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Retro photos reveal Universal Orlando’s first Marvel Super Heroes show

by Seth Kubersky

Marvel Super Hero Island has been a keystone of Islands of Adventure since the park opened, and a new Avengers Campus is under construction at Disney California Adventure. But did you know that there was another long-forgotten Marvel attraction that predated both of them? An Orlando-area reader recently posted an archive of retro photos from Universal Studios Florida’s original Marvel Super Heroes Showdown show, and gave us permission to share them in all their goofy glory.

Take a look back at Universal’s very first Marvel Super Heroes attraction.

Marvel Super Heroes Showdown was an outdoor stunt show that debuted in 1993 at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando. It was performed in the park’s New York area, in front of the building that then held the Ghostbusters Spooktacular show, and is now home to Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.

The show began with an actor playing Tony “Iron Man” Stark welcoming the audience to the inauguration of Professor Charles Xavier’s new institute for the study of mutants. His speech is interrupted when Mystique — disguised as Spider-Man — swings in to smack down Stark and stop the party.

Things escalated quickly from there, with X-Men Wolverine and Storm springing into action against bad guys both famous — like Doctor Doom — and somewhat obscure, such as Mister Sinister.

As these pictures make obvious, the Marvel Super Heroes Showdown long predated Disney’s realistic Marvel Cinematic Universe, so all of the characters’ costumes are inspired by the primary-colored cartoons of the early 1990s.

Trivia note: the show was written by Jason Surrell, who also worked on Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, and went on to help create numerous attractions for Universal and Disney.

The Marvel Super Heroes Showdown only lasted until 1995, although many of the characters moved over to Islands of Adventure when that park opened in 1999. The area was later home to a Ghostbusters street show.

Relive the rad-ness of 1990s-era Marvel with the only two known video recordings of the stunt show:

MarvelSuperHeroShowdown 360p
Universal Studios Florida - Marvel Super Heroes Showdown - 1995

If watching these videos whets your appetite for more Marvel, here are videos some of our favorite Super Hero attractions from around the world:

The Incredible Hulk Coaster reopening ceremony at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Stark Expo presents: Energy for Tomorrow! - Marvel Summer of Super Heroes at Disneyland Paris
New costumes for Marvel super heroes and villains at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Marvel Day at Sea on the Disney Magic Cruise - Attractions Adventures
Full 4K Marvel Heroes Unite Show on the Disney Magic with Captain Marvel
Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Tour at Treasure Island in Las Vegas

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1 comment

Sean Gleason June 4, 2021 - 8:55 am

They did this first in Universal Studios Universal City California I was there the first day that they opened up. There were thousands of kids from all across California there that day. I was the lucky one who got to sit next to… none other then Stan Lee himself…

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