Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: June 10th and 11th, my wife Anne and I attended the 38th annual Superman Celebration in the city of Metropolis, Illinois. In Part One you met two of the headliners, Mehcad Brooks and Twilight’s Peter Facinelli from TV’s Supergirl. Brooks was one of three actors on hand who’s played Jimmy Olsen to someone else’s Kryptonian hero. Pictured above: Marc McClure, costar of the four Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve; and Michael Landes, costar of the first season of the ’90s series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. My wife likes to describe the weekend as a veritable “Jimmypalooza”.
Actors weren’t the only guests around. We also had the pleasure of meeting director Jon Schnepps and producer Holly Payne, the minds behind the recent documentary The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?, the astonishing true story of that time Nicolas Cage, director Tim Burton, and writer Kevin Smith tried and failed to make a, uh, truly unique Superman film together. I’ve been wanting to see this for months even though I’m afraid to see it for myself.
Over in Artists Alley I had the chance to meet a pair of talented comics pros: Rick Burchett, one of the longtime contributors to DC’s Batman: The Animated Series comics and, more recently, their Brave & the Bold kids’ series, of which he brought several trades for sale; and Jon Bogdanove, co-creator of John Henry Irons, a.k.a. Steel (the one brought to life by Shaquille O’Neal in the eponymous film). Before his long run on Superman: The Man of Steel, I was a big fan of his work on Marvel’s Power Pack, which he penciled and sometimes wrote for over two years at just the right moment for teenage me.
Also in Artists Alley was freelance writer Brian K. Morris, whom we first met at Gen Con and last saw at C2E2. He was on hand to sell lots of nifty reading matter and fill in gaps in my comics history knowledge. (I thought my subscription to Comics Buyer’s Guide had covered all the bases for me back in the day, but apparently not.) On Saturday we had the pleasure of watching him host a special presentation on the comics history of Superman and Batman, with a little help from some friends.
Another local business, the Americana Hollywood Museum, brought in a classic-TV guest of their own for the occasion: Butch Patrick, the original Eddie Munster from The Munsters. He had his own tent on the north end of the main straightaway with a pair of most unusual exhibit pieces we’ll feature in another chapter. (Part Four or Five, maybe. We just got home this afternoon and I don’t have a fixed outline for this miniseries. Coming soon!)
The two Jimmy Olsens joined forces at the Superman statue shortly before 1:30 and gave the crowd a double dose of Superman’s pal.
After our moment at the statue, Our Heroes adjourned to the main tent for an extended Q&A. Tidbits:
* McClure was in the first and third Back to the Future movies, but deleted from the second because test audiences thought it weird that Marty McFly’s brother was around but his sister wasn’t. (Wendie Jo Sperber was unavailable due to childbirth.) McClure had to pause quite a bit whenever questions were asked about Christopher Reeve. On the lighter side, he dislikes Henry Cavill’s Super-suit, likening its scaly design to something “like Aquaman or Lizard-Man.” He officially retired from acting at age 55 (he’s now 59) but has a small part — hopefully a recurring role — in the upcoming NBC/DC Comics sitcom Powerless, which he’s doing literally for the health insurance.
* Landes has a part in an upcoming Matthew McConaughey vehicle called Gold, but laments that actors with fourth, fifth, or lower billing in movies don’t get paid nearly as much as they used to, so any non-A-list actors not lucky enough to score TV gigs find themselves more and more having to “sing for my supper”, so to speak. He’ll next be seen this summer on the UK channel Sky 1 starring in an eight-episode action-adventure series called Hooten & the Lady (he’s the Hooten), alongside the likes of Dr. Quinn‘s Jane Russell and Jonathan Bailey, the meddlesome reporter nephew from Broadchurch.
Not long after the Q&A came the meet-‘n’-greet with Michael Landes. At first I tried to think of something to say about Final Destination 2 besides raving about the opening car-crash stunt spectacular, but deferred to Anne’s kindnesses instead.
McClure arrived in Metropolis the day before, so he was the first actor we met this weekend. Anne is a lifelong fan of Superman: The Movie and watched it so many times on videodisc (go look it up, children) that she memorized every single line and used to be able to perform all 2½ hours of it as a one-woman show.
And these weren’t all the colorful characters we saw at this year’s Superman Celebration. To be continued in Part Three’s epic-length cosplay photo gallery!