It’s not easy to lose to your little brother in front of a crowd of thousands.

But that’s just what Justin Jackson of Hopkins will do Thursday through Sunday at Target Center, when he and his sibling, Antonio Jackson, take the stage as the villain Loki and superhero Iron Man, respectively, in “Marvel Universe Live!”

“My brother’s getting all the applause,” said Justin.

A dozen Marvel Comics heroes — including Spider-Man and the Avengers — battle for the Cosmic Cube against a squad of 12 supervillains in an arena-sized show that involves flying, motorcycle tricks, car stunts and plenty of pyrotechnics.

The Jackson brothers don’t fight one on one, however.

“Unfortunately, I can’t punch him,” said Antonio, 29.

“I usually won the fights growing up,” said Justin, 31.

The two have toured the nation with the show. But neither Antonio, who has visited about 70 cities as Iron Man in his two years with the show, nor Justin, who became Loki a year ago, has performed in their hometown before.

They expect about 20 family members and friends to be in attendance among the throngs of comic book fans.

While the two grew up in the Twin Cities suburbs, they moved to Orlando in 2005 and took different career paths that oddly led them both into supersuits.

“I’d call myself a professional mover,” Antonio said.

He has worked on stilts at SeaWorld; done faux sword fighting at Universal Studios, and in 2013 shared a stage with Taylor Swift at the Grammy Awards — walking on stilts.

“Parkour, motorcycle stunts, car stunts, acrobatic stunts, stilts,” he said. “You’ve just got to enjoy whatever the art is.”

Justin’s previous work, by contrast, had less to do with choreographed movement and more to do with acting in plays.

Still, when the role of Loki became available, he jumped at the chance to work with his brother, driving from Orlando to Atlanta to compete with more than 35 others in a six-hour audition to play the Norse mythological villain who is Thor’s brother.

“I sold everything and said, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna do this,’ ” he said.

So this weekend the Jackson brothers will battle each other for hometown supremacy. Although Iron Man will undoubtedly win, Loki may — for the first time — get some applause.


Barry Lytton is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.