Superman IV: The Quest for Peace may have a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than Supergirl, but this final entry in the first modern superhero franchise is the series’ absolute nadir
Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were two Israeli film producers who came to the U.S. in the late seventies, bought moribund studio Cannon Films, and begun turning out mostly schlock. Under Golan and Globus, Cannon brought Charles Bronson back from the dead for Death Wish II, tried to restore Sylvia “Emmanuel” Kristel’s career with Lady Chatterley’s Lover, made a star of Chuck Norris, helped make “ninja” a household word, and made the world’s first breakdancing film, 1984’s Breakin’. It’s an amazing story, and is chronicled in the 2014 Australian-made documentary Electric Boogaloo.
Cannon also made Superman IV.
This is a film legendary in its badness, and even revisionists will have a hard time making a case for the movie. Golan and Globus “leased” the rights to the character from the Superman-weary Salkinds, who had made the first three Superman movies as well as Supergirl, in 1985. In 1986, Cannon released 43 films. In 1987, they were going bankrupt. Somewhere in there, Superman IV‘s budget was slashed from $30m to $17m (apparently, the producers took money from Warner that was meant for Superman IV and used it on other films).
The result is there (and not) on the screen, chintzy special effects and all.
It’s a pretty indefensible mess, although this “10 remarkable things” piece boils the movie down to its essential silliness.
I’m not sure that I have much to add except to note that most of the original cast from the first three movies is back. Additional actors include Jon Cryer and Mariel Hemingway. Cryer, who plays Luthor’s nephew Lenny, had been a huge fan of the first Superman movie. Apparently, he was apparently crushed when, shortly after the end of shooting but before Superman IV‘s release, he ran into Christopher Reeve. The older actor told him he had best lower his expectations.
Hemingway plays a rich heiress to a publishing magnate who buys the Daily Planet. A potentially interesting subplot about yellow (“fake”) journalism and freedom of the press is dumbed-down considerably. However, it does give us this exchange between Hemingway’s Lacy Warfield and her father:
Daddy Warfield: “The newspaper business is about business!”
Lacy (Hemingway): “Daddy, the newspaper business is about journalism!”
Another classic line from Lacy is: “Men like me. It’s because I’m very very rich!” Later, after getting a ride with Lois to downtown Metropolis, she complains that Lois has parked illegally. “Do you know how much a parking ticket here is?” she says.
“It’s only money!” chirps Kidder’s Lane.
Superman IV’s saving grace may be this scene:
Anyway, that’s it for the first run of Superman movies, at least for now. Next up: Tim Burton‘s 1989 Batman!