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Film / Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

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Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is the fourth and last official installment of the Superman movie series that started in 1978 with Superman: The Movie. Released in 1987, four years after the poorly-received (but reasonably profitable) Superman III, this film was an unmitigated flop, both critically and financially.

Directed by Sidney J. Furie, the film's plot revolved around an anvilicious anti–nuclear weapons message and a risible villain named "Nuclear Man" (no relation to DC Comics hero "Firestorm, the Nuclear Man"). When a young boy asks Superman to rid the world of said weapons, he finds making the decision a challenge but ultimately agrees to do so, and the world's governments approve. Unfortunately, Lex Luthor has just escaped from prison with the help of his teen nephew Lenny (Jon Cryer). Lex becomes a black-market arms dealer and takes advantage of Superman's disposal of weapons to create the hero's Evil Knockoff, Nuclear Man. Meanwhile, a media tycoon (Sam Wanamaker) buys out The Daily Planet and turns it into a glorified tabloid, while his daughter, Lacy Warfield (Mariel Hemingway), takes an interest in Clark Kent.

Superman IV was plagued by a severely reduced budget compared to previous films in the franchisenote  (courtesy of The Cannon Group, which bought the franchise after the Salkinds sold it due to the poor reception of Superman III), and it shows in copious amounts of Special Effect Failure throughout. The returns of Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder to the cast did nothing to save this movie. It's also notable as the shortest film in the series at barely an hour and a half. One cut extended action sequence features the "prototype" of Nuclear Man, who closely resembles DC Comics' Bizarro. The comic book adaptation actually addressed several plot holes and Deleted Scenes, including the aforementioned failed prototype Nuclear Man. It also changed Superman's speech from being idealistic to the point of unintentional self-parody to a message of vigilance.

This film contains examples of:

  • Absurd Cutting Power: Lex Luthor has to use a pair of bolt cutters to cut one of Superman's hairs. The hair in question is holding up a 1000 pound weight on its own, so it's pretty strong. Maybe bolt cutters could cut it with some effort, but Luthor cuts right through it as if it was just a normal strand of hair.
  • Actor Allusion: Lenny Luthor (played by Jon Cryer) has the same hairstyle as Cryer's character Max Hauser/Andrew Morenski from the same year's Hiding Out, except that Max/Andrew dyed his sideburns blond, while Lenny dyed the top of his hair red.
  • The Artifact: Due to a whopping 45 minutes being cut out of the film, some of the things don't make much sense. There was an entire sub-plot where Luthor created a "prototype" of Nuclear Man, who was destroyed by Superman, leaving behind only a lump of protoplasm, which Luthor then uses to create the second (more powerful) Nuclear Man. As this was removed, there's no explanation for how Luthor got the protoplasm he uses to make Nuclear Man, although there's some dialogue looped in in an attempt to Hand Wave it. Later, Nuclear Man sees a picture of Lacy in the newspaper and immediately flies away to kidnap her. This is because the prototype Nuclear Man had a Villainous Crush on her, and thus so does the second Nuclear Man. Without the whole subplot, however, it comes across as a total Non Sequitur why he's so obsessed with her.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Superman and Nuclear Man battle from Metropolis to China to Italy within a short period, with all three locations in daylight.
  • Artistic License – Geology: Nuclear Man causes Mount Vesuvius to erupt, and Superman stops the eruption by plugging the mouth of the volcano with a hunk of rock cut off from a nearby mountain. Doing so in reality would momentarily stop the eruption, but high-temperature gases would keep building up inside the magma chamber, increasing the pressure so much that the entire volcano would eventually explode, causing much more damage than a natural eruption.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: Yeah, the sun is a bit more than "a huge nuclear bomb," Lex.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Superman IV would drive a physicist into catatonia:
    • Human beings breathe perfectly fine in space.
    • When Nuclear Man lets go of Lacy in space, she falls down.
    • Near the climax, Superman pushes the moon to block the sunlight, which is Nuclear Man's power source, leaving him momentarily powerless. Here, The Wedge Principle comes in play, as Supes applying great force on a very small point would have broken the moon in half.
