‘Marveled’, much like The Avengers: Infinity War, is the world’s most ambitious crossover event. It brings together treasured characters – from Captain America to the Hulk, and even everyone’s favourite non-super powered superhero, Hawkeye – and mixes their stories with tunes straight off Broadway or the silver screen, including a rendition of Gospel Truth, from Disney’s Hercules, all the way to I Wanna Be A Producer (well, An Avenger), from The Producers.
But perhaps we should start at the beginning. Phill Davies, the mastermind behind Marveled, conceived of the idea in 2017 and performed it as part of a cabaret showcase before bringing it to life as a standalone performance. Davies is a self-proclaimed Marvel fanatic, and in the vast war between Marvel and DC… well, it’s obvious where he stands.
The Butterfly Club is a wonderful niche venue for this show, as the performance space is just down from a library as cluttered and mystical as the one in Marvel’s Doctor Strange, and the walls of the space itself are littered with glowing symbols of every Avenger.
Davies opens somewhat nervously – his habit of tugging at his shirt edge did become somewhat distracting during the show, but that will certainly clear as days pass and his confidence increases – with a solid rendition of the ten-year history of the Avengers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), set to the aforementioned Gospel Truth. While it may be easy to slip into memories of Hercules, and the muses singing his tales, Davies firmly grasps the audiences’ attention with his humour and his gorgeous voice, and all other half-remembered Disney lyrics fade away.
Before moving on, Davies makes it absolutely clear that DC, or Detective Comics, as they were once called, are atrocities, and encourages the audience to sing along as he proudly states that ‘DC blows’, a fitting restructure of ‘Anything Goes’ from the same-titled show.
Davies’ knowledge of Avengers characters and the MCU is encyclopaedic, and it’s a joy to learn a couple of facts about each character between each song. His costume changes are also a delight, and really help to bring a fresh attitude to each character – although they’re simplistic representations, it’s extremely clear who Davies is mimicking, and the props that end up scattered across the stage only serve to make the entire space more fun and on-theme.
The best part of each of Davies’ performances is probably that he considers lesser-known elements of the characters, like the Hulk’s emotions (other than anger, of course), Loki’s desperate need for approval from his father Odin, and the struggle Hawkeye feels being on a team of super powered gods and monsters, while he himself is only flesh and blood. While on the surface nothing is taken seriously, it was great to consider a little character depth (ignoring, of course, Thor’s song about how difficult it is to be really really ridiculously handsome).
In the end, of course, superheroes aren’t real. However, Davies uses that to inspire the audience, and perhaps even himself, by proudly describing how He Wants To Be An Avenger. Iron Man isn’t real, but Davies is, and his passion for Marvel, coupled with his beautiful voice – honed with musical theatre training – are a wonderful encouragement to do your best and try to be more of an everyday hero. Maybe even we could be better Avengers than Hawkeye.