I know what you're thinking... "How can there be a list of ten good things about Superman IV when I can't even think of one!?" Well, the answer is simple: I wanted to see if I could actually find ten interesting things about the movie that signified the end of the Christopher Reeve Superman era. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace is just about as bad as it gets when it comes to superhero movies, but I've found that there are some fun things about the film... even if it is just laughing at how absurd it really is. Even Christopher Reeve believed it was an awful film since the budget was cut in half from the get-go. Then again, even if the movie had three times the budget, it's hard to imagine that they could've made it any less cheesy. Oddly enough, I'd still rather watch this Superman movie than the 2006 "Superman Returns" film starring Brandon Routh. I just think Christopher Reeve was the perfect guy to play Superman, and filling his big red shoes is next to impossible. That being said, just because he was a great Superman doesn't mean he wasn't in a bad Superman film. Superman IV was insanely bad, but amazingly, it could've been FAR worse as you'll soon find out after reading this article. So here's my list of ten things from Superman IV that I found to be at least somewhat entertaining.
#1: Super Hair!
Early in the film, we join a museum tour guide as she explains to the crowd how Superman was generous enough to donate a piece of his hair to them. Is that really generous though? I'd donate multiple hairs to any museum that actually wanted to put it on display, and the last thing I would call it is generous. Well anyway, the reason they have his hair on display is to show just how powerful he really is, and how do they demonstrate this? They have a big metal ball weighing in at 1000 pounds being suspended by one of Superman's tiny strands of hair. This just goes to show you that he really is the man of steel through and through. Even if Superman's peach fuzz were to separate from his body and have a consciousness of its own, it could still kick your ass. If it wasn't for Superman IV, I doubt many of us would've known about this important little nugget of information.
#2: The Overly Dramatic Elders!
So, Superman IV is all about how he wants to help the world by ridding it of all nuclear weapons, but before he comes to this decision, Supes flys back to his Fortress of Solitude to discuss it over with the elders of the Kryptonian counsel. I never did understand how those crystal computers in his home away from home actually worked. I mean, he's the only surviving person from Krypton, and yet he can have brand new conversations with people who've been dead for many years? SCIENCE!!! Well anyway, if there's one thing they've told him in the past, it's that he's not supposed to interfere with humans. This has always seemed contradictory to me, since they don't seem to have a problem with him fighting crime. "Oh sure, stop guys from stealing a TV set from an electronics shop... we have no problem with that. But stopping nuclear war? Sorry Superman, that's where we elders draw the line!" Just like in the first Superman movie when they tell him he makes the Earth spin in an opposite direction to reverse time (SCIENCE!), the elders are now telling him he c annot rid the world of nuclear weapons. "If you teach the Earth to put its faith in any one man, even yourself, you're teaching them to be betrayed." But the elders are even more overly dramatic this time, for the oldest one repeatedly says in a ghostly voice, "BETRAYED! BETRAYED! BETRAYED! BETRAAAAAYED!!!" as his visage fades away. Was there any real reason for him to do this when he simply could've told Supes not to mess with the nukes and left it at that? No. This guy just wanted everybody to know what a
horrible fantastic actor he was.
#3: Lenny's Car!
If there's one thing I can appreciate in movies, it's when they have a custom car created just for the film, and Superman IV was no exception. Young Lenny, played by Jon "Duckie" Cryer, pulls up to the pit where his Uncle Lex Luthor and the other prison inmates are working on some outdoor duty. Lenny is pretending to be lost when the guards walk up to him and start admiring his car. It's an awesome convertible with :Lenny" written on the sides, but one of the best features is the custom stereo system. It's as if they twisted a set of four exhaust pipes to look as though they were tentacles reaching up from inside the car. But instead of tearing the passengers to shreds, those pipe tentacles are there to provide some killer stereo sound.
But that's not to say this car is totally innocent. This is Lex Luthor's nephew after all, so you know he's got some kind of trick up his sleeves...
He offers the guards a chance to sit inside his nifty convertible since they seem to be so intrigued by it. Once they're inside, Lenny pulls out his Walkman which doubles as a remote control for the car. He quickly locks the doors, puts the roof down and the windows and sends the car flying over a nearby cliff. We see a big explosion, but the guards both reappear soon after covered in dirt and smoke like something straight out of a cartoon. This is a Superman movie after all, so nobody dies. Not even Duckie.
#4: The Nuke Net!
Once Superman decides to ignore the warnings of the overly dramatic elders, he starts rounding up all of the nuclear weapons on earth and bringing them way up into outer space. I'm not sure where he got it, but Supes has a giant net in which he is storing all the nukes. I don't know why, but the idea of all those nukes being stored in a net like that just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. What if he's down on Earth rounding up some more nukes and a comet or an asteroid comes by and hits one of the nukes. An explosion of that magnitude would probably knock the Earth right out of its orbit. They show Superman placing one of the nukes into the net very carefully, but just one look at all of them together would suggest that he really just tossed them in there haphazzardly.
