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[Interview] Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes – Nik Nieves

Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes
Experience live-action entertainment with your favorite Marvel heroes!

Are you a fan of Marvel Comics, be it film, television, animation, or comic books? Do you love the Avengers? Is Spider-Man your hero? How about Guardians of the Galaxy? PopCultHQ is excited to share with you a new, live-action tour traveling across the United States now through 2019 containing all of these popular characters and more…Marvel Universe Live!.

Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes brings together the Avengers, Spider-Man and new fan favorites, the Guardians of the Galaxy, to stop Loki in his quest to rule the universe. To bring this thrilling production to life, Feld Entertainment has collaborated with Marvel Entertainment from concept to production. They found a nearly superhuman cast of aerialists, acrobats and motorcycle riders to portray the well-known heroes and villains. Prepare to be transported through the story from outer space to the Savage Land to New York City and beyond with vast video projection. They have also made advances in technology and character special effects, allowing them to transform Bruce Banner into the Hulk right before your eyes, levitate Doctor Strange, throw Spider-Man’s webs and more! At Feld Entertainment, their mission is to create experiences that uplift the human spirit and bring people together.

This morning, we spoke with one of the performers of the epic Marvel Universe Live! crew, Nik Nieves. Growing up in Miami, Florida, Nieves studied and trained in martial arts, a huge asset for a performance show of this magnitude. Nik is also Marvel Universe Live!’s fight captain as well as a super swing, a term in the performance community referring to one who studies the roles of many performers in order to “swing” into any position at a moment’s notice. PopCultHQ had the pleasure in chatting with Nik this morning to discuss the Marvel Universe Live! and how this live-action performance of all your favorite characters from the Marvel Universe is an event you must experience!

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PopCultHQ Interviews:
Nik Nieves of Marvel Universe Live!

PopCultHQ: What can fans expect to see when attending a Marvel Universe Live! show? 

Nik Nieves: It’s really cool, I’m a Marvel fan myself. It’s original and authentic storylines. It’s nothing that you’ve seen in the cartoons or the comics or movies or anything like that. The best thing is it’s the first time you’ll ever be able to see the Guardians of the Galaxy live. It’s never been done before, it’s really cool. The costumes are amazing! Groot and Rocket look awesome! It’s one of the biggest fan reactions we get when Groot comes out. You don’t expect it, it’s like straight from the movies right in front of your face. It’s amazing!

So it’s cool. You got the costumes, the performers are doing things that, everybody’s at the peak of human performance and with all the elements that are encompassed within the show that it really just transcends it into making us appear “super.” So for the kids, they love it. Little girls get to see superheroes fly. We have The Wasp comes in flying around with wings so the girls who like fairies and such love that character. She starts fighting and she’s just as awesome as Black Widow and Gamora and all the other awesome female characters that we have. We also have Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, who has a great entrance as well. So it’s a little bit of everything for everyone. The little girls have something for them. The little boys have stuff for them. The parents have their excitement as well, like the stunts that we do day-in and day-out performed like how they’re done in the movies. You don’t get to experience that live, you only see the movie magic. You never get to see that done right in front of you live. And even our motorcycle riders. These guys are jumping twenty feet in the air on motorcycles. It’s spectacular!

PopCultHQ: That’s amazing! So you have your own original story but how does Marvel Universe Live! work in conjunction with Marvel? As it pertains to their characters, their properties, maintaining their integrity. I would imagine there is some sort of relationship between Marvel and Marvel Universe Live! to ensure that characters either appear correctly or things like that. Or how much artistic freedom does MUL! have?

Nik: Marvel has given us the skeletal structure, they approve everything, they check in with us. They checked in on us while we were rehearsing the show just to make sure that we’re really living up to the specs that Marvel tries to live up to. There’s a certain standard that Marvel likes to keep on their characters. The fans, myself included, can be pretty cutthroat. They want to see Spider-Man look and act and fight like Spider-Man. We can’t let anybody down with that. So Marvel comes in and checks on us. They came in when we did our first show, in the rehearsal area, and they loved it so we were blessed there. So it’s really cool. We have a great working relationship with them. They’re all really nice people. I got to meet some of their creative team and they’re just awesome! They’re like me; they love the characters, they love the comic books.

PopCultHQ: The Marvel Universe Live! has such a great family feel to it. I’m curious as to how you feel it would appeal to adults who either don’t have children or are just comic book fans or love Marvel in their other forms (film, television, animation, etc.)? How does the Marvel Universe Live! attract someone who may think or say “it’s a family event” or “it’s for kids” when it’s much more than that, right?

