Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Character Names: Superman/Clark Kent
by Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org), Michael George O'Connor (Lukesky500@mindspring.com), Judy Thomas & Joyce Kavitsky (Kavitsky1@verizon.net)
After Supergirl came out in 1984 and was not as successful as the Salkinds had hoped, they sold their options lock, stock, and barrel on the Superman family, including the Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve, to Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, owners of the Cannon Group which was known for its string of profitable action films. Golan-Globus was successful in negotiations with all of the major stars and was able to lure Hackman, Cooper, Kidder, McClure and even Reeve back to do one more film. Reeve had been concerned since the beginning of the series that he would become forever linked with Superman, like George Reeves had been when playing Superman in the television series. Though Sean Connery once told Reeve when he had asked about being typecast as James Bond, "First you have to be good enough that the audience will want to see you in the role again and again." Displeased with Superman III, Reeve was not sure that he wanted to reprise his role, especially if they were going to make the film a farce. But Golan and Globus made an offer that Reeve could not refuse: He would have control over the contents of the Superman IV script and Cannon would first finance another film starring Reeve that he badly wanted to do--Street Smart. So even though Reeve had sworn he would never make another Superman movie, he said: "I'm eating my hat, that's what I'm doing. I just hope that people aren't going to assume that I did the fourth one for big bucks, that I sold out, because that's not true. I made that statement in 1983, and we began the film in 1986. A lot of time had passed."
Reeve wanted to make a film that would not be perceived as a comedy where Superman would make a difference in the nuclear arms race--an important issue in the 1980's. Because of his contribution for this part of the storyline, Reeve received a credit for writing the script. He said the concept for the film came to him in the following way: "I had seen a television show in Boston. Children were talking about what it is like to grow up in the atomic age. At the same time, people were saying that I had the attention of the kids and that I should take advantage of that. Meanwhile, Warner Brothers was saying 'let's do it,' so I said, OK, here's a way to consider this topic." Reeve told Starlog in June 1987, "I needed the motivation to really want to play Superman again, the same motivation I had in the first and second, but which I lost in the third film. In Superman III, I had nothing to say about the script, and felt a lack of involvement that way." Still, the final approval of the story did not rest with Reeve as he said, "I don't have control over the script and the story. The approvers are DC Comics, Cannon Films and Warner Bros.--they have control over everything that goes into the film. Once something is down on paper and we have a good explanation for why it's there, we can--unless it's really wrong--get it through." Reeve began working with the writers in 1986. Reeve said: "They really did the script, but this was no freebie credit. I was there and ran all the story meetings. They said they needed another scene for Superman and Lois, and I supplied it. They didn't like it at first, but they used it. It's in the film." Reeve was also on the crew as a director of the second flying unit and came up with the title's tag: "The Quest For Peace.".
This time Reeve prepared differently for the dual role than he did for the first film. For the fourth, he limited his exercise to sit-ups. Reeve said: "At my age (34), the gut begins to bulge over the yellow belt. You don't want that, so I did about three or four hundred sit-ups a day." His trainer wanted him to have a runner's body. Reeve said: "He got me into cycling to keep my weight down." He did nothing for his chest and arms because he doesn't think of Superman as Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I'm trying to get Superman away from that muscle business, anyhow. I think of him as a citizen of earth not a visitor from outer space. I don't think I'd take that side of it seriously." The way Reeve makes Superman a fellow earthling in this film instead of the muscleman of the world is by emphasizing Kal-El. Reeve says: "I look at Superman IV as the unmasking of Superman with more emphasis on Kal-El, the being from Krypton. It becomes clear in the film that both of his identities are a job--both Superman and Clark Kent are personae that he has to become for other people. At the film's heart--what we really pay attention to--is who he is underneath, which is Kal-El. The basic emotional change is that Superman feels that he is one of us now, not a visitor anymore. As soon as someone feels that they belong someplace, rather than just visiting, it completely changes the whole range of actions they take, in terms of being responsible for their new home."
In this fourth and final Superman film starring Reeve, Superman became more vulnerable. Reeve describes how the character of Superman is different: "I always think that if Kal-El had stayed on Krypton he could have been a carpenter or a cab driver. He only became Superman because he landed in a different solar system, on Earth, where his advanced powers were superior. I think he knows that." Reeve continues, "So, in this picture, I'm playing him as someone less than perfect. In this film, Superman has a lot of self-doubts and is perhaps not so sure of himself as in previous adventures. He even confesses as much to Lois Lane in a scene which I think is one of the most moving in the film." Reeve views Superman as part of a larger picture: "Superman must never be taken as Americana, except in the most affectionate and lighthearted of ways. Kal-El happened to land in Kansas. But, he could equally have landed in Tokyo or Peru. He would still have become Superman...and he would still be a hero."
