The Just Us League have been visiting the Edinburgh Fringe for the past couple of years with their wacky (unofficial!) tribute act to the Marvel film franchise. Following an exceptionally busy year in the Marvel universe, their timing is hard to fault. Their new show at the Gilded Balloon, MARVELus: All the Marvel Movies…Kind Of is a rambunctious romp through exactly what it says on the tin.
Gary Tro and Javier Jarquin are a comedy double act with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel back catalogue. They open the show by asking nerds to raise their hands. This sweeps up about two thirds of the audience. The rest of the attendees must be nerd-sitters, they conclude. They segue into a series of Marvel-themed sketches, punctuated with some audience participation. They rate the show 12+ and certainly, there are a bunch of kids in the audience who take great pleasure in the pretty well-pitched humour.
It is a fairly low-fi show but this is potentially part of the charm. Tro and Javier are wearing sort-of jumpsuits that sort-of conjure up superhero sculpted sets of armour. Their few props – without spoiling any surprise – are used tactically to reinforce particular plot points. The script offers plenty of riffs on story lines, characters, a bit about the actors, some behind the scenes business and various what might have happened nexts.
Their Peter Parker sketch is nicely observed and Mysterio makes a mysterious appearance. Captain Marvel makes a few appearances – much to Scarlett Johansson‘s disgruntlement. There’s a bit of debate about the potentially tokenistic treatment of women in Endgame. And a lot of discussion about the beloved Tony Stark.
The audience participation is pretty primitive but dealing with such a mixed audience does make it tricky. The pace seemed a little lacklustre at times: the high-energy “nerdgasms” promised in the Fringe programme didn’t quite materialise. But there’s no doubt that this audience were having fun. If you know and love your Marvel, that may well be more than enough.