I always hoped that one day I would be able to see an actual costume from one of the many Superman movies. This week I was able to see five of them, all under one magnificent roof, and I haven’t stopped smiling since.
The exhibition was in Paris last year but I sadly could not go so when I found out that it was coming here I was overjoyed.
I travelled up to London early in the morning as I was honoured to be invited to the media day. I was like a child on Christmas morning. I didn’t get much sleep the night before as I was very eager to get there and was worried that I was going to sleep through all of my multiple alarms!
I got to the O2 and after all the stresses of travelling through London rush hour it dawned on me. I was about to see the costumes that I had fallen in love with over the years. I could feel that my heart was beating through my chest and I could have sworn it was beating in time with the John Williams’ Superman theme.
The entrance was through the gift shop and my eyes were saying “yes” and my wallet was saying “maybe”.
When you arrive at the entrance to the main event you are given an audio device which you can listen to as you walk around. It gave some great trivia about the props, costumes and artwork which was displayed on every wall. It was a nice touch and the exhibition feel more involving.
The time had come. I was going in. As I walked through the doors the helpful guide said “enjoy” and my voice cracked as I gave my thanks. I could see some art on the surrounding walls but my eyes were drawn towards the light. I peeked around a corner and there it was. The Christopher Reeve Superman costume from the 1978 movie displayed majestically behind a safe glass cabinet. The costume I had seen hundreds, if not thousands, of times before on my television, books, posters and merchandise was only a few feet away from me and as I approached it I could feel myself getting emotional.
I stood there for a while, studying the stitches, colours and the details of the suit. You could get very close and I was amazed at how well it had been looked after. After a few minutes of admiring this piece of cinematic history, I took out my phone to take some photos. I had to document this moment as much as I could to make sure that it wasn’t a dream.
The first 10-20 photos were very blurry as I was shaking so much but I eventually was able to take a few hundred good snaps… I love this following photo as I accidentally caught my face in the reflection of the display cabinet and instantly became my new wallpaper. Sorry, loved ones and family members. Each time I look at my phone now I will be reminded of the time I stood in front of the actual costume that helped me fall in love with my hero.
To the right of the cabinet was the Clark Kent costume from Superman II and to the left was Brandon Routh’s costume from Superman Returns. A film that had some controversial reviews but I feel is a beautiful story with some fantastic photography and a suit to match. I was happy that I could get up close to the boots and see the Superman emblem on the back of them.
I looked around the room and could see everyone else taking pictures of the art on the walls and giving their best superhero poses in front of the costumes and I could not believe that all this cinematic history was in one, magnificent room. I felt truly blessed.
After I had some time in that room and was able to have the honour of speaking briefly with the curator, Jean-Jacques Launier, I think I spent most of that time thanking him!
I walked into the next part of the exhibit. After seeing all those Superman costumes I would have been overjoyed if the next door I walked through was the exit to the gift shop but luckily for me it wasn’t.
I walked into the Man Of Steel section. Now my heart was beating to the Zimmer score!
Henry Cavill’s suit was glowing, actually glowing. The walls surrounding it were filled with concept art work for Henry’s costume and also all the other main characters. I adored the Krypton scenes in Man Of Steel so to see the concept art up close was a joy.
As I walked as slowly as I possibly could, making sure I didn’t miss a thing, I started to feel a little unwell. Was it too much excitement or the lack of oxygen from all the gasping I was doing? No. It was the giant lump of Kryptonite from Batman V Superman that I was standing in front of. The only comment I would have left in the suggestion box would be that they invested in some lead lined glass!
After studying the art in this room, and photographing everything in sight, I turned the next corner and came to face to face with a magnificent Henry Cavill statue which was wearing the costume from Batman V Superman. You could really tell the difference from the Man Of Steel version and you could get an idea of how heavy the suit must have been to wear.
I loved how the first few parts of the exhibition were devoted to Superman, my hero. I have always felt that if we didn’t have Superman then we wouldn’t have them at all, so to see my hero getting all of the spotlight on the way into the exhibit made me vey happy. They even had a section devoted to “Superman Lives”. I would have loved to have seen that movie get made so to see some of the original concept was a great surprise.
After the Superman exhibit ends you turn the corner into the Batman exhibit and it hits you hard. The lighting gets a little darker and you get to see costumes and props from the Batman T.V series, the Tim Burton movies, and Schumacher movies. Yes, those costumes.
Seeing all the costumes up close really gives you an idea of the amount of work that goes into a movie and seeing the original notes on the concept art allows you to see the process of how an initial idea becomes an actual costume.
Seeing Heath Ledger’s Joker suit, and the notes that were displayed with it, was very enlightening and one of my favourite pieces in the Batman section. Shortly after being amazed by it I was able to have a few words with Lindy Hemming, the charming and talented Academy Award winning costume designer for many movies including the Nolan Batman trilogy and more recently, Wonder Woman. We talked briefly about how I adored the blue dress from the gala scene and Lindy explained how that the sword didn’t really go all the way down her back, it was just a small section of it. That’s that answer cleared up, I can remember the internet going crazy about that particular scene!
I spoke with Lindy in the Wonder Woman section and seeing all the artwork from the comics, the Lynda Carter costumes and Gal Gadot’s costumes really made me appreciate just how lucky we have been over the years to see all these costumes on screen. To see them up close is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The final sections of the exhibition are dedicated to some of the worlds most famous comic artists and to get up close to their original work on the wall was amazing. To see the actual brush strokes and pencil lines was incredible and I’m really glad that artists from over the decades are getting the recognition they so rightly deserve.
For too long it was deemed that comic art wasn’t really art, an idea that I feel is ridiculous. Seeing glorious creations on the wall by the likes of Alex Ross, Jim Lee and the late, great Darwyn Cooke, made me feel honoured to be standing in front of it.
I won’t say too much more about the exhibition as some parts of it shocked me and filled me with awe when I saw them for the first time, I made a few trips around before leaving, and I don’t want to ruin that surprise for others. I can’t wait to bring people to the exhibition and watch their reactions when they see certain things for the first time.
If you are a lover of heroes, a D.C Comics fan ,a cinema history buff or even into fashion design, then I insist you visit this exhibition while it is here. I am sure that you will leave the exhibit feeling amazed by all the many items you will see.
I left feeling like I was on cloud nine and have asked if I can live inside the exhibition until it ends in September!
For more information and to book your tickets, visit the website here.