So, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, where do I start?…..
I always say films are subjective and different people take different things from films but on this occasion I think we can all agree that the final entry into the Christopher Reeve Superman franchise was bad, really, really bad. Not that I don’t love it, I do, I genuinely cant help myself but to love its over done cheese, complete lack of reality and super hammy performances!
So the budget for IV was cut dramatically due to it being put out by Cannon rather than Warner Bros themselves and boy you can tell, bot just due to the fact that a lot of the special effects shots are just reused bits of Superman from other films and put over new backgrounds but the location of Metropolis, in the past New York has been a perfect stand in for the Big Apricot but less money means less resources, so New York is replaced by Milton Keynes……now I’m not sure if you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Milton Keynes but I actually used to live there and believe me New York it is not! It is cool being able to visit actual places that are featured in the film like the Train Station which doubled as the UN and the outside of the Daily Planet, the Home Retail head office as the high end Metropolis Hyatt Hotel, or the Bannatynes Health club (former Winter Gardens) being the Metropolis museum, but once you’ve seen them in real life you get how much they cut that budget!
So location aside the rest of this film doesn’t fair much better which is a shame as Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder return to their roles after their absence from Superman 3, and all the usual suspects are back in force Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure and obviously Christopher Reeve but they are joined by Lenny Luthor played by Jon Cryer who has taken over his uncles role as it were by playing Lex on Supergirl and hes doing an incredible job there! Then there’s Sam Wanamaker as David Warfield and Mariel Hemingway as his daughter Lacy Warfiled and lastly Mark Pillow as Nuclear Man……and that’s where things fall apart, not because Mark does a particularly poor job as Nuclear Man, he works with what he’s given and unfortunately what his given is just well, kinda trash.
The story as a whole isn’t a bad one, Superman ridding the planet of Nuclear weapons, Lex takes advantage of that and creates a being to destroy Superman perfect comic book story but to do it live action takes time and money and a good script and this film just has none of that and it’s a shame, also Christopher Reeve has a writing credit on this film and apologises for it in his autobiography haha!
A lot of licence is taken in this film, with Superman’s powers, his ability to rebuild walls with his super vision is a new one, with reality, Nuclear Man flies Stacy fully into space and shes absolutely fine, which I guess would be ok if we hadn’t seen Russian Cosmonauts at the beginning of the film in full space suits….I could go on! Though that scene where Superman puts all the Nuclear missles into a massive net and hoofs it into the sun is still amazing!
Now while I may have just written about how bad this film is, I still hearken back to one of the first things I said, I love this film, it fills me with good memories, I remember when it came out on VHS for rent and my dad spent £25 to get me an ex-rental copy and I wore that tape out, for me it was just more Superman, sure now I can look back and see all the poor quality things about it but then it didn’t matter to me, it was more Superman and I loved it.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is looked at as a low point of the Superman franchise or in film generally and I get that, I can see that definitely. But I also see 9 year old me running around with a red blanket on my back pretending to fly and that for me is more important than anything else, films are for entertainment and this film above anything else sure is entertaining 🙂