We are living in a time that has things happening that are similar to things that happening 30 years ago. In 1987 the world was concerned with the possibility of the Soviet Union starting a Nuclear War, in 2017 now the world is concerned with the possibility of North Korea doing the same. Also both in 1987 and in 2017 we had Superman coming back on the big screen, and both cases in a troubled production. In 2017 there is Justice League, in 1987 there was Superman 4.
The Superman 4 conception came after the father and son duo Alexander and Ilya Salkind sold the Superman Movie Franchise rights to the worst studio at the time, Golan & Goblus/Cannon Group, following the not so good reception of Superman III and the despise for Supergirl. Christopher Reeve reluctantly returned, on the condition that he would have creative control over the movie, and then Superman IV was born. The idea made by Reeve was Superman facing the threat of nuclear missiles and deciding to take action.
Some fans are against putting superheroes in real life situations because it’s breaking the escapism of the stories. Of course when it’s done poorly, the final product will be a mess, but when it’s done good, then a diamond is born. Batman v Superman is a superhero movie that is brilliant for the concept of putting both Batman and Superman in real life situations, making the reason for the existence of the Justice League very necessary… Even though the movie didn’t have the same brilliant touch that Batman v Superman did, but it was an entertaining movie at least. Now back to Superman IV, Reeve came up with an interesting idea, with a situation that would require Superman to be a Superman. The movie also explores the idea of if it’s right for Superman to take some action to solve the worlds problems instead of letting the Earth do it on it’s own and also real jornalism vs tabloid, as in the movie Perry White sells the Daily Planet to David Warfield who transforms the Daily Planet in Buzzfeed. Judging by the positive aspects, Superman IV is actually a much better movie than Superman III, it could have been even better than the theatrical cut of Superman II, but sadly the negative aspects speaks louder.
It all started when the studio itself that cut the budget, giving Superman IV a much smaller budget than Superman: The Movie. And to make things worse for the production, instead of having almost a 120 minute run time, Sidney J. Durie, the director, had to cut 45 minutes. Then we have plot problems, like failed callbacks to Superman I and II, Lacy Warfield being able to breath in space, Lenny Luthor (played by Jon Cryer who would be known as Alan Harper in Two and a Half Men) Superman donating his hair to a museum which is a huge plot hole as anyone could go there and make some sci-fi crazy experiment… And this is pretty much what Lex did by creating Nuclear Man. It’s too bad that Mark Pillow never got a chance to redeem himself of the bad job he had in Superman IV, because the guy, at least in interviews, seemed to be a pretty charismatic man and enjoyed fighting Superman, but in the end his performance was terrible, as well as his drag queen golden nails. And speaking of fighting Superman, the action sequence of the fight between Superman and his clone created by Lex are just awful, even for 1980’s standards. Despite Superman III being the one that deserves the title of the worst Superman movie, the fight between evil Superman and Clark Kent is hands down the best fight scene in the Christopher Reeve’s Superman Qaudrilogy.
And finally, one factor that made the movie less than what it could have been is Christopher Reeve. For a lot of people Reeve is considered (and in a lot of times too much overrated) as the best Superman actor. His acting in Superman was astounding, in Superman II he kept the same quality, although his acting is shiner in the Donner Cut, and in Superman III, despite the awful plot, he was able to stand as one of the good things the movie had to offer. But in Superman IV Reeve is not. He did wear the costume, but his heart wasn’t there. Reeve wore a wig and he wasn’t in the same physical shape he was for the previous movies, and his acting sounded a bit artificial in some points.
Overall, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, is a movie that truly had potential, it could have been the best Christopher Reeve Superman Movie since Superman: The Movie, but it was just a movie that was unable to find peace.
(Review by Lord Fand Angus)