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Plano capitalizes on 'Man of Steel' with Superman-themed festival

You don't have to look very hard in Plano to find traces of the Superman reboot that filmed in the western suburb last summer. Plano, which doubled as the fictional town of Smallville in the upcoming “Man of Steel,” has yet to take down the Smallville City Hall sign on the Amtrak depot or paint over the hard-to-miss U.S. flag mural located on the city's main street.

And why would the city?

“The mural of the flag is a very popular place to take pictures,” said Plano Mayor Bob Hausler, who appeared as an extra during filming. “You see someone taking pictures there almost every weekend.”

Not only has the city not taken down many of the Superman-related signs, but it has also put up a few new ones since the production left town. The signs welcoming locals and visitors to Plano — with a population of about 10,900 — now reads “Scenes from ‘Man of Steel' filmed here.”

This sort of city pride will be on full display during the first annual Smallville Superfest in Plano Friday through Sunday. The festival will combine the sights of a Superman film tour (there will be props from the film and Superman merchandise) with the feel of a street festival (live music, a “Super Zipline,” “Smallville Super Bounce” and a costume contest).

Hausler said he came up with the idea last year to take advantage of the excitement surrounding the movie, which filmed in Chicago and the suburbs from Aug. 1-Sept. 18, but his isn't the first Superman-themed festival in Illinois. Superman Celebration has been taking place in downstate Metropolis, which just so happens to have the same name as the major city in the Superman mythology, for more than 30 years. Metropolis features a giant Superman statue and the Super Museum, dubbing itself the “Home of Superman.”

“I took a trip down to Metropolis, and they had a very nice festival with a lot of great things,” Hausler said. “They built their festival over a 30-year period. The one thing we have in Plano that they don't is that they never had a Superman movie film in their city.”

Don't be surprised if a Superman museum pops up in Plano as well. Hausler wants to open a museum with props and set pieces from the film in the Amtrak depot, but it likely won't happen until the film is released (it's scheduled for June 14, 2013). He believes the film studio will be more cooperative at that point. It's why he hasn't given up on his hopes of having one or more of the film's stars attend Smallville Superfest next year.

“I think the main reason (none will attend this year) is because the movie hasn't been released,” Hausler said of the cast, which features Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. “I think they're reluctant to present anything.”

While a sequel to “Man of Steel” seems likely, it's not a given. The last film in the franchise, 2006's “Superman Returns,” didn't have one. It's also not set in stone that a potential sequel would film in Plano again — as we learned from “The Dark Knight” trilogy, which shot in Chicago in the first two films but chose New York, Pittsburgh and Newark, among others, for the third.

Asked if talk of a sequel in Plano came up during filming, Hausler responded, “Not really. It was mentioned briefly when they were leaving, but nothing firm.”

Twitter @aboutluisgomez

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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