Ever wonder how Star-Lord would spend a night out in Atlanta? Well, we’ve got the answer after chatting with Isaac Spooner of Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes, which brought superheroes to Atlanta in early 2019.
Read on for (often hilarious) behind the scenes stories, tips for comic book fans visiting the city and more.
What is Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes?
It’s this huge, comic book themed, just thrill ride that’s so much fun to watch. We’ve got just numerous fights, about 20 heroes and Marvel villains that are all beating each other up; we’ve got motorcycle stunts; pyrotechnics; we’ve even got some circus acts in there—fire-juggling, silk acts, that kind of thing. Basically, whatever you’re into in terms of live entertainment we’ve probably got it.
Tell me about playing Star-Lord.
Star-Lord is a ton of fun man. He is really kind of down to earth. Because, he’s a hero, make no mistake, but he’s not really, super, you know? He’s just a dude. A dude flying around in his spaceship trying to make money with his friends however they can do it. They’re stealing stuff sometimes, they’re beating up bad guys other times. So, it’s so much fun to play because he’s so human. For lack of a better word.
The Guardians have some of the most fun in terms of character interaction, because it’s just such an odd group of people…It’s really just a bunch of friends being themselves. In terms of casting, they’ve done a really good job. We were all pretty close to our characters to begin with.
Did you know, going in, that’s the character you wanted to play, or were you open to it?
I was open to it sure, I had no idea. This was an entirely new Marvel show. Feld puts on a bunch of different shows and they go through different iterations, different versions....And I knew, kind of, I knew who was in the first Marvel show. They had some characters that we don’t have anymore. But now Marvel two has characters that Marvel one didn’t have, mainly the Guardians. And so, it was a little bit up in the air. I figured the big names would be there, Captain America, Iron Man, those guys. But I didn’t really have a concept of who I wanted to play, and then they threw me in rocket boots and a red leather jacket and I’m like 'this is me, this is me now.' This is me now mom, this is not a phase.
Yeah, so it’s fantastic, I love my castmates to death. I wouldn’t choose anybody else to be the Guardians out there with me.
After you got the part, what was it like preparing to spend so much time on the road?
That’s an interesting question because I’d never toured before. This is my first touring gig. I asked some questions of people who were with Marvel one and who had done the thing for three-four years. And I just kinda winged it. Being on the road and doing things like finding a gym and eating healthy can be kinda tricky.
I decided this year, for the second year of the tour, to bring my own car with me and that has actually opened up a lot more options and is ironically saving me money because I’m not Ubering everywhere. I can find my own gym, grocery stores that carry the kind of healthy stuff that I like to eat. Touring is definitely an acquired taste, but for people who are young and active like us, everybody, as far as I can tell, is really, really into it...So, there are difficulties but there are ways around them and at this point we’re all seasoned road veterans. We know what we’re doing.
Do you have a favorite memory?
It’s really difficult because there’s so freakin' many of them. Uhm, [laughs], last year was interesting. Live shows mean having to stay on your toes, anything can happen. Somebody can twist an ankle and somebody else has to finish up their track for the show, you know, that kind of thing. The lights could go out, the soundtrack could die, the building could catch on fire…
[laughs] That hasn’t happened! But for lack of a better word it’s live theater, so you’ve got to stay on your toes.
I was the victim of an unfortunate accident, back in February, I clashed heads with another castmate and split my eyebrow wide open backstage in the dressing room. So, we are literally in the middle of a show, we were finishing up a six pack of shows. I wasn’t in Star-Lord, my understudy was in Star-Lord and I was in his track. I clashed heads with somebody else, my eyebrow just starts gushing blood and I have no idea what to do; so I just quickly go to the nearest sink and tell the guy who I clashed heads with—who got out of it much easier, like he just had a little bump on his forehead, like what!? I'm wondering what karmic thing have I done—[to get the] athletic trainer.
They find me and mop me up and the athletic trainer is like ‘you’ve got to go to the hospital because that’s not closing on its own.’ And I’m like ‘Ahh. Crap.’ So halfway through the show I have to put my street clothes back on, and I end up walking to the Brooklyn hospital and they put seven stitches in my face. I don’t know if that qualifies as a favorite memory but it definitely was interesting.
Yeah definitely. Well that’s terrible but it’s a great story. I wonder how the hospital felt about having a superhero there to fix up?
[laughs] They were a little extra worried at the beginning because I had war paint on my face because I was playing one of the Ravagers for that show. I decided to go with red that day, so it just looked like more blood than was actually there. And they freaked out when they first saw me but then they realized like ‘that, that’s not…oh that’s makeup, oh there’s the actual blood, okay, that’s not too bad.’
