Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes Exhibition (Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, WA) – Face front, true believers!
On July 20, 2018 I along with Culture Snap Photography aka Henry VanderSpek visited the newly renamed Museum of Pop Culture (it was originally called the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. Whew! As the wordy name suggests this large museum hosts music related exhibitions (Pearl Jam is upcoming) and all kinds of science fiction artifacts. If you ever find yourself in Seattle it is #PantsWorthy).
Located at the base of the iconic Space Needle the Museum of Pop Culture has organized Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes the “world’s first and most extensive exhibition celebrating Marvel’s visual and cultural impact.” Marvel will be 80 years old in 2019…that’s 80 years of comics plus the recently celebrated cinematic milestone: 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s daunting to grasp the scope and size of the impact Marvel has had on our lives and our pop culture. Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes has been curated by three scholars of comics Benjamin Saunders, Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan and by two comics writers familiar to most Marvel readers…Ann Nocenti and Danny Fingeroth.
(Actually 1 other name you’ll recognize? Hans Zimmer! He and Lorne Balfe created the soundscape as you wander the rooms…because every room needs music as epic as the superheroes they’re celebrating!)
So Now…there are over 300 original artifacts, classic pages from comic book artists, MCU costumes and props, blown up covers and I dunno what else from Marvel’s storied history.
It starts from the beginning with a “Timely” issue number 1 (of course it does!) Marvel Comics #1 cover dated October 1939.
And from there you wander deeper into the rooms: covering Captain America especially his war efforts during WWII, the Moral Panic of the late 50s which lead to the creation of Comics Code Authority (“Won’t somebody please think of the children?”) then Stan Lee’s Big Bang which lead to Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and well the Marvel we know and adore.
(Stan Lee is among the rare pantheon of big-bang creators harnessing the sparks of his imagination to ignite a powerful universe…that short list of George Lucas and Jim Henson. (And fine Walt Disney’s in that rare club…but his stuff sucks.) Excelsior Stan The Man Lee. What a fantastic life: you made mine better.)
And that’s just how it starts: room after room of incredible characters and uncanny props.
What you can expect as you wander through the exhibition? Cue the photos. Recognize these items?
“There’s some Thing special about lazy Sundays: a comfy couch, a fantastic book…not wearing pants and a rock solid friend. 4 of my favourite Sunday elements… a break from all the heat of the week being stretched thin and just being invisible.” (Photo by Culture Snap Photography aka Henry VanderSpek.)
In 1939 on August 31st the first issue of Marvel Comics (cover date October) was published by Timely Comics (which would eventually become Marvel Comics). Marvel Comics #1 featured the first appearances of the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. That’s hot.
Eventually…in 2018 almost 80 years later Culture Snap Photography aka Henry VanderSpek and I would find ourselves in Seattle at Museum of Pop Culture’s exhibition Marvel: Universe of Superheroes. (Is that the butterfly effect?). With over 300 original artifacts spanning Marvel’s storied 80 year history there’s lots to see and in Henry’s case…lots to miss as well.
You’ll recognize these Iron Man armors from the mighty Marvel movies. At the time while I was taking this photo a teenage girl in front of me was explaining Tony Stark’s armors to her little brother this way: the first one is the first iPhone…s’bit clunky; it doesn’t work very well. That second one is better…that’s like the iPhone 4. The last one is like iPhone 7.” They sadly did not have the Hulkbuster. Just goes to show if you wanna make a “Mark:” it doesn’t matter how you start; all that matters is that you start. #SuperheroMotivation
So much more I can share but really? Go. This is #PantsWorthy for Marvel nerds and civilians. See it for yourself. 80 years of Marvel…I mean what an incredible and amazing and uncanny and fantastic adventure. If you’re not near Seattle expect Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes to be a travelling exhibition.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.