  • Artistic License – Politics: It is never explained how exactly Supes wants to convince independent and completely functional governments to just give up their nuclear weapons to him. And that's not even going into the disastrous consequences of such thing on a geopolitical scale. Enter Nostalgia Critic and Linkara:
    NC: Did Superman just say he's going to rid the world of nuclear weapons by himself... whether the governments are willing to or not?
    Linkara: Mmhmmm.
    NC: And everyone's...okay with this?
    Linkara: They are, Critic. Which means that it's time to play... INTERNATIONAL POLITICS! [A flashing logo of "International Politics" comes on screen with game show music, while the Critic looks around in confusion] All right Nostalgia Critic! You're Israel, you're surrounded on all sides by enemies who would happily see you wiped off the map. However, the only thing keeping them at bay is your nuclear arsenal. Now Superman comes along and says that he's going to take that arsenal away. Whaddaya do?!
    NC: Uhh, um - tell him to hump my ass? [A buzzer goes off]
    Linkara: Oh I'm sorry, Critic! The correct answer was "applaud wildly"!
    NC: Damnit!
    Linkara: Next question, and this one's for the game. [The Critic makes determined expressions] You're the Soviet Union. You're engaged in a cold war against the United States, and the fear of mutually assured destruction via nuclear weapons is the only thing keeping you and the US from engaging each other in combat with conventional weapons. Suddenly Superman comes along and says that he's going to take away all your nuclear weapons. Whaddaya do?!
    NC: Oh! I know, I know! Applaud wildly! [A bell dings rapidly]
    Linkara: That is correct! [Celebratory music plays as the Critic laughs excitedly] You win the grand prize, Critic! You get to continue watching this crap!
    NC: Damnit!
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Not just Superman this time, Nuclear Man takes Lacy up and Superman takes the kid who wrote to him in a deleted scene. Though the Comic-Book Adaptation gives the boy a spacesuit.
  • Big Bad: Lex Luthor.
  • Brains and Brawn: Lex Luthor and Nuclear Man. (Lex sees it as analogous to an American football coach and "the best power forward ever".)
  • Broken Aesop: Nuclear Man, a villain meant to personify everything bad about all things related to nuclear fission, is powered by solar power of all things. While this is scientifically plausible (as the sun is basically a giant fusion bomb), it still seems silly for the villain in a Green Aesop story to be powered by one of the most environmentally friendly power sources known to man.
  • Bullying a Dragon: When Nuclear Man arrives at Lex's penthouse, they argue a bit about who is the boss — the creation or the creator who knows his Weaksauce Weakness. Lenny butts in by telling Nuclear Man, "Yeah, you're just an experiment, freako!" Insulted, Nuclear Man levitates Lenny and spins him in mid-air until Lex tells him to knock it off.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Lenny Luthor. Lex never misses an opportunity to insult him for his lack of intelligence, noting that "I've always considered you the Dutch Elm disease in my family tree" in his first scene, for instance.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Mr. Warfield tries to use Superman's cape as a promotional gimmick, Lacy finds herself to have had enough with him.
  • Call to Agriculture: Lacy Warfield buys the Kent farm from Clark in a Deleted Scene at the end.
  • Canon Discontinuity: After Superman Returns was released, this film, along with Superman III and Supergirl (1984), were ignored.
  • Canon Foreigner: The movie's not exactly short on them — Nuclear Man, the Warfields, Lenny Luthor, and Jeremy are only the most consequential to the plot.
  • Canon Immigrant: Brian Michael Bendis has revealed that Nuclear Man will appear in his Superman run.note 
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Lana Lang is completely absent, despite having become Perry White's new secretary with a Ship Tease towards Clark at the end of Superman III.
    • Lex Luthor's henchmen from the first two films, Eve Teschmacher and Otis, are also nowhere to be seen.
