When Marvel Comics first announced that they were partnering with the company behind Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus to produce a touring live show based on the Marvel Universe, we... well, we laughed our asses off. Because who the fuck wants to see a cheesy live show based on comic books, other than for the ironic humor value? Only a complete lunatic could believe that this could be anything other than a complete, unmitigated disaster along the lines of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Meet Kenneth Feld: the delusional lunatic who wants to make a live traveling show out of Marvel Comics.
Luckily, Marvel seems to have found just the lunatic they needed to partner with in the form of Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey. Feld inherited his family's large circus fortune in his early twenties and immediately set to work pursuing his interests in the field of touring extravaganzas based on comic books. In 2003, Feld successfully launched a Las Vegas nightclub act based on Tom DeFalco's early nineties Thor run. Though the show ran for over three years at the Mirage Casino, filling the void left in their lineup after Seigfried and Roy were eaten by tigers, it was generally panned by critics and lost millions of dollars, mostly because, according to Vegas performer and fatso Penn Jillette, it was "a fucking live version of Tom DeFalco's Thor run."
Feld and his then girlfriend, Gwen Stefani, attend the premiere of Thunder in a Bottle at the Mirage Casino in 2003.
Following the bankruptcy of his Vegas show, Feld entered a somewhat dark period, with symptoms of his long-suspected obsessive compulsive disorder starting to affect his life. Feld withdrew from public life and, began devoting all of his time to producing a live action Marvel Comics show that would put all others to shame. Feld dreamed of making his production the most ambitious live show in history, with plans to bring the act to 85 cities in its debut tour.
Feld during his dark days, when he had stopped shaving and grew his fingernails, a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder, or being a fucking hipster.
Despite his enthusiasm for entertaining audiences with live renditions of popular comic book stories, Feld was mocked by the media, who claimed that Feld was a recluse and referred to his Marvel Universe LIVE! show as the Spruce Deuce, because the set was to be built entirely out of wood, and also because it was sure to be a steaming pile of crap. However, Feld pressed on, and, though it took him over seven years to realize his dream, Marvel Universe LIVE! is getting set to launch on August 13th, with the first leg of the North American tour visiting New York City first, and then heading off to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Nashville, Miami, Atlanta, and more.
Feld carefully examines some complicated equipment that is probably related to the Marvel Universe Live production. I mean, can you prove it isn't? Didn't think so.
According to a press release sent out by Feld, Marvel Universe LIVE! will captivate audiences with an authentic and original story that brings more than 25 Marvel characters together on one epic quest. The story is framed around the battle over the Cosmic Cube, the source of ultimate power and one of the most feared and coveted treasures in the Marvel Universe, that has been shattered into pieces by the Mighty Thor in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. With the pieces scattered across the globe, Thor’s villainous brother Loki devises a scheme to clone its powers, inciting a threat that could not only decimate Earth but also obliterate the Universe. Clearly, such a story was destined to be performed by a cast of unknown actors in a live, arena setting.
Left to right: Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Comics, Matt Fraction, superstar Marvel writer, Feld, and Marvel publisher Dan Buckley.
To defeat Loki, Marvel’s biggest Super Heroes must band together, including The Avengers - Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor along with Spider-Man, Wolverine and Squirrel Girl, must trek across the globe to retrieve the Cosmic Cube fragments and unite them. As the Super Heroes track the Cube, they will encounter some of their biggest adversaries including Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull, Madame Hydra, Aldrich Killian, Electro, Paste Pot Pete, and more, in the quest for the very same fragments. These foes have no problem teaming up if it gets them closer to their ultimate goal of world domination. All of this will happen in front of a LIVE audience Possibly on ice! Who the fuck knows?!
Concept art of Tony Stark's workshop. "This is totally as good as it looks in the movies," said no one.
Marvel Universe LIVE! launches new innovations in set design, aerial stunts, pyrotechnics and state-of-the-art show elements that bring movie style special effects to the live entertainment arena. Audiences will see the awe-inspiring world of Super Heroes come to life before their eyes with a dynamic cast comprised of some of the industry’s most talented stunt performers. Utilizing their talents and aided by a unique combination of never before seen arena mechanics some of Marvel’s mightiest will come to life with profound results. These true-to-comic creations will be supported by innovative lighting design and transformative 3D projection that will take the audience on a journey around the globe with these timeless characters. To support this massive undertaking, Marvel Universe LIVE! will not only utilize the entire arena floor, but also perform within a multilevel aerial space creating a unique experience that puts audiences right in the middle of the action in ways they could only dream about prior, and even then, only in dreams altered by very large doses of hallucinogenic drugs.
Feld is poised to once again rule the lucrative world of live action superhero performances, taking out the likes of Batman on Ice and the sex offenders who dress up in costumes in Times Square.
Will Marvel Universe LIVE! achieve the mainstream success it deserves and redeem Kenneth Feld's reputation? Will Feld find relief in the accomplishment of his insane goals and finally escape the misery of mental illness? How many children will die when the elaborate pyrotechnics displays required to reproduce superhero battles in a live setting go horribly wrong?! These and many more questions will be answered this August! Head over to the Marvel Universe LIVE! website to learn more.