If you ever wanted to channel your inner superhero, or relish the opportunity to try and lift Thor’s hammer, you’ll want to head to London’s ExCel Centre to Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N, an interactive exhibition of props from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that runs from 29 November 2018 to 31 March 2019.
Fresh from Las Vegas, it offers you the chance to see the effects of gamma radiation (or the Marvel version of it) first hand, get close to the Falcon before his wings pop out and sit on Captain America’s motorcycle – starting key not included.
Your experience begins with a briefing from Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders). You are there to undertake ‘training’ to be an associate member of S.H.I.E.L.D. – a replacement strap as it were – through a series of video-game like experiences. The raison d’être is the opportunity to suit up as Iron Man, or ‘Any Old Iron’ Man in my case and blast at stuff through the palms of your hands. I had no idea what I was doing and let’s face it, neither did Tony Stark.
A laboratory invites you to combine two elements – not comedy and drama, but neon and hydrogen. We’ve smelt it, but at last, I thought, we could see who dealt it. The response after much mechanical gurning is ‘new element created.’
Pass into another room and you’ll see all things Hulk, except perhaps, his charity shop donations. See the human brain during a Hulk transformation. Surprisingly, we don’t find out what happens to his language function – ‘Hulk smash? No, it’s Hulk’s mashed potato.’
All things Captain America greet us in another room, including that bike. There are also props related to Marvel’s second order superheroes – Black Widow, Hawkeye, including the latter’s bow (behind glass, so you can’t play with it). You can even test your own strength by squeezing a handle. I scored 653, a lot better than when it came to shooting at Marvel anonymous villains, Loki not included.
Speaking of, the Thor’s hammer challenge – drinks not included – was a particular highlight. I was reliably informed by the black t-shirted S.T.A.T.I.O.N. staff, not the sort who say, ‘mind the gap between the train and the platform edge’, that someone had managed to lift the heavily magnetised prop and he wasn’t a long-haired Hemsworth brother. However, it was beyond me.
The cleverest effect is a battalion of ants on the floor pointing to Ant Man’s costume as opposed to, say, a slice of day old bread. Disappointingly, we don’t get to see the world through Ant Man’s eyes as he shrinks, but there is always the second edition to perfect this.
The piece-de-resistance is a recreation of the Tesseract, which you can switch on. You can also get close to Black Panther’s costume.
In the ‘apply-what-you’ve-learned’ finale, visitors enter a room and are given swipe-up mobile phones to take on Ultron. We were but puppets on tiny ring tones. Together we combined to zap James Spader’s annoying villain and received a ‘well done, wait for our call’ speech from Agent Hill, which, let’s face it, you hear at any casting session.
Ultimately, this is good fun, but I missed Spiderman. I could hear my editor saying, ‘get me pictures of Spiderman’. I think brand ownership issues were at play, something no superhero could solve.
The Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N is open from 29 November 2018 to 31 March 2019 – for further information and tickets, visit www.avengersstation.co.uk