Earlier today, the film and comics industries were saddened by the loss of Richard Donner. The filmmaker behind hits like Superman: The Movie and the Lethal Weapon movies passed away today, according to statements from his wife, X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner. His passing has prompted numerous, emotional responses from friends, colleagues, and those he influenced, from Sean Astin and Corey Feldman to Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige. Donner's Superman: The Movie was a massive hit, and continues to influence basically every superhero adaptation you see come to live action. He also had a high-profile dust-up with Warner Bros. over Superman II.
Years after it was initially produced and released, Warner released Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut on DVD. Widely regarded as the superior cut of the movie, it is as close as Donner could come (given the fact that it was 20 years later and he had none of the actors or sets to reshoot anything) to making a "director's cut" for a movie that he shot part of before being replaced. If there's anybody who can relate to that, it's probably Man of Steel filmmaker Zack Snyder.
Snyder had a tribute to Donner, too -- albeit a short, poignant one: "Thank you, Richard Donner. You made me believe."
You can see the tweet below, which also shares a movie poster for Superman: The Movie, which famously had the tagline "You will believe a man can fly."
Thank you, Richard Donner. You made me believe. pic.twitter.com/zmeONQpTUT— Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) July 5, 2021
Donner was born Richard Donald Schwartzberg on April 24, 1930, in The Bronx, New York. After initially hoping to get his start in the industry as an actor, Donner was motivated to go into the world of directing, and began helming commercials and western TV shows in the late 1950s. Donner's TV work included episodes of The Fugitive, Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Gilligan's Island, and Tales From the Crypt. He also directed two iconic episodes of the original run of The Twilight Zone — "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "From Agnes — With Love."
He would go on to direct films like The Goonies, Scrooged, and many more hit movies. His final film was the 2005 movie 16 Blocks, featuring Mos Def, Bruce Willis, and David Morse.
Our thoughts go out to Mr. Donner's family, friends, and fans at this difficult time.