Steven Spielberg and Kevin Feige lead tributes to Superman director Richard Donner

Richard Donner, director of Superman
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Richard Donner has died at the age of 91 – and some of Hollywood’s biggest names have been lining up to pay tribute and reflect on the Superman director’s storied legacy.

"Being in his circle was akin to hanging out with your favorite coach, smartest professor, fiercest motivator, most endearing friend, staunchest ally, and – of course – the greatest Goonie of all," Steven Spielberg, who worked with Donner on The Goonies, said in a statement to Variety.

He also worked closely with many of Hollywood’s leading lights, including as a mentor to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige during his early career.

On his passing, Feige said: "Richard Donner not only made me believe a man could fly, he made me believe that comic characters could be brought to life on the big screen with heart, humor, humanity, and verisimilitude. Above all he taught me that it can and must be done with respect, caring, and kindness to everyone in front of and behind the camera."

Zack Snyder, who brought his own interpretation of Superman to cinemas with Man of Steel, posted a picture of Superman’s iconic 1978 poster on Twitter with the caption "Thank you, Richard Donner. You made me believe."

Fellow superhero director Patty Jenkins posted her own tribute on Twitter, making pointed reference to Donner’s extraordinary body of work: "I loved Richard Donner as person, and massively admired him as a director. To think he made The Omen, Superman, The Goonies and Lethal Weapon in just over 10 years’ time, and many more. Stunning. Truly one of the greatest American filmmakers of all time. He will be sorely missed."

Two of the stars of Donner’s arguably most beloved film, The Goonies, also shared their memories of Donner. Sean Astin said: "He commanded attention and he laughed like no man has ever laughed before. Dick was so much fun. What I perceived in him, as a 12 year old kid, is that he cared. I love how much he cared."

Corey Feldman, who played ‘Mouth’ in the 1985 classic, described Donner as an "incredible human."

Donner began his career as a writer/director on television, including helming episodes of The Twilight Zone. His movie career kicked off in 1961 with the Charles Bronson film, X-15. The director then transitioned into horror with The Omen before moving on to Superman. Behind-the-scenes issues on the sequel eventually led to Superman 2: The Donner Cut being released, essentially completing the director's vision after he departed the project.

Donner would go on to find later success in movies such as The Goonies and Scrooged. As well as making his mark on horror, adventure, and the superhero genre, Donner was also wildly successful when ramping up the action. Donner directed Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in four Lethal Weapon movies, while his role as producer on 2000's X-Men had a profound impact on Kevin Feige's career.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.