Pop Culture

Ashley Olivier: Bringing the Wasp to Life in Marvel Universe Live

The Wasp in Marvel Universe Live
The Wasp in Marvel Universe Live Photos provided by Feld Entertainment
Right now Marvel fans are in in the long, dark time period between installments of Infinity War and the culmination of the massive story began way back in 2008 with Iron Man. If you can’t wait until next year to get your mega-crossover event action fix, then Marvel Universe Live is an excellent substitution.

The stunt show is a, well, marvel, drawing heroes and villains from across the various properties to do battle right before your eyes. There are a plethora of things to look forward two including martial arts demonstrations, motorcycle stunts and high-aerial acrobatics.

That latter bit brings us to Ashley Olivier, who grew up in Houston and Lufkin and now finds herself touring the country as Hope van Dyne aka The Wasp. The acrobat has been performing since she was 19, and trained in circus skills like aerial silks and the hoop. Marvel Universe Live has her learning a whole new set of skills as fights crime in her hero guise.

“Basically you wrap your hands and body around them when you fly so that you can take off and land more quickly,” says Olivier. “It really creates the illusion the Wasp is really flying.These are costumes are beautifully made, but it does make things a little bit more restricting. Mine is a little bit tight, so it’s difficult, but they train us real well. Plus, it keeps up our cardio.”

Olivier is a long-time comic fan herself. The Wasp is her favorite hero, so it’s a great honor for her to don the suit and fight crime. To prepare for the role she dove mostly into the recent series The Unstoppable Wasp. Written by Jeremy Whitley – whose series Princeless should definitely also be on any comic fan’s list – the book follows Nadia Pym, the long-lost daughter of Hank and Maria Pym, who inherits her father’s genius and reverse-engineers his shrinking technology.

“It’s aimed at young girls and I highly recommend picking it up,” says Olivier.

The show is intense and hard on the body of the performers, but Olivier has been preparing for such a career her whole life. She remembers being little and terrifying her mother by jumping off her nine-foot swing set, setting the stage for her future in stunts. The program is brutal, but with proper training, technique and equipment it can be executed safely.

With all the acrobatics Olivier has basically Dick Grayson’s (Robin) origin minus the tragic backstory. It made me wonder if being in a show like Marvel Universe Live would ever give her the skills to fight crime.

“I think [I could fight crime],”she says, laughing. “We don’t actually strike people. The difference between stage combat and regular martial arts is simply the point of contact. In our forms we just shift over a little bit and don’t actually make that contact. To move over just a little bit with the same technique? Yes, you probably would be able to fight bad guys. “

Marvel Universe Live runs from July 12 to July 22 at NRG Stadium (NRG Parkway). For more information, visit MarvelUniverseLive.com. $25 - $205.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner