Summer is full of concerts, capades, and circuses for families to enjoy. But there’s a new show in town unlike anything you or your kids have ever seen: Marvel Universal LIVE!Before you brush this off as just another big arena show, think about this: The Avengers, X-Men, and Spider-Man all on a single stage. (I think your own little Spider-Man just lept to the ceiling in excitement.)
Produced by the creators of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey and Disney On Ice, comes a show of massive proportions. It’s an original story that brings together 25 heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe. The spectacle brings these icons to life “to show audiences their powers—things they could only imagine could exist in film or in animation,” according to Juliette Feld, the show’s producer and EVP of Feld Entertainment. From a wild live car chase to actors freefalling 26 feet, the stunts are big and the action explosive. Marvel Universal LIVE! uses never-before-seen technology and special effects to bring the comic book world to fruition for the whole family.
“We really try to create stuff that parents will love as much as the kids,” says Feld, who is pregnant with her first child. “I hope I have a good perspective on what is meaningful to moms and to dads because I’m one of them.” While the show is recommended for kids ages 5-12, Feld knows from experience that even younger kids can get into the hype: her baby reacts in utero to Feld’s time in rehearsal. “She really likes this scene where Thor is fighting Rhino and Lizard and Doc Ock,” laughs Feld. “There’s really heavy bass in that scene, so that might be what she’s responding to. I think she has her own hammer in there. She just starts knocking around!”
Marvel Universe LIVE! kicked off it’s 85-city tour last night in Tampa, FL as it brings the magic of superheroes (and the villains they battle) to audiences all over the globe.
There’s something to be said for getting lost in the fantasy of being a superhero for both young boys and girls alike. And, well, let’s be honest: adults, too. In fact, the recent influx of franchises has been successfully catering to the PG-13+ crowd versus the younger set and Captain America: The Winter Soldier is no exception.
Returning with his shield in hand for this sequel based on Marvel’s 1941 comic book series, Chris Evans is back as the titular character in a film geared more toward the mature audience. That being said, know your child and their tolerance for the darker, scarier moments. Personally, my 8-year-old caped crusader aficionado was by my side and declared, “It was awesome!”
As a fan of The Avengers film that combined Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Captain America into one very entertaining movie, I did have some expectations of the latter’s headlining turn. Though definitely fun, it didn’t quite live up to the 2012 major blockbuster. The special effects are amazing and the action is non-stop, but I did get lost at times trying to follow the plot. However, it was enjoyable overall, including watching Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and the return of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Starting off where The Avengers movie left off, Captain America finds himself once again trying to adjust to the “modern world” – always making for some amusing jokes. When the S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised, our hero is re-teamed with Scarlett Johansson, reprising her Black Widow role. Though the duo also soon join forces with the welcome addition of Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, the Winter Soldier proves to be a formidable villain.
In fact, there were moments where the new ‘bad guy’ appeared suddenly, which my son and I found startling. “Things were popping out of nowhere”, my son told me afterwards.
“So was it too scary?” I asked him.
“No… I liked it,” was his response.
One particularly intense scene has Samuel L. Jackson’s character blocked in his car by several police vehicles ambushing him with gunfire. Though the bulletproof car temporarily protects him, this was the point when the Winter Soldier appeared that my son noted was particularly “freaky.”
Toward the end, Captain America and the villain are face to face, “in the ship and it was falling,” my son points out, and he got very squirmy during this moment of combat that was another specific point in the film he thought was very scary. But when I wondered if my son would see the movie again he answered, “Yeah… Definitely!”
Speaking of violence, there is quite a bit, including physical fights with characters punching one another, as well as lots of gun shooting. Thankfully, the blood and gore were at a minimum as was the sexually explicit content, with one very mild kiss.
In the end, your budding superheroes ages 8-10 will enjoy the ride as long as they have their brave shields in tact to take on the scarier scenes. Watching with my son was a true treat, making it all the more enjoyable to be lost in the superhero fun.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in theaters everywhere 4/4/14.
Grade on a scale of superhero films: B
Rated PG – 13, 136 minutes. Lots of guns and fighting.
