Elkhorn man dons Captain America's shield, suit for explosive tour
ELKHORN—Phil Smage is no stranger to high-octane stunts.
He does motorcycle tricks.
He's a nine-year professional snowskater—a sport similar to snowboarding, but without the rider being strapped to the board.
He's won X-Games medals and holds Guinness world records.
Now, he's Captain America in Marvel Universe Live, a two-hour, live-action show touring the United States for the next two years.
“MUL (Marvel Universe Live) is a non-stop, action-packed stunt show with a plot,” Smage said. “It's pretty much like the Avengers movie in real life.”
He auditioned for the role of Captain America in Indianapolis while touring with Nuclear Cowboyz, a freestyle motocross show. He got the part and in July began touring the nation as everybody's favorite patriotic hero.
The 29-year-old Elkhorn man's motocross talent won him the role. During the show, performers dressed as super heroes do a wide array of stunts involving things such as suspended wire “flying” and pyrotechnics, but the bike tricks portion is where Smage lends his talents.
“It's pretty crazy stuff,” he said. “I jump my bike up a straight-up, 19-foot wall. I jump over flaming barrels as well as drop 21 feet out of the rafters … with zero room for error.”
Fortunately, having ridden for more than 17 years, Smage has a lot of experience as a motocross professional. He and his brother Pat, as a part of the Smage Brothers Riding Show, even made it onto Season 6 of “America's Got Talent” for their motocross stunts.
“It was a wild ride,” he said. “We made it all the way to the top 10—a lot farther than we expected!”
Smage spends about half of Marvel Universe Live riding a motorcycle. During the other half, he's acting. He has choreographed fights, too.
“Captain America has a very extensive acting role that he's made his own,” Smage's fiancee, Sarah Whitmore, said. “It's awesome to watch him become someone else on stage.”
Smage and Whitmore crossed paths through motocross. Whitmore plays Madam Hydra for Marvel Universe Live.
“Madam Hydra is also a rider in the show, but she is a villain, so I get to fight against Phil every day,” she said. “It's fun!”
Smage's role as Captain America means he has tons of young fans. Lucky for them, he's wonderful with kids, Whitmore said.
“Even if he is having a bad day, a positive word from a fan can cheer him right up,” she said. “Kids need a positive role model these days, and he is an excellent one. I know he's mine.”
After his time with Marvel Universe Live ends, Smage wants to continue performing in Smage Brothers Riding Shows. He and Whitmore hope to tour the country in a riding/motivational speaking show aimed at educating the nation's youth.
“I'm not sure whose idea it was, but we both felt we have something special and are able to bring a positive message to young kids using our motorcycles as a tool,” Whitmore said.
Smage hopes to one day get his foot in the door of major motion picture stunt work.
“I am very proud of everything Phil has accomplished and what he is bound to do in the future, but his accomplishments don't define him,” Whitmore said. “He has a wonderful view on life, and we are 100 percent supportive of each others' dreams and goals.”