Maybe you can’t visit Tony’s mansion, or the Avengers Tower, or the Triskelion (R.I.P.). But Marvel’s The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (that’s Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network to you) exhibit, which opens today in New York, might be the next best thing. Actually, scratch that: It’s definitely the next best thing.
Conceived in conjunction with NASA, Discovery Times Square and Victory Hill Exhibitions, the interactive deep-dive into the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and the science behind all your favorite characters — is an exhibit more than worthy of its $27.00 admission price (or $19.50, if you’re a child age 3-11). Rich with real costumes and props, artifacts, and up-to-date technological, hands-on, interactive science, the entire walk-through is a delight. But don’t take my word for it: “It’s absolutely unbelievable,” comic legend Stan Lee told EW exclusively after seeing the exhibit for the first time. “I thought of them as simple fictional characters that could have great adventures, and people could enjoy reading them — but now I realize, unintentionally, I was one of the world’s scientists. [laughs] And what they have done with these characters, this building, and this display is indescribably wonderful and creative. I think that it’ll make any young people that walk through it leave saying, ‘I’ve gotta be a scientist. It’s the most exciting thing in the world!'”
Everyone starts somewhere, right? And in this exhibit, that means getting an initiation and “assignment” once you’re admitted into the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. (We’ll just forget about the events of Captain America 2. I mean, who wants to be initiated into Hydra, anyway?) You’ll enter a brightly lit chamber, where you’re given a debriefing by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Agent Blake (Titus Welliver) He explains that the world needs your help — and there’s visual evidence (a.k.a. a screening of scenes from The Avengers) to help persuade you, as well.
Once you’ve been given the proper directions, you can start to move through the different rooms, each of which is devoted to a separate character. But first, a S.H.I.E.L.D. display! You can view actual costumes (and props) for Maria Hill, Phil Coulson, Nick Fury, Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton. Unfortunately, if you’re a major fan of Strike Team Delta, this is about as much as you’ll see of Black Widow and Hawkeye up close in this exhibit. Regardless, check out that explosive arrow!
First up — Captain America’s room. It’s neatly separated into two parts: the SSR commemorative area, and the “superhero” area, where you can learn the details of the science behind the serum that made Steve Rogers so famous. In the SSR room, you can find photos of S.H.I.E.L.D. founders Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, as well as Erksine and Col. Phillips. Mind the Hydra artifacts, though.
Behold! Where the magic happened — the pod that transformed Skinny!Steve into Captain America. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a beefed up Chris Evans, so we’ll have to imagine the moment we all wished we were Peggy Carter. You can also view the Captain America suit and some vintage trading cards, as well as that famous bomber jacket — and, of course, a certain vibranium shield. After you take in all the props, take a strength test — how well do your muscles measure up to that of a super soldier?
From there, make your way to what may be the most science-based room in the exhibit — the one that focuses on The Hulk. No need to worry…Bruce Banner isn’t going to attack you. But you do get to play with a few fun interactive things, including a computer that shows you how the Hulk’s brain works when he’s transformed. You also can learn how the Tesseract actually works. When I visited, this was actually the busiest room of the entire exhibit, even though it was was pretty early in the morning. So if you’d like time to play with all the scientific gadgets (and if your kids don’t, you will), prepare to wait your turn.
The Asgardian room is exactly what you’d expect from Norse mythology — a treasure trove filled with awesome items like Loki’s helmet and scepter, a Chitauri costume (much bigger and more impressive than it looks on film) and of course, Thor’s costume (with permission, of course). Unfortunately, there’s neither a hammer nor a Loki costume. But while you’re looking at things from Asgard, you might as well try to find Asgard: You can play with a star and galaxy chart that allows you to search for the planet yourself.
Unsurprisingly, the Iron Man room is the exhibit’s biggest single room — and the only one powered by an arc reactor. While you “ooooh” and “ahhh” over Tony’s suit, you can also try out a HUD (Heads Up Display) pod, which is powered like Iron Man’s helmet and gives you a real-time brain scan.
If you can’t make it down to New York right away, don’t worry: The exhibit will be open until January 5, 2015. For more information, check out Discovery Time Square’s website.