Superman IV: The Quest For Peace

From Academic Kids

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace is a 1987 film, the last of the Superman theatrical movies starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. In this film Superman battled Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and his creation, a super-powered evil clone of Superman called Nuclear Man.

Unlike the previous three movies, which were produced by the Salkinds, the fourth movie was produced by Golan-Globus' Cannon Films, in association with Warner Bros. (making this the first and only Superman movie to date produced outright by WB, which had merely distributed the first three Superman movies). Reeve executed some control over the storyline.



The Daily Planet is the victim of a hostile takeover when it is taken over by David Warfield, a man who owned a number of tabloid newspapers.

Superman/Clark Kent learns that diplomatic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union are reaching a point where the two powers might resort to force to settle their disputes. Superman soon receives a letter from a child begging him to take care of the threat posed by nuclear missiles. At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman talks to the spirits of the Kryptonian council members. They tell him not to interfere with the humans, and that he should leave Earth - that there are places he could go where war is only a distant memory.

For a time, Superman is torn about what to do. He finally decides to help the people of Earth. At a meeting of the United Nations, he tells the assembly that he is going to rid the Earth of all nuclear weapons. Over the next several days, Superman takes all the nuclear weapons, and gathers them into a gigantic net in orbit above the planet. When he has almost all the weapons, he closes the net and tosses it into the sun.

Meanwhile, Lex Luthor's nephew Lenny helps break Luthor out of prison. The pair steals a strand of hair that Superman had donated to a museum. Luthor creates a genetic matrix from the strand of hair, and attaches it to the final American nuclear missile. After the missile is fired off into the air, Superman grabs the missile and throws it into the sun. A few moments after the missile explodes on the sun's surface, a ball of energy is discharged from the sun, which in a few minutes turns into Nuclear Man.

Superman, meanwhile, finds himself struggling with his dual identities via his dates with Lois (in his Superman persona) and Warfield's daughter Lacy (in his Clark Kent persona). Suddenly, Superman hears a screeching sound coming from Lex Luthor. The Man of Steel is once again lured into Luthor's hideaway, only this time he is introduced to Nuclear Man. A worldwide battle soon follows between Lex' creation and the Man of Steel. Superman is injured by the poisonous hands of Nuclear Man. The world believes Superman is dead...or, at least, according to the headlines.

Near death, Clark returns to Smallville and discovers the last crystal that was sent with him to Earth when he was a child. Heeding his mother Lara's reminder to "use [the crystal] wisely", the crystal's power revives him, enabling Superman to return to Metropolis for one last battle with Nuclear Man.

In an attempt to disable the villain, Superman lures Nuclear Man to Earth's moon, but is soon dragged into the ground by his nuclear-charged opponent. Nuclear Man returns to Earth to kidnap Lacy and take her to the moon to join Superman in death, but the powerful Man of Steel manages to escape the moon and rescue Lacy from the arms of Nuclear Man. Remembering that Nuclear Man gets his power from the sun, Superman decides to disable him permanently by throwing Nuclear Man into a cone of a nuclear power plant.

David Warfield, seeing himself defeated, finds control of the Daily Planet being returned to its editor, Perry White. In a press conference, Superman declares only partial victory in his peace campaign, but declares "there will be peace when the people of the world want it so badly, their leaders will have no choice but to give it to them."

Shortly after, Lex and Lenny are captured by Superman. Lenny is sent to the Boys Town sanitarium, while Lex returns to prison. Once again, Superman has saved the world.

Critical Response

The movie was not well received by either the general public or movie critics. Some critics considered the movie one of the worst of the year. The movie suffered from poor sound and visual effects. Many feel that the first movie had superior effects when compared to the fourth film, despite the fact the first film was ten years old at the time.

Of the four Superman films, this one fared the most poorly at the box office. Because of the poor response to the film, the film series would not return for over a decade until attempts began to bring it back in the late-1990s. Set for release in 2006 and originally believed to be a reboot of the Superman series, the new film Superman Returns is now known to be a sequel to this film and a follow up to the Christopher Reeve film series.


There are approximately 50 minutes of the film that has not been seen by the public (they were deleted after a failed Southern California test screening). In fact, there is a whole other villain, apart from Nuclear Man, who does not even appear in the final cut of the movie.

Many die-hard Superman fans have also noted that this film gives the Man of Steel powers he had never before been portrayed as having. The classic example is after the Nuclear Man destroys part of the Great Wall of China, Superman restores the wall, not by rebuilding it with his super-strength and super-speed, but by gazing at it, thereby causing the wall to rebuild itself, apparently by use of telekinesis, a power never ascribed to Superman in the comics. A contemporary film critic jokingly referred to this new power as "masonry vision".

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