Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Posted: 30/07/2013 in Trash movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This year is without a doubt the year of Superman. We have a 75th anniversary of his first adventure in Action Comics #01, we finally have a proper adaptation playing in cinemas in (Zack  Snyder directed, Nolan produced) Man of Steel and also we have a killer new comic series Superman Unchained pairing a red hot writer Scott Snyder with (almost Rock) Superstar Artist Jim Lee. We of WORSEMOVIES on the other hand have a very different way of celebrating the legacy of Man of Tomorrow, and no it’s not by reviewing a terrible wedding issue of Superman inspired by an (equally terrible) Lois and Clark series. We dig even deeper, this month we honor Supes by reviewing the most god awful comicbook film of all times- the dreaded Superman IV:  The Quest for Peace (by,  you guessed Cannon Inc).


Warner Bros. made fantastic success with live adaptation of Superman with young and talented Christopher Reeve and then successfully drove franchize to the ground by dropping Richard Donner in the middle of the shooting of Superman II.He was replacing by  Richard Lester who’s only contact with superheroes seems to be watching Adam West’s Batman because that’s how he approached the films- campy nonsense for (probably mentally challenged) children. He added tons of unnecessary and completely imbecilic humor and because he couldn’t destroy the second part (Donner already shot approximately 75% of the movie) he made damn sure drive franchize to bankruptcy in the third one. He almost succeeded  by recruiting a maniacally raving, drugged out of his mind Rychard Pryor as the antagonist Gus Gorman. That was finally it and WB officially gave on Supes concluding (cleverly) that things have run it’s course . So when young and somewhat successful studio Cannon Inc. offered to take their burden they concluded it was a WIN/ WIN situation. They wouldn’t have to risk money making another one but as a holder of rights and distribution they could still count of hefty cut of the films earnings.

Poor Warner Bros, they couldn’t have been more wrong.By the end of 80es Ninjas/ Dudikoff/ Chuck Norris hyper-production shtick wore off and Cannon’s dabling  with a big space epic (that ended up being Masters of the Universe with Dolph Lundgren) came back to bite them in the ass. Superman IV: Quest for Peace can be seen as their one last big gamble to keep the company above the water. They lured Reeves in by promising him to produce a film of his choice after he is done with this one and also offering him some story credits.Then they halfed the planed and approved budget of $36-million and left the veteran director  Sidney J. Furie to his own devices. In the pure Cannon fashion they just had to work on 30 more movies simultaneously… Obviously they believed in quantity over quality ’till the very end.

The films itself starts with an Russian cosmonaut singing My Way by Sinatra. Their satellite ends up in a terrible accident but at the last minute Russians are saved by…Superman! And he fluently speaks Russian.After mission well done he returns to his childhood house in Smallville and in the barn where his star-ship is hidden finds a strange piece of green crystal that somehow he didn’t see for the last 30 years!

Then we see Gene Hackman (still stubbornly refusing to go bold for the iconic role, despite bolding more and more in a real life) in incredibly cartonish jail visited and the rescued by his punk cousin Lenny Luthor- Alan from Two and a Half Man! Man, this film is going down fast.

Superman.IV.1987.BrRip.720p.264.YIFY.mp4_000663329This dude is just too much!

In the meantime Superman (in his Clark identity) has a problem of his own. Daily Planet is bought by idiotic tabloid tycoon Warfield and his even more idiotic daughter Lacy, full on 80es chick (everything from crazy hair, dumb glasses and  epaulets that seem made for an American Football player AND not for a woman) is all over him.She even assigns him bunch of Night Life exposes just so she can spend time with him. Lois Lane (Margot Kieder) is of course by this point a complete wreckage of herself so she’s naturally jealous.

Now if everything wasn’t idiotic enough already we have a little asshole of a schoolboy who after discussion with his class of Nuclear Arms race decides to write Superman a letter! Because you know, Superheroes are just like Santa. And then- not only does Superman menage to receive a letter, he is truly touched and seriously considers little brat’s plan. Here we are presented with one of the many new powers characteristic to this movie, super- stupidity! Superman feeling conflicted travels to the Fortress of Solitude and  seek advice from the spirits of his Kryptonian ancestors( I don’t remember this detail). Spirits seems old and angry at the world and advice him to split the planet Earth and find the new home.

He doesn’t like this answer so he goes on the date with Lois to ease his mind and then makes he forget everything (and this is not the first time). This just seems a bit too rapey for me. Afterwords he meets a little brat at the  meeting of the United Nations (that looks more like someones birthday party than anything else- courtesy of Cannon Inc.), and officially announces that all nuclear weapons will be destroyed by his hand and that they can do nothing about it. People cheer uncontrollably possibly because they fear Superman more than they fear nuclear destruction. He than takes all the missiles, places them in the freakin’ net and throws them into the Sun!

