When Christopher Reeve Knew 'Superman' Would Work
“Once I had to appear on Fifty-seventh Street in New York in my costume. We were filming a scene in which Superman catches a burglar climbing up a building with suction cups and brings him down to the street. The burglar and I both hung from wires below a construction crane about ten stories above the sidewalk. ... As the crew prepared for the scene, I waited in a trailer on Fifty-eighth Street with a couple of enormous bodyguards. (I wondered who they worked for when they weren't needed on a movie set. And I thought it was sort of funny that Superman would need bodyguards, but [director Richard] Donner was worried about my safety.)
”Finally they were ready to shoot, and I came out of my trailer with my two guardians. There was nobody there—absolutely no one in sight. I thought: We're a flop. Nobody cares. We walked through a passageway to the front of the building on Fifty-seventh Street. As I came around the corner, I suddenly saw several thousand people jamming the sidewalks on both sides of the steet. When the crowd spotted me in my Superman costume, a huge cheer went up. I was stunned relieved, and suddenly quite nervous.
“The wires were lowered from the construction crane. I shook hands with the burglar and was hooked up to the harness underneath my costume. Donner called for a rehearsal. I double-checked that the hooks were closed and locked, then gave the thumbs-up to indicate I was ready. As I was hoisted up, the crowd roared their approval. They didn't care about the crane or the wires; they were willing to look past all of it. There was Superman, flying up the side of the building. That's when I knew the movie would work.”
--Christopher Reeve, “Still Me,” pp. 194-95