The first “Marvel Universe Live” show packed arenas all over the country and delighted fans of Thor, Iron Man and other superheroes from the titular fictional plane of existence.
There’s a new edition of “Marvel Universe Live!” coming to Tampa’s Amalie Arena beginning on Friday. (It was supposed to start on Thursday, but the first show was canceled.)
The people who created the show, which is subtitled “Age of Heroes,” say that if you liked the first show, you’ll love this one. And you’ll like it even if the frenzied action of the original show left you a little bewildered.
“It’s a new show,” said Bradenton’s David Doersch. “It’s bigger. It’s pretty spectacular.”
Doersch is the fight director for “Marvel Universe Live!: Age of Heroes.” He and his collaborators, who collectively are called the “Action Team,” also worked on the first show. The entire team, he said, wanted to make sure this one was even better.
The original “Marvel Universe Live” has a narrative that some audience members, even those who knew a little a something about the Marvel Universe characters and their back stories, found hard to follow. Doersch said the storyline in the new show, which insiders refer to as “MUL2,” is a lot more straightforward.
I think probably the most important thing is that we brought into the Marvel Universe Dr. Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
He describes the plot, which involves villains who have acquired an object that could, now that it has fallen into malevolent hands, cause the end of the universe. The story has to do with the Marvel superheroes battling to get that object before the villains can use it.
It comes down to an essential conflict that’s at the heart of many such stories, from “The Lord of the Rings” to the original “Marvel Universe Live” show.
“The bad guys have a thing, and the good guys have to stop the bad guys from using the thing,” Doersch said.
While the first show’s plot was geared largely toward knowledgeable fans of the genre and the franchise, this one is designed to appeal just as much to people who enjoy the Marvel comics and movies, but don’t care that much to delve into the mythology behind it. So it’s geared not just toward the hard-core aficionados, but to people who might have seen the first “Spider-Man” movie and enjoyed it, but have never really delved into the depths of the Marvel universe, and even for people who don’t know Iron Man from the Black Widow.
And besides the ramped-up action, the new show also has a healthier dose of humor.
“I think that’s something we try to do, not just with ‘Marvel Universe’ but with all our shows,” said Chris Nobels, the senior director of productions for Feld Entertainment and the director of the “MUL2.”
“You can’t just write for your core audience, you have to write for all audiences. There are things that a 10-year-old will laugh at, and there are things his parents will laugh at that he doesn’t get. It’s OK if you don’t laugh at everything, but you’ll laugh at some things.”
And while there’s more action, including a lot more aerial work, there’s also a much-bigger story.
“I think probably the most important thing is that we brought into the Marvel universe Dr. Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy,” said Nobels.
That means that the battle between the forces of good and evil takes place over the entire galaxy, which leads to even more spectacular action and visuals, he said.
One big change in the new show, Doersch and Nobels both said, is that there are female characters.
“One of the things we’re really proud of is the number of women characters,” Doersch said. “Women heroes and women villains. People may have come out of the original ‘Marvel Universe Live’ thinking it was just a boys’ show, that’s definitely not the takeaway here.”
The female characters such as the Black Widow and Nebula just seemed to naturally come to the fore when the Action team was putting the story together, Nobels said.
“MUL2” and the 2017 film “Wonder Woman” were both in the works in the works at the same time, Nobels said. The movie was a huge hit in theaters a few months ago, and sparked a national conversation about women as action heroes.
“We were in development when they were in pre-production,” Nobels said. “It was just a pleasant surprise.”