The Marvel Universe Comes Alive at the Target Center

Marvel Universe Live program

Loki is at it again and this time he brings the action to Minneapolis. Marvel Universe Live, produced by Feld Entertainment, playing at the Target Center April 7-10, brings the action and adventure of a Marvel Comics story to an arena-style setting. A mix of the action offered by Monster Truck rallies and the actor athleticism seen at Disney On Ice (both are also produced by Feld Entertainment), Marvel Universe Live is a show for the whole family. It’s best experienced live, of course, but that’s not possible for everyone, so here’s  a synopsis of the show for those of you who didn’t make it to the Target Center for the show.

There are motorcycle tricks, acrobatics, stage fights, cool light shows, pyrotechnics that will make you jump, but most importantly there is a comic book story with which we are pretty familiar.

The story starts in an actual comic book prelude you receive when you purchase the show program outside of security prior to the beginning of the show. According to Liam, the ultra friendly gentleman I met who was selling programs and coloring books, Marvel can in no way reprint this particular comic book. It is for this specific show only. Naturally I purchased this program and “free” comic book. If you are a memorabilia collector junkie like me, it’s definitely worth picking up. The giant program is pretty cool too. It gives some background on the actors and other information about the show itself, as you’d expect from a program. If you are a casual comic book media fan, neither of these are really required; the beginning of the show will bring you up to speed on what is about to happen.

The prelude sets the story with Loki, disguised as Hawkeye, battling with Asgardian God, Thor, fellow Avenger Iron Man and teen sensation Spider-Man over the Cosmic Cube (first introduced to Marvel fans in 1966 in Tales of Suspense and created by A.I.M., Advanced Idea Mechanics). The heroes triumph and the prelude ends with a quote from Thor, “The question is what happens when the power is too great? What should be thy responsibility then?”

The prelude the Marvel Universe Live

Lights out. The arena becomes a movie screen. Next the audience hears the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. and the Marvel Universe Live show begins. Thor, in all his Thunder God wisdom, crushes the Cosmic Cube into three pieces so that no one may use its powers. Meanwhile, Loki has succeeded in capturing three great X-Men: Wolverine, Storm, and Cyclops. Loki uses the energy of the X-Men mutants to create his own Cosmic Cube. Iron Man reaches out to Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, Hulk, Captain America and Captain Marvel to find the three pieces, put the Cosmic Cube back together, defeat Loki, save the mutants and the world.

Saving the X-Men doesn’t go as successfully as planned. Only Wolverine is freed before Loki escapes with Storm and Cyclops. The heroes call a meeting and plan their next move. Wolverine, in typical Wolverine fashion, is less than amused by any type of plan and decides to go rogue. Bruce Banner accompanies him, because you know, Wolverine needs a babysitter and who better than the big green guy? End of act one.

View of the arena size screen from Marvel Universe Live

Act two brings the Sinister Six (Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Black Cat, Lizard, Rhino and Electro) battling Spider-Man and Thor inside and on top of the Statue of Liberty. There is a battle of motorcycle egos with Captain America and Red Skull while Madame Hydra and Black Widow talk smack and kick the crap out of each other. Iron Man, Hawkeye and Captain Marvel defeat Aldrich Killian and his cronies in a flame-filled battle. Bruce and Wolverine save Storm and Cyclops from the Chitauri. The heroes assemble the Cosmic Cube pieces but Loki summons all the villains and several battles pursue. Loki uses his mind powers and, just when things are looking grim for our heroes . . . you guessed it—the big green guy appears.

If you were paying attention—and it was a bit difficult with three different Loki characters and several battles but that was the point—you would have seen a group of Killian’s goons beating up on Banner and you would know what was coming next. Ultimately, the Hulk saved the day, but not without Loki trying to control his mind. In the end the Avengers, X-Men and Spider-Man live happily ever after. Well, at least until the next issue or movie or live theater experience.

Red Skull and Captain America showing off some motorcycle skills during their battle at Marvel Universe Live

So what did I think?

It was very entertaining. It was fun to see adults and children dressed as their favorite characters or simply wearing Marvel hero a shirt or hat. The story was short and simple but the action was fun. The actors were more like stage combat artists than actors we would expect in a movie. For this type of show, I really like that. The pyrotechnic explosions made me jump almost every time. I had second row seats and could actually feel the heat. The lighting was downright awesome—from the swirls when Loki was using his mind controlling power to the lightening during Thor’s battle, or the electricity under Electro as he was defeated to the subtle white light when Iron Man zapped some one with his hand repulsor, the lights definitely added to experience of the show.

Marvel Universe Live used every inch of the stage, and I mean “stage” in three dimensions! My head was constantly moving up as actors were flying or ships were moving. I looked across the stage as the motorcycles made their way over ramps, up walls, up scaffolding, and all around the arena. When attention was needed to be drawn away from the crew setting up the next scene, there was spotlighted dialogue or video played on the giant screen. For anyone attentind with children, there was lots of activity to keep your little superhero’s attention. Speaking of your little superheroes, parents bringing children to an event like this should be warned that there is an abundance of Marvel paraphernalia ready and waiting to be purchased—flashing lights to gets the kids’ attention around every corner. The marketing must work because walking out, every kid seemed to have a flashing Marvel hero-themed weapon in their hand.

Spider-Man trying to get my attention. He got it!

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