The stars of the Spider-Man musical - the most expensive show to be staged on Broadway - were left dangling in mid-air in its first preview performance.
Lead Reeve Carney and actress Natalie Mendoza were suspended at different times over the crowd as flying stunts went wrong, audience members said.
The New York Times said the $65m (£41.8m) show was stopped five times and ran for more than three hours.
The music for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is by U2's Bono and The Edge.
The New York Times said the audience was reduced to laughter after Carney was left dangling yards above them while backstage staff tried to grab his foot to pull him down.
But the paper said most of the stunts "went off without a hitch, with children and some adults squealing in delight".
The New York Post, meanwhile, called it an "epic flop", saying the show's "hi-tech gadgetry went completely awry amid a dull score and baffling script".
Producers were not available for comment.
Director Julie Taymor, who won Tony Awards for her work on The Lion King, has said the cost of the show - billed as "a thrilling experience in ways never before dreamed possible in live theatre" - is due to the complexities of more than 20 flying sequences.
Taymor, as well as Bono and The Edge, have previously said they expected technical problems in early performances.
In an interview with CBS broadcast on Sunday night, Taymor admitted she was "scared".
"If you don't have fear, then you are not taking a chance," she said.
The show has been several years in the making and has been beset by delays, injuries and financial difficulties.