A Tribute to Christopher Reeve

“I’ve seen first hand how Superman actually transforms people’s lives. I have seen children dying of brain tumors who wanted as their last request to be able to talk to me, and have gone to their graves with a peace brought on by knowing that their belief in this kind of character is intact. I’ve seen that Superman really matters. They’re connecting with something very basic: the ability to overcome obstacles, the ability to persevere, the ability to understand difficulty and to turn your back on it.”
-Christopher Reeve, Time Magazine, March 14, 1988

Monday morning, Christopher Reeve, best known for his cinematic portrayal of Superman in the 1970s and 80s, passed away at the age of 52 from a heart attack suffered due to complications from a condition stemming from his paralysis, suffered following a horseback riding accident in 1995. Reeve, in addition to being the face and voice most will forever associate with the Man of Steel, was also a true life hero, an activist for research into finding cures for paralysis and related diseases and an inspiration. Various members of the Nexus and Inside Pulse family took the time to express their thoughts on his passing:

James Hatton (Writer of Diner Talk & Nexus reviewer): What do you say about the man who defined to you the genre that you cherish?

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that Christopher Reeve as Superman helped you in defining what a superhero looked like. He was the ideal, with his arms on hips, running and ripping open his shirt to reveal the ‘S’. He trail blazed the way for Batman, Spider-Man, and all future superhero movies will look to his portrayal of the Man Of Steel as the watermark.

Add to all of this his fight to push stem cell research, and not sitting idly by and letting an accident destroy his life. As a role model for people who have suffered dehabilitating accidents or illnesses – he again, showed himself to be the ideal. Not sitting idly by, but fighting and fighting. It’s that point that makes me the saddest I think, given the ease that we fall into harsh humor, even the cruelest of us wanted to see that all of his effort and force of personality that he had – he would have received the benefit of all of that hard work and were given the chance to stand again.

He will be missed immensely, and always have a very special place in the hearts and memories of the comic universe as the man that showed us how a Superman is supposed to act in film – and then again outside of them.

Matt Morrison (Writer of Looking To The Stars): I’ve seen a lot of ugly comments about Christopher Reeve, made by people who insisted that he never cared about helping others until he too needed help. These people are completely full of it.

Christopher Reeve was every bit the hero off-screen as he was on. Even before his accident, he was one of the foremost celebrity activists in the world. One such act of charity was his visiting sick children, whose dying wish was to meet Superman.

I remember as a kid watching “The Grand Knockout Tournament”; a televised charity event where various actors, comedians and members of the British Royal Family, held a mock medieval tournament. I don’t remember much of the specifics… except for one event. Where the contestants had to cross a greased log crossing a mudpit while the other teams threw things trying to knock them down. Christppher Reeve was one of the contestants… and he didn’t fall once, causing one of the commentators to remark “He really IS a Superman!”

Nothing sums up Christopher Reeve better, I think, then these words he said when asked about the definition of heroism, during the filming of Superman…

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

By this definition, if any other, Christopher Reeve was a hero.

Tom Toner (Writer of Sports For Dummies for Inside Pulse Sports): Christopher Reeve, I’ll forever miss Superman. I send my thoughts and prayers to the Reeve household. It was thanks to him and his work as the last son of Krypton, that I got into comics. The world is missing such a huge heart in Reeve. I mean, the guy broke his neck and still went around like everything was normal. He helped bring about such great triumphs for paralyzed people everywhere. He truly is a super man, and now he’s flying with angels in the sky as he did in the movies. God bless Christopher Reeve, may he rest in peace.

Jed Shaffer (Writer of Re-Writing The Book for Inside Pulse Wrestling): Obviously, he was, for Generation-X, the archetype for Superman. Even after the Lois & Clark show, no matter how often I read Superman comics, I saw Christopher Reeve. I think I probably got into reading the comics when I was kid because I saw the movies. I mean, it says something that the oft-delayed new movies have a revolving door in terms of casting…Reeve’s shadow is just too big to stand in for your average person.

But what impressed me most was that, after his accident, he didn’t roll over and let life pass him by. He did physical therapy daily in his quest to walk again, he campaigned for personal causes all the way to the floor of Congress, and he even returned to Hollywood, acting in a few roles and directing as well. It may sound cheesy, but to face such a damning sentence as total paralysis and come back to do all that…bulletproof, shmulletproof…THAT is a real Superman. The world has lost a true source of light in his passing. RIP, and Godspeed.

Ben Nagy (Nexus reviewer): My favorite Christopher Reeve quote from after his accident went something like this:

“I always have people coming up to me saying: ‘You played Superman in the movies, but now you ARE Superman,’ I suppose that if one of the definitions of being Superman is to keep on going even if you feel like shit then yes, I do reasonably well.”

