I didn’t realize that Marvel Universe Live was a thing until I saw it’s billboard staring at me on my commute to work one morning. I remember calling my wife and saying, “Hey, so there’s this thing we should look up and find out more about.” Not really knowing what to expect, you can imagine my surprise and excitement upon finding out that it was in fact a live-action stunt show starring my favorite comic book characters. We had tickets purchased shortly marvel-universe-live-comes-to-nj-909be65381f6b700there after, and excitement began to build.

When we arrived at the Richmond Coliseum, we couldn’t help but notice the plethora of children dressed up as the likes of Cap, Spidey, and even little Hulks. The venue offered themed merchandise, photos on a super imposed backdrop, face painting, and snacks, all for a premium price. Once we had taken our seats, the first thing we noticed was the immense performance space. It was becoming more and more apparent that this show was not a gimmick. But rather, yet another form of Marvel entertainment that has just as much thought and care put into it as the MCU itself.

We enjoyed a fantastic 90 minute show containing over 25 heroes and villains who performed car chases, motorcycle stunts, acrobatics and hand-to-hand combat scenes. The plot of the show was centered around the Tesseract. Only this time, the show begins with it being destroyed by Thor himself and Loki attempting yet another ploy for world domination by absorbing the powers of several other characters in order to create a duplicate. With the help of several other key Super Villains at Loki’s side, the Heroes must come together as a team to overcome what at times feels like impossible odds. There were several aspects of the show that really stood out as the most memorable, while others (though fewer) left something to be desired.

Primarily, I have to touch on the audio performance. Both the voiceover work and the music were impeccably done. The music was so loud I felt like I was inside a Marvel movie. There were epic ballads accompanied by sound effects like Spidey’s web shooters, Thor’s lightning, and Iron Man’s repulsor ray. The voiceover acting however, stole the show for me in terms of most pleasant surprise. It was clear from the very beginning that Disney and Marvel are very much good buddies when it comes to everything, even the live shows, as I noticed that many of the characters were being voiced by their Disney cartoon Theater-Marvel Universe Livevoice actors. Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, and Loki stood out a the most obvious ones to me. Combine all this with dynamic acting of the performers, and you have one heck of a show.

The actors relied on a LOT of body motion to convey emotion. Since they were lip syncing with the pre-recorded script, they had to do a lot with their hands and bodies to make sure even the people in the nosebleeds knew who was speaking at any given point. Spider-Man was very clearly the star of the show from his entry on a skateboard as Peter Parker doing tricks in a half-pipe, to his transformation into Spider-Man as he did acrobatic flips and spins all over the performance area. The combat sequences were well-organized, however at times it was too well rehearsed and too blatantly obvious that no one was actually connecting to each other with a punch or a kick. (1-2ft gaps visible between fist and face at certain angles). The large number of characters fighting at any given point definitely created scale, but made it hard to focus on one cool fight or another. I felt like I missed a lot of things depending on who I was looking at moment to moment. Combine that with scenes where there was dialogue mixed in to all the fighting and it was a bit of a sensory overload.

In addition to the outstanding choreography and audio quality, there were some pyrotechnics strewn about in the show. These were a little loud inside and definitely jumpy, but made the immersion and sense of danger so real, that it was easy to forget you were watching a show. By the end, Hero and Villain alike came to the stage to bow and receive multiple rounds of well deserved applause.

We walked out of the arena smiling and watching kids in costume jumping around throwing punches and kicks at the air, quoting the show, and asking their parents, “Did you see the part when…?!” For the low-cost of admission, great seats, and more enjoyable spectacle than either myself or Amanda could have expected, I definitely rate the show 4.5/5 stars and money well spent.