Marvel Summer of Super Heroes – Launch Weekend and Shows Review
From the somewhat surprise announcement at Comicon London on October 27, 2017 we knew “Marvel Summer” – as it’s commonly known – was going to be the main event of Summer 2018 – if not 2018 as a whole.
On Saturday June 9, Disneyland Paris hosted a glitzy preview night to showcase the world premiere (or “universe premiere” as Euro Disney President Catherine Powell put it) of this much anticipated season. Since Catherine had “negotiated with Thor to avoid lightning in the sky” (is there anything the woman can’t do?), the bulk of the event went on without a storm in sight.
In the interest of transparency, please note that we were guests of Disneyland Paris for the weekend, although opinions are very much our own. We do not reveal show plots, but this article describes some of the elements of the shows.
Let’s suit up and start our mission..
No expense was spared to showcase this first burst of Marvel at Disneyland Paris, and the opening ceremony set the tone: from a massive Avengers truck (actually the truck from “Moteurs Action”, re-skinned) to CEO Catherine Powell’s arrival in a self driving prototype car from Resort Partner Renault, everything was done to emulate the techy and action packed world of The Avengers.
The much anticipated high point of the ceremony involved the helicopter that we spotted a few nights this week flying over the Resort, which this time flew over Front Lot to drop part of the Cast right into the park. As the main Walt Disney Studios Park gates opened, the Heroes entered the stage and it was time to discover exactly how we were gonna “Hero up” this summer.
The opening show had a big wow factor, it was quite short, and while were lucky to score a spot close to the front, the media bleachers and configuration of the Walt Disney Studios Park entrance made it hard to see for a lot of Guests standing in the back. It was a great effort however, and possibly one the most spectacular season launch to date.
You can watch our Live coverage of the ceremony right here on Periscope Replay: https://www.pscp.tv/w/1BRJjezpqdoGw
And take a look at the stage itself here: https://twitter.com/ED92live/status/1005509809716768768
Once inside, special events crews had called in a good number of outstanding food truck and stations. Great variety, quality and originality combined with a large « street party » style seating area toward the Backlot made the entire place feel relaxing and inviting.
Definitely something to build on for future special parties as all Guests seemed to really enjoy themselves walking around and trying a bit of everything. It also reminded us of what can be done with the originally of food offering and hopefully Disneyland Paris Food & Beverage is taking notes.
Get a feel for the setup here : https://twitter.com/ED92live/status/1005512072417955840
And the street festival here: https://twitter.com/ED92live/status/1005516402642636800
Stark Expo is the first show we got to experience (the order of shows was tied to the color of Guests lanyards).
This show uses the same stage as Star Wars Season of the Force as well as other seasons (Christmas comes to mind) and special events. And that’s the first problem. The stage was primarily designed to work hand in hand with the projections on Tower of Terror, and as such, is very high. Without any projections on the Tower (this is a day show), Guests who watch near the stage often only see the Characters from the waist up – and the Infinity viewing area Guests are the first affected. Maybe the heroes could perform a bit closer to the front.
We won’t go into detail about the plot but it’s fairly light, and Iron Man only appears on screen before and after his “broadcast gets interrupted”. It’s then a bit unclear how and why the characters intervene or where they come from.
While the show does an ok job as showcasing the characters when you can see them, the story and links between scenes fall flat:
Why is Spider-Man jumping into an HVAC tube on top of the Disney Channel building to reappear 1 second later on stage? Did he run underground? Is this Mickey and the Magician? Wasn’t there supposed to be a wire? So many questions!
Another issue that is common to all Marvel Summer shows is that the producers opted to not used special effects when the heroes throw punches (we are used to this from watching the Movies). The result is an impressive and well choreographed fight routine that at times looks a bit more like a dance routine.
On the more positive side, the show does a good job at reinforcing the “action packed” atmosphere of the area and the crowd gets energized when their favorite heroes take the stage. Stark Expo would fall in the “happening” category, nice to see if you’re walking by.
Watch our Live Replay of the show here: https://www.pscp.tv/w/1BdGYojaDloxX
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance off
This show operates from a small stage with an LED screen especially built next to Studio Theater. It is quite low and Guests seem to have a hard time positioning themselves around it despite the now common ‘marker circles’ on the ground. Guest Flow is at times having problems moving people back, this will hopefully get improved over time.
