In the middle of celebrating the latest in comic book moviedom, the New York Comic Con took a moment on Saturday to honor a fallen hero: Christopher Reeve. It was 10 years ago that the first — and still the best — cinematic Superman passed away, almost a decade after a horse-riding accident that radically altered his life. Thrown from his horse, Reeve sustained a spinal cord injury that rendered him quadriplegic. Confined to a wheelchair, the actor and his wife Dana went on to found the the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to fund new research and treatments for similar injuries.
Reeve’s son Matthew has been the foundation’s frontman since his father’s death in 2004 and his stepmother’s passing two years later. The younger Reeve came to Comic Con to pay tribute to his dad’s memory and provide some new hope. ”I absolutely understand how everyone sees him as Superman,” Reeve said. “To me he was dad and he was just awesome. He could fly an airplane, he could sail a boat, he was an accomplished piano player.”
Matthew Reeve earlier this year
The 34-year-old unveiled what he’s calling The Big Idea campaign, a potentially revolutionary development for treating spinal cord injuries. The treatment involves a device that provides epidural stimulation through 16 electrodes that interface with the spinal cord. So far, four patients have received this device and it has helped them voluntarily move their legs and even rise to their feet. With the success of those four cases, Reeve hopes to enroll 36 more patients in the Big Idea campaign by raising $15 million in donations. (Visit the website, reevebigidea.org to learn more.) He also said that his father would be “absolutely thrilled” by the technological advancements that have been made in the decade since his passing.
Christopher Reeve and Matthew in 2002
Reeve also shared some personal memories of being Superman’s son with the appreciative NYCC crowd. As he recalled, some of his favorite moments he shared with his dad occurred when they were flying at 10,000 feet… albeit in his dad’s private airplane as opposed to the open-air trip Reeve took with Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane in the first Superman movie. “I can’t tell you what an avionics dashboard means to a little kid,” he said. “I was sitting there and there were just screens and buttons and hinges. It’s just the two of us [and] you’re up to 10,000, 12,000, 15,000 feet in the air.” Sounds positively super.
Watch Christopher Reeve in the 1978 Superman trailer:
Update: We've corrected the text to reflect that Dana Reeve was Matthew Reeve's stepmother.