Once he has enough nukes rounded up in his patented nuke net, Superman starts spinning the net around as fast as he can and then let's it go flying directly into the one place that they'll be safely disposed of... the sun!
Aside from the fact that those nukes would've melted/exploded long before they even made contact with the sun's surface, the explosion is extremely weak. That net easily had over 100 nukes in it and all we get is what looks like a fiery fart on the sun? I call bullshit. If that many nukes actually exploded on the sun, I have a feeling we'd no longer have any natural light on this planet, for the sun would be no more. And even if that wasn't the case, it'd still be quite a spectacle seeing that many nukes explode all at once, which this movie really failed to deliver. But hey, at least we got to see a bunch of nuclear weapons stuffed into a giant astro-net. That's not something you see every day.
(Ok, so that many nukes exploding on the sun wouldn't really put a dent in it, but come on... this is a movie where we're supposed to believe that an alien being with super powers and a colorful set of tights can push the moon in order to defeat a nuclear-powered supervillain all while not royally fucking up the tides back on Earth, so all logic and reason is clearly thrown right out the window from the very start.)
#5: Women Can Survive In Space!
One of the most ridiculous things in the movie is how the ever-angry Nuclear Man develops a crush for the new editor at the Daily Planet, Lacy (Mariel Hemmingway). So how does he express his love to her? Why, he picks her up and flys off into space with her! Ok look, I remember how Superman could take Lois Lane flying in the air all the way up to the North Pole without her freezing to death, but taking her into outer space??? Even if she didn't freeze to death (which she should've), there's no way in hell Lacy could breathe in outer space simply because she's holding onto Nuclear Man. Furthermore, once Superman blocks the sun and renders Nuclear Man powerless, wouldn't that instantly make Lacy die anyway? Well, Superman IV defies all logic and reason and let's us all know that YES! WOMEN CAN SURVIVE IN SPACE! Awesome.
#6: Faaaabulous Fashion!
Ah the eighties... a decade when the world of fashion boldly proclaimed, "You know what? It doesn't matter how bad these clothes really look on us, we're going to on believing they look totally rad!" Well, the stars of Superman IV certainly didn't shy away from wearing some of the most obnoxious outfits you'll ever lay your eyes on. Lex Luthor, his ladies and his nephew all sport some ridiculously shiny outfits during the film. We're talking outfits that would blind you in an instant if you shined a spotlight on them. Yes indeed, everybody knows that Lex is a criminal mastermind, but people often forget that he commits heinous fashion crimes on a daily basis too. But Lex and his pals aren't the only ones into the shiny fashion. Lacy wears an outfit that makes you think somebody skinned a disco ball and sewed all the mini-mirrors right onto her dress. It's fashion like this that can make you feel ten times better about whatever attire you happen to be wearing. Then again, I can't say I wouldn't mind trying on Lex's snazzy jacket there.
#7: Plugging The Volcano!
This is one of the few scenes of the movie that really seems worthy of a Superman film. After Nuclear Man flies down into a volcano, it begins to erupt as the lava flows towards a helpless nearby town. Superman quickly comes up with a great idea - what better way to plug a volcano than with the top of a mountain? So, he flies on over to a mountain and uses his laser eyes to cut the peak off. Supes then carries the severed peak right on over to the erupting volcano and drops it, effectively plugging it like a cork in a wine bottle.
Perhaps even more impressive than stopping the volcano is Superman's other power that is put on display shortly after. The Italians in the nearby town thank Superman for saving them from the deadly lava, and he responds, "Era niente. Abbia un giorno piacevole." Yes indeed, we all learn in Superman IV that within his impressive arsenal of super powers, Superman has the ability to speak any foreign language! Fantastico!
#8: Eyes Of Architectural Reconstruction!
It's always fun when we see Superman use a power we didn't know he had, especially when it's a completley ridiculous one. For example, take the scene from Superman II when he removes his chest emblem and throws it at Non, temporarily inconveniencing the big lug. Even as kids, we all knew that was a pretty stupid moment and it really seemed to serve no purpose, but it was still entertaining enough. Well, in Superman IV another super power of his is revealed: The Eyes of Architectural Reconstruction! During his "battle around the world" with Nuclear Man, Supes ends up at the Great Wall of China and saves a kid who was caught in the blast. Knowing that this is a proud national symbol of China, Superman does them a favor by rebuilding the wall that Nuclear Man blew to smithereens moments earlier. But does he use his super speed and power to replace it brick by brick? No. He shoots special lasers out of his eyes which somehow rebuild the wall automatically, as if they reversed time itself. So my question is, if Superman has had this power all along, why wouldn't he use it all the time whenever disaster strikes? If we go back to the scene in Superman II when Zod and company are wreaking havoc on Metropolis, Superman could've just zapped everything with his reconstruction eye lasers and it would've been as if nothing ever happened. And he certainly wouldn't have needed to use his super breath to blow the oil spill back into the tanker and then seal it back up with his heat vision in Superman III. It's never rare for there to be plot holes in a superhero film, but it's truly impressive when something is introduced that creates new plot holes in all of the previous films. Way to go writers!
