Peanut Adventures, Issue 14 (Marvel Live!)
*BEWARE! SHOW SPOILERS CONTAINED WITHIN*
You wouldn't necessarily know it from visiting this site or following our instagram, but it's not all twirling fancy princesses at this house. My kid loves geek culture. Ever since she fell in love with Guardians of the Galaxy, we've been working our way through the Marvel Cinematic Universe with her. She's even gone to see GOTG2, Spiderman Homecoming, and Thor Ragnarok [y'all can pry the Oxford comma from my cold dead hands] in the theater. She's cosplayed Spidergwen at Megacon. She's a big fan.
We did a Disney On Ice show in 2016, and D loved it. She still talks about it every time we drive by the Amway Center. When ads started circulating for a Marvel Live show, I'll admit Ian and I were interested almost immediately. Showed D a the commercial. D was interested. Then the clouds parted, the fates aligned, and an email appeared in my inbox from Feld Entertainment: would our family like to come check out the show? UM. YES. THANKS.
We arrived at the venue with plenty of time to walk around, explore merchandise, and let D get into her costume. Yes, D cosplays at these shows, and she's not alone. On the walk from the parking garage, she made friends with a little boy dressed as Spiderman (D: Take off your mask, what do you look like? Boy: I can't, that's my secret identity!). D opted for Black Widow, since she hasn't really gotten a chance to wear it yet.
Y'all, I was very responsible: I called the venue to get clarity on their camera policy (it is very vague in writing). Yes, I'm allowed to bring my DSLR, but the lens has to be shorter than 6" (insert eyeroll at arbitrary cutoff). Ok, still, I can do that. I have prime lenses. I even got written confirmation from the people at Feld that it was ok, too. Get to the venue. Security decides to hassle me over the size of my purse, but not my camera. Finally I looked them in the eyes and said "Y'all... it's a purse.... and it's not even remotely full..." and they waved me through. What was I going to do, take my purse back to my car, dump everything out, and carry it in my arms? Honestly...
So we get inside and rolled up to the merch booth. First thing I want to note is that the merch was fantastically gender inclusive and surprisingly not expensive (maybe Disney has worn down my sticker shock). But seriously, there was something from a $5 price range (a charm bracelet) and up from there. They had Black Widow Dolls right next to Captain America. There were souvenir Groot mugs filled with Snow Cones, and any popcorn or cotton candy purchase came with a souvenir foam hat with the Marvel hero of your choosing. Color me impressed.
Grabbed our seats (in the bottom bowl, SWEEEEEEET thanks, Feld!) and went to get a bottle of water. They won't let you keep the lid. I asked if they'd pour it into a cup with a lid. No. Finally I just shrugged, since I'm not the one that has to mop up after spills. Amway policy continues to baffle me. Did some test shots from our seat with my 85mm prime (the seats were great, but an 85 isn't going to pull off a close-up unless I'm literally on the floor). We were seated with a group of other bloggers, and the woman next to me saw my camera and asked if security had hassled me for it. "No, it's under 6", but they hassled me for my bag." She proceeds to pull out a smaller DSLR with an even smaller lens "They almost didn't let me in with this." GET IT TOGETHER, AMWAY.
Oh I almost forgot, D picked up a new superhero pose.
The show kicked off promptly at 7:30 p.m. (it's in town through this Monday and touring the country with midday, afternoon, and evening shows). The first half is around 40 minutes, around a 15 minute intermission, then the second half is around 40. Unlike Disney On Ice which SORT OF has a very loose story that's mostly an excuse for character vignettes, this show had a very specific plot and conflict and told a story over the course of its two halves, just like a movie. We LOVED this, especially D, kept her completely engaged. She clapped, she cheered, she stared intently, she laughed at Rocket, and she followed the story (it's not overly complicated). It got a full endorsement from all of us, it was the perfect length and level of engagement for kids that are of an age to be interested in these characters.
Now I'll go into more detail about the content of the show (for those of you wondering about specifics and whether or not your kid or you would be interested, but if you don't want to know just skip past all these SPOILERS).
