Refreshing Review: Sebastian Alvarado’s The Science of Marvel

{I received this book for the purpose of review. All geeky opinions expressed are my own. Enjoy!}

Is all that Avengers tech just fantasy or is it based in real science? Sebastian Alvarado makes a great case that it is based in real science indeed!

The Science of Marvel Photo credit: Dee Dean
The Science of Marvel Photo credit: Dee Dean

From the Publisher:

Science meets fantasy in this behind-the-scenes look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe—now you can experience the magic of the movies, and learn how to replicate it in real-life.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with extraordinary humans and abilities. There are teenaged geniuses swinging through the streets of New York, billionaires creating impenetrable armor in hidden caves, and aliens flying through wormholes to Earth. All of these characters seem to lie firmly in the realm of fantasy—but the technology behind them might not be as farfetched as you think…

The Science of Marvel pulls back the curtain and reveals the secrets behind Marvel movie magic, and shows us how to recreate these comic book wonders in our everyday life. Using quantum physics, a little bit of mechanical engineering, and some out-of-the-box thinking, you’ll be amazed to discover that it’s possible to create a real-life Captain America, Incredible Hulk, or Black Panther. The perfect gift or collectible for Marvel fans everywhere, The Science of Marvel brings beloved movies and characters to life-like never before.

Needless to say, as a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan (along with my family, as you can read in my bio) and a science nerd, my curiosity was PIQUED when I saw this book. Would it really match the science with the imagination that we enjoy on-screen?

Yes, it does!

Here are some of the things that caught my attention while reading The Science of Marvel:

It covers a LOT of the amazing things in the Marvel movies. There are 43 super powers/attributes that this book takes time to explore. 

There is a helpful glossary of Marvel terms in the back. This is great for the Marvel rookie as well as the veteran fan. And right after it is the Glossary of Science Terms, which helps to explain all the big science-y words as well (so helpful!)

This glossary of Marvel terms is very handy!  Photo credit: Dee Dean
This glossary of Marvel terms is very handy! Photo credit: Dee Dean

It is up-to-date as of 2019 for the MCU. The Science of Marvel includes things from all the movies up through Avengers: Infinity War. (It is great reading to prepare/inform you for Avengers: Endgame which just released this week.)

It uses clever alliteration for chapter titles. “Curious Critters” explores the critter characters of the MCU, such as Groot and Rocket, and “Fantastic Physics” gives insight about the science of shrinking into the quantum realm. 

The layout for each super power is same, making for easy reading. It gives an intro, followed by a very brief backstory. Then it gives the science of Marvel followed by the science of real life. Here is an example: 


WHEN: Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War WHO: Ronan the Accuser, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Thanos
SCIENCE CONCEPTS: Nuclear fission


What exactly is power and what happens when you lose control of it? If you consider your smartphone, you may think about the power a battery supplies to the circuits that allow you to use different apps…


The plot of Guardians of the Galaxy revolves around everyone getting their hands on the Orb that stores the Power Stone. The Power Stone is so strong that it can only be wielded by an individual of incredible strength…


If Thanos’s use of the Power Stone allows him to manipulate the nucleons of an element he can generate fission and fusion reactions. Fusion relies on the energies emitted when atoms fuse (as seen with hydrogen fusion in the core of the sun),…


Perhaps the most historically relevant example of nuclear energy was seen during World War II when atom bombs were used by Allied forces against Japan….

Excerpted from The Science of Marvel by Sebastian Alvarado. Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Sebastian Alvarado worked in the private biotech industry for four years before pursuing an academic career in graduate studies. He earned his PhD at McGill University where he learned about the molecular mechanisms that lend plasticity to biological systems. His research has given him an extensive background on environment-gene interactions and how they play important roles in the progression of cancer and chronic pain. Following his PhD, he received an A.P. Giannini postdoctoral fellowship to continue his research at Stanford University. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor at Queens College CUNY where he uses an African cichlid fish to understand molecular ecology, animal pigmentation, and behavioral neuroscience.

I am fascinated with how Mr. Alvarado extracts the real science and possibilities from what we see on the big screen. And he tackles intricate subjects in a way that I feel that anyone can get it and explain to someone else. Furthermore, this could be a fun way to get kids excited about science! 

The Science of marvel really is a great gift for any Marvel movie fan, including yourself 🙂 Just released April 9, it is now available at Amazon, Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound

What is your favorite Marvel movie? Who is your favorite Marvel character? I’d love for you to share in the comments below!

Science and Marvel go hand-in-hand,

Leave a Reply