Swinging into the Universe of Marvel at the TELUS World of Science

review and photos by Sarah Bachmier

It was difficult not to break the law and go too many clicks over the speed limit on the way to the Canadian premiere of Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes. As an avid fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Marvel comics, my excitement level was through the roof. When I found out that the exhibition was making its debut at the TELUS World of Science Edmonton (TWOSE), I knew I had to go as soon as it opened. Clearly, many others had the same thought, as I arrived just before 10 a.m. and the parking lot was half-full.

Being unable to contain my excitement, I sprinted up to the box office and claimed my ticket. The next time-slot was 10:15, as the exhibition is timed entry (which means only a certain number of people can enter at a given time). There’s lots to do as you wait, as you have access to the entirety of the TWOSE.

Once the clock struck 10:15, I speed-walked straight down the queue and was met with a newsstand that displayed a variation of comics, from vintage Captain America issues to more recent editions. Unfortunately, this was display only, so I couldn’t take any with me.

The newsstand with Marvel comics at the Marvel Universe of Superheroes

As I walked through the entry and the lights became dimmer, I was met with a 5-minute movie. It captured the history of Marvel comics, the MCU and Stan Lee. The video was short, relevant, and gave an idea of what the exhibit was about to bring. The movie had subtitles as well, accessible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Following the film came the start of the exhibit. I was captivated the moment I set foot in front of the first information panel. It was detailed and to the point, giving information that would resonate with new and long-time fans. This area had a history of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (the creators of Marvel Comics), which I thought was a fantastic way to begin. Based on the layout of this area, with the pictures and info boards, I could tell I was in for an outstanding experience.

Black Panther costumes

Going from the red and black of this portion and into the bright blue and gray of the next, I was met with three of the actual costumes from Black Panther.Set in a display case, these Academy-award winning costumes designed by Ruth E. Carter were fascinating. Up close, I could see the intricate detailing and fibres of the costumes. The fact that these were worn by the actors had me amazed. These costumes had actual people, inside, filming one of the biggest movies in the entire world? And they’re right in front of me?

I was starstruck. I was excited beforehand, but here, in front of these costumes, everything became real, like I was a part of the Marvel Universe myself. Surrounded by artifacts, history, and art, I was almost overwhelmed with emotions of just how tremendous this was. And I had only just started!

Black Panther

After snapping a picture of the stunning costumery, I moved along to the next photo-worthy moment. There was a luminescent blue area where a life-size statue of Black Panther stood. There are several of these figures placed throughout, perfect for selfies and photos for the ‘gram. It was amazing seeing both young kids and adults alike getting so excited about taking photos with these beautifully crafted figures. There are several throughout the exhibit – so keep your eye out for The Thing, Spider-Man, The Hulk and Ms. Marvel.

The most well-thought out and biggest area of the exhibition was dedicated to none other than Spider-Man himself. No surprise, since Spider-Man is arguably Marvel’s most iconic character. My favourite part of the Spider-Man area was the wall dedicated to the art 2019 Oscar winner Into the Spider-Verse. This is one of my favourite movies, and to see it represented had me on cloud nine. I appreciated that the Spider-Man area highlighted other iterations of Spider-Man outside of the MCU.

I was about halfway through the exhibition, and while I was having an ethereal experience, I was surprised I hadn’t seen anything interactive yet. Ironically, just as I turned the corner, I found the Iron Man display. Surrounded by three Iron Man suits was a virtual reality (VR) experience. The VR didn’t have a mask; you simply stood in front of a screen, and the screen reflects your image. The screen places an Iron Man suit on you, and the screen tracks your movements and simulates flying. It pretty much looks like you’re Iron Man himself. This was such a creative part of the exhibit, a great way to immerse yourself even more. This interactive option had a long line wrapped around the back of another wall so I unfortunately couldn’t get to experience it. But I did see several kids who had the chance to be Iron Man for a solid few minutes – and they were having a blast.

Dispersed throughout the exhibit were more costumes, and I had the same fascination with each piece. There is something about the behind-the-scenes work of movies that just makes me so intrigued. I see these costumes through a screen all the time and witnessing them up close was something else entirely. From Thor’s hammer (Mjolnir – which was behind a display case, so I couldn’t try and lift it) to Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel costume, each one had so much detail and effort put into it. The fact that these costumes were worn by the actors of these iconic characters too just made them all the better.

Thor’s hammer

I felt immersed the entire time, but I felt like I walked straight into the mirror dimension with the area dedicated to Doctor Strange. This area had mirrors reflecting on all sides with bright blue lights bouncing off of each one. It was trippy and I loved every second of it. This area was so well done as it captured Doctor Strange’s aesthetic perfectly. This area was complete with more magnificent costumes, to my delight.

Through my joy came the emotion of sadness as I realized that I was nearing the end of the exhibit. I wanted to stay in the world of Marvel forever. I wanted to take more pictures. I wanted to stare at the costumes for a solid hour and just analyze every single fabric and fibre.

Luckily for my melancholy, the exit was beautifully done. It had comic speech-bubbles at the top with rotating text, making you feel welcome even as leaving. The walls on each side lit up to display comic panels that changed every so often. It was one last piece of the Marvel Universe before I returned to the outside.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the exhibition. I loved the costumes, and I loved the history of these characters’ comic appearances, and how they came to be. The areas with the displays were extremely open, so it never felt too crowded. The lighting was just right for the atmosphere (though not the best for taking pictures – but you can still get some great ones!). It was a great balance of the MCU, comics and art. It didn’t feel like an hour and a half when I was in there – it went by way too fast! Luckily (well, unluckily for my wallet) there is a dedicated Marvel gift shop on the way out, so you can splurge on some Marvel themed items before fully returning to reality.

Marvel Universe of Superheroes continues at the TELUS World of Science until  Monday, February 17, 2020

General admission to TELUS World of Science ranges from $16.95 (child) to 23.95.
There is an extra charge for the Marvel Universe of Superheroes exhibition, ranging from $25.95 (child) to $35.95
The ‘Big Bang Day’ looks the best value: It includes Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes with Science Centre Access*, 1 IMAX film and 1 Regular Popcorn, $32.95 (child) to $44.95 (adult), and $188.95 for a family of 2 adults and 4 children/youths.