Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

Jeremy’s Letter:

This is nothing more than a little more stiff acting from the kid playing Jeremy. Going on the acting, maybe it’s a good thing this subplot was minimized.

Superman’s Visit

A scene of Supes visiting Jeremy in his class and telling him he promised to not interfere. Nothing more to say, really.

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Nuclear Man’s Prototype:

This bit and the next one are actually fairly interesting (in theory), as they concern the first version of Nuclear Man.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

We begin with Lex creating an entire creature out of Superman’s hair cells, and going by the image on the radiation chamber, the idea was to have Supes battle something pretty hideous and intimidating…

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

Well, he is hideous. It’s undercut, though, by a goofy little tune that follows him around that sounds like something from a really shitty Atari game from 1982. Actually, that’s not being fair to shitty Atari games from 1982. My bad.

And in case you’re wondering, and God help you if you are, yes, this doofus is naked when he appears, except for a large piece of circular machinery covering his junk.

I won’t be showing you that, by the way. You’re welcome.

He also talks… sort of, and if you thought the other Nuclear Man sounded somewhat… challenged, this guy makes him sound like a Rhodes Scholar.

He also laughs incessantly (not in a creepy “why so serious?” way, either), and doesn’t fly so much as he sort of leaps and crashes. If you thought the dignity in the film was compromised before, Jesus H. Christ. I think they were trying to reference the Superman villain Bizarro, but to put it mildly, they failed.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

There is one mildly amusing bit where Lex looks at the Daily Planet, and bitches about the drop in quality.

Metropolis After Hours:

Now we find that the goofball has picked up a girl in a nightclub, who freaks out when she opens his shirt to reveal… Well, I don’t know enough about radiation to say exactly what it is, but it doesn’t put her in a “must blow this guy at once” frame of mind, whatever it is.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

Superman exits the club, and a really cheesy, stupid fight ensues, complete with that goddamned tune that just undercuts everything we’re seeing. Seriously, it takes the campiness in the third movie and amplifies it to alarming levels. Which is, to be fair, kind of what Cannon tended to do: take a genre and make it so over the top and excessive that other exploitation filmmakers just walk away shaking their heads and muttering.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

That aside, Superman wins pretty easily, and I’m just dumbfounded by the idea that this even made it into a rough cut of the film.

Lex Ponders:

Lenny brings in what’s left of Nuclear Man 1.0, and Lex… well, ponders what went wrong. I think Hackman signing on to do the film could be one thing.

Flying Sequence (extended scene)

Just more flying stuff. Lois flies on her own… somehow. God, these shitty scenes are making my head hurt.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

Battle in Smallville:

This is an extension to the first battle between Superman and the blonde mongoloid version of Nuclear Man. The cut footage here is a portion of the fight that takes place in Smallville.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

I think the idea is that Nuclear Man somehow causes a tornado (or maybe one is in progress as they arrive), and Superman has to rescue a little girl after she’s hilariously sucked out of her top floor window into the storm.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

Superman lands, does the usual Boy Scout routine, and sees Nuclear Man waving to him in a field and beckoning him to come closer. Yes, our evil supervillain has roughly the same taunting techniques as a pro wrestler. It’s a truly useless interlude.

Battle in the U.S.S.R.:

This is a small clip of Supes and Nuclear Man taking their fight to the Soviet Union. The bad guy somehow activates a missile and swings it towards some Russian soldiers, only to have Superman thwart him. Not much to see here, really.

Nuclear Arms Race:

This is a brief two-minute clip that shows Luthor working out a deal with Russian officials, while arguing that world peace is a devious Western plot. We next find him under arrest for conspiring with the enemy, and making basically the same pitch to a senator, only now world peace is a communist plot. He also offers to replenish nuclear supplies, naturally for a “reasonable price”.

A cheesy montage of the U.S. and Russian supplies being replenished ensues (complete with cash register sound effects), and really, this just gives Gene Hackman something to do and better explains the large pile of money he has at one point.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

Superman’s Sickness:

Just more of Clark looking like death warmed over, and stumbling around like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Nothing more to see here, move along.

