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September 26, 2022

18 Publicity Stills of Christopher Reeve as Superman in ‘Superman II’ (1980)

Released in 1978 and directed by Richard Donner, Superman: The Movie became so successful it garnered three sequels. In fact, Superman II was filmed at the same time as its predecessor. The movie promised fans that, “You’ll believe a man can fly.” Thanks to Christopher Reeve, that promise became a reality, proving he was the perfect Superman.

Portraying Superman would be a stretch for the 24-year-old actor. He was 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) tall, but his physique was slim. Reeve went through an intense two-month training regimen with former British weightlifting champion David Prowse supervising. The training regimen consisted of running in the morning, followed by two hours of weightlifting and 90 minutes on the trampoline. He added thirty pounds (14 kg) of muscle to his “thin” 189-pound (86 kg) frame.

Reeve was never a Superman or comic book fan, though he had watched Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves. Reeve found the role offered a suitable challenge because it was a dual role. He said, “there must be some difference stylistically between Clark and Superman. Otherwise, you just have a pair of glasses standing in for a character.”

On the commentary track for the director's edition of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz spoke of how Reeve had talked to him about playing Superman and then playing Clark Kent. Mankiewicz then corrected Reeve, telling him he was “always, always playing Superman” and when he was Clark Kent, he was “playing Superman who was playing Clark Kent.” Mankiewicz described it to Reeve as a role within a role.

The film, made without the use of computers for special effects, was the first attempt to realistically show a person flying. Roy Field, the film’s optical supervisor, said, “There were many techniques used to make Superman fly, but the best special effect of all was Christopher Reeve himself. We discovered very early on he, being a glider pilot, could hold his body aerodynamically. So when he got into the harness, the whole shot began to come alive.”


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