Saturday 9th of June.
This was it, this was the day I was going to shake hands with another Superman! Brandon Routh. As many of you know, it has been a personal challenge of mine to shake hands with as many people who have portrayed Superman as possible. It’s my way of saying thank you. Before this day my count was up to two. Dean Cain and Henry Cavill. I was excited to bring that count up to three.
I got up early to get ready for the big day. I wanted to give back to the Celebration and help out in any way possible so I decided to become an individual sponsor of the event. For $150 I was able to help fund the event but this also gave me some benefits. I got a goody bag which came with a lanyard, a T-shirt, and one guaranteed autograph item. I was in Group A and so I wanted to make sure I got there on time.
I used the ATM in the hotel lobby and looked to me left and there he was, Brandon Routh, just standing there! I was busy trying to figure out the machine and with the excitement of seeing him, I entered my pin incorrectly! By the time I fixed my mistake it was too late. He has jumped in the car and was driven to to where the celebrities were signing. I headed out of the cool air conditioned hotel and into the heat and picked up my pace!
I got to the building pretty quick and saw there was already a line. I was worried! I spoke to one of the Celebration members of staff who I later found out were all volunteers. They made the event run smoothly over the whole four days and were a credit to the town and Superman. I was told that I was to join the line and would be able to go in as soon as the stars were ready. The line began to move and I started to tremble.
I tried staying in the shaded and not to freak out! I knew what I wanted to get signed and I knew what I wanted to say. All I had to do was not trip up over my words or over my feet! While the line moved I talked with some fellow Super-Fans. One of the most magical things about the Superman Celebration is that everyone is there for the same reason and everyone was so nice to each-other and that reason is that they love Superman. Comic-Cons are great as you see a whole variety of fans but at the Superman Celebration everyone was there for one hero. My hero.
The line starting moving quicker and then I was welcomed inside to the cold embrace of air conditioning. It felt amazing! Then I saw him. Smiling away and patiently greeting every fan and family. The lines inside were well laid out so that there was constant moving traffic and nobody was huddled together. It was a relatively quiet area and with the fellow fans being so calm and collected, it meant that each interaction with Brandon was clear and personal. You were able to talk with him without having to shout.
Soon I began getting closer and closer. I was trying my best to play it cool, I was not succeeding! I had everything ready to save time. I had my item which I wanted to get signed for free, one item which I was going to pay for and I tried my hardest to make myself look presentable. It’s not every day you meet a Superman!
The item I wanted to get signed was a Metropolis license plate. If you are s member of Metropolis you can order these and place them on your car. Also, you can buy them after they have expired and add them to your collection. Money raised goes to the local Rotary Club and because I helped them sell some online I was gifted one the day before. It was a lovely gesture and knew that it would be an interesting item to get signed and then displayed.
My time had come! I was standing yards away from Brandon and I could see him smiling to every new face that came up to him. What I really admired was the fact that he brought his own Ma and Pa Kent with him. I could see them both looking proudly at their son and it was adorable. At one point Brandon’s mother came and fixed his hair, something that I could see Ma Kent doing to Superman.
I gave the people in charge my money ($80 for an autograph AND a selfie, BARGAIN!) and what I wanted to get signed on the plate and then I edged forward, gave my phone to another wonderful member of staff to take the photo and then approached him..
“Hello, Mr Routh, I’m a huge fan of yours and have travelled from England for the celebration…” I can’t really recall what happened after this as it was a blur of happiness and realisation. I can however remember flashes of excitement! I know that we talked about Superman Returns and about my blog. I gave him one of my cards and a pin and he told me how his son loves them. He carefully signed the sponsorship card that was on my lanyard and then he admired the license plate and signed it with great care.
After this magical moment it was time for me to take a photo with the Man Of Steel himself. I kept saying too myself “Luke, don’t forget to smile!”. Sometimes I have the natural ability to look awkward in photos and I didn’t want to ruin the moment with a cheesy grin! I decided that I wanted to have my photo taken while we are shaking hands. That way I had proof! Brandon stepped from away from his booth, we faced the camera and that was it. My time had come to an end. I shook his hand one more time, said thank you and then walked away. I was in so much shock that I forgot to collect my phone from the helpful staff member!
I stepped to the side to compose myself and looked at the license plate which he signed perfectly. It was then time to see if I had taken a good photo…I knew Brandon would be smiling perfectly as he is a professional, I am not! And then I saw it. A photo of myself and a Superman and I was shaking his hand and we were both smiling and boy did I look happy! My smile summed up my feelings about that interaction and will be reproduced each time I remember that moment. I am eternally grateful to the Superman Celebration and to Brandon for making that memory happen. I will cherish it forever.
After this wonderful morning I headed back to Market Street as I didn’t want to miss the panel. As well as getting some goodies for helping to sponsor the event, it also meant that I had a reserved seat at the panel. I made it back to the statue and got to my seat. I was calm and happy and cool. The panel was inside a tent but there were huge fans to keep the Super-fans cool.
Just as soon as I got comfortable Brandon walked onto the stage to a standing ovation and cheers and applause. I am not sure how long Brandon spoke for but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time! Each question was answered carefully and with charm. He spoke softy and clearly and it was as if Superman was being interviewed. Hopefully a video will be uploaded soon of his time there as I’d love to watch it back as his words really hit me hard. I would have filmed it myself but my hands would have been shaking too much!
After many questions were answered it was time for Brandon to leave to return back to the autograph room and meet more fans and sign many more items. Everyone stood to applaud the great man and the air was filled with cheers and shouts of thanks. What a fantastic experience to be surrounded by fans who were there to listen to him talk and enjoy his answers. It was one of many highlights of my trip.
After these incredible bucket list moments happened I left the celebration briefly to go back to my hotel to cool off, freshen up and make sure my sacred items were stored away safely. As I walked towards my hotel I saw a man on the other side of the road raise his hand and wave to me…”Hey, Luke!” he said as he crossed the road to greet me. As he got closer I had to pinch myself. It was Aaron Smolinski (Baby Kal-El in the 1978 Superman movie, the child by the photo-booth in Superman 3 and a solider in Man Of Steel) and he knew who I was… I was in shock! We had talked briefly online before I went to the celebration but to see him in the wild was a great surprise. We had a brief chat and had our photo taken and I shook his hand.
What a moment! The Superman Celebration is truly the gift that keeps on giving. After that magical day my Superman handshake count had increased to four and I’m ready to keep that number going!