For this film Clark Kent also changed into a more confident, together, less awkward and clumsy person for a good reason: Lacy Warfield, the Daily Planet's new editor. She breaks tradition by finding Superman a bit of a bore, but falls hard for Clark Kent. Reeve says: "There's no way Lacy would have fallen for Clark the way he used to be; the equation just wouldn't have worked. So although he still seems beset by more than his fair share of life's headaches--the milk for his cereal is always sour; he's attacked by the neighbor's dog when collecting the newspaper from his doorstep--I've tried to make him somewhat more together. He dresses sharper and even dances the night away at a disco." Reeve adds: "Clark is emerging. He is coming into his own, and I think he's a more appealing figure than before. But he's still no threat to John Travolta." Reeve said: "It's a nice twist to see the beautiful girl falling for the guy in glasses, and quite encouraging for every man in the audience who is going to think, 'Wow, if she can go for a jerk like Clark, perhaps she can go for me.'" Reeve explains how he plays Clark: "Clark's an exaggeration of the shy side of myself, all the insecurities and awkwardness I might have. I just magnify them a bit and put a certain lack of coordination into it--sort of slur my steps. Hopefully, the combination of earnestness minus coordination equals comedy." Superman IV: The Quest for Peace opened to the world on July 24, 1987.
And now the story.
While orbiting high above the earth, a cosmonaut performs a space-walk to repair an antenna on their space station, bellowing out the song "My Way" in Russian for the listening pleasure of his fellow space travelers. He is so absorbed in his work that he does not notice a drifting American satellite hurtling toward him. The collision is brief, but devastating, knocking the cosmonaut into space and sending the station into a tumble. Out of the darkness comes Superman. First returning the station to a stable orbit, then grabbing the drifting cosmonaut, Superman returns the spaceman to the safety of an airlock. He then told the rescued cosmonaut in Russian that he will be safer singing at the space station. Then with a polite, "Dos vedonia," he is gone.
Back on earth, Clark Kent has returned to the family farm in Smallville, Kansas. With the passing of his mother, there is no one to look after the property, so he has made the decision to sell the family homeplace. Still, there are many memories, and ghosts, remaining there. Opening the door to the barn, Clark lifts up part of the floor. In the darkness glows the tiny ship Jonathan Kent had hidden there many years before, the capsule that first carried the young Kal-El to earth. Crawling into the capsule, he lifts up a glowing, green crystal. The voice of his mother, Lara (Susannah York), fills Clark's head: "The yellow sun of your new home will give you great physical powers, but it cannot console your spirit. Placed aboard this vessel is an energy module, all that remains of a once powerful civilization, Krypton, your mother planet. It is my last gift to you. Once removed, the ship will grow cold and silent and you will be finally alone. The power of the module can be used but once. Use it wisely, my son." In the distance, Clark hears something. Using his x-ray vision, he looks through the walls of the barn and sees a car coming up the driveway. Clark removes the crystal from the small capsule, and as Lara had foreseen, the ship turns cold and vanishes from sight. Putting on his glasses, Clark goes outside to greet Mr. Hornsby, the real estate agent handling the sale of the farm and tells him that he will only sell to somebody who wants to farm the land, not to a developer. The agent is not happy about this. Nostalgically, the two stop to look at a small crib in front of the barn and then play "batter up" with Mr. Hornsby pitching a baseball to Clark--who misses. Still Clark's mind is firmly made up and again he insists that the agent sell only to a real farmer. After Mr. Hornsby leaves, Clark hits the baseball into outer space.
At the prison rock pile, Superman's perennial nemesis, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), whistles Mozart while swinging his sledgehammer to break the prison rocks. Suddenly, everyone gawks at a strange car racing through the quarry. The guards are fascinated by the garish car and when the driver offers to let them listen to the stereo, they jump at the opportunity. Unfortunately for them, the driver is Luthor's nephew, Lenny (Jon Cryer), and the car is really a means for his escape. Once in the vehicle, the seat belts tighten, the seats drop back, the windows enclose the guards, and the engine races sending the car flying into the rock quarry. As a confused pair of guards emerge from the wreckage, Luthor and Lenny make good their escape.
