Seattle’s MoPOP celebrates Marvel history, heroes

Iron Man's suits of armor are on display as part of interactive exhibits.
Iron Man’s suits of armor are on display as part of interactive exhibits.

Thanos may have snapped away half of Marvel’s superheroes in “Infinity War,” but the Marvel characters live on as part of a special exhibit at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture. “Marvel: Universe of Superheroes” highlights 80 years of the comic book and movie giant. From the first Marvel comic issue to future movie heroes, the exhibit is both a walk down memory lane and a glimpse into the future of the Marvel universe. Popular with “kids” of all ages, the exhibit encourages visitors to participate in interactive displays, as well as view costumes and props from the theater series.

Anyone who knows me can understand the giddiness I displayed when daughter Mallory first told me about the exhibit. Then, as Mallory and I picked up our tickets at the counter, the clerk asked if we wanted to buy lanyards featuring Marvel heroes for an extra $5. Before I could say “yes,” Mal beat me to it. She chose Thor and I went with Captain America. They would later give us a discount on our gift shop purchases.

Each popular superhero is given their individual exhibits, including Thor, Hulk and the X-Men. As visitors wander through the 300-piece exhibit, fans will enjoy their own memories. It can be a man in his 50s recalling his first Captain America or Spider-Man comic, or a teenager remembering the first Marvel movie their parents took them to see.

Tim poses with Captain American cutout.
Let’s get ’em, Cap.

Marvel Comic Issue 1

Visitors start with a quick look at some of the recent superheroes, such as Black Panther, then move on to a history of the comic books. Launching its inaugural series – “Marvel Comics” – in 1939, it featured the Human Torch, an android who eventually fights for justice. While the Human Torch would be reborn in a later comic series, the first Marvel comic launched a series of heroes and superheroes who appeared in features for several years. Captain America may be the best-known of the early Marvel superheroes. But, even he couldn’t stop the onslaught following World War II that nearly killed the Marvel enterprise. Comic book readers became interested in crime and western comics, which nearly decimated Marvel. Sales of comics featuring superheroes plummeted.

The first Marvel comic book.
The first Marvel comic book.

In the early 1960s, Stan Lee was ready to step away from Marvel (then known as Atlas), but his wife encouraged him to try one more time. In 1961, “The Fantastic Four,” a story featuring four astronauts who develop superhuman powers following an accident in outer space, was launched and quickly caught on with the comic-reading public. It also reintroduced the Human Torch, this time as Johnny Storm. While not one of Marvel’s major successes at the box office, “The Fantastic Four” comic series saved Marvel, launching new heroes and bringing back old favorites. Imagine what the entertainment industry might be like if Marvel had shut down in 1960.

Costumes and props from "Black Panther."
Costumes and props from “Black Panther.”

The MoPOP exhibit brings to life the Marvel heroes. Visitors can see life-size figures such as Black Panther, Thing, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel and Doctor Strange. Props and costumes include three Iron Man outfits, Guardians of the Galaxy’s StarLord and Gamora costumes, as well as weapons from that movie. People can try to fly like Iron Man in an interactive exhibit.

Spider-Man crawling down a building between two lit windows.
The Amazing Spider-Man.

You may get dizzy or lost walking through Doctor Strange’s mystical hall of mirrors. The Ant-Man display is fun, as you see the character the size of an ant in a live-action scene.

Doctor Strange exhibit featured a series of mirrors.
The Doctor Strange exhibit was mind altering.

Future heroes

Not content with the success Marvel has enjoyed up to now, the exhibit includes a look at future superheroes. Captain Marvel, whose movie will be released next spring, is joined by Ms. Marvel as well as Inhumans, Runaways and even Dead Pool.

Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel

It’s easy for fans to spend a couple of hours taking in “Marvel: Universe of Superheroes,” which runs through Jan. 3, 2019.

For more information on the exhibit, please visit

Disclaimer: Thanks to Beck Media for arranging for complimentary tickets to the MoPOP exhibit. However, all opinions and views are ours.