I can’t quite believe it has been four years since I was over in Los Angeles at Warner Bros Studios for the 75th Anniversary of Batman Exhibition. The time has absolutely flown and after a nostalgic Google search for the past event, I came across an exhibition closer to home and one that was available to see right now! After a very successful run in Paris, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros pictures have brought a Dawn of Super-Heroes exhibition to London’s O2 Arena.
In collaboration with Art Ludique-Le Musee bring the unique history of DC superheroes to London’s O2 with the DC Exhibition: Dawn of Super-Heroes.
The DC Exhibition: Dawn of Super-Heroes contains more than 200 comic book pages, 300 sketches and 45 original costumes, models and props. A unique exhibition celebrating a rich history of DC comics, mythology and iconic costumes and props from the films we know and love. There really is something for everyone and the exhibits allow you to get up close and personal with some of your favorite characters.
Seeing Christopher Reeves Superman costume up close and personal is emotional. I’m the first to admit I’m not a huge DC fan but to see something as iconic as that, it’s hard for a huge film fan like myself to hold in those emotions. One tried to be strong but the second I saw Heath Ledger’s Joker costume from The Dark Knight my shields melted away.
After watching the incredibly emotional documentary I Am Heath and then seeing this costume in person, it really gives you an appreciation of the dedication that goes into these productions and the wonderful people that make these films so iconic. Heath’s dedication to his role as the Joker truly is one of the best performances of any DC character I’ve ever seen. The Dark Knight was meant to be Christian Bale’s movie but for me personally, it was the Heath Ledger show from start to finish. The Joker was as captivating as he was deranged, as smart as he was psychotic. An absolute joy to watch and a portrayal that will never be matched in my eyes.
On the way down to the exhibit, I and a friend were joking that a DC exhibition may be shrouded in shadows, so dark that we wouldn’t be able to see the treasures on display. We were pleasantly surprised to see lighting as we walked into the exhibition, it’s a shame that the filmmakers can’t use some of those in their productions. The exhibits were nicely lit up but it was difficult to take certain images. Particular costumes were behind a fabric display (to stop the light damaging them I assume) so the camera couldn’t pick up clear shots at any point. Thankfully, only a handful of these costumes were behind the fabric displays as the rest stood majestically behind glass structures.
We all know that DC has some deep and incredible characters but for this exhibit to appeal to the masses we have a strong focus on Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Christopher Reeves, Brandon Routh, and Henry Cavil’s Superman costumes are all on display. Batman costumes range from Michael Keaton’s original 1989 Batman costume (complete with Batman shoes made by Nike) all the way up to Ben Affleck’s recent Batman V Superman costume and we have Linda Carter’s and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman costumes to really bring the exhibit full circle. It’s so great to see all the production art, sketches, and costume design plans accompanying the costumes. No-one realizes just how much effort goes on behind the scenes to craft these features, they really are an art-form despite what you may think of the finished product from a review standpoint.
Each section is perfectly themed for each dedicated superhero. Vibrant blues paint the walls around the Superman display, dark, moody browns and blacks surround the Batman section and bright reds circulate the Wonder Woman section finishing with a colorful Suicide Squad display towards the end. I felt as thou the Suicide Squad section was an afterthought and the Justice League section was virtually non-existent. It’s certainly not a fans favorite or a good movie by any means (even thou Frank thought so in his review) but the latter DC movies seemed heavily neglected in this exhibit. At a guess, I’d say that either the curator isn’t a big fan of the last few movies or he just wanted the exhibit to focus on the history of DC rather than their latest films that have been heavily outplayed by their rivals Marvel.
Orginal drawings of DC’s stable of famous Super Heroes and Super Villains such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, The Penguin and Mr. Freeze, from world-renowned artists including Jim Lee, Bob Kane, Neal Adams, Frank Miller, Alex Ross litter the exhibition. Some of the artwork is nothing short of phenomenal and just thinking of the insurance the organizers must have had to take out on this collection gives me palpitations.
When walking around the exhibition you are handed a device where at specific displays you can hold the device to your ear to hear insider stories. One story about Superman Lives the ill-fated Superman movie that never got into production had me gobsmacked. Nicholas Cage was set to play the role of Superman, Kevin Smith had penned the script. The film had gone so far as creating sculptures, artwork and concept designs throughout its first year of pre-production. Heck, Nicholas Cage even named his son Kal-El (Supermans birth name) in honor of the movie. Sadly, the film wasn’t meant to be and the movie never materialized. A documentary called The Death of ‘Superman Lives’ tells us the full story of what led to this projects demise and I’d highly recommend watching it.
Seeing the Batpod again for the first time in two years was also a welcome sight although I believe this particular Batpod on display at the Dawn of Super-Heroes exhibition was indeed the hero bike. The one that went up for sale at the Prop Store auction back in 2016 looks much lighter and ‘stunt version’ esque than this particular version. A very cool bike indeed designed by Nathan Crowley and Christopher Nolan that has an engine in each wheel to drive this bulky yet intricate prop.
I really loved the Dawn of Super-Heroes exhibition. It’s well worth a visit. If you’re a fan of the recent DC movies there isn’t really much for you here but they can’t satisfy everyone. I quite liked the fact they stayed away from the most recent ones as it’s a very touchy subject and it needs to appeal to the masses rather than to a niche audience. I think the Suicide Squad area was a perfect example of this. The movie wasn’t all that great but Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) was a stand-out character and the focus on her throughout her own dedicated section was justified.
If I had any criticisms of the event I would be grasping at straws here but I wish an Action Comics No.1 would have been on display but for insurance reasons I can understand why it wasn’t there. Also, I felt as thou the exhibit wasn’t as interactive as many i’ve seen in the past. A few photo opportunities for fans (taken by a photographer) as a souvenier at the end of the day would have been a nice touch or a few stunt props that people could hold/interact with would have also been nice.
The exhibition is one for all the family but for small children, I can’t see it appealing. The Dawn of Super-Heroes exhibition feels very grown up from the layout all the way to the displays on offer there really isn’t much here for a younger audience. If a character actor was around the exhibit to entertain the kids then this would also be a nice touch that will keep everyone happy.
The DC Exhibition: Dawn of Super-Heroes exhibition runs from 23rd February 2018 until 9th September 2018. A special summer ticket offer for the final three months of the exhibition. From 5 June to 9 September 2018, tickets will be available at £10 for adults and £5 for children under 16 (T&Cs apply).
There is also special summer offers at the extensive DC Exhibition store! Spend £10 more and receive a free Justice League t-shirt, and buy two t-shirts for £30! If you haven’t yet seen this spectacular exhibition then I’d highly recommend that you do so and the store right at the end of the tour is a comic-con attendees dream. Just look at this place!