Alex Sullivan was at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie as part of his birthday celebration.
On his Facebook profile, Sullivan wrote about how excited he was to see the "The Dark Knight Rises."
"#TheDarkKnightRises OMG COUNTING down till it start can't wait going to be the best birthday ever," Sullivan said.
His family called him "their real life super hero."
"Alex was smart, funny and above all loved dearly by his friends and family. Today was his 27th birthday," the family statement said.
"Alex was a gentle giant, known and loved by so many. He always had a glowing smile on his face and he made friends with everyone. Alex enjoyed all sorts of movies, was an avid comic book geek and loved the New York Mets," the family said in a statement.
Sullivan had a warm smile and an innocence that endeared him to people, said Shelly Fradkin, whose son Brian was good friends with Sullivan.
"He's amazing. He was just a big teddy bear. Great hugs," she said.
She said Sullivan was such a big movie fan that he took jobs at theaters just to see movies.
Fradkin and her son spent an "excruciating" day trying to find Sullivan before learning of his death, she said.
"We're shocked. We're numb. We're sick," she said. "Our hearts are broken, and we're crushed."
Friends remembered Sullivan on his Facebook wall, writing notes of condolence.
Dustin Larsen wrote, "I couldn't breath when I first heard the news about Alex. I thought NO WAY! Not him. I thought I wouldn't be connected in anyway. But we are all affected by this terrible event in one way or another."
Stephanie Hurd wrote, "I am going to miss your laugh and goofy dancing to the ridiculous music we listened to day in and day out."
"Thank you for always being there for me. I am truly blessed to have gotten to know you," Hurd said.