Maybe, just maybe, the best thing that ever happened to Nicolas Cage’s career was his failure to get 1993 project Superman Returns off the ground. We dive deep in to the sinister curse held over the Man of Steel, which is even more deadly than Kryptonite, and probably tougher than OG Nic.
The Superman Curse has taken many victims in many different forms; killing, maiming, crippling; career ruining, can anyone survive it? It seems not judging by the careers of the most recent incumbents, Henry Cavill (whatever happened to him?) and Brandon Routh (coming soon to a ComiCon near you soon).
Here are the curse's most tragic hits:
1. Kirk Alyn
The first actor to play Superman on film was Kirk Alyn. He first appeared in a 1948 serial and later as Superman’s farmer dad in the 1978 movie, which was his penultimate film appearance. In between those two appearances little happened for the promising actor, as he was typecast, finally bowing out to Alzheimer's in 1999.
I agree this was a timid start for the curse but it hadn’t quite found its feet. Yet.
2. Budd Collyer
Young Budd Collyer first appeared as Superman in voice form during the early 40s cartoon series. After which he happily presented a TV game show until being brought back to lend his voice again to Superman in The New Adventures of Superman for CBS in 1966. The curse wasn’t having it though. While Kirk had his time in the red cape and came out relatively unscathed, the curse upped its game and Budd had died in less than three years with circulatory complications after his second time roaming through a hand drawn Metropolis.
3. Lee Quidley
Even if you are unaware of playing Superman, the curse does not give a fuck. In the 1978 movie Lee Quidley played a newly born Superman. Fourteen years later he died of solvent abuse. The curse was drawing a line in the sand; whoever you are, don’t play Superman.
4. George Reeves
Reeves, like so many others, couldn’t leave the role behind him.
On June 15th 1969, the day before his wedding day, he committed suicide, blowing his head off with a Luger (a Lex Luger, get it?).
Anyway, dirty old Reeves was supposedly having an affair with with the wife of MGM exec Eddie Mannix, and no fingerprints were found on the gun, leading to the theory that a hit had been ordered.
Yeah, the curse fucking ordered it.
5. Christopher Reeve
The most infamous case of the curse struck the most famous of all the Supermans (Supermen?).
Christopher Reeve, a relative unknown at the time, scored the role opposite Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando in the £55 million (£217m adjusted to 2020) budget blockbuster, Superman The Movie.
The movie was a massive hit making $330 million ($1,318,286,733 adjusted to 2020) and spawned three sequels of diminishing success. Reeve, unlike his predecessors was catapulted to stardom, and even turned down roles in Pretty Woman, iconic Michael Douglas yarn Romancing the Stone and Fatal Attraction.
Reeve was riding the crest of a wave, but the curse had other ideas. No man can use Superman as a platform for greatness.
On May 27th 1995, Reeve, a keen horse rider, had an accident after his horse made a refusal on a jump. He landed on his head shattering his first and second vertebrae paralysing him from the neck down. He later died in 2004 due to an adverse reaction to a drug.
In the list of people who definitely didn’t succumb to the curse...
1. Kate Bosworth
In 2006, Aussie acrtress Kate Bosworth directly referenced the curse, blaming the breakdown of her relationship with Orlando Bloom on the fact she had played Lois Lane in Superman Returns.
No Bosworth, No, the curse does not give a fuck about you and Orlando Bloom.