TL;DR – Today I explore and muse on the current Marvel Exhibit at GOMA in Brisbane
One surprisingly warm winter day I went for a walk from the Central Business District across the River and down to Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct nestled along the river front. Among the brutalist style buildings that include the Lyric Theatre, State Library, and State Museum is GOMA or the Gallery of Modern Art. Now I am not just here because winter in the subtropics is a beautiful time of year to go for a walk, no I’m here to explore one of the exhibits they have on at the moment, ‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’. Before we start just a heads up that there will be more than a few images in this article so you may want to double check that you have your phones on wifi, not mobile data.
If you have read our site before you would know we are a sucker for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a film series that has captured the imaginations of so many people and for a good reason, it made the world fall in love with heroes clad in colourful outfits, fighting evil, and standing up for what is right. It has pioneered the modern interconnected cinematic universe, and doing it better than any of its competitors, to the tune of over $12 Billion in box office sales. So the chance to peer behind the Marvel/Disney machine and explore the props and filmmaking that make up the movies was an opportunity I could not pass up.
Now the first thing you find as you enter the exhibition is the respect shown to the comics of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and all the other Marvel comic writers and artists whose work is the source of where all these films came from. This is the first of many steps the gallery has done to help people engage with the films as a form of media to be analysed and understood from many angles, and it also helps for the younger people who come to the exhibit to understand where their favourite character came from, but also helps them think about how movies are made, which is one of the big themes the exhibit is encouraging.
When it comes to the layout of the exhibit, each room is themed around either one of the superheroes like Captain America, or one of the aspects you need to create a film, like the soundscape. This allows you to do is get up and close to the props and costumes that make a hero iconic. Now I have been to other exhibits like this before at museums like the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle and one of the things you find is that a lot of the props look great on TV but they don’t actually hold up to close inspection. However, the impressive thing about Marvel’s films is that level of detail and you can see it as when getting up and close with the props and costumes and that they hold up to close inspection. The clothes have texture to them, the book from Thor 2 feels like an old tome that has been sitting in a library for generations, you get to see the progression in Cap’s uniform and all the subtle and not so subtle changes they made.
Now you could just have had all the props and costumes set up and that would have been just fine, but this exhibit is more than that, it is a platform to help educate people in how movies are made. You see the writing process, how sound is made, how visual effects are compiled, and how something goes from concept art to the big screen. This is such an important part of the exhibit because there are a lot of kids that will be exploring the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and here they may find a kernel of an idea that could lead to their future careers. Throughout the exhibit, there are audio visual features that help give all the exhibits context for people who might not be familiar with that hero, or with that filmmaking technique. This is reinforced by all the plaques next to the exhibits, which show all the amazingly talented people that have helped create the world of Marvel. This allows people to discover the phenomenal work of artists like Andy Park, Ryan Meinerding, Jackson Sze, and so many more.
Building upon this, there are places in the exhibit where people can create their own work of art, like creating a comic. This is something GOMA has been really good at in the past, helping young people engage with art through tactile installations, like their Lego exhibit that allows people to construct anything and everything. It was really good to see this here as well, and not in a token maybe this will keep the kids entertained, but in an integrated way that builds upon what they have been learning throughout the exhibit.
When looking at how successful and engaging an exhibit like this is, one of the best barometers is to ask people that have been what was their favourite part was and when I have talked to people who have been to it there is such a varied response. For some it was the ability to see the textures of the fabrics up close, for others it was the audio visual integration, for one of the staff members it was the talks put on during the exhibit when they got creators like Cleverman’s Ryan Griffen, for others it was seeing their favourite hero up close and personal, and indeed for at least one of my friends it was seeing just how buff some of the actors were to fill out some of those costumes. If I was being honest I would have to say my favourite part was walking into Odin’s Throne Room from the Thor films and seeing the scope of the set, it gave it a tangible sense of scale I was not expecting.
In the end, I really enjoyed my time exploring all the production behind what goes into creating a Marvel film, if you want to see it yourself you can find more information about it Here, and if you want to see if for yourself it is open for another two weeks.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you visited the Marvel exhibit at GOMA?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.