Superman & X-Men Filmmaker Richard Donner Passes Away

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Richard Donner Superman X-Men

Although the DC Extended Universe is currently the main hub for new superhero movies based on DC Comics characters, the company has a long history with major blockbusters that have been wildly successful. This includes more recent outings like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, which followed other outings like Joel Schumacher's Batman duology in the 1990s.

One of the comic publisher’s most highly regarded franchises is Christopher Reeve's Superman series, which spanned across four movies from 1978 to 1987. Starring Hollywood regulars like Gene Hackman and Terrence Stamp, these movies defined the superhero movie genre before the modern-day era took these outings to new levels.

At the helm of the first movie in this series was director Richard Donner, whose career lasted for decades even away from the Last Son of Krypton. Unfortunately, sad news has come surrounding the long-time director.


Deadline reported that renowned Hollywood filmmaker Richard Donner has passed away at the age of 91. No cause of death was provided.

Donner is best known for directing 1978's Superman and its sequel as well as the Lethal Weapon franchise. He also executive produced 2000's X-Men.


Richard Donner's career in movies lasted more than 50 years, highlighted with directorial credits on movies like The Goonies and all four Lethal Weapon entries. He also made quite the impact in the superhero genre with both DC and Marvel over the years, especially by helping usher in the first modern superhero movie with Superman.

Directing Superman in 1978 with Christopher Reeve, Donner found incredible success through his work with the iconic DC hero, delivering one of the most revered superhero movies ever. It set box-office records for the era, even peaking as the sixth-highest grossing movie ever at the time and setting the stage for what movies in this genre could achieve.

While Superman was Donner's only directorial outing with comic book films, his passion for them continued as he took an executive producer role for both X-Men in 2000 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009. While Wolverine certainly came with mixed reviews, Donner continued his trend of breaking the mold with Fox's first major Marvel effort.

Donner's work in this genre was groundbreaking in numerous ways, helping Marvel and DC continue to achieve their lofty goals over the years that followed. His influence spread to current industry leaders like Marvel's Kevin Feige and DC's Geoff Johns, helping both bring the best of what comic book movies could be to their respective companies.

The director will be remembered as a pioneer in the industry, and his impact will be felt for a long time to come. The Direct sends our condolences to Richard Donner's family, friends, and loved ones through this difficult time.

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.