The name Christopher Reeve is fairly influential in terms of Super-heroism. As the very first actor to play the role of Superman on the big screen, Reeve managed not only to play out the character as closely as it was portrayed in the comic books, but he embodied it. From the very first film, and throughout the sequels, Superman was a consistent and loveable hero. Often, one would say that the man makes the character, but in this case, I believe it safe to say that the character made the man; Christopher Reeve was, after all, the Man of Steel. That is why it came as such a shock and steeped irony when the news announced his condition after a horseback riding accident. The renowned superhero was now bound to a wheelchair, his body broken and useless. This year will be the 7th anniversary of the day his injuries finally overtook him. On October 10th, 2004, Superman officially died. For those of us who grew up on the original Superman series, it felt like a huge blow to our confidence that we saw a man, who we thought was indestructible, die from an injury Superman should never have endured.
Strangely enough, Christopher Reeve wasn’t the only actor in the Superman films to have run across a bout of poor fortune. Both Margot Kidder and Marlon Brando had their share of bad experiences. Kidder, who played Lois Lane, survived a car accident in 1990, but her injuries kept her from working, which then resulted in financial hardship. Soon after that she was diagnosed with a Bipolar Disorder and placed under psychiatric care when she was found hiding naked and battered in a bush. Since then, her actions have been low-key until the most recent protest against the Keystone Pipeline in August of 2011 resulted in her arrest.
Marlon Brando played Jor-El in the Superman series and, unlike the doting father who made the ultimate sacrifice for his son’s life, he was helpless to stop the tragedies that occurred in his real life. His son, Christian was imprisoned for 10 years for manslaughter after the shooting death of his sister, Cheyenne’s, significant other – Dag Drollet. Cheyenne, suffering from persistent injuries after a car accident and depression stemming from sorrow for Drollet, hanged herself in 1995. Brando passed away in 2004, followed by his first-born son Christian who succumbed to pneumonia in 2008.
Was the Superman legacy cursed, or is this simply a case of coincidence? Will the newer Superman films cause the crew as much torment, or did the curse die with the original man of steel – Christopher Reeve? Time will tell … but, hopefully, Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth will carry on as Superman and Lois Lane in a manner that will keep our hopes and dreams alive, forever giving us the opportunity to believe that superheroes do exist.