The show begins with a floating Dr. Strange moving over the floor (the entire floor is taken up by the set, there is no floor seating). Dr. Strange is the narrator, he introduces the characters that you'll see (some of them) and sets up the plot (essentially a magic wand that could end the universe, but Loki, Nebula, and Yondu & the ravagers are all trying to get their hands on it). Although Dr. Strange narrates, something that I really loved about this show is that there wasn't really a single "lead" character; nobody had to feel like their favorite hero was playing second fiddle to anybody else, it really felt like everybody had their own fair "screen" time. INCLUDING THE GIRLS. AND BLACK PANTHER. But we'll get to that.
The show consists of a series of vignettes that serve as a brief means to propel the story forward while showcasing some aspect of stunt work. There is a variety of stunt fight choreography, pyrotechnics, etc. I was super impressed with all of it, even the lighting, rigging, layout... it's all really well done and very easy to follow.
Loki hires Nebula to steal the wand. She gets it, and Yondu tries to steal it from her. Meanwhile, the Guardians show up to try and keep either of them from getting it.
Epic fight ensues. Sword choreography, Rocket rockets, Groot flails. There are fun Drax droll lines and Rocket zingers. It's perfect. Nebula escapes with the wand which sends her hurtling through space. Meanwhile we catch up with Spiderman in New York, who encounters almost every villain EVER while swinging and flipping all over the place, slinging webs and sassy sarcasm wherever he goes.
Some of the Avengers show up to help (Cap, Black Widow, WASP!!, Black Panther!!!). Ian and I agreed Black Panther kicked the most butt all day.
Iron Man and Thor show up and Iron Man explains he has a new invention that can allow him to focus all of their energy into his blasters or something. Dr. Strange tells the Avengers what's going on with the wand and enlists their help.
Quick note: the females are NOT accessories. They all talk, have opinions, and CONTRIBUTE to every vignette. Be. Still. My. Heart. Bruce Banner helps the team track down possible places where Nebula might show up with the wand and they split up to chase her down.
Meanwhile, Loki shows up where Bruce is and kidnaps him so HE can track down Nebula and get the wand. The first team announces they are going to K'un-lun. Wait... Iron Fist? He wasn't on the banners...
Yes, there was a slightly random "party" with Chinese dragon dancers and aerial silks, but it's brief and pretty and the Avengers crash the party. And, yes, Iron Fist shows up, too.
Captain America, Black Widow, Black Panther and Spiderman meanwhile go to the Savageland in Antarctica and do a fun scene with some stunt motorbikes. Then they get into this temple and there are some fire stunts.
Black Widow & Nebula get to be the focal point of some fight sequences...
Eventually EVERYBODY ends up at this temple for a final showdown, powers must be combined, etc. to free Bruce, unleash the Hulk, reclaim the wand, etc. It's a free-for-all, but the show does a great job of giving you plenty of things to look at but directing your eyes to wherever the "story" is being moved forward.
The show is just so well done. I mentioned the inclusivity, but it was so NOT forced I didn't even notice until the end. There were female heroes but a female villain, too. They fought, they led, they contributed. Black Panther had THE most impressive physicality and fight sequences. Heroes flew, fought, joked, swung swords, blew stuff up, used magic... it was such a great amalgamation of everything my kid loves about the Marvel Cinematic Universe rolled into one JUST THE RIGHT LENGTH show.
So high-five, Marvel. Thanks for really showcasing all these characters and letting my kid see females be the butt-kicking leaders they are.
If you have a kid who likes Marvel, I highly recommend this show. All the characters really do get to their own time and feature moments (Hulk might have gotten the biggest cheers of all when he came out!). The tickets are pretty reasonably priced (I think they start around $25?).
If you're worried or concerned about content, it's DEFINITELY PG (most of the movies are PG-13, this is definitely more tame). Nobody dies. No blood (I mean, obviously). There's a definite spirit of FUN that pervades. And we loved it
Here's D with the $4 coloring book that Ian caved and bought her on the way out. She hasn't been separated from it since.
*Feld Entertainment invited us to attend a performance of Marvel Universe Live: Age of Heroes gratis. I was not obligated to do anything in return. All opinions here are my own.*