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Christopher Reeve’s 63rd Birthday, And Still A Super Man

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When your hero dies in life, whether it’s someone in your family, a friend or a famous individual, it’s always difficult to bear. And perhaps that’s why we seek solace in our own thoughts; we try to find peace when all we see is grief. At times, the world bleeds colour and all that’s left is a dark, frustrating grey hue. It covers your eyes and blinds you temporarily. Death finds a way to eat into our souls, no matter how much we try to smile and move on.

Christopher Reeve would have turned 63 on September 25, 2015 – today – if he were still alive. Almost 11 years on since he died, his death still weighs heavily on my mind. I still remember where I was, what I was doing and, even, what I was wearing the day he died. Travelling to my youth theatre group as part of an early morning Sunday rehearsal, I was sat in the car with my dad. When I heard of his death on the radio, I stared at my black converse and jeans.

In that moment, my mind was elsewhere. Tears dropped from my cheek and splashed onto my jeans; I wasn’t even aware I was crying. In fact, my immediate thought remembered his final wishes, the one where he decided that he’d manage to walk again. Somehow he’d summoned up the courage and walked straight into death.

Though Christopher Reeve died that day, Superman didn’t. A superhero in the movies, he was also seen as a hero in life, particularly for his work in paralysis. Setting up the Christopher and Dana Reeve charity was just a part of those plans to bring those with paralysis a better life. One in which they would be able to walk again.

Today, that same charity is asking his fans for a donation of $63 in honour of Christopher’s 63rd birthday. And I’ve just donated $63 – or the British equivalent of £41.50.

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The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is a fabulous charity, not only for the work that it continues to do on a daily basis for those with spinal-cord injuries or other types of paralysis, but for upholding the spirit of Superman for so many years and never giving up hope.

Having suffered a very serious back injury when I was 15, and again when I was 16, there were moments when I couldn’t feel my legs. I spent 40 minutes on a set of steel stairs and in the back of an ambulance believing I was paralysed from the hips down. At that age, it was the most terrifying thing in my life. When the feeling did come back into my legs, I remember feeling relieved and then entirely ashamed at myself. I knew people had suffered far worse and never lost hope for a second. In those 40 minutes, my hope was shattered completely.

Now I spend my life actually living. I am thankful every day that I can use my legs. Earlier this year, my friends and I ran the 5k Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK – another fantastic charity – and we raised near enough or over £200 for the cause.

Every day I’m thankful that I can run, jog, skip and swim. Every day I’m thankful that I can walk.

Happy 63rd Birthday, Christopher Reeve. And thank you for giving me hope.

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Robin Williams’s Death, Depression, and Reuniting with Christopher Reeve

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They met at Julliard and were life-long friends; Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve

Back in 2004, I was struck by the death of my hero and, along with many others, remembered all of the amazing feats this man had managed in his short lifetime. I was 14 when Christopher Reeve died. And today, almost ten years on, I’m shocked by the loss of his college best friend, Robin Williams.

The great comedy legend and Hollywood actor Robin Williams was found dead in his Californian home on August 11, having committed suicide. For a moment, when I (bleary-eyed) checked the news on my phone at 7am, I was stunned. I didn’t think it was real, in fact, my mind couldn’t process it was real. But sure enough, global news channels confirmed it. Robin Williams was gone.

Immediately my natural curiosity was sated. The man behind such classic films, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Jumanji, Mrs Doubtfire, and Hook, had battled severe depression and alcoholism for many years. Nobody knows why he committed suicide – even though the newspapers are throwing a few curve balls into the media frenzy, along with a statement from his wife that he had early Parkinson’s Disease – but, in a  weird way, I understood.

As a former sufferer of depression, I found it incredibly difficult to talk about my problems to my friends and family. In fact, it was years after my Nana’s death when I realised I actually needed help. That the ongoing days and nights of crying into my pillow was not normal, that the idea of death was a glorified way out of my crap life. But, when I look back, I actually had a pretty good life. I had an amazing support network of family and friends, plus I had my writing and drama workshops, acceptance to university, and so on. However, I just couldn’t see that it all existed. Every night when I’d cry, I’d only see the darkness, the pain, the need for clear and refreshing physical pain rather than the emotional one. To me, nothing was right in the world. And I was selfish for taking up space, for living in it.

I can’t begin to understand what Robin Williams felt in those moments. But I do understand what it’s like to only see that insufferable darkness. I only hope he finds peace, wherever he may be, and can feel joy in seeing pigeons shit on other people’s heads while he looks on us from afar. And I also hope he reunites with Christopher Reeve once again, after all he needs to re-enact the scene as Reeve’s Russian proctologist. On that note, I’ll leave you with the very scene written in Christopher Reeve’s autobiography, Still Me:

“As the day of the operation drew closer, it became more and more painful and frightening to contemplate. In spite of efforts to protect me from the truth, I already knew that I had only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the surgery. I lay on my back, frozen, unable to avoid thinking the darkest thoughts. Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist, and that he had to examine me immediately. My first reaction was that either I was on way too many drugs or I was in fact brain damaged. But it was Robin Williams. He and his wife, Marsha, had materialized from who knows where. And for the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”

Superman Turned Sour: First Look at The Man of Steel

Snyder and his team of hard-working Supe fans, have once again fallen short of expectations. The Man of Steel originally due to be released in Christmas of 2012, now pushed back to the summer of 2013, have provided fans with a sneak-peek at the brand-spanking new costume with Cavill looking ‘edgy’.

If you haven’t already seen it, you can view the whole article in full here: http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/2011/08/04/%E2%80%9Cman-of-steel%E2%80%9D-revealed/

At first, I was damn excited for this film, but it seems with each new cast member or each new design feature, the Snyder re-boot is certainly flying to the fortress at an electrifying pace, and unfortunately never to return. Yes, they are meant to be revitalising what is seen to Hollywood as a ‘dead’ story, but are they taking it too far? Are they stepping in the wrong direction? Are they catapulting themselves into Krypton in the midst of their war, annihilating themselves upon landing? Personally, the new ‘edgy’ look just doesn’t cut it, Snyder is trying to fit a stray puzzle piece into the wrong puzzle board.

Superman isn’t like Batman for a reason; he is not human, and he doesn’t have the same flaws as humans. So why suit him up in scales and a cape that is more eligible to win dirt collector of the year award? If they were going for the ‘alien’ look, then they’ve definitely hit it on the head. With the constant improvements in CGI and design formats, Snyder’s team have certainly forgotten one significant element: Superman can fly; what use is an outfit with bumps in the air? Maybe they should go back to basic in physics; sleek, smooth and streamlined aids flight, rather than bumpy, bulky and similar to Batman.

Yet it isn’t just the suit that looks atrocious; Henry Cavill’s facial expression looks, quite frankly, evil.
Now unless our man has been taking an extra trip on the red K, Superman should look confidently calm in the face of his enemy. Henry Cavill is not that man.

What high hopes I had for this film, have been dashed, demolished and dunked in a pool of CGI corruption. I thought I would warm to Cavill, and maybe it is just a bad picture, but Snyder hasn’t even recreated the signature Superman ‘curl’ in the hair.

So I leave a final message to Snyder and his team: Get the hair right, or lose your respect. Get the suit right, or lose your fans. Direct Cavill better, or lose the Superman we’ve grown to love.

Christopher Reeve: The Real Superman