Watch the below sneak peek trailer for a preview on what’s to come and to gauge whether your children are ready for the action:
When 5-year-old Anthony Smith uttered those words to his mother, Christina, one day last year, he had been wearing his hearing aid without issue for four months. But that morning he woke up and decided that since his favorite superheroes didn’t wear hearing aids, he didn’t want to either.
Born with mosaic trisonomy 22, Anthony’s parents knew he would suffer from hearing loss. Because of a complicated childbirth and other health concerns, Anthony didn’t receive his first hearing aid device until he was 2-and-a-half-years-old. “One of our big regrets is that we didn’t push harder, sooner, because it made a miraculous difference,” said Christina.
While the first device Anthony had to wear was painful, the second one — the blue Phonak hearing aid referred to by his family as “blue ear” — seemed to be a perfect fit until Anthony decided he didn’t want to wear it anymore. Not willing to give up on a device that was helping to improve his speech and language skills, Cristina came up with a solution: “I lied. I said superheroes do wear hearing aids.” Anthony, of course, wanted to know which superheroes his mom was referring to, so Christina wrote an email to Marvel, publisher of comic books and creator of many famous superheroes, asking for help.
Although her email was sent to a general catch-all “fan mail” account, the Marvel team saw it and responded. As it turns out, superheroes do wear hearing aids: Hawkeye, a member of the popular Avengers team, had lost his hearing during a fight and wore a hearing aid for a period of time in the 1980s. But the Marvel team went a step further and created a new character, Blue Ear, to be Hawkeye’s sidekick in a special one-off comic book created just for Anthony.
That private gesture didn’t remain private for long, though. Almost a year ago, the story of Marvel creating a superhero for one little boy went viral. CNN, Gawker, and the Huffington Post were among the news outlets that picked up Anthony’s story.
While media attention eventually died down, the Marvel team went to work figuring out how to make the specific character appeal to others. “We immediately thought of Iron Man,” said Bill Rosemann, Marvel Custom Solutions Editor. After suffering a chest injury, Tony Stark (Iron Man’s alter ego), relies on a suit of armor to live, similar to how Anthony relies on his hearing aid to hear. Iron Man is also one of the most widely-known and popular superheroes, thanks to two blockbuster movies in the past five years (with a third movie due out this May).
Iron Man was also a perfect fit for Kimberly Rawn and the team at Phonak, manufacturers of hearing technology for children and adults. “[Iron Man's story] was a complete parallel to what hearing technology does for kids and adults,” said Rawn. Together, Phonak and Marvel created a poster (see below) to educate children and lessen the stigma of wearing hearing aids.
The poster was revealed last week at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York City. At the event, Anthony said his favorite superhero is now Iron Man. Christina added, “[The past year] has been amazing and I think the biggest impact on [Anthony] has been him being a great self-advocate.”
But what about Blue Ear? His turn in the spotlight may not be done just yet. When asked if there are any plans for him in the works, Rosemann said, “Well, you never know. The more we get asked about it, the more we think what could be done, so I always say, ‘Stay tuned.’”
As if your kids didn’t already love LEGOs, the brand took the classic toy up another coolness level this year with superhero-inspired bricks. Featuring the most famous good and bad guys, the line includes mini figures, large buildable action figures (like Captain America, pictured here), and even whole play sets devoted to the Marvel/DC universe. Now your child can assemble his or her hero before saving the world! Click here to check out the toys.
9-Year-Old Food Blogger Takes On School Lunch
Martha Payne, age 9, was dissatisfied with the lunches served by her primary school in Scotland, so she began documenting her school meals online — with photos and ratings — prompting worldwide attention for her healthy-lunch campaign.
We all know that most kids are glad to speak their minds at any given time—talk about fearless! And Riley does just that. This admirable kiddie does just that by making a toy store aisle her very own platform to speak against the unfair marketing techniques companies are pulling on girls and boys. In her own words: “The companies try to trick the girls into buying the pink stuff instead of stuff boys want to buy.” Preach, Riley!