  • Continuity Nod: When Clark reveals his secret identity to Lois, this evidently causes her to remember all the events of Superman II, recalling Kal-El's true name and the words his people left to him. Once Superman has finished asking her for advice, he uses the same "psychic kiss" from that movie to wipe her memories of the encounter.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Superman is the Unwitting Pawn of Lex's scheme to create a "nucular [sic] man", lobbing the nuclear bomb that contains his genetic material into the sun.
  • Dead Foot Lead Foot: The subway. Not only is there no preventive measure for such a thing here, but the lack thereof makes Big Blue's speech about public transportation being the safest way to travel slightly comical.
  • Death by Irony: Nuclear Man dies when Superman drops him into the reactor of a nuclear power plant (having knocked him out). Of course, this should have revitalized him if the movie obeyed its own rules.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lacy Warfield. Though deep down she resents her father, she grew the spine to stand up to him only after he tried to use Superman's cape as part of a gimmick. Also, she tries to woo Clark to prove Lois wrong, only to see he is a bona fide Nice Guy and comes to like him when she sees this.
  • Demoted to Extra: Not to the extent that she was in Superman III, but Lois Lane still spends much of the film sidelined in favor of Lacy. However, this time she has a few important bits at least, most notably where she gives Superman back his cape, which had wound up at the Daily Planet after Mr. Warfield tried to use it for a cheap headline after Superman's defeat.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Jeremy writes a letter to the Daily Planet, asking Superman to help rid the world of nuclear arms. At the next day's press conference, Jeremy says disappointedly, "I just wish Superman would have said yes." The Planet (under the Warfields' ownership) publishes and distorts the headline into "Superman Says 'Drop Dead' to Kid!" When New York City faced bankruptcy in 1975 and Mayor Abraham Beame asked the federal government for a bailout, President Gerald Ford gave a speech denying the request, and the New York Daily News published the headline in reference to federal relief which read "Ford to City: Drop Dead" — which the New York Times later admitted Ford never said.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Nuclear Man.
  • Dumb Muscle: Nuclear Man; as Lex quietly quips to Supes when he introduces the two to each other, he's "Not one of your great thinkers!" He does get a little cleverer by movie's end, asking Lex "What do you fear?" at one point, apparently out of curiosity, and he figures out Superman's Achilles' Heel quickly enough (endanger citizens and then attack Superman while he's distracted with rescuing them).
  • Empathy Doll Shot: In the scene where Nuclear Man starts the volcanic eruption.
  • Evil Knockoff: Nuclear Man, of Superman. He's also arguably an Evil Knockoff of his own prototype, who, like Bizarro from the comics, is more confused and misunderstood than outright evil.
  • Expy:
    • Mr. Warfield is based on Morgan Edge from the comics. He's also a No Celebrities Were Harmed incarnation of Rupert Murdoch.
    • Nuclear Man himself is something of an Expy to Bizarro. This is especially apparent in the original cut, where "Nuclear Man One" is a very childlike buffoon who Does Not Know His Own Strength.
    • Lacy is like Cat Grant. Both are romantically interested in Clark, though Lacy does it to prove to Lois that "all men are attracted to [her]" because she's "very, very rich".
    • Lenny Luthor is basically a Gender Flip version of Lex's niece Nastalathia from the comics.
  • Expy Coexistence: In one scene we see a poster in the background that mentions New York. But Metropolis pretty much IS this universe's version of New York, complete with a Statue of Liberty (which even appears later in the film).
  • For the Evulz: Why Nuclear Man heads out to cause Monumental Damage once he and Superman meet.
    Lex: Destroy Superman.
    Nuclear Man: First, I have fun!
  • Fake Twin Gambit: Superman AND Clark Kent have a double date with Lois and Lacy. Of course he pulls it off.
  • Foreshadowing: Lois notes that Perry, as he leaves the Daily Planet offices after his ouster by Mr. Warfield, looks like "my dad when he went to the bank to ask for a loan." As it turns out, that's exactly what Perry's headed out to do, and it's what saves The Daily Planet. (He convinces the bank that the old-style Planet is something worth protecting, and the loan allows him to buy up outstanding shares of stock in it, rendering Warfield a minority stockholder who's unable to control it.)
