13 QUICK THOUGHTS: Why CHRISTOPHER REEVE Was the Greatest SUPERMAN

Christopher Reeve was born Sept. 25, 1952. He would have been 64. He made us believe a man could fly.

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(UPDATED 2016: It’s a year later but it all holds true. And always will.)

1. While I recognize that a lot of people are responsible for the tone of the first two Superman movies — most notably Richard Donner — it’s Christopher Reeve’s understated performance that sells it. It’s because he plays the Man of Steel with equal parts slyness and kindness. His Superman isn’t tortured. He knows he’s got a good thing going and he’s very happy in his own skin. I like to think that if I had his powers, that’s how I’d behave.

2. For me, the platonic ideal for Batman can be found in the comics. But where Superman is concerned, the comics have never lived up to the first two movies. Not in the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age or the Modern Age. The closest were John Byrne’s Man of Steel era (click here for more on that) and Geoff Johns’ all-too-brief pre-52 run.

We all know whom Johns and artist Gary Frank had in mind.

We all know whom Johns and artist Gary Frank had in mind.

3. The entire first-night sequence is perfect superhero-movie superheroing. It’s the highlight of the entire series and easily one of the best segments in any superhero movie ever.

4. When Superman: The Movie made it to HBO, I watched everytime I could. It ended up being 25 times during its first run on the channel. That’s 25 times before VCRs and DVRs, mind you.

5. I loved Superman: The Movie so much that the only thing I wanted when I graduated middle-school was to see Superman II that night. My mom took me to the long-since-closed Amboy Cinemas in Sayreville, N.J. She bought me one of these programs. Thanks, Mom!

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6. Around that time, I used to risk my life riding my bike over the Raritan Bridge to the U.S. #1 Flea Market in New Brunswick, N.J., on Saturday mornings so I could get my weekly haul of comics and fresh-cut French fries with malt vinegar. As I rode across, I hummed the Superman music in my head and pretended I was flying. You can have your Star Wars theme. The Superman soundtrack is John Williams’ greatest work.

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7. This:

8. I walk through Grand Central all the time and I can’t help but hum Otis’theme while I do it. Also, occasionally, while I’m walking through midtown Manhattan, I’ll imagine what it would be like to see Superman zipping down the avenue, between the concrete towers.

9. “Any more at home like you?” “Uh, not really, no.”

10. Christopher Reeve was proof that you could wear a bright spandex superhero outfit and not look silly.

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11. Man, I love that first glimpse of him in the Fortress of Solitude.

12. DC’s done Batman ’66 and Wonder Woman ’77. They really need to do Superman ’78. Speaking of, I read these over and over while growing up.

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13. This:

Author: Dan Greenfield

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2 Comments

  1. I’d like to add just one, if I may. It’s the elaborate, comical, nerdy, clumsy, stammering Clark Kent portrayal — a contribution which was original with Reeve. In an interview Reeve once gave his rationale for “going all the way” with Clark Kent. I found it rather touching and quite noble. The whole point was to preserve the integrity of Lois Lane’s character. To believe Lois wouldn’t be able to tell Clark was just Superman wearing glasses would be to consider her sort of a dimwit. In order to protect her dignity, Superman disguises his identity as well as he can. It’s a measure of his affection for her. No other actor prior to Reeve went to such lengths.

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  2. Always loved Christopher Reeve’s Superman. Regarding the comment about Doing a Superman 78 comic because of Wonder Woman 77 ant Batman 66 , those were both based on TV shows. How about a comic called Superman 55 based on the George Reeves portrayal which seem to always get lost in the shuffle. Other than the finally released DVDs no current collectible products have ever been released which is a shame. The same audience who grew up on Batman & Wonder Woman also grew up on Superman reruns and would certainly interested in collectible products.

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