Displayed with permission from Toronto Star
There’s no stopping the Marvel Comics juggernaut.
Currently enjoying unprecedented popularity thanks to a string of successful movies that have so far accounted for a global box office bonanza of $18.6 billion, there’s never been a better time to be a superhero, especially a Marvel one.
Disney, owners of Marvel and a company that knows how to sniff out an entertainment dollar, understands this notion only too well. They’ve authorized Feld Entertainment to mount a live-action, 53-cast-member theatrical extravaganza called Marvel Universe Live that plays out as its own kid-friendly mini-movie, although kids of all ages were spotted at the first of seven shows at Air Canada Centre.
Unlike the movies thus far, Marvel Universe Live combines all the fan faves: The Avengers — comprising Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and others — a few X-Men, led by the comic book version of Wolverine, and your amazing friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, who is a little more “gymnastic” than the one everyone is used to, engaging in back flips and body rolls to complement his web-spinning escapades.
Notably absent were current Marvel cinema residents Ant-Man and Fantastic Four, although Sue Storm could have been there, because she’s invisible, right?
There is also a battery of recognizable baddies led by Loki, Thor’s evil brother, and the only villain to receive a sustained round of booing by the estimated 4,500 in attendance.
In a plot that involves the familiar source of power known as the Tesseract, Loki concocts an evil plan to rule the Earth with the aid of some of the Avengers’ greatest nemeses. Will the bad guy win, or will our heroes prevail in humanity’s latest darkest hour?
To find out, you’ll just have to show up to one of the remaining six ACC shows — and go through metal-detecting security to enter the building, a kids’ show first for this reviewer — but there is plenty of action and there are tons of effects aimed to impress the wee generation over the course of two hours: explosions, things and people flying through the air, cool lighting and an overabundance of motorcycle stunts used to further the story, which was acted out on a split-level stage that pretty much covered half the arena floor.
The script was passable, as the writer tried to incorporate the senses of humour attributed to Spider-Man and Iron Man, and the choreographed fights were intricate enough to hold one’s attention.
Oh, and parents, make sure your wallets are loaded: there were so many merchandising choices, ranging from $15 face-painting to $40 t-shirts and every conceivable type of swag in between, that it may be easier to defend the earth from Loki than to refuse a request from your Spider-Man-costumed son or daughter.