Marvel, circus company join forces for superhero arena show

March 13, 2013 | 5:51 p.m.

Feld Entertainment Inc., which produces the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, along with other live shows such as Disney on Ice, is teaming up with Marvel Entertainment to produce a live arena show featuring Marvel characters. It’s the latest in a series of new ventures for the company that created the likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Hulk, including two upcoming animated series, a Web series and a new digital comics platform.

An arena or stage show featuring comic-book characters has been done — witness last year’s ‘Batman Live’ and the accident-prone “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” — but Kenneth Feld, CEO of Vienna, Va.-based Feld Entertainment, believes that his company’s experience with these types of acrobatic shows could make the difference.

“What [the 'Spider-Man' Broadway show] tried to do was new for them, but it’s the stuff we do all the time in a lot of our businesses,” Feld told the Associated Press.

Marvel’s chief creative officer, Joe Quesada, is also mindful of what the show may represent to hard-core comics fans who might shy away from the production.

“You always have those questions — how are you going to keep it from being goofy, or silly, or unbelievable?” Quesada told the Associated Press. But the company’s experience is what apparently sold him.

“They’re already doing feats that are superhuman to begin with,” Quesada said of Feld Entertainment’s acrobatic performers. An exact roster of Marvel characters slated to appear in the arena show has not yet been released, but the Associated Press mentioned that Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor and the X-Men would be involved.

In a different arena of entertainment, Marvel has been recently pushing its digital comics platform. Announcements at its House of Ideas panel at the South by Southwest festival unveiled a new digital comics library called Marvel Unlimited, a new form of digital comics that adds music and sound called Project Gamma, and the launch of a new series of Infinite Comics (designed mainly for mobile devices) starting with “Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted.” Also announced at SXSW: Blair Butler, the author and former G4 personality, who has collaborated with Hero Complex, will be featured in Marvel’s “Earth’s Mightiest Show,” an all-new pop culture and lifestyle Web series.

Last week, Marvel’s TV partner Disney XD also announced premiere dates for two new animated series: “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,” which includes Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and newcomer Falcon, and “Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.,” which features the Incredible Hulk, She-Hulk, Red Hulk, A-Bomb and Skaar. A special one-hour preview of “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” will air May 26, followed by the series premiere July 7. “Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents S.M.A.S.H.” premieres Aug. 11.

– Jevon Phillips

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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