Clark Kent bolts across traffic trying to make the subway and get to work. A distracted Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) is also heading to the Daily Planet, practicing French for an upcoming trip to cover Paris peace talks. The doors of the subway open, then close leaving Lois on the car, and Clark standing on the other side of the door. Normally, the subway trip is uneventful, but today is different. The engineer has a heart attack and collapses onto the controls sending the car speeding down the tracks. Among all the noise in the subway, Clark hears only the scream of Lois Lane. Looking quickly around, he rushes into a telephone booth and emerges as Superman. Accelerating down the subway tunnel, Superman flies past the car, lands on the track, shorting out the third rail, and braces to stop the onrushing train. With the train safely brought to a halt, Superman makes a point of telling the passengers that travelling by subway is still the safest way to commute.
There is much commotion in the offices of the Daily Planet and, as usual, Clark Kent is late. Perry White (Jackie Cooper) dismisses him with a curt, "Hah!" and they follow the other reporters into a conference room to hear news they never thought possible. The tycoon David Warfield (Sam Wanamaker) has bought the Planet, and plans to turn it into a profitable paper. To Warfield that means tabloid sleaze, tactical cutbacks, and the opportunity to place his daughter, Lacy (Mariel Hemingway), in a position of power. The Warfields make one fiscal cut after another. Lacy announces that all travel is cancelled until further notice; so Lois will have no trip to France. Clark resents the changes for profit alone and goes to Lacy Warfield to say that while he will cooperate, his responsibility is to the truth. Lacy is impressed and expresses her interest in Clark to Lois.
In the newsroom of the Planet, all eyes and ears are tuned on the television and a speech about to be delivered by the President. This announcement is not a disappointment to Warfield, who thinks a disaster will raise circulation. Due to a failure at the disarmament talks, the US has no other option than to escalate the nuclear arms race. The speech frightens every sane being. In schools across the country, students and teachers hear the news. In a small midwest town, one teacher suggests to her pupils that one way to help is write their congressman. Jeremy (Damien McLaughlin), stands up and says that what he wants to do is write Superman. "He'll put a stop to this."
Back in Metropolis, Luthor begins hatching his newest plan--artificial life, and the DNA source for this new life is to be found in the Metropolis Museum. Superman had donated a strand of his hair for an exhibit. It is in a display case suspending a 1000-pound wrecking ball. Lex and Lenny go to the museum and boldly break through the case, cut the metal clips holding the hair in place and walk out the front door.
Back at the Planet, Lacy summons Clark into her office. Knowing that he is on his way, Lacy primps, then hops up on the desk placing herself in a very provocative pose. As he sees her on the desk, Clark nearly trips over his feet as he enters the office. Sharing the editor spot with Perry White, Lacy wants Clark to begin writing a series of columns called "Metropolis After Dark". When Clark insists that is not up his alley, Lacy coyly suggests he should give it a try, and they make a date to attend the Metro Club that evening. As Clark is searching for the perfect excuse to avoid this assignment, Lois barges into the office with a letter addressed to Superman. Handing it to Clark, he reads the letter. "Superman can rid the world of nuclear arms. Superman can make sure that we don't blow each other up. Your friend, Jeremy." While the letter disturbs Clark, Lois is disgusted when Lacy suggests that this could be the perfect angle for a story.
Even more upsetting to the reporters is the fact that David Warfield sees this as a way to make a name for the Daily Planet, and to sell some newspapers. He invites Jeremy to Metropolis, and plans a press conference when the boy arrives. At the press conference, Jeremy says that he wished Superman had responded to him. When no word comes from Superman, the headline of the Planet reads: "SUPERMAN SAYS DROP DEAD TO KID." With one look at the headline, Perry becomes enraged and storms out of the office. When Jimmy (Marc McClure) hands Clark a copy, he can only stare at it, dumbfounded. Walking out into the lobby, he takes off his glasses and stares out into the distance. Superman searches for clarity by flying to the Fortress of Solitude, where the voice of Lara again fills his head, and the Elders of Krypton appear to him. Superman asks if it is right for him to interfere with world events even to prevent a nuclear war.