If “Stark Expo” aims to bring energy and action, this fun (and quite lengthy) show succeeds in bringing the fun and humorous side of things, that we have come to expect from the Guardians franchise, this time to a live audience.
Star Lord (don’t call him anything else!) does a good job at keeping the crowd entertained (it’s always hard to live up to the actor who portrays such an iconic character in the movies) but the jokes come mostly remotely from Rocket (who is busy with his new machine that lick his- wait what? Did I hear this right?) and Gamora’s signature “I don’t dance or have any fun” attitude that culminates with a cheeky “cant we just force them to dance”. We feel you, Gamora: put your phones away, Euro Guests, and get into it! Everyone stepped up their game for Pirates & Princesses, let’s keep it going.
One thing that this show could benefit from is a “Pirates & Princesses” dance routine tutorial video so that at least the fans can come prepared and really help defeat the collector’s “heat sensors”. The music also could be louder.
One word you haven’t read in this section is: Groot. He’s .. busy .. with Rocket.. this season, but hopefully he can join for the next edition of Marvel Summer as he would really make this fun little show more complete.
You can see a replay of our Live Coverage here: https://twitter.com/ED92live/status/1005526014712270849
Marvel Super Heroes United
And now for the big ticket item ladies and gentlemen. We’ve been waiting for this supposedly blockbuster of a show for 8 months and it’s finally time to hero up!
The first thing we must mention is the Studio Theater entrance hallway. The facade looks amazing and classy, the poster style art in the queue is sleek but oh boy, the surprise here was the “TRON meets Hyperspace” style LED covered entrance hallway that will make you wanna fill your Instagram with photos and videos (note that it is off after the show so this is your only chance!). You can see it here: https://twitter.com/ED92live/status/1005533035394207745
The theater was modified to fit the more complex stage and a decent number seats were removed in the front in the progress. Screens now cover the curved sides to add to the immersion.
Now onto the show. Again we won’t go into details about the plot but will just say that it’s a rather simple plot obviously designed to feature as many heroes as possible into the 15-or-so minutes of the show and in that regard does a good job at it. Don’t expect however to be taken on a movie-style storytelling adventure as it is not the idea here.
Technically, the show is extremely complex. Producers have made the bet that they could create and maintain technically advanced effects that involve light, aerials, screens, projections, transparency, large props, heavy machinery, drones, and more.
The result is a series of WOW moments that keep the crowd on heir toes, and we must give a special mention to Thanos (won’t tell you more, go see it) who appears as a disturbingly good 3D effect and « the flying car » (you’ll see..). Of course the downside of a complex production is the high risk of issues. Our preview showing was missing one big flying show stopper supposed to roar above the audience (that we won’t mention either), but hopefully the cast and crew will keep working on this side of things to make the production run smoothly every-single-time.
Guests will get to see all their favorite heroes surrounded by special effects but also in fighting sequences (note that the heroes disappear perhaps too quickly at the end of the show so get your cameras out quickly – no flash – if you want a group photo). The fight routines are top notch, despite the size of the stage and lack of sound effects making them again look like dance routines. That’s a tough one to remedy however as it might just be an inevitable side effect of transposing movie-like sequences on a theater stage. The production is rocked by the same type of « heroic » soundtrack we’ve come to expect from Marvel movies, which, coupled with the addition of side curved projections throughout the show, succeeds in making Guests feel like they are part of the action.
Another special mention to Nebula who rocks the back of the stage with her fancy DJ-like panels. Go DJ-Nebula! Totally down for the Nebula DJ party by the way, could call it “Dance or Die”. Too far? Ok.
Transposing CGI-style Super Heroes action sequences from well known movies onto a theater stage is no easy feat, and “Super Heroes United” does a fantastic job at that. The nature of the show makes it best enjoyed in person, so do give it a try as it is hard to get the full picture on video.
Non-Marvel fans will be very entertained and Marvel fans will be delighted to spend some time with their favorite heroes in a new way (once all the bugs have been ironed out). Most of all, there is a ton going on everywhere on stage and around the stage, giving the show a good “re-watch” factor, as Guests come back to see things differently depending on where they look and which hero they choose to focus on.
Take a peek at the show with our Live Replay on Periscope right here: https://twitter.com/ED92live/status/1005535494577491971
Marvel Summer of Super Heroes is now on at Walt Disney Studios Park and runs until September 30.