Yeah, it’s heartwarming when you cast an unknown and he breaks big, but the sudden transition from unknown to really quite exceptionally known can be jarring for a young star on the rise. Sure, Christopher Reeve had been in some plays nobody saw and spent a couple years on a soap opera that nobody liked, but as far as the world was concerned, he sprang into being fully-formed, as the ideal embodiment of a pop culture icon.
As we saw in yesterday’s post about the reviews, literally everyone who ever saw Superman thought that Christopher Reeve was utterly convincing, and perfect for the part. Even the critics who didn’t like the films had to admit that they fell under the spell of Reeve’s charm; if there were problems with the movies, then those problems were happening on the outskirts of the Reeve-controlled territory.
But the problem with being perfect at something is that you might not be perfect at anything else, which leads to disappointment once the thing that you’re perfect at is over. And that is the story of Christopher Reeve, starting from the release of Superman II. For the rest of his career, he’ll be chasing the dizzying high of “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”, which will overshadow everything that he does, very much including the other two Superman movies.
So it’s right here, just before Superman II is finished and the rest of his life begins, that Christopher Reeve gets his next big break: being a guest star on The Muppet Show.