Returning to Metropolis, the television news is full of reports of desperation and angry escalation. Sitting quietly in his apartment, Clark is startled by a knock at the door. He opens the door to find Lois standing there in a cocktail dress. She reminds him about a press awards dinner and Clark tells her to go without him. Seeing he is disturbed, Lois offers her help and, at Clark's request to get some "fresh air," they walk out onto the balcony, but he doesn't stop there. Clark steps on a chair, then up on the ledge. They leap into the air and fall together for a moment, then Clark accelerates reappearing as Superman, wearing Clark's glasses. Lois looks startled but not surprised, removing the glasses from his face and placing them in her belt. To the theme, "Can You Read My Mind," Superman and Lois begin to fly around the in world much the same way they did in the first film. The couple flies over Metropolis, passes the Golden Gate Bridge, chases wild horses and skims the treetops. Soaring higher, Superman lets go of Lois' hand and lets her fly on her own for an instant, before catching her and heading back to Metropolis to land at Clark's apartment. Holding Lois closely, he looks longingly into her eyes. After reminiscing together, Lois tells him that he'll do the right thing. Superman takes her into his arms and gives her a long, lingering kiss. As before, the kiss erases the memory of the last few hours, leaving Lois dazed. Superman quickly removes his glasses from Lois' belt, walks into the bedroom and returns as Clark, now dressed in a white tux. As if nothing happened, Lois gives Clark the advice he needed: "go with your gut."
In front of the United Nations Building, Jimmy Olsen is photographing Jeremy for the next edition of the Daily Planet. As Jimmy is looking through the viewfinder to focus Jeremy, the lens fills with Superman. Jeremy and Superman start across the pavilion and slowly a crowd starts to gather around the two, which gets larger as they approach the building. Lois and Lacy double park as they catch up with Superman when he enters the building. Turning to Jeremy, Superman tells him to wait for him in the press booth with Lois and Lacy until he has finished what he has to do. Superman enters the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations to a thundering applause. Walking to the front of the hall, Superman tells the Madam Secretary that he doesn't represent any country, but he'd like to address the delegates. She tells him that he will need a sponsor and every hand on the floor rises to sponsor him. Superman eloquently tells the world: "Madam Secretary, honorable delegates, ladies and gentlemen. For many years, now, I've lived among you as a... a visitor. I've seen the beauty of your many cultures. I've felt great joy in your magnificent achievements. I've also seen the folly of your wars. As of today, I am not a visitor anymore, because the earth is my home, too. We can't live in fear, and I can't stand by and watch as we stumble toward the madness of possible nuclear destruction. So, I've come to a decision. I'm going to do what our governments have been unwilling or unable to do. Effective immediately, I am going to rid our planet of all nuclear weapons." Superman gets a standing ovation and walks out.
In the North Atlantic, an American Polaris submarine begins a missile test. The missile is launched, but once it clears the ocean's surface, Superman intercepts it. In Siberia, the Russian Army is also completing a missile drill with the same result. Superman flies each missile into space, places them in a gigantic net, and hammer throws them into the sun, where they explode harmlessly.
With the news that Superman is eliminating the nuclear stockpiles of the world powers, Luthor hatches a plan. First, he meets with three black market arms brokers and with their help, Luthor arranges to get access to get an Air Force missile. That is half his plan. The other half is to place the genetic material he has "cloned" from Superman's hair on the side of the missile so that it can be flung into the sun. Posing as Army and Air Force Generals, Luthor and his cohort sneak into a missile test and enter the launch bunker. The security officer, Sgt. York, does not even question them. When it appears that the weather may postpone the test, Luthor starts barking orders and pushes the launch button himself. The missile had not been in "launch position" and just clears the bunker on its way into the stratosphere. As he had done with all of the other tests, Superman catches the missile and throws it into the sun. However, this time a fireball erupts from the sun's surface. The fireball metamorphoses into a new superhuman, Nuclear Man, born of Superman's DNA and powered by the sun. Once oriented, Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow) blazes a trail to the earth.
In Metropolis, Lacy has convinced Clark to go to a fitness spa and begin working out. True to his image, Clark is out of time and out of step--trying to do aerobics, looking like a clumsy, uncoordinated buffoon. In the weight room, the weight machine lifts Clark, not the other way around, and Paul, the fitness trainer, comes over to help. He quickly sizes Clark up to be a klutz and purposely makes him stumble, throwing a barbell at him. Gazing at Paul with disgust, Lacy sees Paul for the jerk he is, perhaps for the first time. Lacy decides to leave, but invites Clark to her apartment for high tea. With a smile, she leaves and Paul asks Clark for help with a barbell. Clark picks up a heavy set and flips it at a surprised Paul, who falls over the bench.
