Marvel Universe Live (Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN)

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We took our oldest son to see Marvel Universe Live this afternoon. The 3 o’clock showing at the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville, TN was the venue and doors opened at 2:00PM. We were lucky with traffic, arriving just after two and finding a parking lot nearby for a grand $15 for 2 hours of parking. It was only a block from the arena and we were there in no time. Normally we have to park down around the river front and hike right down the main strip. Not that this is a bad thing, as you get to experience downtown Nashville at its best. Vinyl record shops, Hard Rock Cafe, a local brewery and restaurant, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Open balcony cafe’s, live music, sidewalk musicians, cowboy hats, short skirts, police, horse drawn carriages … the smell of food wafting through the air. Mmmmmm.

Anyways, it was downtown.

Having arrived just minutes after the doors opened to allow the next show’s ticket holders, we didn’t have to wait at all. Flashed our tickets, walked right in and was in what appeared to be a mini convention of cosplay and overpriced souvenirs. A program guide with an exclusive collectible comic book that served as a prequel tale to the show was $25. A bottle of water (for my hacking and gagging) was $4.50, and the vendor at the bbq stand acted like he didn’t want to give me my $0.50 cents change back. In fact he grabbed the two ladies that kept telling him I was waiting for my change and they all turned their back to me. I finally just stuck my hand over the counter and stood there in everyone else’s way. So, already you get the expected over-priced knick-knacks that won’t last the entire show (more than likely) and ripoff vendors trying to hock their foodstuffs.

The seats in the Bridgestone Arena are not friendly to large folk. Once I sat down, I was pretty much lodged in my seat unless I was given notice so I could begin wiggling from side to side, sliding forward, twisting and then bracing my arms on the rows in front of and behind me to push out and up. So 15 minutes into my finally comfortable position, it’s to be expected that the guy behind me taps on my shoulder and says, “Sir, excuse me, but I dropped my phone under your seat. Can you get up so I can try to find it?”

Me and the guy from Bowling Green, KY sitting to my left both wiggled out to a standing position and found the guy’s phone. Then I dove back in to the crushing jaws of my seat. We’ve been to the Bridgestone Arena several times before, for hockey games, Disney on Ice, Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus, concerts and the like, so it wasn’t like I was surprised by the seating arrangements. I was, however, slightly larger than the last time we visited. But we’ll discuss that later on in the following week.

The show itself, Marvel Universe Live, is a fun little event. The special effects are right up there, the interactive screens and lighting were pretty advanced and awesome. The actors playing the super heroes and villains were all at the top of their game, but you could also tell they were worn out from the two previous shows they’d done that morning and afternoon. Spiderman looked a little weak on a few of those flips. Overall, they really delivered, though. It was impressive to watch their skills on display, especially with the motorbikes that were used through out the show.

The story was rushed and barely held together between acts, but there was one to follow. I only lost it once toward the end when they began using a lot of pyrotechnics and blowing things up and starting fires. The smell of the fuel was overwhelming and made me lose control of my cough.

Marvel Universe Live follows the breaking of a cosmic cube into pieces. Loki retrieves one of these shards and begins making plans to rule mankind. To power his tiny shard, he kidnaps Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm to harness their mutant powers. It’s up to Iron Man, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, Spiderman, Falcon and several more Marvel heroes to face off against their greatest foes. The likes of The Sinister 6 in an epic battle atop The Statue of Liberty done with really cool screens. Whiplash appears to battle Iron Man. Loki, of course as well as SHIELD agents Maria Hill and Nick Fury appear. And, of course, even The Hulk makes an appearance at the end. He’s a bit clunky and limited in movement, but the technical feats required to bring him out and alive are of no small order for the actor inside, I’m sure.

As with any kids show, the dialogue is a bit uneven, but there were a few references adults could grasp as well, such as Thor’s, “Let’s kick some Asgard!” or Iron Man saying, “That’s one pile of Chitari I’m not going to clean up.” Other than that, it’s fantasy pretend violence. Many of the punches you can clearly see aren’t connecting, but younger children may still have tons of questions about what is happening. The kids behind us, which were at least 6 or younger, seemed to be upset by certain scenes and confused as to why others were happening. They also continually asked who some of the lesser known Marvel characters were.

So over all, Marvel Universe Live is money well spent if you’re 1) a Marvel Universe fan, 2) have children young/old enough to appreciate it for what it is, and 3) just want to see a cool stage show featuring super heroes. The day before and the day of, I had short Twitter conversations with Romeo Brown as well. He plays Nick Fury in the show we saw. The cast is very open about talking to fans, it seems. You’re always welcome to send them a tweet of appreciation for the hard work that goes into making such a show.

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