That Time Christopher Reeve Threw Shade At Marlon Brando Over Superman Role

Superman flying

It's no secret that comic book movies are everywhere. As the genre continues dominating at the box office, plenty of studios have gotten in on the action and crafted their own cinematic universe. But there was a time when superhero movies were a big gamble, with Richard Donner's 1978 classic Superman helping to break new ground. The late Christopher Reeve starred as the title character, in a role he'd go on to reprise a number of times throughout the franchise. Marlon Brando played his father Jo-El, although it doesn't look like the two actors got along well on set. In fact, an old interview recently resurfaced featuring Reeve throwing some shade at the Godfather actor.

Christopher Reeve was the OG movie Clark Kent, ultimately playing the Man of Steel in four Superman movies. Marlon Brando's role as Jor-El was one of the legendary actor's last major film roles, and he's one of the many iconic aspects to the original Superman. Despite Brando's status as a great American actor, he failed to impress Reeve when they worked together. As he explained to Dave Letterman in a recently resurfaced interview,

I don’t say this to be vicious but I don’t worship at the altar of Marlon Brando. Because I feel he’s copped out in a certain way. He’s no longer in a leadership position that he could be. He could really be inspiring a whole generation of actors by continuing to work. But what happened is the press loved him whether he was good, bad or indifferent. Where people thought he was this institution no matter what he did. So he doesn’t care anymore. And I think it would just be sad to be 53 or whatever he is and not give a damn. I just think it’s too bad that the man has been forced into that hostility.

Well, that was honest. Christopher Reeve didn't mince words when speaking about his experience working with Marlon Brando. Despite the actor's long and celebrated career in film, his Superman co-star seemingly believed Brando phoned it in when working on his comic book role.

Christopher Reeve's interview with Dave Letterman recently resurfaced over on Twitter, and puts new context into his work with Marlon Brando on Richard Donner's Superman. While Marlon Brando didn't have a ton of screen time in the beloved blockbuster, he got first billing and a hefty paycheck for playing Superman's ill-fated Kryptonian father. But according to Reeve's comments, Brando was giving up his leadership role in the industry through his performance, and lack of interest in his work.

Marlon Brando in Superman

For those who don't remember, Marlon Brando's Jor-El opened the events of Superman. We saw the high ranking Kryptonian official living on Superman's home planet, sending a trio of villains onto the Phantom Zone. When the planet's destruction was imminent he sends an infant Kal-El into space. Brando's role continued from within the Fortress of Solitude, as his recorded messages help Clark Kent become a superhero.

Marlon Brando had a long a celebrated career in film prior to Superman, including his iconic performances in The Godfather, On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Julius Caesar. Christopher Reeve would go on to play a variety of roles as well, although the late actor's name is synonymous with his tenure as the Last Son of Krypton.

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Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.