Marvel unleashes superheroes for stunt-filled live shows

Sun Jul 6, 2014 8:00am EDT
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By Letitia Stein

TAMPA, Fla., July 6 (Reuters) - Marvel in its latest superhero caper will expand its comic empire to live U.S. audiences this summer, with a tour packing Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man and two dozen characters into a family-oriented show filled with fight scenes and explosions.

"Marvel Universe LIVE!" debuts in Tampa on July 10 and will hit 85 cities including New York in August, marking the character licensing company's most ambitious move into live entertainment.

Marvel seeks to emulate the success of its parent company, Walt Disney Co, in translating popular film and television 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 -- from Wolverine and the Avengers' Captain America and Hulk to 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 stunts 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 while 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 characters' powers, producer Juliette Feld said. Spider-Man swings on a pendulum, while Iron Man has a jet-propulsion effect.   Continued...