Remembering Richard Donner: With ‘Superman’ and the ‘Lethal Weapon’ Films, He Made the Blockbuster Era Both Bigger and Smaller

There’s no denying that Richard Donner, who died Monday at 91, was one of the most influential architects of the blockbuster era.

He directed “Superman,” the 1978 man-of-steel epic that invented the comic-book movie as we know it.

He directed all four films in the “Lethal Weapon” series, which may be the quintessential incarnation of the joshingly abrasive, throwaway buddy-cop movie.

He directed “The Omen,” the 1976 Satan-is-alive-and-he’s-a-scowling-schoolboy horror film that ruled the box office and spooked a generation of moviegoers’ imaginations.Yet unlike those other formative directors of the blockbuster era, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Donner was a crowd-pleasing showman who never pretended to be a deep cinematic artist.

At his best, he worked with a straight-down-the-middle craft and vitality, and with a human touch that made his movies play like escapist fairy tales.A telling thing about him is that he didn’t just start off in television,

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