Awesome Music: Unlike Superman II and Superman III, this has a substantial amount of original music; John Williams didn't score this onenote can you really imagine John Williams doing an entire movie for Cannon? - his longtime friend and regular orchestrator Alexander Courage did - but he did write new themes for Jeremy, Lacy Warfield and Nuclear Man (and say what you will about the guy, but Nuclear Man does have a pretty kickass leitmotif).
Critical Research Failure: While overlooked at the time, modern audiences, as a result of countless crime dramas, are aware that only the root of the hair contains DNA, and thus Lex would get nothing of value from his theft of Superman's hair, as it can be clearly seen that he doesn't grab the root. Then again, maybe Kryptonian hair is different.
A particularly horrifying example, where Clark Kent goes to a gym with Lacy Warfield and pretends to injure his back lifting weights. It's not a direct parallel, but the image of Christopher Reeve holding his spine and wincing in pain is very eerie.
At the end of the film, Lenny gets dropped off at a boy's home, with a priest saying "We take care of boys." Flashforward to the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, and that delivery becomes really creepy.
Heartwarming Moments: When Superman first enters the United Nations' assembly, he is greeted with a standing ovation. Afterwards, he asks to speak to the assembly, but the rules say he can't do so without a sponsor. Delegates from every country offer to be Superman's sponsor by immediately raising their hands.
The Tornado sequence is sometimes reinserted into TV airings, but it doesn't take a dummy to spot the main reason it was cut from the theatrical release.
Never Live It Down: Nuclear Man remains regarded as one of the worst movie villains ever, and the special effects are so notorious in their awfulness that it's no wonder this film proved to be the series' kryptonite for nearly two decades.
The Scrappy: Lenny Luthor, for being annoying and obnoxious. Somehow Richard Pryor from the previous film seems like a good idea.
Sequelitis: The fourth and last film in the original Superman film series, this is the one with the most hard knocks/contempt and the only one to fail at the box office. Minus the Box Office Bomb part, history would repeat itself with Batman & Robin falling into this same category.
Superman IV is arguably funnier than Superman III; it has Narm in spades, and Unintentional Comedy > Failed Gags every time.
The mere presence of Gene Hackman can make anything a little better, and his Ham and Cheese here, as both clever Lex Luthor and the voice of all-brawn, no-brains Nuclear Man, is quite tasty. Jon Cryer's Totally Radical Lenny Luthor is more bearable than it otherwise would have been with Hackman to play off of.
A human woman breathing perfectly finein space, as it was originally intended for her to be in the skies above Metropolis.
Superman "rebuilding" the Great Wall of China with his... vision?
Just about every shot of Superman flying is the exact same shot, set against different backgrounds.
The film actually rewinds to simulate Nuclear Man blowing the NYPD cops backwards with his laser vision.
Most of the nuclear missiles shown onscreen are painfully obvious props.
Needless to say, the film's visual effects landed the department a well-deserved Razzie nomination that year.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: As horribly received as the film was on its initial release, many have come to regard this as a better sequel than Superman III in more recent years, since this film at least took itself relatively seriously and tried to have a genuine (if hamfisted) message rather than the buffoonery that made up most of the previous sequel. Few people actually claim it to be good, mind, but it does get a lot of slack that III doesn't.
Took the Bad Film Seriously: Christopher Reeve had to have known that the Superman film franchise was on its last legs when he signed up (with stipulations) for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. To note, Reeve would only take the film if several conditions were met, one of them being a strict anti-nuclear message. While other members of the cast understand how bad the script is (Gene Hackman was there for a check and Jon Cryer was camping it up), Reeve gives it his all and delivers the only emotionally honest performance in the film, which is especially evident in the scenes where he prepares to sell the Kent family farm, and the sequence where he delivers a stirring speech to the United Nations. It's enough to make the viewer wish that the film wasn't screwed over with the most ridiculous villain ever seen in a comic book film (Nuclear Man).
What An Idiot: Apparently, no one in Metropolis bothered to install dead-man switches into their subway trains.