With a rush of solar wind, Nuclear Man arrives at Luthor's penthouse, standing on the balcony aglow with the power of the sun. Luthor walks to the massive figure, who holds out his hand and lights Luthor's cigar with his finger. But Nuclear Man has ideas other than simply doing Luthor's bidding. After Lenny calls him a "freako" Nuclear Man sends a beam from his finger which lifts Lenny and spins him around. Luthor calms the angry Nuclear Man down and tells him that he will destroy Superman in due time. Following Luthor, Nuclear Man moves into the shade and when he does his powers fade. Lex reveals to Lenny that Nuclear Man gets his powers from the Sun and without it he is useless.
Lois literally dances into Lacy's hotel room for the double date, carrying flowers that she arranges in a simple vase on a table looking out over the city. Lacy tries on outfits and asks Lois for advice. Lacy is wearing an outfit that is low in front and high at the hemline to make Clark notice. Lois assures her that he will not. The doorbell rings and it's Clark. After Lacy opens the door, Clark sticks his head into the room telling Lacy that he needs change for a twenty to pay the taxi driver. As Lacy fishes through her purse, Lois pulls Clark aside and tells him that Lacy really likes him and to notice her dress. He nods, and Lois shows him the horrible questions that Warfield has given her to ask Superman. When Lacy returns, Clark looks at her over the rim of his glasses and says, "Hey, neat dress," then whisks out the front door to pay the taxi driver. As the door closes, Superman arrives on the balcony and now it is Lois' turn to turn on the charm. Lois introduces Superman to Lacy. Ever the gentleman, Superman comments, "That's a very attractive outfit you're wearing." Lois looks at Superman curiously, quickly scurrying him into the living room. Lacy, disturbed that Clark hasn't returned, decides to go look for him. Lois begins the interview, but realizing that he must reach the lobby before Lacy, Superman uses his heat vision to cook the duck Lois has in the oven. When she runs off to see if it is burning, Superman flies down to the street and Clark quickly enters the lobby. Lacy asks Clark if they can not go back to the party but he says that is not right and makes excused for Superman. They start toward the elevator, but a bellboy's cart catches Clark and he is whisked out the door again. Quickly changing to Superman in the back of a parked car, he flies back to Lacy's penthouse. Superman lands and nonchalantly sits at the table by the pool as Lois emerges with the duck. When Lacy returns, she is still disturbed that Clark has not arrived. Quickly, Superman causes the doorbell to ring. As Lacy and Lois turn to answer the doorbell, Superman flies away and Clark appears at the door. Bumbling through the living room, Clark proceeds to knock over vases, dishes and telephones. Moving to the kitchen to clean his jacket, his hearing is blasted by a high-pitched squeal. It's Luthor using a super-high frequency, which only Superman and dogs can hear. Luthor tells Superman that he has planted a number of bombs and plans to blow twenty floors off of a nearby building. Changing to Superman on his way from the kitchen, he makes his excuses and flies off.
Landing on the balcony of Luthor's penthouse, Superman strides in confidently. Pulling back curtains, Luthor reveals Nuclear Man. Luthor explains how Nuclear Man was created. Pointing at Superman, Luthor commands Nuclear Man to "Destroy Superman." Nuclear Man grabs Superman and the two smash through the penthouse railing, battling in the air on the fall to the street. Since both have equivalent powers, neither man ever really has an advantage, and all they can do is wrestle each other. Nuclear Man speeds off with Superman following him high above earth. Superman hits Nuclear Man from behind knocking him back toward earth. Nuclear Man flies to the Great Wall of China and smashes large holes in the landmark as tourists watch in alarm and one falls off the ledge. Superman saves the tourist and then using another unknown power, Superman replaces the blocks and rebuilds the wall with a form of power vision. He then chases Nuclear Man back into space where they exchange blows. Nuclear Man blows Superman away, freezing him in a block of ice and then flies away.
Returning to earth, Nuclear Man drills into a volcano causing an eruption. Superman breaks the icy bonds and speeds after Nuclear Man. Seeing the eruption, Superman uses his heat vision to slice through the peak of a mountain. He lifts the peak and places it into the volcano like a stopper in a bottle. Then, flying over the city, he uses his super-breath to cool the lava. Again, Superman speeds into space after Nuclear Man where they battle. Nuclear Man extends his nails, which begin to glow. Superman knocks him away and again, Nuclear Man flies to earth. This time he sees the Statue of Liberty, and lifting it, heads across the bay to the city where he lets the statue fall. Realizing the damage the statue could do if it fell into the streets, Superman speeds to catch the statue and begins to return it back to Liberty Island. However, Nuclear Man flies up behind Superman and slashes him on the neck. Nuclear Man's nails tear through Superman's flesh, injuring him. Weakened, Superman struggles to place the statue on its base, then falls heavily to the ground. In a savage attack, Nuclear Man kicks Superman into the distance. As he disappears into the sky, Superman's cape floats on the wind, coming to rest beneath the gaze of Lady Liberty.