Returning to Metropolis, Luthors steal a strand of Superman’s hair that he for some reason donated to a museum. Also it’s interesting to note that superman’s hair can hold 1000lbs without a problem yet it is easily cut by gardening shears. Lex then create a genetic matrix which he cleverly  attaches to an American nuclear missile. So, after the missile is lunched Superman intercepts it and naturally throws it into the sun. Now this is a dumbfounding part, after contact with the Sun genetic matrix develops into a super-human being, completely formed (even with a costume)!!! Not only does he look like a Californian beach idol (not Superman even thou he is his clone), he also talks in the voice of Gene Hackman?

He is also a Nazi!

Lex seems delighted by that but we hear no explanation why is it so. In fact the original script envisioned Reeve playing both parts, Superman and Nuclear Man, Nuclear Man being the evil clone of Supes. That was actually an interesting idea. Unfortunately Cannon decided that it would cost to much, and you know… those 30 other movies take money too! Luthor also  establishes that while his creation is powerful, he will deactivate if no sunlight is on him. Why is that so- it’s also left unexplained. Also it is interesting to note that Hackman despite the fact that he’s playing a brilliant, intelligent scientists he still seems unable to pronounce the word NUCLEAR… it comes out sounding nucilar, the same way another famous villain pronounced it.


Remember this one…

Also of note, while Lex is being evil Clark is doing aerobic with Lacy and bunch of other 80es women. I will never look at his the same way after this. And if that wasn’t enough he then ends up on the double date with himself (Superman) Lacy and Lois which became a series of slapstick comedy moments.


Even Superman needs to stay in shape

Finally Lex challenges him and he happily flies away to do something useful (and get away from crazy ladies, and I understand his completely). Luthor offers him drink and then presents him with his newest masterpiece- The Nuclear Man! They immediately start slapping eachother and fall from the balcony in doing so. Then after some wrestling they both remember they are capable to fly and quickly end up in space, where they slap eachother some more.


Superman’s fabulous wall- building power courtesy of Cannon Inc.

Nuclear Man seems incapable of deciding does he want to cause wreckage all over the world or does he want to kill Superman and after lots of pointless flying around he gets Superman just as he was trying to stop the destruction of statue of liberty. Of course he didn’t get him in any cool, over the top, macho way- nope! He got him with his electrical, radioactive fingernails that (seemingly irreversibly) poisoned Superman. Even the 60es Spider Man live action series had better action than this and they practically had no special effect or even practical effects to pull it off.

Daily Planet, now a tabloid newspaper proclaims Supermans demise and in one of the rare effective scenes we see Superman in pain, growing incredibly old and frail.But than he remembers the glowing crystal and uses it’s power to heal himself. Then of course he challenges Nuclear Man again, this time ready for everything he has to offer. You see different than Superman who functions like a solar panel and stores the energy he gets from the Sun Nuclear Man can not function without the light! So he chases him down to the Daily Planet and tricks him into an elevator!!! Then he traps him there and throws him on the dark side of the moon finally negating all his wast powers. He then makes new public announcement where he apologies for his action regarding the weapons race and places Luthor in jail and Lenny in juvenile home and happily flies off.


Verdict: Even a Superman 3 had some redeeming value, namely Reeves’s fantastic portrayal of evil, corrupted Superman. In this one, there is no such thing. This is not only a single worst Superman film ever but it’s quite possobly one of the very worst in a Super-hero genre that’s filled with misses as much as hits. And when you think about it it’s somewhat sad that the ultimate Superman actor Christopher Reeve, still the main personification of Supes ’till this day got a swan song like this but hey as the producer Menahem Golan would say “Now that’s a Cannon movie!”.


This guy has some anger issues!

Trivia: Reeve was beside the story input for this movie (that ended up being minimal) promised that Cannon Inc. would produce any project of his choosing. Reeve accepted, and in exchange, Golan & Globus produced the crime drama Street Smart. A long time gestating personal project for Reeve Street Smart turned out to be a fantastic film and then young Morgan Freeman got an  Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor effectively lounching his long and succesful career. Cannon of the other hand didn’t understand a movie without non- stop action, and did next to nothing to promote it and menaged to despite all the acolades the film recieved make film a finansial desopointment. I think they are some lessons to be learned from the way Golaran and Globus condusted their buisness.

  1. […] the other hand the final Christoper Reeve movie produced by non- other than Cannon Films– Superman IV: Quest for the Peace didn’t prove that influential at all.  Quite the opposite the movie was often ridiculed for […]


  2. Robert Baum says:

    The live action Spider_man series was from the 1970s, not the 1960s.


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