Christopher Reeve died yesterday at the age of 52.
Sitting in a darkened theater, I was waiting for the moment when Superman would fly. I waited with the anticipation of a 10 year old kid — wide-eyed with wonder. I sat in awe as a movie made me believe a man could really fly. A relative unknown before donning the familiar costume, Christopher Reeve simply became Superman. He had other roles, my mother loves “Deathtrap,” still he will always be known as Superman.
That image of him flying was a memory burned on to the hearts of so many people. To many, separating the actor from the character was impossible. To think that the man whom we attached with the Man of Steel was as fragile as the rest of us was heartbreaking. His accident was impossible… he was Superman…
Yet Christopher Reeve didn’t fall into despair. He was an inspiration. Not as the actor who played Superman, but simply as himself. He was a hero in the truest sense of the word by starting the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Center and becoming an active lobbyist for spinal cord injury research; succeeding as a director with his film, “In The Gloaming,” and starring in movies like “Rear Window” and television shows like “Smallville.”
Christopher Reeve believed he would walk again. The Super Bowl commercial, while manipulative, still made people dream. When I heard of his death, I thought of how sad it was that he didn’t get to turn that bit of science fiction into science fact. Perhaps today, Christopher Reeve has finally found his footing.
I like to imagine Christopher Reeve isn’t just walking now, he’s flying.