Warfield surprises his daughter by making her publisher of the Daily Planet, and giving her Perry White's office. Entering the office, he points to a piece of red cloth, "Superman's cape. We bought it cheap," he says. Lois runs into the office holding the now tabloid shaped Daily Planet with the headline "Superman Dead." She grabs the cape and hurrys from the office after quitting because of her anger at the irresponsible headline. Warfield watches Lois leave and turns to Lacy, telling her to let Lois go and to fire the absent Clark Kent. When Lacy complains, her father lectures her. But, infuriated she tells her father to "stuff it." She catches up with Lois as she is leaving and pleads with her that she had nothing to do with the headline and asks if she heard from Clark.
At Clark's apartment, the lights are dim and it is obvious that he is ill. After knocking on the door then using her credit card to open the door, Lois enters as Clark stumbles to the door while hurriedly putting his glasses on. He tells Lois that he has the flu. Lois hands Clark Superman's cape after poring her heart out to him about her love for Superman. He can only watch as she closes the door and leaves.
With Superman out of the way, Luthor feels free to meet with his international arms merchant comrades. They are so pleased with the turn of events, and the increase in their profits, that they tell Luthor that they want to increase his commission. But Luthor has decided on another tact. "Gentlemen, I've decided to assume control of the company. You're fired," he screams as he holds up a contract for Nuclear Man to Burn with heat vision. At first they just stare at Luthor, but within seconds the ruthless Luthor has Nuclear Man scare them off.
Haggard and weak, Clark appears near death. Literally crawling to his pack, he opens the pouch and removes the glowing green crystal. For the last time, Lara's voice fills the room. "All that remains of Krypton's energy is yours. After it is gone, you will belong solely to your new home. If our dying planet can save your life, my son, we have not died in vain."
Pacing alone at Luthor's lair, Nuclear Man sees Lacy Warfield's photo on the front page of the Planet, and a strong current of passion courses through him. Speeding to the Planet building, Nuclear Man stands in the street screaming "Where is the woman!" Police and S.W.A.T. teams move in to stop him, but they stand no chance against his powers. Suddenly, a revitalized Superman arrives. Telling Nuclear Man that he is there to protect Lacy, Superman lures Nuclear Man into the building. In a fit of rage, Nuclear Man tears directly through several floors of the building until he again finds Superman standing defiantly before an ornate door. Nuclear Man pushes his way past Superman and forces the door open. Before he can realize what is happening, Superman pushes Nuclear Man into the elevator, and quickly shuts the door. With no light, Nuclear Man loses his powers and sinks quietly to the floor. Flying to the top of the Daily Planet Building, Superman pulls the elevator through the roof and heads to the moon where he drops the elevator in a crater. A few rays of the sun eventually slip through a crack in the door, newly re-energizing Nuclear Man.
Superman has patriotically gone to visit Tranquility Base, where the first Apollo astronauts landed, and is straightening the flag left by them when Nuclear Man strikes, blasting him backwards into the flag with energy bolts from his hands. Superman flies swiftly around the moon, hitting Nuclear Man from the back, but Nuclear Man quickly gets the advantage and pounds Superman into the moon's surface. With his nemesis eliminated, Nuclear Man heads back to earth to get Lacy. Emerging from the hole in the moon's surface, Superman replaces the flag and speeds off to earth. Nuclear Man has kidnapped Lacy and is flying with her in space. To stop Nuclear Man this time, Superman causes an eclipse of the sun by moving the moon out of orbit and placing it in front of the sun. Nuclear Man immediately goes powerless, and Lacy struggles to hold onto him. Superman grabs Lacy and heads back to earth. Returning to the powerless Nuclear Man, Superman takes the advantage, guiding him to earth then throwing him into the core of a nuclear reactor. Once there, the power scales on the plant go off the charts, lighting up the whole eastern seaboard.
Back at the Planet, Lois and Jimmy are watching Perry direct workers to remove Warfield's sign from the Planet Building. And when Warfield comes down to fire Perry, Perry informs him that while he was busy playing with the Planet, Perry had convinced a number of people to back him financially to buy majority shares of the Planet. Now Perry owns the newspaper. The old-style Planet has just come off the presses. Jimmy grabs a copy and hands it to Warfield.
