Superman IV - The Quest for Peace (1987) Movie Review

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool,

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Superman IV - The Quest for Peace

This week's superhero and action adventure movie review takes a look back at the 1987 Superman IV - The Quest for Peace which was the last Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve.  If you have read my reviews of Superman, Superman II, and Superman III, then you know I am not a fan of any of these movies.  Sorry, I known Christopher Reeve is great and I concede that he is the best Superman to date but these movies are terrible.  Superman IV was absolutely the dirt worst of these.  They might as well have said let's name this Screw It IV: Let's Just Do A Live Action Version of the Super Friends.

I must admit the movie started off promising.  Fifteen or twenty minutes into Superman IV I thought to myself, "This isn't that bad" but it was all downhill from there.  I can't even top what Wikipedia says about the movie, "The film was both a critical and commercial failure, with many reviewers citing cheap special effects, inconsistencies, lack of originality, and plot holes. Critics have put Superman IV in the category of the worst films ever made." Yikes.

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The movie was essentially one long lecture from Superman about nuclear weapons.

The opening of the film has Superman saving a spaceship of cosmonauts whose ship was thrown off course by debris.  That opening sequence was about the best thing in the movie.  It starts downhill from there as Superman then visits his hometown of Smallville as Clark Kent. If you remember from our earlier reviews Clark just walked away from the farm to let it grow up in weeds but apparently someone has been keeping the place up. Inside the barn Clark Kent uncovers the capsule that brought him to Earth, and removes a green Kryptonian energy module. A recording left by his mother states that its power can be used only once. Yes, this does not in anyway make sense with the first movie but if they don't care, why should I? Unwilling to sell the farm, Superman returns to Metropolis, where he stops a runaway subway train after the conductor collapses at the controls.  The fate of the farm remains a mystery I guess.

After returning to the Daily Planet, Clark Kent learns the newspaper has gone bankrupt and has was taken over by David Warfield, a tabloid publisher who fires Perry White and hires his own daughter Lacy as the editor.

Following the news that the United States and the USSR may engage in a nuclear arms race, Clark is conflicted about how much Superman should intervene but then, in a sappy scene, he receives a letter from a concerned schoolboy and Superman travels to the Fortress of Solitude to seek advice from the spirits of his Kryptonian ancestors.

They recommend letting Earth solve its own problems, or basically "screw 'em".  Then there is an utterly hateable sequence with Lois Lane where Superman uses his magical "forget this" powers on her again then Superman attends a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, announcing that he will rid the planet of nuclear weapons.  In a movie that made sense you might expect the nations of the world to go to war with this alien invader impeding their sovereignty but nope, everybody claps and cheers. Superman ridiculously gathers all the nuclear warheads into a giant net and then throws them into the sun.

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Superman meets Fully Clothed Flying Out of the Sun Man.

Meanwhile the obnoxious Lenny Luthor breaks his uncle Lex Luthor out of prison and they steal a strand of Superman's hair from a museum and create a genetic matrix and attach it to nuclear missile.  Superman intercepts it and throws it into the sun where glowing ball of energy is discharged, which develops into Nuclear Man.  Of course, Superman and Nuclear Man have a fight and Superman is infected with radiation sickness by a scratch from Nuclear Man's radioactive claws. Superman heals himself with the earlier mentioned crystal he found laying in a barn.

The Daily Planet publishes the headline "Superman Dead?" This makes Lois mad.  But Nuclear Man's weakness is, of course, a woman and he has developed a crush on Lacy. The newly restored Superman agrees to take him to her to prevent anyone else from being hurt. Superman lures Nuclear Man into an elevator car, trapping him inside and then depositing it on the far side of the moon. This is a poor plan. As the sun rises, Nuclear Man breaks free and the fight is back on. At the end of the battle, it appears as though Superman has been defeated, and he is driven into the moon's surface by Nuclear Man.  The terribleness of the special effects in this scene cannot be overstated.

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Everybody stay calm.  This suckfest is almost over.

Nuclear Man abducts Lacy, carrying her into outer space, where for no good reason, she does not die. Superman frees himself from the moon's surface and pushes it out of its orbit, casting Earth into an eclipse, nullifying Nuclear Man's powers and leaving Lacy floating in space where Superman rescues her and returns her to earth, then recovers Nuclear Man and dumps him into the core of a nuclear power plant, destroying him.

Perry White secures a loan to buy a controlling interest in the Daily Planet forcing David Warfield out. In a press conference, Superman declares only partial victory in his campaign, saying, "There will be peace when the people of the world want it so badly that their governments will have no choice but to give it to them". Everybody collectively groans.

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Just chillin' in space.

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