Movies | July 5, 2021 6:53 pm

Richard Donner, “Superman” and “The Goonies” Director, Dead at 91

He also made "Scrooged," "Lethal Weapon" and many more

Richard Donner
Director Richard Donner (L) and producer Mark Canton attend a screening for the 20th anniversary of the film Lethal Weapon.
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

If you came of age in the 1970s or 1980s, odds are good that you have can quote lines from several films by director Richard Donner. Donner’s long career included a host of blockbusters, including Superman, The Goonies and the Lethal Weapon films. Variety reports that Donner died on Monday at the age of 91; he is survived by his wife and producing partner Lauren Shuler Donner.

Donner’s path to high-profile directorial assignments took a roundabout way. He started his career as an actor, but made a shift to directing early on. He worked in television throughout the 1960s and 70s, having a breakout hit with the 1976 horror film The Omen. From there, he went on to direct 1978’s Superman — the first of many blockbusters, and one which set a high mark for the superhero genre. Besides his work there, Donner is probably best known for the Lethal Weapon films, The Goonies and Scrooged.

As news spread of his death, a number of Donner’s collaborators paid tribute to Donner and his work. “Dick genuinely cared about me, my life and my family,” Danny Glover told Variety. He was far from the only actor or filmmaker to speak warmly about Donner’s demeanor and empathy.

As director Edgar Wright phrased it in a Twitter thread, Donner’s skill involved rooting large-scale films in the work done by the films’ casts — a lesson many blockbuster filmmakers have lost sight of.

Besides his work as a director, Donner also made a mark on the film industry as a producer, with involvement in everything from The Lost Boys to X-Men. While not as obviously seismic a figure in late-20th century Hollywood as some of his peers, Donner left a substantial mark on filmmaking — and in the worlds and characters he shared with audiences around the world.