At the United Nations, Lois, and Jimmy are present to report on a new speech by Superman. Clark shows up, and tells everyone that he is feeling much better. Lois reminds Clark that she is there to report on the speech, and he is to get the crowd response as Clark realizes that he forgot to bring a tape recorder and heads off. With a rush of wind, Superman arrives and takes his place behind the podium and eloquently says: "Once more, we survived the threat of war and found a fragile peace. I thought that I could give you all the gift of the freedom from wars. But I was wrong. It's not mine to give. We're still a young planet. There are galaxies... out there. Other civilizations for us to meet; learn from. What a brilliant future we will have. And there will be peace. When the people of the world demand it so badly that their governments will have no choice but to give it to them. I just wish that you all could see the earth the way that I see, because when you really look at it, it's just one world."
In an attempt to quickly get out of town, Luthor and Lenny are trying to escape in Lenny's car. Suddenly, the car rises. Beneath the car is Superman, flying them away. Superman drops Lenny off at the Boy's Reformatory and proceeds to return Luthor to the penitentiary rock pile. As Superman descends to land, all of the convicts start whistling Mozart. Luthor asks Superman how he beat Nuclear Man and if the world is going to be vaporized. Lifting off, Superman looks back at Luthor who is staring at him dumbly. "See you in twenty."
Above the clouds, Superman flies over the earth keeping watch. In a graceful sweep, he flies into our line of sight. He is no longer a visitor, and must now be ever vigilant, always watching. He will always be there, because the fight for justice never ends.
The original version of this film ran 134 minutes. However a test audience in Los Angles told reviewers that the movie dragged so long that the director cut 45 minutes to speed up the action leaving Superman IV: The Quest for Peace as the shortest in the series (89 min). Unfortunately, the 45 minutes that were cut tied up many loose plot ends and explained a lot of action. This made the film rather confusing. "From its opening shot--a Soviet cosmonaut singing 'My Way' in Russian as he works on an orbiting satellite--the first half of this film is sheer delight," a People critic wrote. But there is a problem with the second half: "There isn't any....One minute Superman is cowering in his apartment, the next he is zooming off triumphantly into the credits." The syndicated television version shown on TBS, WGN and other stations runs only 3 minutes longer at 92 minutes, adding a scene in the Soviet Union where Superman saves Moscow from a nuclear bomb which Nuclear Man ignites during the May Day parade, and a scene in which Superman saves a girl (played by Reeve's real life daughter Alexandra who was four at the time) from a tornado created by Nuclear Man. There was one known showing of the complete 134-minute version in 1989 on the now defunct SFM Holiday Network. Otherwise, the opportunities to view the long version have been extremely rare.
When Superman IV: The Quest For Peace was released, Warner Bros. and DC Comics did not team up to make nearly as much memorabilia and merchandise as they had for the film's predecessors. For instance, there was no Topps trading card set released, nor any American souvenir programs, or even a soundtrack album. The memorabilia that was released with Reeve's image included a Japanese photo book, eight 11"x14" lobby cards, a press kit, posters, a set of eight 7-11 plastic Slurpee cups, a collector's edition Poster Magazine, a wall clock, and a Scholastic Inc. novel by B.B.Hiller with eight pages of photos from the movie.
This film should have marked a return to the excellence of the first two Superman films. The storyline was compelling and the original cast members were all there along with the addition of interesting characters played by Mariel Hemmingway and Sam Wanamaker. Sydney Furie was a respected director whose credits included The Ipcress File. But the reality of the film was far different. Cannon may have promised a big-budget film, but they were not prepared to pay for it. In Still Me, Reeve described filming Superman IV as "simply a catastrophe from start to finish." He wrote: "We were also hampered by budget constraints and cutbacks in all departments. Cannon Films had nearly thirty projects in the works at the time, and Superman IV received no special consideration. For example, Konner and Rosenthal wrote a scene in which Superman lands on Forty-second Street and walks down the double yellow lines to the United Nations, where he gives a speech. If that had been a scene in Superman I, we would actually have shot it on forty-second Street. Dick Donner would have choreographed hundreds of pedestrians and vehicles and cut to people gawking out of office windows at the sight of Superman walking down the street like the Pied Piper. Instead, we had to shoot at an industrial park in England in the rain with about a hundred extras, not a car in sight, and a dozen pigeons thrown in for atmosphere. Even if the story had been brilliant, I don't think that we could ever have lived up to the audience's expectations with this approach." And audiences were disappointed in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. The film wound up earning just $17 million overall, less than the first two weeks' receipts of the original.
