Superman Returns DVD & Videogame Launch Party ReportBy Leo Partible
On Thursday, November 16, 2006, Warner Brothers hosted an impressive red carpet launch party in Los Angeles for the Superman Returns DVD and videogame. The event was held at Social Hollywood on Sunset Blvd. The celebrity crowd was a mix of Superman stars past and present and Hollywood up-and-comers including director Bryan Singer, Brandon Routh, Stephen Bender (young Clark Kent), Eva Marie Saint (Martha Kent), 1950s Lois Lane Noel Neill, The New Adventures of Superboy star Gerard Christopher, and a trio of Jimmy Olsens: Jack Larson, Marc McClure and Smallville's Aaron Ashmore (twin brother of Shawn Ashmore, a.k.a. Iceman in the "other" Bryan Singer superhero franchise). Also invited were actress Natasha Henstridge, Tracy Bingham (Baywatch), Adrianne Palicki (NBC's Friday Night Lights), B.J. Novack (The Office), Katie Lohmann (Reno 911), Ugly Betty producer Ben Silverman, former Los Angeles Laker Michael Cooper, and Playboy model Yvette Lopez.
The event had all the electricity and excitement of a Westwood movie premiere as celebrities strutted and posed for newshounds (from old and new media) on a red carpet against a backdrop lined with declamatory Superman logos.
I entered a large open room with my wife Lori and it was as if we stepped into the interior of Superman's Fortress of Solitude, complete with crystal stalagmites, various videogame stations, a tattoo booth and carnival prize booths, all strategically placed and designed to mimic the décor of the actual fortress. It was so convincing that I half-expected Marlon Brando's face to project somewhere in the room. There was even an area where people stood and watched high above at any given time either a male or female acrobat performing beautiful aerial acrobatics. If this was paean to a long dead civilization it certainly felt like Krypton was alive once more due to the plethora of fun activities and the infectious enthusiasm of the partygoers.
Standing proudly and heroically in the near front-center of the room was a display of Brandon Routh's Superman costume. It was actually more magnificent and iconic in real life. I stared awe-struck as if I was standing for the first time in the presence of the Holy Grail. (Or for some people right now, the PS3) I was impressed by the remarkable detail and craftsmanship that went in the making of the costume. Even the red boots were comprised of hundreds (thousands?) of tiny raised Superman shields! I did a mental comparison with the Christopher Reeve costume I saw a few years ago at the Warner Brothers studio museum and I have to admit, while Reeve proudly wore his outfit without the shame expected of a grown man prancing publicly in his blue leotards, Routh's suit made the 70s version look like a cheap Halloween knock-off.
At the far end of the room was a bar (literally made of ice!) sculpted like a crystal console with a large Superman shield centered in the front. I ordered a couple of waters from the bartender and he handed me two nifty glass-shaped batons filled with Voss water. Lori noticed a few folks carrying drinks with a really neat (okay, who says that word anymore besides a certain mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper?) ice cube that glowed green like a kryptonite rock within the liquid. That instantly became a must-have item in the Partible household so I asked the bartender for a couple of the green glowing thingees and he gave me his last two. And to the left of the ice bar was a digital imaging station where Lori and I stopped to get our picture taken against a green screen that was then inserted and combined into a photo of Superman standing in his Fortress of Solitude.
The DJ played a great mix of music, thankfully opting not to endear the crowd with an annoying display of hipness by spinning electronica or hip-hop, but rather a crowd pleasing mix of 80s dance pop with a smattering of late 70s disco. (I especially loved the remix of Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback" with Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean.")
We wandered further into the various rooms to check out the (as far I can tell) newly remodeled Social Hollywood. I remembered the place not too long ago as the Hollywood Athletic Club, or the Pool, when I attended a few other premiere parties in past years.
Along the way we passed by or waited behind a few celebrities participating in the fun and games. We stood in line behind Natasha Hentstridge as she and her husband each held their two sons while waiting a turn to grab the special "S" marked dollar bill in the floating money booth and win Superman merchandise. (I saw people clutching Superman games, large size Superman action figures, and I even saw a few inflatable Superman suits which, unfortunately, they ran out of by the time I tried for a chance to win. But not for me. My nephew. Really.) We passed Aaron Ashmore as he chatted away with his buddies. A smiling Stephen Bender made his way though the room with his beautiful blonde girlfriend. (Aaron and Stephen are actually taller than they look on screen!) Katie Lohman, appropriately dressed in a blue Superman ski cap and a Supergirl baseball shirt, sat at a table sharing a few laughs with a group of friends. And it was great to see Bryan Singer walking around wide-eyed and enthusiastic as various people stopped to congratulate him.
Within the other rooms were various displays featuring costumes from the film: Luthor's parka from the Fortress of Solitude sequence seen in the beginning of the film, Lois Lane's "Art Deco"-inspired dinner dress, and the nerdy tweed outfit Brandon Routh wore as Clark Kent when he walked into the Daily Planet for the first time after a long absence. (Okay, I know for sure Brandon is tall, close to 6'4, but the outfit displayed seemed like it was tailored for someone shorter, around Michael Keaton's height!) In another room, my wife patiently waited for me while I played the Superman Returns videogame on the Xbox 360. And thankfully the game is, well, just super! There was a little concern earlier this year that the game wasn't going to deliver the goods when it was delayed but I really feel that the wait was justified. And with the addition of some of the more powerful super-villains in Superman's Rogues gallery such as Mongul, Metallo, and the Parasite, Superman fans will get an exciting glimpse of what could be possible storylines in future Superman films starring Brandon Routh. (Earlier in the night Brandon actually mentioned in an interview that Brainiac was a possible villain in the sequel, to which I say quoting an infamous, chrome-domed wannabe ruler of Australia, "Bring it on!")
There was another room where a large screen hi-def television played the gorgeous footage from Superman Returns on the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats.
Near the end of the night promo clips were shown on the screens: The crowd cheered the Superman Returns DVD trailer, followed by a hilarious clip featuring the "Lex Returns" to takeover the internet ad-clip, and finally local LA newscaster Sam Rubin pitched the Superman Returns win-a-million-bucks campaign.
This has to be the most exciting time for me as a Superman fan. If winning Spike TV's Scream Award for Best Superhero (beating out Batman and Wolverine) doesn't prove Superman's enduring popularity, then even more convincing is the fact that no other super-hero can boast of simultaneously appearing in a successful feature film, a popular long running live-action TV series (Smallville on the CW), a popular cartoon series (Legion of Superheroes), a DVD release of a restored alternate version of a previous film incarnation (Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut), and continued spectacular DVD sales of his previous animated and television series (Justice League Unlimited, Superman the Animated Series, Super Friends, Lois & Clark, the Adventures of Superboy, and Smallville).
Leo Partible is an author, filmmaker, and comic book creator among other things. You can also find his writing on his blog at www.infuzemag.com and www.hollywoodjesus.com. His brother Van created the popular Cartoon Network animated series Johnny Bravo.