Avengers Fans Assemble! The Can't Miss Marvel Exhibition at Roppongi Hills
If you've been reading Marvel Comics since your childhood; if you've watched every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; if you have ever dreamed of being a superhero; and if you are going to be in Japan anytime between now and 25 June, you will not want to miss this incredible Exhibition at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. The Limited Time Marvel Age of Heroes Exhibition is a specially curated walk through Marvel's History, its characters, its story lines, its cinematic universe, and the inspired art behind it all. Allow me, if you will, to walk you through the exhibition, starting with the entry...
As you enter the exhibition, you have a chance to snap some photos with some specially designed Captain America and Spiderman: Homecoming backgrounds. There is also a professional photographer that will take a photo of you and your party in front of the Tokyo skyline, which can make a nice souvenir. After you pass through that section, you'll encounter a perfect way to set the tone for the rest of the museum: a 15-foot tall Iron Man suit posed in front of Tokyo Tower. It makes for some incredible photos. Now, we were not there in the evening, but if you stay until nightfall, there is a scheduled light show that runs every 15 minutes or so.
Marvel x History
The first section of the exhibition belongs to Marvel's history. Here, you'll learn about the Marvel company, and how it went from "Timely Comics" in the 1930s to the billion dollar industry it is today. It's hard to believe that Marvel was nearly bankrupt in the 90s, but you'll see in the exhibit how they put all of their chips on the table with Jon Favreau's Iron Man film (released in 2008), and turned the beloved characters from our childhood into worldwide icons.
Marvel x Hero
The next section is the "Marvel x Hero" section, dedicated to introducing you to all of Marvel's most iconic heroes from the films and comics. Information displays give you detailed back story on all of the characters' comic origins, and often, there are even displays of original copies of the comics which introduced those characters. For some characters, the exhibition displays real costumes from the movies, including Tony Stark's Iron Man, Thor, Dr. Strange, Loki, Captain America, Ant Man, Spiderman, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Star-Lord (Peter Quill). I particularly enjoyed looking at the attention to detail that went into each of those costumes. The exhibition even included videos displaying interviews with various Marvel Cinema stars, who give insight into what it was like to don the uniforms and join the Marvel universe.
Marvel x Culture
Unfortunately, photography was strictly prohibited in this section, but it was dedicated to Marvel's impact on Japanese culture--specifically Manga. The most fascinating portion of this section was contemporary Manga artists' re-imagining of iconic Marvel characters. It was interesting to see things ranging from the Kawaii-versions of the Avengers to a Manga-esque rendering of Old Man Logan and X-23. The integration of Japanese styles with Marvel art was awesome; just unfortunate that I could not preserve those memories (and share them with you) with some photos!
Marvel x Cafe
Either before you enter or after you exit the main exhibition, you should stop by the Marvel Cafe for some unique food choices. The cafe itself (repurposed from the standard "Sun Cafe" in Mori Tower) offers stunning panoramic views of Tokyo and some of the most cleverly designed theme meal options you will find. My friend and I opted to get the Hulk Green Curry and the Spidey (Chicken) Burger (see pic above). There are other set menu options that are not themed, but if you are coming to the Marvel Exhibition, you ought to try the special dishes! I also recommend arriving close to opening at 1100. When we left at 1145, there was already a long queue.
Marvel x Shop
The Marvel Shop was excellent for a museum/exhibition gift shop. There was a variety of goods, ranging from lapel pins and postcards to backpacks, action figures, DVDs, and wall art. There were even limited edition pens retailing for $1500 (don't ask me what kind of Marvel fan is the type to buy a $1500 Iron Man fountain pen, but I guess it takes all types!).
Hot Toys Shop
Of course, if you are more interested in the Action Figure side of the Marvel characters, you can head down to the Hot Toys Shop. Hot Toys is a brand that focuses on developing ultra-quality action figures. Many of their products cost between $150 and $350 dollars, but there were larger models retailing for over $1000 (and sold out, mind you!). Of course, if you're not loaded (like me), you can opt for something smaller like the plush toys, keychains, and smaller action figures. My personal favorite option was the Limited Edition Cosbudi Two Pack that included Iron Man and Captain America each sporting Kanji on their T-shirts (one saying "Roppongi" and the other, "Tokyo"). The set costs 5000 yen and comes in a special collector's edition box.
Roppongi Hills Marvel Project
One cool aspect about the Marvel Exhibition is that all of Roppongi Hills has bought into the theme. As you walk around, you'll find various posters and displays of Marvel characters. Stores are selling limited edition Marvel goods, and there is even an additional Spiderman pop-up cafe. It can be quite fun to try to find all of the little nods to the Marvel universe placed throughout Roppongi Hills.
Roppongi Hills is accessible by taking either the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line or the Toei Oedo Line to Roppongi Station (or you can just hop in a cab and ask for Roppongi Hills--everyone knows it!). There, head to Mori Tower's Tokyo City View Deck. You'll enter a ticketing area to purchase your tickets (Adults: 1800 yen; High School/College Students: 1200 yen; Children 4 and up: 600 yen; and Seniors: 1500 yen). The exhibition is open from 10 AM to 10 PM daily.
Usually I curate my photos so that I do not clutter the article, but there were just too many good photos not to share. My hope is that these will help entice you to visit--trust me when I say that if you are a Marvel fan, this exhibition is truly worth your time!
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