They are among the most popular characters on Earth. Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Captain America conjure thrills, excitement, and the ring of a cash register. And, if you want to experience Marvel-style thrills, then head to Universal Studios in Florida, where you can see the heroes in action at Marvel Super Hero Island. That’s correct — fans must go to Universal Studios and not a Disney property — even though Disney famously bought the comic book company for $4 billion.
Why, then, are Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and other classic characters at Universal and not at Disney? Back in the late 1990s, before the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), when the company allowed its characters to be used by other firms, Marvel made a deal with Universal (or rather, MCA, the theme park company who used to own Universal Studios) to use the characters at a section of the new theme park. This was to be called “The Marvel Universe.”[the_ad_group id=”78″]
In the past 20 years, Marvel has gone from a company that leases out its characters to other entertainment companies to a powerhouse of its own. Their series of MCU films have grossed more than $22 billion at the box office, dwarfing everything and everyone else.
Marvel characters at Super Hero Island are not the same as what fans are used to. They are the ‘comic book’ characters, not those fans are used to seeing in the MCU. For example, the “classic” look for Captain America includes winglets on the sides of his head and a simulated chainmail chest. The MCU Captain America, made famous by Chris Evans, has had various looks, none of which include the small winglets or chainmail (except his WWII uniform, which he used on USO Tours).
In California, Disney had made a new park worthy of the MCU. The new Avengers Campus features Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy-themed rides and a host of other fan-friendly scenes based on the sets from the films. The only presence of MCU in any of the four Disney parks in Florida (besides the gift shops) is the under-construction Guardians ride at EPCOT.
Marvel is everywhere, and one might think that eventually, Disney would demand that Universal return the characters for use at their own theme parks (east of the Mississippi River).[the_ad_group id=”78″]
Perhaps, Disney raised Universal’s rate to have the Marvel characters at their Florida park. This rate hike might cause Universal to release Disney from their contract, allowing Disney to make an MCU world at Hollywood Studios, where the Star Wars stuff is.
What could Universal do to revamp their Marvel-less island? Bring in Star Trek. Some fans might remember that Universal and Paramount had an agreement back in the 90s, where fans could become part of their own Star Trek experience. Paramount owned a series of parks on their own, where fans could watch skaters perform in Star Trek: The Next Generation uniforms.
Universal could convert the Super Hero island to Vulcan, Kronos, or even — Deep Space Nine. The current Spider-Man 4D ride could easily be revamped into any number of Star Trek experiences. Dr. Doom Fearfall could be rejiggered into Kirk and Sulu’s dive onto the Romulan drill rig from Star Trek (2009). The Hulk rollercoaster could be remade into an “Escape from the Borg.”
The rest of the park could feature space foods, Trek swag and gifts, and more. Characters could roam around for photos with fans, and the park could be the East Coast hub for Trek conventions (like Vegas is currently).
Even though the Star Trek: The Experience shuttered in 2008, this was before the current renaissance of Trek. With the popularity of Discovery, Picard, and the future Strange New Worlds, Universal could get Star Trek cheap now and create a new fan experience which could help them complete with the Star Wars / Marvel “juggernaut” down the highway.