  • Furry Reminder: A non-animal example. When Nuclear Man randomly chooses people to hurt, Superman yells "No! The people!", reminding the viewers that Superman and Nuclear Man aren't people.
  • Genetic Memory: Featured in the expanded cut: Nuclear Man is a clone of a previous Nuclear Man, who passed his knowledge of Superman and infatuation with Lacy on to his successor.
  • Hammered into the Ground: At one point in the fight scene on the moon, Nuclear Man pounds Superman into the lunar soil, complete with over-the-top sledgehammer sound effects.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Nuclear Man demands the opportunity to "destroy Superman now" in his first scene, only for Lex to say no. When Lex finally gives the OK, Nuclear Man decides he'd rather go on a rampage first. Had either of them been more eager at the crucial point, the end might well have been different.
    • Mr. Warfield skipped a few important details in taking over the Daily Planet, as Perry White said.
  • Hulk Speak: Nuclear Man. "Destroy Superman!" is practically his catchphrase!
  • Hurl It into the Sun: Superman rounds up all the nuclear weapons on Earth and throws them into the sun. Unfortunately, Lex Luthor attaches a genetic matrix created from Superman's hair to the final nuclear missile. And when Superman throws it into the sun, the result is the creation of Nuclear Man, who Superman then has to fight.
  • Idiot Ball: Apparently, no one in Metropolis bothered to install dead-man switches into their subway trains.
  • Immoral Journalist: A major sub-plot of the film is David Warfield (a Rupert Murdoch-esque media magnate) purchasing a majority stockholding of the Daily Planet and immediately turning it into a tabloid newspaper with zero regard about whether or not the news are true. One of the articles we get to see published, and one that makes a major impact on the plot, is taking Superman's admission that he's reluctant to get involved with Earth's international politics because he thinks it's not his place and he'd appear to be bossing people around — and twisting it into "SUPERMAN SAYS 'DROP DEAD' TO KID". Later, the Planet instantly jumps from "Superman not seen since fight with Nuclear Man" (as other papers are reporting it) to "IS SUPERMAN DEAD?"
  • In-Joke: "Visual Effects (U.S.) [by] Olsen, Lane & White."
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik", which Luthor was whistling at the prison quarry before his escape, is whistled by the other inmates when Superman drops him off at the end.
    • "No pain, no gain" at the gym (where Clark tries his hand at working out without using his powers).
    • Lenny gets one from Nuclear Man: "I'm an experiment? A freako?" In Lex Luthor's voice. Lex Luthor, who has a penchant for IronicEchos himself such as "...this old, diseased maniac"
  • Irony:
    • Nuclear Man is solar-powered. Yep, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the horrors of nuclear war and the supposed dangers of nuclear energy is also the most eco-friendly supervillain ever created. Then again, "nobody's perfect".
    • Also, Superman himself is solar-powered. Admittedly, before this time his powers were mostly ascribed to being a Heavy Worlder. Around this time, John Byrne rebooted the character in the Man of Steel miniseries, and Superman's cells absorbing solar radiation to fuel his abilities became the primary explanation for how his powers worked (and unlike Nuclear Man, Supes can hold a charge).
  • Karma Houdini: A really weird example: during Nuclear Man's attack on the Great Wall Of China, he blasts a bunch of holes in the wall. A girl falls off into one of them, and if you look carefully, an extra standing next to her clearly pushes her off (?!?!?). While Superman saves her, everyone just cheers and no one seems upset about the attempted murder that just happened, nor does Superman punish the guy in any way.
  • Kick the Dog: There's a scene where Superman is flying Lois around and "accidentally" drops her, and then catches her. While it's supposed to be funny, it makes him come across more as an asshole than anything elseinvoked especially considering he could have screwed up and killed her for real.
  • Kid Amid the Chaos: A deleted scene has Nuclear Man create a tornado, only for a girl to get caught up in it, leaving Superman to rescue her. It's much, much, much invokednarmier than it sounds. (The crying girl in question was apparently played by Christopher Reeve's daughter, Alexandra — and by a wholly unconvincing dummy.)
