13 QUICK THOUGHTS: Why CHRISTOPHER REEVE Was the Greatest SUPERMAN Ever

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

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UPDATED 9/25/18: Christopher Reeve would have been 66 today, so it’s the perfect time to re-present this piece, which first ran in 2015. It’s been edited slightly to update some references. Enjoy. — Dan

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. (The comics by Peter Tomasi, Dan Jurgens and Patrick Gleason were pretty dang good, too.)

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 on Saturday mornings by riding my bike over a 100-foot-tall, high-speed bridge to the U.S. #1 Flea Market in New Brunswick, N.J., 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:

MORE

— Why MARGOT KIDDER Was the Best LOIS LANE Ever. Click here.

— 13 QUICK THOUGHTS on SUPERMAN: THE EXTENDED CUT. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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13 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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    • Agree! Keep with the TV show theme. George Reeves Superman always seems to get overlooked and shortchanged by DC as respects any sort of collectible products. No comic books, toys or other collectibles. They missed the boat in my opinion.Same audience who watched Batman 66 watched this too. They were on in syndication back to back through the late 80s. Shame…

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  3. Greatest moment of my life: Superman (Chris Reeve himself!),flying over my head on the James Bond stage at Pinewood for Superman 1 and 2..

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  4. I remember going to see this in the theatre. Besides popcorn they were selling green rocks that glowed in the dark. I picked up everything to do with this movie. From the bubble gum cards to the novels in the local Farmer Jack’s, I was sold. Reeve made you believe a man could fly. Of course there were parts I didn’t agree with or would have wished were done differently but they don’t take away from any of the excitement of watching that movie. And, I was a BATMAN fan!

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  5. The scene in Lois’ apartment.
    Where he almost shares his secret with her. THAT makes Christopher Reeve shine as Superman. There are other moments. That’s the one that does it for me.
    I would buy a Superman ’55 comic book. I would put Mr. West and Mr. Reeves together as The World’s Finest. I see Mr. Keaton and Mr. Reeve as a modern version.

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  6. I agree completely with #12. I also had both of those magazines as a kid. Emphasis on had. Unfortunately, I read them so many times, they both literally fell apart. I hesitate to look them up online because I’m afraid to find out how much they cost now.

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  7. Everyone has their own opinion on this topic and that is the way it should be. I enjoyed the Christopher Reeve version, But for me the only Superman is George Reeves. There are many reasons for this, one being his Superman is the one I grew up with, but more than that the goofball Clark Kent of Reeve always got under my skin. I prefered the (I know something everyone else doesn’t But I’ll play along) way Reeves took the Kent role. Obviously a pair of eyeglasses does not disguise the fact that these two guys are the same so the extra act of being a goof is unnecessary.

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