Jul 08, 2014

    Marvel heroes and villains to slug it out in 85 cities


    MARVEL will expand its comic empire to live American audiences in its latest superhero caper, with a tour packing Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man and two dozen other characters into a family-oriented show filled with fight scenes and explosions.

    Marvel Universe LIVE! debuts in Tampa on Thursday and will hit 85 cities, including New York next month, marking the character-licensing company's most ambitious move into live entertainment.

    Marvel seeks to emulate the success of its parent company, the Walt Disney Company, in translating popular films and television programmes into a lifestyle brand with wide consumer reach.

    "This is legacy-building," said Tom Marvelli, Marvel's vice-president of global creative services and live events, who expects the show to appeal to both adult fans and their children. "For the first time, they are going to get to see the characters right in front of them, fighting it out and conquering evil."

    The show features more than 25 characters - including Wolverine and the Avengers' Captain America and Hulk, along with rivals Loki, Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus - in a duel for control of the Cosmic Cube, a coveted and feared power source in the Marvel realm.

    The plot fuels an almost non-stop sequence of action scenes, orchestrated by the stunt coordinator for The Amazing Spider-Man movies. Among the highlights are a car that flips, racing motorcycles and a bad guy who goes up in flames.

    The production features a stage that doubles as a massive projection screen, transporting audiences from Manhattan's skyscrapers to the far-flung desert as heroes and villains fight battle after battle.

    The action takes place as much in the air as on the ground, with costumes designed to move according to the characters' powers, producer Juliette Feld said. Spider-Man swings on a pendulum, while Iron Man has a jet-propulsion effect.

    The tour is expected to go on to Canada and Britain, although no dates have been set.

    The concept was pitched by Feld Entertainment, a family-owned company which puts on the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus, building on its three-decade relationship with Disney.

    Feld produces the popular Disney On Ice and Disney Live! tours, and has featured Marvel-themed cars at its Monster Jam events.