By YEONSOO SONG
The fastest film in history to reach a worldwide gross of $1 billion, first superhero film to gross over $2 billion worldwide, and highest-grossing film of 2018. All of these fancy phrases describe Marvel Studios’ film, Avengers: Infinity War. Based on the Marvel Comics, Avengers: Infinity War is a movie with a team of superheroes geared up to fight against the villain, Thanos, who wants to wipe out half of the universe. It has been 10 years since the Marvel Cinematics Universe released its first movie Iron Man (2008). After its huge success in Iron Man, the Marvel fandom has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. Nowadays, any film from Marvel Studios guarantee box-office success. The success in the ticket sales led to the birth of Marvel merchandise, which has become incredibly popular.
Starting in April of 2018, Marvel pop-up stores opened for several months in Tokyo. As a huge Marvel fan, I could not resist but visit every single one of these Marvel Pop-up stores, where all products – starting from bags, t-shirts, notebooks, pencil cases, tumblers, wallets, etc – had Marvel logos in them.
Marvel Pop-up Store at Shibuya 109 | Photo by author
The first store I visited was in Shibuya 109, a shopping mall located in Shibuya. I could feel the popularity of Marvel in Japan, as the store was heavily crowded by Marvel fans. On the monitor in the corner of the store was the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. What surprised me was that there were many female customers as much as male customers, which proves that the ‘superhero’ genre is no longer a guy thing anymore. Most of the customers were men and women in their 20s, and there were a few children, imitating the trademark poses of some superheroes, and their parents watching them with a pleased smile. Products in Shibuya’s pop-up store included daily necessities such as tumblers, wallets, and pencil cases to albums, pillows, and stickers.
The next pop-up store was at Toy Sapiens, Harajuku. Though it was quite a walk from the Harajuku station, the store was full of Marvel fans. Unlike the store in Shibuya, this store was mainly for taking photographs and looking around the store rather than buying products. As soon as I entered the store, a statue of the ‘Hulkbuster’ character greeted me. Along with the Hulkbuster, all of the main characters in the film had their own statues with their trademark poses. I could see people’s eyes glittering, lining up to take a photo with their favorite characters. The adorable sizes of figures, dolls, and masks of the most popular characters were more than enough to grab the attention of Marvel fans.
The Spiderman statue from the Harajuku
Pop-up store | Photo by author
My last destination was a small pop-up store in a department store in Shinjuku. Unlike the other pop-up stores, this store did not have much people, probably because of its size and it being in a department store. Most of the items they were selling were towels and pillows, and were quite expensive compared to the previous two stores.
Marvel Pop-up Store in Shinjuku | Photo by author
I had a chance to interview two people who visited the stores with me. First, Danhui Yang is a PEAK ES student who calls herself a huge Marvel fan. Her reason of visiting was first because she loves Marvel movies so much and second, it was Infinity War season. She loved how there were variety of products in different stores and the fact that the products are renewed each week, encouraging her to visit every weekend. She also said that many of the fans could make theories about the upcoming Marvel movies based on the design of the figures.
Minji Kim, another PEAK ES student has said that it hasn’t been so long since she fell in love with Marvel, and that she doesn’t know a lot about it yet. At first, she was hesitant to visit these stores because she thought it would require a lot of knowledge about Marvel. However, she claimed that even the lesser fans had things to buy and take a look in the pop-up stores and was very satisfied with her visit.
As a huge Marvel fan, there are no other words to describe this experience in the pop-up stores besides the word, ‘Marvelous’. Meanwhile, Marvel Studios will be releasing another film this year from Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man and the Wasp for this July (initial release in the US) and Venom this October (initial release in Brazil). It truly is the era of Marvel.