The filmmaker behind Superman, The Goonies, and other modern classics left behind a huge legacy following his passing. Now, several of the people who’ve continued bringing Richard Donner’s stories to life are paying tribute.
It was announced yesterday that Donner had passed away, a director/producer who had a decades-long resume that included some of today’s biggest comic book movie franchises. He was the one who chose Christopher Reeve to play the Man of Steel in 1978’s Superman, and he was a producer alongside Lauren Schuler Donner on the first X-Men film.
There was no one quite like Donner, professionally and personally, and many of the people he worked with and inspired have come out to thank him. Marvel head Kevin Feige released a statement (through Marvel Studios) thanking Donner, alongside his wife and producing partner, for mentoring him during his early days in Hollywood. He also credited them for being “key supporters throughout the birth” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has gone on to become the largest comic book movie franchise in cinematic history. Here’s Feige’s statement in full:
“Richard Donner not only made me believe a man could fly, he made me believe that comic characters could be brought to life on the big screen with heart, humour, humanity and verisimilitude. Above all he taught me that it can and must be done with respect, caring, and kindness to everyone in front of and behind the camera.
Dick and Lauren became mentors during my early career, and key supporters throughout the birth of the MCU. I owe my career to the way they took the time to nurture and teach a kid from New Jersey who didn’t know how to use a fax machine or make coffee very well. I always thought Dick was immortal. I still do. My thoughts are with Lauren and the entire family.”
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) July 5, 2021
In addition to Feige, director Steven Spielberg called Donner “the greatest Goonie of all” in a statement to Variety. Directors like Batman v. Superman’s Zack Snyder, Doctor Strange’s Scott Derrickson, Star Trek’s Bryan Fuller, and Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright shared tributes on social media. Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins wrote on Twitter: “I loved Richard Donner as person, and massively admired him as a director. To think he made The Omen, Superman, The Goonies, and Lethal Weapon in just over 10 years time, and many more. Stunning. Truly one of the greatest American filmmakers of all time.”
The passing of Maestro Richard Donner today finally prompted me to draw something I’ve wanted to draw for a long time: THE film incarnation of Superman, the late CHRISTOPHER REEVE! pic.twitter.com/eR8N37Ic6g
— Francesco Francavilla (@f_francavilla) July 5, 2021
Donner’s loss also echoed in the comics world, with creators like Joe Quinones, Rachel Gluckstern, poster artist Drew Struzan, Jody Houser, Jamal Igle, Sterling Gates, and more thanking the Superman director for his work. Gates and Igle worked on DC’s Supergirl together, and the latter noted on Twitter that, “I literally may not be working in comics if it weren’t for you.” DC Comics chief creative officer Jim Lee also shared a memory of seeing Superman in theatres, writing: “It changed my life and inspired countless millions.”
Donner was 91 years old and is survived by his wife and producing partner.