This week’s news of the passing of director Richard Donner brought a wave of social media posts and statements from colleagues, friends and peers. As well as helming the likes of Scrooged, The Goonies and of course Superman: The Movie and Lethal Weapon, Donner was also responsible for helping the man who would bring Marvel’s Cinematic Universe to screens, Kevin Feige, take his first steps in the industry. Feige was one of those who were quickly online after the announcement to make his own heartfelt, personal statement about the loss of a great director and influence in his life.
“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, humor, humanity, and verisimilitude,” Kevin Feige said in a statement. “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 that Dick was immortal. I still do. My thoughts are with Lauren and the entire family.”
As tributes poured in from the likes of Steven Spielberg and Zack Snyder, as well as actors who worked with the director on The Goonies, and others including Mark Hamill and Elijah Wood, it was clear just how far reaching Donner’s work in the industry was.
Wood commented, “I will always fondly remember that booming raspy voice and laugh. My childhood and life was so impacted by the incredible Richard Donner. Heart of a giant and spirit of a child. His impact on cinema is truly immense; deftly bouncing from genre to genre. Love you, Dick.” Antonio Banderas was also extremely praising of the director, saying, “Good bye dear Richard. Thanks for your films, for your elegance, your sense of humor, your friendship and for those happy and funny days we spent during the shooting of “Assassins”. We will never forget you amigo.” Many followed the sentiment shared by Zack Snyder, who simply wrote, “Thank you, Richard Donner. You made me believe.”
Born Richard Donald Schwartzberg on April 24th, 1930, Donner initially wanted to be an actor, but soon learned that his part would lead along a different route and he began directing commercials and worked in TV from the 1950s. He never seemed to stick with one genre working on The Fugitive, The Man from UNCLE, Gilligan’s Island and two iconic episodes of The Twilight Zone– “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “From Agnes – With Love”. His breakout in movies came in 1976 with The Omen, and then two years later changed the face of superhero movies with Superman and Superman II, although due to disputes and his replacement on the sequel, it would be 2006 before fans of the Man of Steel would see Donner’s intended version of what has been called the greatest Superman movie ever made.
As tributes continue to flood in, we join everyone in offering our sympathies to the director’s family and those who knew him, as well as an industry mourning the loss of one of its greats.
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