Nik: Definitely. Definitely much more than that. If you have any kind of love for these characters, whether it be from the books or cartoons or the films, you’re going to find something in this. It’s for everybody. The coolest thing is like…[take] Spider-Man’s entrance. He comes literally flying through the air, swinging around over the audiences’ heads. That just gets anybody going. I’ve seen it a hundred times and I still don’t get tired of it! You feel like a little kid again. It’s one of the reasons why we do this. To suspend that reality. Get you out of your everyday life and let you be a kid again and fall in love with Spider-Man all over again as he’s swinging over your head in the streets of New York.

PopCultHQ: Right and normally to get that look, it’s all CGI done for the most part. So yeah, seeing it live has to be exciting!

Nik: You know, sometimes movies and videos and pictures don’t do it justice. I always compare it to if you have ever taken a picture of the Grand Canyon. If you’ve been there, you’re like, “Oh my God! This is so majestic. This is amazing!” Then you take a picture and show somebody, they’re like, “Uh yeah, those are some rocks.” It’s just not the same vibe as actually going and experiencing it. Seeing Black Panther beating up all these aliens. You could show a picture of it or a video and think, “Yeah, that really cool. That’s a great costume.” But when you actually get to see it and can actually feel it, that’s a different experience.

PopCultHQ: So that really seems to be what’s behind the Marvel Universe Live! and your crew is the “experience.”

Nik: Absolutely!

PopCultHQ: What do you really hope that fans take away from the show? 

Nik: I just hope that they get somewhat of a feeling the way they had when they first fell in love with these characters. There’s a reason why these characters are so popular and a reason why superheroes have sort of taken the world by control is because these are relatable characters. They have inner battles, they have things they have to deal with, they have their struggles. So to bring them live in front of people’s faces is an incredible thing. So if they leave thinking that it’s possible for my son to grow up to be Spider-Man…I grew up in a generation where I’d say, “I want to be Spider-Man” and people would respond with, “Uh yeah sure. Get a real job.” Now I have a real job and I’m working with Spider-Man.

PopCultHQ: It’s definitely much more accepted now in pop culture, and society in general.

Nik: Definitely. So I think if people can be inspired or motivated, possibly a little bit open to performing arts and things we do as performers. To bring a smile to a little kid’s face or make a family come together a little more. You know, because dad’s in love with these characters but his kids don’t really know them so he brings them and they love it and then everybody just gets together. It’s just really nice.

PopCultHQ: So there’s more to the show than just high-flying and acrobatics. You do explore some of these characters and their struggles, these things that resonate with so many people?

Nik: Definitely. It goes as deep as the whole dynamic between Loki and Thor being brothers but still being rivals. It goes into all of that. The Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s such a great dynamic there. There all so different with different attitudes and seeing them all come together and interact on stage is amazing. It plays into all of that. They really did a great job with keeping the integrity of the characters and you see that when you watch the show.

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Special thanks to Nik Nieves for taking the time out of his busy schedule to speak with PopCultHQ today. You can catch Nik Nieves swing into action with the rest of the Marvel Universe Live! team of performers when they appears live in Oakland, CA at the Oracle Arena beginning Friday, August 11th through Sunday, August 13th and in San Jose at the SAP Center on Thursday, August 17th through Sunday, August 20th.

PopCultHQ wants to send you to see the Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes
when they come to California’s Bay Area!

We will select one winner on Sunday, August 6th for a 4-pack of tickets to the Oakland show at the Oracle Arena on Friday, August 11th at 7pm and one winner for a 4-pack of tickets to the San Jose show at the SAP Center on Thursday, August 17th at 7pm. We will contact winners via email and announce the names across PopCultHQ’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Good luck!

Now in its third generation of Feld leadership, Feld Entertainment continues its phenomenal success and acclaim. The family upholds the long-standing tradition of bringing spectacular live entertainment to audiences across the globe. As the recognized world leader in presenting celebrated shows that uplift and inspire, the unwavering Feld philosophy invests passion, innovation and meticulous attention to detail in astonishing productions that enthrall more than 30 million people in 75 countries on six continents, with as many as 5,000 shows each year. The meaningful result: Creating lifelong memories—one act at a time. Visit Feld Entertainment’s online for more info!
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*** info/images courtesy of MarvelUniverseLive.com

Jason Bennett
Jason Bennett is PopCultHQ's senior editor, a contributing writer, and comic book reviewer/reporter. He is a big lover of coffee, cats, cooking and comics (plus all things Green Lantern). He is a strong supporter of indie comics, creators, and publishers and Chris Hardwick is his spirit animal (we don't know how to respond to that). Follow Jason on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @TahoeJBennett

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