— -- This past Friday marked 10 years since the death of acting great Christopher Reeve.
The "Superman" icon, who died in 2004 at the age of 52, was not only a film legend but a force in the world of spinal cord injury treatment, having suffered an injury himself in 1995. That injury left him confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Matthew Reeve, the actor's son and champion for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, came out to Comic Con in New York over the weekend to reminisce about his late father and reveal "The Big Idea" campaign, which has introduced a device that has dramatically changed the lives of four injured individuals through epidural stimulation. The device has helped these men "to recover voluntary movements" with their legs and even stand, according to the organization's website.
Reeve - flanked by four wheelchair-bound men, all wearing Superman shirts - addressed the audience at Comic Con on Saturday, by sharing what his famous father was like in everyday life.
"I absolutely understand how everyone sees him as Superman," Reeve said. "To me he was dad and he was just awesome. He could fly an airplane, he could sail a boat, he was an accomplished piano player. Just the other day, I found some of his stuff and it had this sheet music in it ... To me, it looked like someone had just taken ink and thrown it at the page, but he minored in music theory."
Reeve, 34, added that things like "table manners" were important in his household and "all the stuff that dads and kids usually go through. He was also gigantic, 6-foot-4 and muscular, so even more intimidating. But he was just great, really wonderful."
Some of Matthew's favorite memories of his father include "being with him in the cockpit of his plane."
"I can't tell you what an avionics dashboard means to a little kid," he said. "I was sitting there and there were just screens and buttons and hinges ... By the time I was 9, 10, or 11, I was a bit more responsible and I would do stuff like lower the landing gear, lower the flaps and do fun stuff like that. We got to the stage, we would do certain approaches ... just that, it's just the two of you. You're up 10,000, 12,000, 15,000 feet in the air; you're spending time."
After the Comic Con panel, Reeve spoke to ABC News and touched on his father's untouchable legacy as Superman.
"Superman was the original superhero and dad did such a fantastic job in his performance that for a lot of people, he just personified the role so strongly that it almost be impossible to disassociate," he said. "Still to this day, which is a source of pride."
Reeve, a producer, director and writer in his own right, said his father was even more impressive after he suffered the horse riding accident that left him paralyzed almost 20 years ago.
"It was incredible to see really a metamorphosis, an evolution. I mean, he was always an advocate before," he said. "But to really take on this cause and become the voice of a whole community of people that previously didn't have one, and embrace this role was really inspiring."
Reeve also shared how far research has come since his father died more than a decade ago.
"The Big Idea" treatment is technological, not biological, and "when stimulated, the participants can also voluntarily control their legs and bear weight," the website adds. The fact that it's technological, means there's great control over it, Reeve continued.
Only four people have received this treatment, but Reeve added the goal is to raise $15 million for 36 more patients and then beyond.
Reeve said his father "would be absolutely thrilled" with all the progress that's been made and that today's treatment is the equivalent of a 1991 cell phone. But the goal is to soon get to the "smartphone" version. To further explain, this device has 16 electrodes that interface with the spinal cord, Reeve said it needs to be thousands or potentially millions.
"It's the beginning of the end, we know the road ahead, we know where we want to get. It's just a question of getting there," he added. "When my dad was alive it really was if there will be an effective way of treating spinal cord injuries, that question's been answered ... the ultimate goal is to have a world with empty wheelchairs."