Even during production, Reeve knew he was in the midst of a film that would hurt his career but there was nothing he could do about it. There would have been legal action if he had walked away from the set and the livelihoods of several hundred people who had jobs on the film depended on him. Jon Cryer, who played Lex Luthor's nephew told an interviewer about a year after the film was released that Reeve had taken him aside just before the release and told him it was going to be "terrible." Cryer said regarding working on the movie and his talk with Reeve: "the movie was his idea and the idea was great, and the shooting was great, and Gene Hackman was doing wonderful improvisational stuff--I loved working with him--and then Cannon ran out of money five months ahead of time and released an unfinished movie...No, I am not kidding! Rent it. You will see. You can see the wires. They did not finish it. And they used the same flying shot like four times. That was the problem with it, and that's why Chris leveled with me and said, 'It's a mess.' And I said, 'Oh, great.'" In his personal life too, there was little comfort. "Not only was the film a mess," Reeve wrote "but my relationship with Gae was deteriorating. In spite of the tremendous sorrow I felt about leaving the children behind, Gae and I could no longer keep up appearances. When the production ended in February 1987, I moved back to New York. Gae and the children remained in our house on Redcliffe Road." Just when it seemed things could get no worse, they did.
If such a wonderful being as Superman actually landed on this weary planet, it does not require a lot of imagination to figure that he would eventually become involved in ridding the earth of nuclear weapons. However, Barry Taff and Kenneth Stoller claimed the idea was theirs. In 1987 they brought a $45 million lawsuit against Reeve as well as Warner Bros, and producer Cannon Films for allegedly misappropriating Taff and Stoller's story treatment. According to Reeve, their script was received but set aside like dozens of others and he would testify that he had never read it. But Taff and Stoller got Reeve's home phone number and began a series of repeated calls to him. The September 1987 Cinefantastique reported that the idea had been to stop the film's July 17 release. The judge in the case ruled that there was no question that an implied contract existed between Taff and Reeve to develop the treatment. Reeve denied that he had ever done more than "riffle" through it. The script had been read by top studio executives as well. On April 3, 1990 Reeve said on Larry King Live, "The suit is against myself and against Warner Brothers, claiming that I took somebody else's idea. I most emphatically did not, and I can't comment more than that. Unfortunately, the individuals, the plaintiffs, are trying to wage a smear campaign in the press. I simply won't respond to it." The judge did not acknowledge the alleged similarities between Taff and Stoller's treatment and the screenplay submitted by Reeve and two other writers. The similarities alleged by Taff in court documents cover Superman IV's basic premise which involves the superhero saving the world from nuclear destruction by disarming all nuclear weapons. Reeve countersued the two for $100,000 for defaming him. At one point Reeve indicated that he would walk off any show that asked him about the Taff and Stoller lawsuit as he did on Entertainment Tonight. The lawsuit finally went to court in early 1990. At the pretrial hearing, the judge asked the parties if they would submit to a decision made through the American Arbitration Association. All parties agreed to the suggestion, and the matter was arbitrated there with Tuff and Stoller losing decisively. But that wasn't the end of it. The two took it back to the courts, and when they were rejected, they appealed it all the way to the California Supreme Court, losing once more. Even though Reeve had won the battle, the suit cost him a lot of money and anxiety, as well as causing some damage to his reputation in spite of his victory. This lawsuit probably further interfered with how the film was received at the box office by putting a stigma on it as well as strengthening Reeve's resolve to never make another Superman movie.
Throughout all four films there was always a beautiful performance by Reeve. His weakness to Kryptonite, his exciting fight with the Phantom Zone criminals, his battle against himself and his always popular smile to the viewer as he flew around the Earth, at the end of each movie. I'm convinced that what made the Superman movies "really good," was him. Even if the story wasn't up to par, it had the "real" Superman in it and I could never refuse a chance to watch Superman in action. Marc McClure who played Jimmy Olsen couldn't agree more as he said in the June 1987 Starlog: "Chris told me he would like to direct now, which is fine, but Superman is such a great subject, he can't just put it down and say, 'I don't want to do Superman anymore.' As long as the films are being done well, it's just such a positive thing. Chris should do Superman forever--the world needs heroes!" Marc McClure's words were prophetic in a way he could not have imagined in 1987, as Christopher Reeve has himself become one of the world's heroes.
"Siegel and Shuster created a piece of American mythology. It was my privilege to be the onscreen custodian of the character in the '70s and '80s. There will be many interpretations of Superman, but the original character created by two teenagers in the '30s will last forever." - Christopher Reeve.
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