Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story 2024

Directed by Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui Portraits

An intimate look at the man behind the cape, Super/Man charts actor Christopher Reeve’s journey from super-stardom to near-death injury and the difficult road to embracing a different kind of heroics.

Aug 18

The Civic

UK In English
105 minutes Colour / DCP


Lizzie Gillett, Robert Ford, Ian Bonhôte


Peter Ettedgui


Brett Wiley


Otto Burnham


Ilan Eshkeri


Christopher Reeve, Alexandra Reeve, Matthew Reeve, Will Reeve, Glenn Close, Jeff Daniels, Susan Sarandon


Sundance, CPH:DOX, Sydney 2024


With the release of Superman in 1978, the world came to believe a man could fly and Christopher Reeve catapulted from unknown theatre actor to cinema icon overnight. So completely did he embody the character that it seemed an especially cruel fate when a horse-riding accident left the actor paralysed, requiring a respirator to breathe. Through candid home video footage and interviews with family and friends, Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story documents the painstaking process of rebuilding a very different life.

The broad strokes of Reeve’s story will be familiar to many, but directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui (McQueen, 2018) bring viewers deep into the family domain to witness the heart-wrenching realities of dealing with unimagined tragedy. The actor’s adult children give emotional interviews while Reeve’s own words, edited from audiobook recordings, narrate a harrowing journey from despair to hope. 

The film gives equal time to the pre-accident timeline, exploring a challenging childhood with a disapproving father, early days training at Julliard with peers who would become stars of stage and screen, and the destabilising impact of sudden fame on his personal life. Behind the scenes tales of flummoxing Gene Hackman, being disappointed by Marlon Brando, and ending up shackled to a diminishing franchise will please Hollywood history buffs.

Following the accident, resilience and community are revealed to be Reeve’s true superpowers. The love of his family, particularly staunch wife Dana, and support from the likes of Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close, and best friend Robin Williams (of whom there are some tear-jerking stories), enables Reeve to turn his tragedy into an inspiring tale of advocacy for the disability community. With this compelling documentary, you will believe a man can fight. — Adrian Hatwell