#9: Lenny Plays Gyromite!
It's only on screen for a few moments, but amongst all the absurd things in Lenny's little playroom area is a Nintendo Entertainment System. Even better, it's the Deluxe Set and he's got R.O.B. the Robot hooked up to play Gyromite! Lenny may be a ridiculous character, but if you ask me, anybody who has the patience to play through a game like Gyromite using R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) can't be all bad. Having grown up playing the NES, and Gyromite being the first game I ever played on it, it's nice to see the game get some screentime, even if it is extremely brief.
#10: Nuclear Man!
It should come as no surprise that this guy made it on the list. Nuclear Man is the primary opposition for Superman in the film, and while he's the primary reason anybody should watch Superman IV, he's also absolutely hilarious in a completely unintentional way. Played by Mark Pillow (how's that for a harmless sounding name for a guy playing a villain?) yet voiced by Gene "Lex Luthor" Hackman, this character is ten kinds of ridiculous. So ridiculous that he easily lands in the "so bad he's awesome" category of movie characters. Let's examine a few of his "super" (or "nuclear") talents:
When Lex first introduces him to Superman, Nuclear Man makes a point to start intimidating the man of steel right off the bat. So what does he do? Apparently, wherever he walks, he leaves fiery footprints behind him. Could it be a huge plot hole that we never see his feet scorching the earth any other time in the film when he walks around? Nahh!!!
Being born of the sun, Nuclear Man has its energy flowing through his body and one of his signature powers is being able to extend his shiny silver fingernails to claw at his enemies with. No, it doesn't look badass like when Wolverines adamantium blades pop out from his hands, but it does make for some great laughs. An evil villain that scratches his enemies? Really? I'm surprised they didn't make a bad guy who gets in slap fights with the good guys. Well, as cheesy as his murderous manicure truly is, Nuclear Man does scratch Superman on the back of the neck while he was trying to save the Statue of Liberty. This results in Superman getting sick with cancer for a while. All this time we thought the sun was the primary source of Superman's power, and yet here it is draining him of his life.
MELTY BAZOOKA EYES!
It only happens once in the movie, because most of the time Nuclear man gets a kick out of raising people and objects up into the air and spinning them around, but I'll never forget the time he melted a bazooka with his eyes. Making people hover in the air while in a spin cycle may be slightly amusing, but melting a bazooka with his eyes? That's a super power that needed to be explored more. I probably would've been happy if the movie was all about Nuclear Man and his conquest to melt everything he looks at.
This is normally the point in which I would wrap up the article, but I saved an extra special little treat for last...
The Original Nuclear Man Battle!
Ok, now this is something I really wanted to share, not because I like it, but because it's absolutely amazing. And just why is it so amazing? Because most people thought there was no way Superman IV could possibly get any worse. But the fact is, it could've been ten times as bad if they had left the footage of the ORIGINAL Nuclear Man (aka: "Nuclear Man 1") in the film! You see, Lex first tried creating a Nuclear Man using conventional man-made nuclear energy, and his creation turned out to be really strong, but a complete idiot. Ignoring his better judgment, Lex shows Nuclear Man 1 a photo of Superman and tells him to go kill the man of steel. They meet up outside of a night club and get into a fight, but it doesn't last very long as Nuclear Man gets knocked into an electrical tower and is quickly turned into ashes. So that's when Lex realized he needed to harness the nuclear power of the sun in order for his Nuclear Man creation to be a true success. Most people don't seem to know that this original battle scene even existed, but to me, you can't even have a discussion about Superman IV without talking about the first Nuclear Man. So here it is for your viewing (dis)pleasure... the original Nuclear Man in action!
Stunning isn't it? His posture appears to be that of Frankenstein's monster while his theme song is something straight out of a children's television show nightmare. In a way, I almost wish they had left this sequence in the movie, because it would've been a lot of fun to see how all the fans reacted to it. Oh well, better late than never, right?
Alright, that does it for my list of the best/worst things from Superman IV. Be sure to share your favorite and least favorite things about the movie in the comments section below and also lemme know what you think of the Original Nuclear Man!
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