ANAHEIM, Calif. — If I live a fortunate life, I never will see a superhero.
Don't get me wrong — I enjoy watching Spider-Man, Batman, or the Avengers just as much as many fans. But think about when those guys (and gals, thanks Wonder Woman!) show up someplace. It ain't when everything's all sunshine and happiness. When the superheroes arrive, you know it's a paws-up, oh-my-God, run-for-your-life, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Like draining your checking account at a casino ATM, eating instant ramen noodles on a daily basis, or realizing that the social media app you use most often is Tinder, watching a superhero actually show up in front you would be a sign that your life ain't turning out the way you should have hoped. You've become one of those poor fools whose greatest moment in life was when they got a call to come on the Dr. Phil show. Something, somewhere, has gone horribly wrong.
So why do we love superheroes? Maybe it's the "call of the void," or maybe the daredevil's creed that we feel life only when we risk its loss. A superhero tale allows us to bundle all our fears and insecurities and then project them onto the screen or page — where a superhero can rescue us from them. It's our secular faith in a savior who will protect us from our sins, as well as those who sin against us.
Such as intergalactic jackass Tanleer Tivan.
According to Walt Disney Imagineering's Joe Rohde, the creative director on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, Tivan, aka "The Collector," decided that he wanted to show off his latest acquisition — the Guardians of the Galaxy — by bringing them to a high-profile, well-visited location on Earth... which just happened to be Disney California Adventure.
In my head canon, Tivan decided to plop his museum on top of the Hollywood Tower Hotel because he's a giant turdbucket who enjoys making people mad. Let's call that one "Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Accomplished."
But the Hollywood Tower's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is gone now and no amount of online wailing will return it to the park. So how should we judge its replacement?
While Disney has decorated the tower with pipes and conduits that draw power from the alien world of Knowhere, the actual structure of the building, its queue and ride system has changed little from its Twilight Zone incarnation. That's the main reason why Disney was able to convert the attraction to its new theme in less than six months. With its now-garish detail and golden statue of Tivan himself at the entrance, the Tivan Collection — as the tower is now known — sticks out horribly in the formerly coherent Hollywood Land of the park.
As it was designed. The Guardians ride is a literal disruption of Disney California Adventure — the first step toward the establishment of a Marvel-themed land that will transform the eastern side of the theme park. The superheroes are here, kids. Stuff's about to get real. Not everything you love will survive. That's what happens in a superhero tale.
Let's follow Rohde as he sets up the backstory, then leads us through the queue and into the preshow room.
In the preshow, Mission Breakout flips the script on our superhero tale. This time, it's the superheroes who need saving and we are the ones who must come to their rescue. Sure, we don't have to do much — just put up our hands so that the escaped Rocket Raccoon can get security clearance in the tower to reenter and wreak havoc. (And if you don't do it, the ride will proceed as if you did — just like the "don't look into the eyes of Mara" bit on Indiana Jones Adventure. We're just going to assume that someone in the crowd did what the script demands.)
Once in the elevator, Mission Breakout does its best to make you forget all about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. To start, unlike the old version, Mission Breakout provides an answer why this elevator has seats. (We are guest being taken by gantry to view the Guardians, who are being kept at the top of the tower.) And Mission Breakout wastes no time in getting to the action. We raise our hands, Rocket pulls the power that contains his friends in their cells, he plugs in Star Lord's Walkman instead, and we blast away. There's no slow build as we climb up the tower. The ride starts with a blast upward and barely pauses along the way.
Mission Breakout features six randomly selected ride profiles, each with a different rock song accompaniment and screen vignettes of the Guardians battling their way out of the tower. Disney brought Guardians stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Benicio Del Toro to reprise their roles for the ride, and they command every moment on screen here just as effectively as they did in theaters. Director James Gunn participated in every step of the attraction's production, Rohde said, creating a seamless integration for the ride into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Rohde joined Brian Crosby from Marvel Themed Entertainment and Vice President of Character Integration for Marvel Studios Dave Bushore after a media preview last week to talk about the development of the attraction.
With the six ride profiles, fans will want to circle around and reenter the queue to sample the rest — seeing what other props and Easter eggs from the MCU they can find in Tivan's collection along the way. Back to my head canon again: I'll just assume that the ride is caught in one of those time loops we discovered in the MCU's Doctor Strange, where the Guardians here are forever escaping, returning to their cells, then escaping again.
That way, the Guardians can remain perpetually on their mission... until the next time Disney decides to change this park.Tweet
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