Marvel-ous Day Out?

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Nerds Assemble!

Last weekend I got my nerd on. I was lucky enough to get a friend's plus one to go and see Marvel Universe Live at the O2 in London.

Obviously, living in Bristol means that going to London is a bit of a trek, but everyone loves a road trip! My friend kindly offered to drive us up to Hayes and then we trained and tubed it into town.

So our adventure was under way with some sunshine and some gossip. Putting the world to rights.

Travelling in London


I dislike trains with a passion. If I could get the bus everywhere easily then I would. But as long as someone is there to point me in the right direction then it's all good... unless of course you happen to go into London on a day when there are works on. While it's still possible to get around, it generally helps to have that information before you get half way through your journey. So a morning of bad or non-existent announcements and some unhelpful staff really wasn't a fun way to start the day.

Despite the fact the weather is cooling down the tube was the same old sweat bucket. There's nothing quite like the cool breeze that rushes through... if only that happened at all the stations and not just some of them!

Food Interlude


London has an abundance of places to eat. I sometimes wish there was a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show for London so that I could find some of those hidden gems.

My friend had done some googling and found a Superhero cafe in Whitechapel. It seemed appropriate considering the day's activities. It was a bit of a trek, but for the novelty value we had to give it a go. Whitechapel is such an interesting place. The sights and smells are amazing. It's a shame that one of the first things you see, apart from the fantastic market, is the run down and boarded up hospital.

We walked round to where the cafe was and spotted it on the corner in the distance. As we got closer you could see the Superhero busts and memorabilia in the windows. When we got to the building itself we could see it was full in the front, but the place itself wasn't really very inviting to go in. We ummed and erred and decided to give it a go. We walked in and within about thirty seconds already knew we were ready to go somewhere else.

Through to the back there was a group of people having an argument, and a table at the side with a table full of food were putting their coats on to leave. Who knows what this place is really like, the reviews are horrendously mixed, all I can say is there is no way I would attempt to try it again.

The decision was to max out on the lactose back at The O2. So many different places to try, but the consensus was burgers and shakes, so we picked Byron. And it was a good choice. I had a Smoky burger with fries and an Oreo milkshake, it was just the right amount excess.

When it comes to burgers you've got a lot to go with... I can feel a post dedicated entirely to burgers coming on.

The O2


It looks like an impressive set up. The lead up to the building is beautiful, and wonderful when filled with people enjoying the fountains with their kids, and the selection of restaurants is good, but that's where my love for the venue stops.

The outer circle of the building is lined with the restaurants and merchandise, and there's the cinema upstairs. It looks like an Epcot centre of sorts.

But the place is still a building site. To get to our entrance to the arena we had to walk outside the building to go round a section where the concrete was being dug up. I can't even remember if at any point the place was fully built. The last time I went there was for the Paralympics in 2012 and we didn't have to linger outside before our events.

There isn't much organisation to the entry process. There are random x-rays on bags for people who walk in to the main complex, but none on anyone that walks into the arena. Bags are searched when you go in, and you walk through a metal detector. A delightfully unsafe set up at our gate with cables hanging over the top of every arch. The guys searching bags aren't very considerate, and I ended up with a broken bag... if I'd known they were going to be so inconsiderate I would have taken a cheaper one!

One of the rules, that I read on the O2 website before going is that you aren't allowed to take in food or drink. Drink I can understand, but food seems a bit of a cheek to me. Especially when the corner shop style vendors outside lie to people and tell them they can take bags of sweets in. Before you go through the check points you have to throw everything in the bin and it goes to charity... but I'm suspicious of what charity would take bags of processed sugar. The sceptic that I am, I would be tempted to open anything I had to throw away before I put it in the bin.

The other main issue I have with the venue is toilets. Considering the capacity, we were amazed that outside of the restaurants there were only one set of toilets. One disabled toilet, and the ladies had six cubicles. I'm almost certain they were added as an after thought, because with sanitary bins and toilet roll holders those things are so small that sitting down was the biggest challenge you'd face all day. Yes there are more once you're inside the venue, but that's not very much use when you can only get in there at the set times of the tickets.

The Merchandise


A big part of going to a show is merchandise. Especially at shows that are filled with kids. I would love to know how much money they were making on all the "extras". I brought myself a fantastic Christmas jumper for £20 which was actually one of the more reasonable things to buy. If you're like me and always consider the true value of something you're buying, then this stuff is going to annoy the life out of you.