I wrote that quote down years ago. Even though that piece of paper is long lost, the quote still resonates with me.

R.I.P.

John Babos (Co-Writer of Near Mint Memories): Christopher is an icon. He was THE Superman for a generation. While he will be most identified by the “cape” that he at many points in his career jokingly said that he was trying to “escape”, he became a real SUPER-man after his tragic horse-riding accident 9 years ago. He overcame odds, and endured for years surprising many medical experts. He also became a champion for spinal cord injury awareness and stem cell research. Christopher Reeve was an action star in my youth and a hero in my adult life. He will be missed. God bless Christopher Reeve and his family and friends during this difficult time.

Ben Morse (Co-Editor-In-Chief of The Nexus & writer of The Watchtower): This winter, I got very sick and as a result lost my job, missed a ton of classes and almost didn’t graduate on time. There were a lot of times I’d lie in bed in my dorm room and feel sorry for myself; on occasions like this, I’d pop Superman: The Movie in my VCR and remind myself that I did not have the right to quit because the handsome man flying in to save the day with a smile on his face on my TV screen sure as hell wouldn’t.

For me, Christopher Reeve was the perfect example of somebody who got dealt an awful hand in life for no good reason and instead of letting it consume him, he rose to the occasion. Every time I felt like I had been mistreated by life and wanted to give up, Christopher Reeve was a source of inspiration for me, a real life hero, as I know he was to countless others.

I know the sad story of George Reeves, the gentleman who played Superman in the 1950s who ended up never being able to break out from the shadow of the character and ultimately ended up killing himself. Christopher Reeve experienced similar troubles in finding success outside of Superman, but rather than let that destroy his life, he recognized the amazing power he had been granted and took on being Superman both on and off screen as a full time job. The lives he touched, the sick children whose dreams made come true, these are things that made him a hero before he suffered his accident.

With so many actors and celebrities, we know their characters, but we never get to know the men and women behind them, whether they are people we would like and admire. With Christopher Reeve, we got to know very well the man inside the costume, and he was every bit the superhero without the cape and tights.

For comic book fans, Superman represents the very best and most faultlessly heroic character in the medium we love; I can think of no more appropriate character for Christopher Reeve to be forever linked with.

It makes me sad to think that he never got to fulfill his dream to walk again, but I know that now he is making angels believe that a man can fly; my thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Chris Delloiacono (Co-writer of Near Mint Memories & Nexus reviewer): Christopher Reeve showed the world that there is always hope. Going even further, he helped to pave the way for tremendous advances in the area of spinal cord injuries–advances that I pray will eventually impact my own family and its dealings with a far less catastrophic spinal cord injury.

Mr. Reeve was a true hero in a world where we bandy that word about far too often to those that are not worthy. He will be missed, but his affect on the world will not be forgotten.

Kyle Litke (Nexus contributor): What can I possibly say that hasn’t already been said over and over? Christopher Reeve will be greatly missed. With a new Superman movie in the works, whoever takes the mantle of Clark will undoubtedly find themselves compared to Mr. Reeve. That may be unfair, though. How can you possibly compare to that? The Batman movies have suffered from the lead actor playing a good “Bruce Wayne” or a good “Batman”, but not both. Reeve was an entirely different story, however. He really captured the feel of both Clark and Superman. He was believable in both roles, and played them both well.

His story hardly ends there, though. After becoming paralyzed, he showed us why he was able to play Superman so well. He didn’t just play a hero in the movies: he was one. He brought hope to many, worked tirelessly to help advance aid for spinal cord injuries. Many would have rolled over and given up after such a horrifying injury, and who could possibly blame them? Christopher Reeve didn’t, however, and his story is truly an inspiration to many. He may have joked about escaping the cape, but it was, perhaps, his own fault that he never could. How can one escape constant mentions of Superman when he, himself, was a real life hero?

Christopher Reeve truly was a Superman, and he will be dearly missed.

Jason Berek-Lewis (Nexus contributor): I clearly remember the first time I saw Superman. I think I was barely four years old. Even at such a young age, Superman and Christopher Reeve changed my life. I was quite sick as a child and I had major heart surgery on three occasions. Superman was one of the things that got me through that time. Thanks to Mr Reeve, I BELIEVED a man could fly. And when I believed that, I also believed that, no matter what, I would make it …

For Tim Stevens’ thoughts on Christopher Reeve, please check out DC News & Views.

If you are interested in paying tribute to Mr. Reeve’s memory or just want to help out a good cause, we encourage you to visit his homepage where you can learn more about the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

The thoughts and prayers of the Inside Pulse/Nexus family are with Mr. Reeve’s family and loved ones.

“”So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
-Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004, Rest In Peace.