'Superman' stars unite for Motor City Comic Con

Erica Hobbs
Special to The Detroit News

Old school Superman fans are in for a treat for this year’s Motor City Comic Con this weekend. The pop culture convention will host “The Christopher Reeve Legacy Reunion,” the first of its kind that features stars from all four “Superman” films in the late 1970s and '80s. 

Other highlights of the weekend include celebrity panels with William Shatner, Alicia Silverstone, Cary Elwes, Freddie Prinze Jr., Krysten Ritter and Taryn Manning, as well as a “Scream” trio with Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard and Jamie Kennedy. The convention will also include a cosplay contest, a comic sketch duel, a panel on paranormal activity, karaoke, a variety show and a Kids Den with storytelling, crafts and more. 

Christopher Reeve and Mariel Hemingway star in "Superman."

“The theme of this year is attendee appreciation for our fans,” said Motor City Comic Con Exeuctive Director Liz Allen. “We’re trying our best to give back to them, adding more things that the cost of the ticket includes.”

Some of those add-ons include the Kubert School Portfolio Review, where aspiring comic book artists can receive free, professional critiques, as well as a cosplay headquarters with photo backgrounds and costume repair kits. 

The event will also have a quiet, dim room for overstimulated guests to relax, especially those who are neurodivergent, and a mental health room next door that teaches coping techniques for those who are stressed. 

“I would hear stories of attendees, where this is the only time they come out of their homes due to social disorder, or this is something they look forward to all year-around,” Allen said. “This is giving them a sense of community, which is so important to me and our company.”

“The Christopher Reeve Legacy Reunion” panel includes Sarah Douglas (Ursa, “Superman” I and II), Mariel Hemingway (Lacy Warfield, “Superman” IV), Mark McClure (Jimmy Olsen, “Superman” I, II, III, IV), Jack O’Halloran (Non, “Superman” I and II), Mark Pillow (Nuclear Man, “Superman” IV) and Aaron Smolinksi (Baby Clark Kent, “Superman” I, II, III), as well as Wilfredo Torres and Robert Venditti, the artist and writer, respectively, of the ’78 DC Comic Series. 

Sarah Douglas portrayed Ursa in "Superman" one and two.

Caped Wonder Superman podcast co-hosts Jay Towers and Jim Bowers will moderate the panel, focusing on the actors’ personal experiences on set, especially working with the late Christopher Reeve, who played the title character. 

“Only a handful of people can say they were hanging on wires with Christopher Reeve,” Towers said. “They all have great stories.”

One of those stories is about the finale of “Superman II,” when Ursa meets her end after a punch from Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) that sends her tumbling backward into the crevice. After many unsuccessful takes, Kidder actually hit Douglas by accident, sending her over the edge of the set, and the shot was ultimately used in the film.

Douglas said she didn’t remember anybody checking on her, except for Reeve. 

“I remember opening my eyes and there was Superman at the top looking down at me and was like, ‘Are you OK?’” she said. 

That kindness is what Douglas remembers most about Reeve and why she’s looking forward to reminiscing about working with him. She said he embodied his iconic character.

“He was just like Clark Kent. He was a really decent honest, honorable guy,” she said. “Then he becomes Superman and became just that wonderful hero that we all look to and adore.”

The reunion comes 35 years after the release of the last film, a legacy Towers said is due to the films’ unique portrayal of the comic book hero. 

“There are a ton of superhero movies in every generation, but (people) had never seen something that wasn’t campy or silly until ‘Superman’ in 1978,” he said. “It was the standard of superhero films, and to this day, is always referenced.”

The event will also feature an exclusive, limited-edition Detroit-themed variant cover of Superman ’78, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Allen said Motor City Comic Con is an inclusive event with something for everyone.

“It’s just a fun thing to do with friends or by yourself,” she said. “This is that place where you make memories and you can keep traditions that will last a lifetime.”

Motor City Comic Con

Friday-Sunday

Suburban Collection Showplace

46100 Grand River Ave., Novi

Hours: 12:30 – 7 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday

The Christopher Reeve Legacy Reunion” panel will take place from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets: $30 for Friday, $40 for Saturday and $35 for Sunday for those 13 and older and $85 for a weekend pass. VIP passes are available for $249. Kids 6-12 are $10 on Friday and Saturday and free on Sunday. Kids younger than 5 get in free all weekend.

For a full list of celebrities, panels, activities and schedule, go here