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Marvel Universe Live, the Lectro-Link, and the Live-Action Entertainment Experience

by Ethan Tussey

by Kimberly Owczarski for IN MEDIA RES

With Disney's acquisition of Marvel Entertainment in 2009, the corporation has expanded the opportunities available for the comics-based company into nearly all media. For example, Feld Entertainment recently created and launched the Marvel Universe Live tour in conjunction with Disney to bring Marvel characters to theatrical life at sports venues around the U.S. According to the show's director, Shanda Sawyer, the show is meant to give fans the feeling that they've "really stepped into the Marvel universe. That they are inside that realm that they've read about, and dreamed about and seen in the movies." Billed as an "original, live-action arena experience," Marvel Universe Live acts as a staging site for a combined Marvel narrative unavailable in film due to character licensing rights across studios. The show's spectacle involves martial arts choreography, acrobatics, and vehicular, motorcycle, and pyrotechnic stunts, as the Avengers work with Wolverine and Spider-Man to defeat several core Marvel enemies. Marvel Universe Live also acts as a conduit for the extensive sale of Marvel products, with merchandize geared for every age, price point, and level of fandom. In particular, the Lectro-Link sells for $25 at the show's many retail outlets, though it is available for pre-order with the ticket purchase. Along with the Lectro-Link, ticket holders have access to a prequel comic for the show, which provides some of the narrative's backstory. The comic documents the development of the Lectro-Link by Iron Man and Spider-Man; according to the story, the device acts as a remote power source for Iron Man's suit. Conveniently, it also allows consumers to interact with the characters, as those who purchase the Lectro-Link can power them up and help Iron Man channel their energy in order to defeat his enemies during the show's climax. Thus, Marvel Universe Live utilizes the space of these large sports venues as a canvas to further exploit the intimate connection that fans crave with this franchise. Deemed a "new addition to Marvel lore" in the company's press releases, the Lectro-Link was created specifically for the show, a unique tool to promote the show's interactivity to young fans. Yet, despite the device's seeming necessity for the show's narrative, the future of the Lectro-Link in the Marvel universe remains unclear. No other Marvel property has incorporated it. Ultimately, its main function was to sell the idea of engagement with the spectacle, limited as that interaction might be within the vast Marvel universe.

Stadium Entertainment and Marvel

A First Look at the Traveling Superhero

from Marvel Universe Live A First Look at the Traveling Superhero (2015)
Creator: Kimberly Owczarski
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey