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