The shop that I got my jumper from was full of both DC and Marvel t-shirts, jumpers and nik-naks. T-shirts were £15 each and all the other bits ranged from £10 to £2500. The quality of the t-shirts was questionable, as some of the ones I looked at had printing that didn't line up, but they were by far the most reasonable priced things to buy when compared to the more official items.

I wish I'd taken pictures of some of the stands with the prices. You could buy a ray gun for £20, whirly-gigs with characters on the top (and annoying lights and sounds) were around £18. I didn't spot anything under £10, I'm sure something must have been though. I dread to think how much money parents spent on this event. The more official t-shirts and hoodies were much more expensive.

Food and drink was interesting too. You could buy a bag (well, a half filled bag) of candyfloss with a (bad quality) Spiderman or Captain America mask for £10, or a bag of popcorn with a Marvel bag to put it in for £10. I'd been smelling candyfloss all day and decided that the urge had to be filled... even the girl selling it was surprised I might want to buy some, and when she told me the price I realised why.

You can buy drinks in the venue, but you can't have lids for the bottles. Now, I understand that this is because they can be used as projectiles... but that is still true even if there's no lid on it. It's a very problematic thing when you have kids... they aren't patient enough to hold a bottle still for the whole performance and the cup holders in the seats aren't designed to hold bottles even when they have lids on.

We did some totting up of rough costs, there was a guy with his son and they had brought pretty much one of everything inside the arena. The whole day must have cost at least £250, but that's just taking into account tickets, the merchandise we could see and at least one meal somewhere. It's certainly not a cheap day out.

The Show




So to the main event. It was going to be cheesy, that was a given, and anything less would have been disappointing.

Trying to describe it to people... "It's like Disney on Ice (a concept most people are familiar with) with bike stunts instead of the ice."





It's a lot of action, performed by a lot of very talented... hell, I don't even know the best way to way to describe them... actors? Gymnasts? Stunt people? The two that really stood out were Black Widow and Spiderman. BW had a lot of excellent moves throughout the show, and was a lot more of a showstopper than Captain Marvel who mainly flew through the air in a bad superhero pose. Spidey, well, anyone who is willing to hang from a rope basically only attached by their wrist from the ceiling gets my approval. The fact that he kept appearing upside-down in the traditional pose gave everyone a bit of a kick.

Bikes made for a good distraction during scene changes. But personally when you've seen one bike stunt you've seen them all. They were very good riders, and there was a lot of skill to work around the set and obstacles, but after a while it's a little predictable... after all, it is a set space for them to work in.

A special shout out needs to go to the henchmen though. You guys... *claps enthusiastically*. When you looked closely you could see them laying on the floor around the inside wall of the stage waiting to jump up and attack a hero, which was a little funny. But my definite favourites, the guys who had to act like they were trapped under Thor's hammer when he left it on their chest.

It was very entertaining, and I only wish I'd dressed up a bit and joined in with the fun the kids (and nerds) were having. It's been a long time since I went to a show like this, and if I'm honest, it'll probably be a long time until I go to another one. The was a trailer for Frozen on Ice while we were there... it was almost tempting.

Afterword


Just a few things to add, and then I promise I'll stop waffling.

This was a Marvel show, as far as I'm concerned you are a terrible parent if you don't teach your kids to not mix their DC with their Marvel. For the future of nerdkind... this needs to stop. Although there was a very adorable Flash.

At the same time I can understand why the girls were dressed in DC... because there just aren't that many well known Marvel ones. But everyone knows Wonder Woman and Supergirl. There was one little girl we spotted outside wearing a Black Widow costume, and well done to the ones who had picked male character outfits. By far the most popular was Captain America among them.

We know Black Widow from the films, and they brought in Captain Marvel to add a bit more token female presence, but it really wasn't reflected well in any of the merchandise. The only thing that had a female character on, on her own, was one of the whirly-gigs with Black Widow. Nothing had Captain Marvel. To be fair there are few, if any accessories you could make for them anyway. Thor has a hammer, Iron Man has his arc reactor and Hulk has big green hands, but there's nothing for them to identify with.

This show was an advert for films (etc) encouraging violence. During the intermission, all around the arena, you could see kids in their hero outfits rough housing and hitting each other with light up swords from the stands outside.

Finally another shout out, this time to the parents who went nerd for their kids. I didn't see anyone in full costumes but there were a few who had their face painted and a woman who had a very nice Marvel dress on. You guys really were the best.

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