For a few hours Thursday night, Los Angeles transformed into Gotham West, as Tinseltown's glitterati turned out for the world premiere of Batman & Robin.
The premiere was a Caped Crusader coming-out party for George Clooney, who marked his rookie turn as the superhero. Clooney actually held up the screening of the film because he was too busy shaking hands with the crush of fans
But in the grand tradition of the Batflicks, the hero was upstaged by the villain, in this case, Mr. Freeze. A noticeably animated Arnold Schwarzenegger--perhaps trying to show the world he has completely bounced back from heart surgery--cracked wise at Clooney's expense. He recalled how excited Clooney was to be in the well-muscled batsuit. "Now you know how it feels to be me, 24 hours a day!" Arnie chortled. Then, playing to the crowd, he yelped: "I'll be back."
Other Batfolk on hand included Robin Chris O'Donnell (accompanied by bride Caroline Fentress), Batgirl Alicia Silverstone (herself upstaged by a massive white hat), Batbabes Elle Macpherson and Vivica Fox and Batdirector Joel Schumacher. Notably absent, however, were Poison Ivy Uma Thurman (on location in England filming The Avengers) and Bruce's butler, Alfred, Michael Gough (too old for this sort of thing).
Clooney's ER compadres Noah Wyle and Eriq LaSalle turned up, as did X-Files star Gillian Anderson, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, Salma Hayek, Dean Cain (although a rumored Superman-Batman battle royale never came about) and, of course, Steve Guttenberg. (Steve Guttenberg?)
While moviegoers still have to make up their minds about Clooney's Caped Crusader, the TV doc got a big endorsement Thursday. When asked who his favorite film Batman was, Batman comic creator Bob Kane said, "Well, I've got to go along with George Clooney. He fits my original creation the very closest. He's got the squared jaw, and he's very suave and elegant, like Bruce Wayne."
For what it's worth, the ever accommodating Clooney told E! that he'd love to be back fighting crime in Gotham for the next installment.
Apparently, Warner Bros. execs are already planning for that eventuality and considering a new mega-villain to take on the Dynamic Duo. According to celeb gossip Liz Smith, Clooney and O'Donnell will square off against Madonna, who's up for the role of the Joker's vengeful wife.