find those last two rooms that engaging. Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. features cutting-edge technology, and that's both its best asset and biggest problem. The popular high-tech activities always have a long line... assuming they're working at all. When we visited, multiple stations were closed due to technical difficulties, and that's been going on since the exhibition debuted. That complaint aside, if your kids (or you!) are into superheroes, it's a definite must see. Just don't expect it to be perfect—after all, even superheroes have flaws. Tip: Go on a weekday to avoid the crowds and wear something super for your green screen photo op with all of the Avengers. My family splurged on our pic and it's a nice keepsake.
Batman Day – Citywide
Various locations and prices
Wednesday, July 23
Celebrate the Caped Crusader's 75th anniversary by picking up a FREE special edition of Detective Comics #27 featuring a re-imagining of Batman’s 1939 comic book debut at participating retailers. Many NYC comic book stores will be giving away other cool freebies like Midtown Comics, which promises to hand out free bags and bookmarks, and sell masks and capes for just .99 cents at its three locations. And we suspect there will also be costumed characters at some comic book shops. Drop into the one nearest you to see what's going on and to wish Batman a happy birthday (not that he's into that sort of thing).
Marvel Universe Live! – Fort Greene
Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue
Thursday, August 13-Sunday, August 17
Put those cheesy images of flabby costumed characters flubbing flips at a kid's birthday party out of your mind. Everything about this new live-action stage spectacle is top notch, from the state-of-the-art costumes to the high-tech stunts to the athletic and fearless stars. Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk and other Marvel superheroes come to life with pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts and motorcycles tricks. I don't expect subtlety—perhaps not even a coherent story (the plot isn't even mentioned in the press release). But watching the awesome promo videos had me grinning ear to ear like the Joker (sorry for mixing universes).
New York Comic Con – Midtown West
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center 655 West 34th Street at Eleventh Avenue
Thursday, October 9-Sunday, October 12
I've gone to this massive pop-culture gathering every year since it debuted in 2006. But I don't want to tell you how cool it is because, at the moment, it's completely sold out! But there is some hope. Additional NYCC passes will go on sale at participating local retailers sometime this summer. The question is... when and what will the inventory be? My advice: Follow Midtown Comics on Twitter or Facebook. The staff is good about announcing when tickets go on sale but you'll have to act fast. Update: NYCC tickets go on sale at Midtown Comics on Thursday, August 7. Read the store's blog post for all the info! Warning, there will be long lines and tickets will go fast! In terms of what NY Comic Con is like, see my post from 2011. It's a glorious geek fest filled with pop-culture panels, workshops, vendors and thousands of costumed fans. Sunday is Kids Day and includes a discounted price for children ages 5 to 12 ($5) and special activities like a children's costume contest. But first, get your tickets. Then worry about what you'll do there.
New York Super Week – Citywide
Various locations and prices
Friday, October 3-Sunday, October 12
Even if you're not able to snag passes to NY Comic Con, you can still geek out that week at a series of pop-culture-themed experiences taking place throughout the five boroughs. This is the first time this fest is happening and new events are constantly being added to the calendar. Not all are kid-friendly (many events are 21 and over only) and each one requires separate admission but already Muppet Vault and SLIMED! Presents a Nickelodeon Nostalgia Nite sound like good bets. Keep checking the website for updated event information and if you see something that piques your interested, go!
Places featured in this article:
Discovery Times Square
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center