Let's do a headcount here.
I have been a mad Marvel Cinematic Universe fan ever since accidentally stumbling onto the spin-off TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D one night so many years ago when I was aimlessly channel surfing for something decent to watch. Realising that Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D was a spin-off from The Avengers, I quickly went and sought that movie out, and imagine my delight when I discovered it was (at that time) the last in a long series of super hero movies, all tied together and set within the same universe. After that, it was several weekends of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and, of course, The Incredible Hulk. The Avengers remained a favourite, however, and I have never quite let go of just how awesome that movie was.
While I missed the MCU Phase One movies on the big screen, I was lucky enough to see all the Phase Two movies, the one's I wanted to watch anyway, in theatres. These were Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron. I will be very honest with you all and say I had absolutely no interest in Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant Man. The former still does nothing for me, although I think I'm going to have to watch it and its sequel before I go and see the new Avengers movie, but I did see the latter on the small screen and found it very funny and entertaining. Of the Phase Three movies, the only one I have seen so far is Captain America: Civil War. As much as I love the Cinematic Universe, I am finding I'm starting to get bored of the same story lines repeated over and over again, and the same characters getting all the screen time. It probably doesn't help matters that my favourite character within the Cinematic Universe is Agent Clint Barton/Hawkeye, who tends to play more of a supporting role in the films, despite (in my opinion at least) being an integral part of the Avengers team.
However, while I am a little behind on my movie watching and do have my gripes about the continual prominence of the same characters, I do thoroughly enjoy getting lost in the world Marvel has created, so it was no surprise to anyone around me when I brought tickets to the interactive and immersive experience Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N when it arrived in Melbourne.
I actually took the day off from work (annual leave, I'm not in the business of throwing sickies) so I could go during the week, when it would be less busy, although the draw back of this was it meant I didn't get as many photos of me doing things, as I didn't have anyone to take them. The staff there were really helpful and willing to assist me with taking photos and several of my fellow 'recruits' (more on that in a moment) gave me a hand, but most of my pics were of the objects and exhibits themselves, rather than of me in them.
(Side note: I'm going back with my dad soon, and no one is a better photographer than my dad, so all my Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N picture needs will be taken care of second time around, watch this space.)
Welcome to The S.T.A.T.I.O.N
Mr. Stark has asked that you not break anything.
S.T.A.T.I.O.N stands for Science, Training And Tactical Intelligence Operative Network, and once you get inside you are briefed by Agent Maria Hill (played by actress Cobie Smulders) before you can access the exhibit. After this briefing, we walked into the Captain America section of the exhibit and had another briefing by the staff before being set loose to begin our 'training'.
As you walk into the exhibit, the first thing you are greeted with is Captain America's motorcycle - a Harley of some description, I'm not very up with my vehicles - and, even better, you are actually allowed to sit on it! I had one of my fellow recruits take this picture for me, before I wandered over to have a look at the Cap's uniform and, of course, his signature shield. Also present was information not given in the movies about how his biology changed after being injected with Super Soldier Serum, including how he survived seventy years frozen in the Arctic. There was also an opportunity to pose with the Cap's shield, however there was a large group of school children lining up to do this and I felt, given I will be going again with my father in June, that I had better things to do than line up to ask someone else to take another photo of me. Dad will get the honours when we go again.
From Captain America, I moved onto Bruce Banner's Lab. Banner's alter-ego, The Hulk, is my third favourite of the Avengers (following Hawkeye and Black Widow) and I was delighted to learn more about how he became The Hulk. I won't give away any spoilers, in case there are viewers who haven't been yet (or who might be tempted to go after reading this post) but among the many interesting things present was the substance 'Hulk-o-globin' that stops Banner from succumbing to radiation sickness. As for interactive components, it didn't disappoint; a screen lets you measure The Hulk's incredible strength, observe how his muscle structure differs from us ordinary humans and you can compare you own hands to his with scale models.
From here it was onwards to the Tesseract Containment Unit. I didn't spent much time here as the flashing lights made me feel quite ill, although I did manage to take a video, which you can see below. I will admit to being very impressed with the technology used in the exhibit, to build exact replicas of props used within the movies, to the point that the only way to tell what was an actual movie prop (and there were several on display) and what was a replica was that the former were always behind glass.
Then I was time to get excited, because in the next room were my two favourite Avengers: Hawkeye and Black Widow.
I will confess, I was slightly disappointed in this section, which also included the characters Vision, The Scarlet Witch and Antman. There was no new information that wasn't either in the movies or on any of the connected official websites. Perhaps because these are two of my favourite characters, but this bothered me: surely there was more backstory they could give us, some further interesting information about their work together in S.T.R.I.K.E Team DELTA, or even the design and function of their respective weapons. What I will say, however, is that it was awesome seeing the real movie props and costumes of these characters and, no matter how many times Marvel tries to push them into the background, they will always be at the forefront for me!
Actual costumes from Marvel's The Avengers as worn by actors Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow).
From there it was on through to the many aliens and their worlds we meet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and then Ultron. I'm not much of an alien or Ultron fan, so I didn't linger here, although I did have to pause in Thor's exhibit to get a photo of myself attempting to lift Mjolnir, Thor's Hammer. Needless to say, I'm apparently not worthy to wield the hammer of the King of Asgard.
From Thor, I took a brief tour of Tony Stark's Lab, but, once again, didn't linger. I really can't stand Tony Stark and was rooting for Captain America's team all the way through Civil War, and I've never been much interested in his Iron Man except as part of the Avengers team. I will say, however, that it was pretty cool to see all the Iron Man suits from the movies, from the Mark I built in a cave all the way up to the most recent (prior to the exhibition) in Age of Ultron. From Iron Man, I then cued up to play 'The Final Game'.
The Final Game uses hand-held devices to allow you to become an Avenger of your choosing and fight off Ultron and his sentries. Unsurprisingly, I took the Team Hawkeye device and took my position in front of the respective symbol and prepared for battle.
Team Hawkeye! The greatest Avenger there ever was! Photos: My own
After playing The Final Game, it was into the debriefing room, where Agent Hill congratulated us on completing our training, and then it was into the Gift Shop. I'm a sucker for merchandise, and happily parted with my money in exchange for a few choice pieces, including my very own Agent of S.T.A.T.I.O.N I.D Badge.
And the adventure wasn't over when I got home. As I completed my 'training' there was an opportunity to pose for a Class of 2018 photo, which you could then email to yourself at no charge. Upon opening the email when I got home, I was delighted with the result and have proudly printed and displayed the said photo up in my room.
Watch this space for June when I go back, take more photos and spend some quality time with my dad!
What: Avenger's S.T.A.T.I.O.N: The Immersive Experience
Where: The Paddock, Federation Square
When: Daily until the 30 June 2018
Cost: $45 for a single adult
Website: Avengers Station Australia
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