Spider-Man and other Marvel heroes start US tour

The show Marvel Universe LIVE! marks the character licensing company's most ambitious move into live entertainment.

Marvel will expand its comic empire to live audiences this summer, with a United States tour packing Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man and two dozen characters into a family-orientated show filled with fight scenes and explosions.

Marvel Universe LIVE! debuts in Tampa tomorrow and will hit 85 cities, 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,” says 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, 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 tour is expected to go on to Canada and the United Kingdom, although no dates are set.

Feld, who produces the popular Disney on Ice and Disney Live! Tours, declined to discuss the cost of the production, which has been two years in the making.