Following hugely successful runs in New York, Seoul, Paris, Singapore, Beijing, Taipei and Las Vegas (where it is now a permanent exhibition) Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. – a multi-room experience for all the family – is coming to London’s ExCel centre. Here’s Eric Bay-Andersen’s report…
If you’re a Marvel fan and you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to visit S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, then Marvel’s new exhibition S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Science Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network) is the closest you’re ever going to get! The experience starts with a video introduction from Agent Hill (played by Cobie Smulders), inviting guests to explore and enjoy the exhibits, and giving them a warning on behalf of Tony Stark not to break anything!
The first room is the Iron Man Engineering Bay, where full-size replicas of all the Iron Man suits – from the Mark 1 prototype to the Hulkbuster – are on display. However, the main attraction of this room is an interactive virtual reality game where you can play as Iron Man, blasting alien villains using hand movements. It’s a rather fun game, and on busy days there are likely to be long lines for it. Leading on from this room is Bruce Banner’s Bio Lab, where you can make a virtual Hulk do his trademark smashes and punches (yes, it’s as satisfying as it sounds) and read a bit about comic book brain science!
Next is an area dedicated to Captain America, featuring costumes and props such as his star-spangled shield and the motorbike he rode in the opening scene of Age of Ultron. Throughout the exhibition there are characters profiles of practically every superhero in the MCU, with Captain America’s being one of the most extensive – standing in front of it and reading about how young Steve Rogers became part of the super soldier program, it feels like you’re in the museum Rogers himself visited in the beginning of The Winter Soldier. This area also features a ‘How Strong Are You?’ game, where you squeeze a handle as hard as you can and it ranks your strength compared to the Marvel superheroes (I got a score of 607, more than Cap but less than Black Panther – I can live with that!)
Speaking of Black Panther, he’s one of several relatively-new MCU characters to have props and profiles featured in the London exhibition that have not been part of S.T.A.T.I.O.N.’s runs in other countries (others including Thanos and The Wasp). The realm of Asgard gets its own area, dedicated to everyone’s favourite demi-god brothers Thor and Loki. There’s also a Mjolnir in the middle of the room that you can have a go at trying to lift, but seeing as it’s fixed to the ground it’s really just an exercise is seeing how much you’re willing to strain yourself (or maybe it is liftable, and I just wasn’t worthy?)
You can tell that real care and attention to detail has gone into the making of S.T.A.T.I.O.N. – far from being a cheap and underwhelming cash-grab, the creators of the exhibition actually collaborated with NASA to enhance the authenticity of the science and technology on display. The event even has (whisper it) educational value – if your school is cool enough to bring you here on a field trip, there are comprehensive educational materials available for teachers, as well as supporting materials for students following STEM pathways, relating to the scientific themes and characters that are core to Marvel’s storytelling, created specifically by Quantum Victoria.
After the rooms with the character profiles there is a corridor with more props on display, including Chitauri weapons, the cradle where Vision was created, an impressive arc reactor and a full-size Malekith model. There’s also another fun interactive shoot-’em-up game where you have to zap villains and avoid hitting the Avengers (my high score was 4000 – try to beat that!)
The final room of the exhibition (before the obligatory gift shop) is a room where you’re let in about 20 people at a time, you’re each assigned an Avenger and given a device allowing you to use that character’s weapon in an interactive game where you battle Ultron and his minions. I was assigned Hawkeye – that’s right, I was fighting an army of robots with a bow and arrow! It’s a fun way to round off the experience, and like the exhibition as a whole, it will especially appeal to young children.
Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. will be exhibiting at London’s ExCel centre until March 2019, and tickets are on sale now at www.avengersstation.co.uk