What character do you hang out with most behind the scenes? Would fans be surprised to find the Star-Lord eating a meal alongside a villain?
My best friend in terms of the cast is Hulk. And I feel like that’s kind of an odd couple, Star-Lord and Hulk. He and I were driving on tour together for the first couple of months of this tour and then he grabbed his car once we hit Ohio. I love that dude, he is so awesome. His name is Josh and we just kinda get each other. At this point we’ve been mistaken for brothers at least once. Oh, no, we’re starting to look like each other now. So, he’s one of my best friends. I hang out with Drax and Groot a lot, and I am pretty friendly with crew too.
You’re in Atlanta when you’re not on tour from what I understand?
Yeah, Atlanta has become sort of a second home for me. I lived in Savannah [Georgia] for a while and all my friends were in Atlanta, so, when I would get a break from grad school I would go up and whoever had a couch free I was with them. It’s very much a second home for me.
What brought you to this area?
I went to grad school at a place called Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. So that’s how I ended up in the Southeast. I got into grad school for acting, I was trying to get my masters and right before I finished up I got the audition for the Marvel show and was like, well, I don’t really feel like writing a thesis, I’m going to go play a superhero for a living.
The summer before grad school, I made a very good friend who lived in Atlanta—her parents still live there—and we made it a tradition to meet up in Atlanta as often as we could. And more friends kept moving there...A couple of the people that were on the show last year are Atlanta natives as well, and they’re all good friends of mine. So, I ended up heading that way and so did a huge load of my peers at the same time.
Tell me about where you auditioned.
I did my prep where I was, and I knew where the audition was going to take place. I scoped it out and it was like an aerialist gym. It’s called The Space, in Atlanta, for anybody who knows that. It’s a really nice facility. And they mostly cater to aerialist acts, silk, lyra, straps and stuff like that. A little bit of dance, but occasionally they have one rigger who will come in and set up scaffolding and pads and people can come in and practice stunt falls.
Can locals go there when people aren’t auditioning?
Oh yeah, they offer classes, they offer kind of off the beaten path things. You have to know about these things before you go into them. Like I said, they do the occasional stunt fall thing; they do a lot of circus and dancey things. I took a class there with [a friend] one time. That was an acroyoga class, I don't know if you know about that, all that weight sharing stuff. It’s really cool if you can pull it off, I was having a little bit of trouble with it, I’ll be honest.
Do you have anywhere you have to go when you’re back in town?
There’s this one restaurant. It’s this little place called the Steamhouse Lounge. One of my friends was actually a waiter there for a while. We went there on a whim, just like 'ehh, it’s close we can walk there.' Just great food, excellent food. Occasionally they’ll have oysters; they had excellent fried pickles the first time we went there. I love that place and you can sit outside if it’s not too hot. Yeah and it was kinda funny, we went there once or twice and then my friend was like ‘hey! I got a job waiting at that place.’
Is there somewhere special you’d recommend comic book fans check out while in Atlanta?
Oh, I bought a good number of comic books from a place in [north] Atlanta [Oxford Comics & Games]. I found it on the way to the gym...It’s a real small place, just one floor...I bought a bunch more Guardian comics because I was trying to keep up. They were doing weird crossovers, like they’re rescuing the X-Men from something. I was like I gotta see what this is about.
So, they have all the different new and old comics, I assume, at that spot?
Yeah, for such a small building it’s packed in there. Looks like a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”-style library.
Where would Star-Lord go on a night out in Atlanta?
There are a couple places I want to go for my first time back in a while. I know there’s an axe throwing joint around there, [Bad Axe Throwing], so I’m definitely going to check that out.
I’ll give you kind of an offbeat answer, because some of the best times I’ve spent in Atlanta is when Dragon Con is in town. That’s so much fun, even if you’re not dressed up, to just get a pass, hang out with a couple friends and just walk around downtown Atlanta...Check out what everybody’s selling, see everybody’s costumes, I’ve got a bunch of friends that make it a point to come down to Atlanta every September for Dragon Con.
Is there anything else you can think of that you’d want to tell our readers?
Probably not the place to plug my Instagram [laughs]. I did remember one thing to check out in Atlanta: The Shakespeare Tavern. I can never remember how their seasons work, or when they’re doing stuff, but if they are doing something it’s always worth checking out for anybody going to Atlanta.
So, for your ideal night out, you’d go to one of those shows and then maybe go throw some axes?
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s the funny thing, I could probably go to The Shakespeare Tavern, see one of my friends that’s a cast member for one of their shows and then we would go straight [to Bad Axe Throwing] from the Tavern. Because that’s the kind of people I hang out with.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Updated post-Atlanta shows.