Review: Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. At ExCeL London
I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the ‘Harry Potter’ tour at Leavesden on 4 occasions and ‘Friendsfest’ in Brighton just this summer, so my experience of UK based entertainment activities has a limited review. I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a Comic-Con, but have had my fair few visits to museums over my years. Maybe I have been spoilt by my experiences touring the film and television sets in Hollywood and New York; which ultimately left me with incredibly high standards of expectations when I joined the queue at S.T.A.T.I.O.N last week for its launch event. Ultimately I’m not sure it lived up to what it could have possibly been.
The immersive exhibition is a walk-through experience that takes in the information hubs of our key members of the Avengers. You start with a briefing from Agent Maria Hill, inducting you into the S.T.A.T.I.O.N experience from a range of screens in a holding room. This bit smacked exactly of Harry Potter and I experienced that just a week prior to my ExCeL visit.
You then enter an Iron Man zone with a plethora of information boards and range of suits on display. Some of the displays have limitations… I would have loved to have seen the movies in which they first appeared or some fun facts about the use of them on set. There was an opportunity to step into a virtual world using video game screens and pretend to be in the Hulkbuster suit and smash your way through villains in front of you. Similarly, you’re then led through Hulk, Captain America and Thor’s “zones” each swamped with screens and images with lots of data and text. Each of them has a statutory immersive element – Hulks green fists, Cap’s motorbike and shield, Thor’s hammer… but it just lacked something. Black Panther was squeezed into the far corner of Cap’s section but poor Hawkeye, Black Widow and many of the others were left with just one large room where each of them were given a screen. By this point, I was still quite uninspired and the final ‘villain’ zone and sparse gift shop didn’t turn around my feelings.
Maybe I’m being a little negative – if I was taking a younger MCU fan, with a thirst for reading lots of data across screens then I’m pretty certain this would be a good day out. The suggested 2-hour tour was just a quick 45-minute whip round for this eager enthusiast over here and there wasn’t even a Starbucks to end the visit on. I mused even more on my journey home… If this event was released about 5 years ago it would be exactly what people needed. The extra information picked up around the exhibition would be great for an early enthusiast, but not as much for hardcore MCU fans who could probably repeat much of the information on display here. The gift shop definitely needed some work, hopefully, this was just a perfunctory display to satisfy the early visitors and now the show is in full swing it might be a little more expansive in its offering.
Here at Geektown, we are very enthusiastic about the MCU and love being our true geeks, but this didn’t quite hit the spot. The full price of the ticket doesn’t really reflect the experience when I think museums in London give you much more for much less. I think, in a post-Avengers: Infinity War world, an exhibition like this could be flooded with more facts about the films, blooper reels, quotes from the production teams to really make us feel like we’re learning secrets from the franchise. I think they should lose the faux recruitment set-up at the start and end, and just allow the items to be looked at and absorbed.
Overall I would rate the experience 2/5, that is achieved through two elements that blew me away… The Ant-projection and the Cap shield. Disappointed Scarlet Witch and Spider-Man didn’t quite make the cut. Whilst it’s a fun enough experience to visit if you happen to be in London, I’m not sure I would be making a special trip just to visit. Ultimately my final piece of advice – attend with C.A.U.T.I.O.N.
Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N is on at London’s ExCeL now and until 31 March 2019 and tickets are available here.
Gray has been teaching Media and Film studies for 11 years now, and saturates himself in a world of TV and Film. Can most regularly be found with his iPad bingeing on a TV series whenever there is a spare moment between planning and marking. Gray has 3 years of writing experience for exam boards and educational resource companies too.