Red Alert:

This is a rather long segment that starts with Lacy arguing with her father. Nuclear Man comes in and flies off with her, and brings her back to Lex. Lex begins to realize his creation is going to provoke a nuclear war, and he goes in as Nuclear Man heats himself and flies off, with the idea being his heat signature will be seen as a nuclear missile in flight.

The ruse seems to work, as both sides prep nukes, and this sort of thing is really better off in an actual quality thriller. Keep Hackman, though, that guy is always good.

Lex and Lenny prepare to leave, but Superman comes in by way of the elevator… You know, I’m too tired to even bitch about that one.

 “Relax, it’s not the real guy. You think he’d be asshole enough to not use the damn window?”

Supes plans to use Lacey as bait to lure in Nuclear Man (insert random “Superman is a dick” joke here) and he flies her off into space (Albert already did enough of a number on this, plus I have my own rant on it reserved for later). Actually, to be fair, an action figure of Superman flies into space. No, really.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

Even worse than that, the big plan is to fly up with Lacy… and drop her, in the hopes that the smitten Nuclear Man will catch her. Wow… It’s been said before, it will be said again, and I’m gonna say it right now: Superman is a dick!

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

Nuclear Man appears, and Superman slams into him or something, which causes his signal to cut out, putting an end to the nuclear strikes as Superman catches Lacy. I sort of wish they’d left that in, actually. Not because it’s any good, because it’s not. Mariel Hemingway’s legs, on the other hand…

Let’s move on, shall we?

By My Side:

This is just a brief bit with Lacy at Luthor’s place, and Nuclear Man comes in and abducts her… again.

Clark and Lacy Say Goodbye:

This is a brief farewell scene between Clark and Lacy, which is good, since the last we see of her in the final version is her just vanishing. At least here, Clark subtly sells her his farm.

No Borders:

We finish with an addition to the end where Superman takes Jeremy for a flight… in space. Screw it, just screw it. We’re done here.

Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) (part 2 of 2)

The DVD is better than the film deserves, with a decent commentary track and a decent selection of deleted footage. You can see why it was deleted (and I think I’ve shown why, as well), but really, the only reason to own this thing is if you dig crappy movies.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Recap Supplement: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

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  • “With the new Superman movie coming out next year, now seems as good a time as any to take a look at a relic from the last time the Man of Steel graced the silver screen.”

    Are we pretending that Superman Returns never happened? If so, I’m okay with that.

    • Toby Clark

      Given that he mentions it in the following sentence, I’d guess he’s treating the DVD release of Superman IV as a relic of Superman Returns’ cinema release.

  • Thomas Stockel

    Mentioning Superman being a dick reminds me of the awesome Superdickery web site.  Everyone should check it out. 🙂

    I saw this film in theaters and it just made me feel…uncomfortable.

    • SteveWD

      Not to mention that the Nuclear Man 1 scenes just basically show Superman mercilessly beating the most mentally challenged ‘villain’ of all time.  Superman should have just patted Nuc 1 on the head, gave him a cookie, and sent him on his way.  I would have loved to see the test audience reaction to the original cut.

  • Cristiona

    “doesn’t fly so much as he sort of leaps and crashes”

    Kinda like the original Superman!

    • edharris1178

       Only without the flair and panache.

  • The_Stig

    No comments about how Nuclear Man 1.0 bears a striking resemblance to Gary Glitter?

  • drdvdplayerhandbook

    I remembered reading a long time ago the comic based on this film and being puzzled at the appereance of Nuclear Man 1.0.  Later I learned that comics based on films are based on the original scripts and usually keep scenes that are later deleted from the movies.

  • PhysUnknown

    Is it possible that Mark Millar saw the deleted scenes featuring Nuclear Man 1.0 before writing “Red Son”? Nuclear Man 1.0 bears a striking resemblance to Superman 2.0 (including origin).

    • Jonathan Campbell

      Nuclear Man 1.0 is based off of Bizarro, a classic Superman villain. Superman 2.0 is also meant to be a version of Bizarro. They look similar because they are both based on the same character.