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: A plot device introduced in Superman II becomes invokeda bit more disturbing in this film. Superman comes awfully close to using this power as a date rape drug.
  • Leg Focus: Lacy flirts with Clark by sitting on her desk in a way that's showing her legs.
  • Majority-Share Dictator: The Daily Planet sub-plot begins with David Warfield purchasing the majority of the Planet's stock and immediately turning it into a tabloid. The subplot ends when Perry White manages to convince multiple investors to purchase enough of the newspaper's stock to vote Warfield out.
  • Monumental Damage: The Great Wall of China and the Statue of Liberty. Superman uses his eyes to repair the former ... somehow.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Inverted. The day David Warfield buys the Planet, when Clark enters the newsroom, he identifies the new boss as the "tycoon who owns all those sleazy tabloids." Lois and Jimmy correct him: "Who owns all those sleazy tabloids ... and The Daily Planet."
  • Mythology Gag: Lex and Lenny creating protoform ("creating life"), just like in the Superboy comics where a teenage Lex tried the same thing.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Surprisingly, Superman's "Rebuild-the-Great-Wall-of-China-Vision" is not quite the most ridiculous in the character's many decades of stories.
  • Nice Girl: Lacy Warfield. Her father is an enormous Jerkass and gave her the job of publisher through nepotism, but she is a genuinely nice person who resents his treatment of the Daily Planet employees.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Superman's attempt to end nuclear weapons leads to Nuclear Man's creation.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Narrowly averted. Lex, impersonating a general on a U.S. Army base, gets impatient with the technician's pace of aiming the missile that will 'deliver' Nuclear Man and fires it himself. Somehow, the missile clears Earth's atmosphere when it could have blown the base to bits.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: One subplot is about the Daily Planet being taken over by a Rupert Murdoch stand-in. Likewise, Jeremy is a Gender Flip stand-in for Samantha Smith.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Nuclear Man is solar-powered. The name comes from Lex's ludicrous misunderstanding of the sun as a "huge nuclear bomb".
  • No Ontological Inertia: Nuclear Man is entirely solar powered, which, in addition to the other problems listed on this page, means he immediately falls into a coma as soon as he's out of direct sunlight. Why he can't "charge up" on solar power like a solar panel with a battery is a mystery.
  • Nuclear Nullifier: Superman decides to get rid of all the world's nuclear bombs.
  • Obviously Evil: Lex's circle of greedy corporate co-conspirators, especially the one who complains about daylight with no apparent medical reason.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The second and third films were simply numbered; this installment gained a subtitle, "The Quest for Peace."
  • Out of Character: Brilliant mastermind Lex Luthor keeps pronouncing "nuclear" as "nuke-you-lar".
  • Paid Harem: Lex Luthor has one.
  • Papa Wolf: Mr. Warfield tries to protect Lacy from Nuclear Man.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Nuclear Man.
  • Planetary Relocation: Superman uses his superstrength to move the Moon in an attempt to defeat Nuclear Man.
  • Plug the Volcano: After Nuclear Man causes Vesuvius in Italy to erupt, Superman uses his heat vision to cut the top off a nearby mountain and plugs the crater with it.
  • Plot Hole: How does Superman instantly know that Nuclear Man is referring to Lacy Warfield when Nuclear Man asks Superman "Where is the woman"? Baffling in the theatrical cut of the film, it's only slightly less so in the extended cut. In that version, the first incarnation of Nuclear Man apparently fell in love with Lacy before Superman killed him. Even then, it's something of a leap in logic for Superman to deduce that the second Nuclear Man has all the memories of the first.
    • Or Superman was just pretending to know to dissuade the rampaging Nuclear Man, who is ranting about some woman. Whether Superman knows to whom he is referring or not, he says, "Give it up. You'll never find her."
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Jeremy, the boy whose letter to Superman moves him to get rid of all the world's nukes, has a teacher somewhat like this. "I know you're all upset about the crisis..."
  • The Power of the Sun: Nuclear Man has powers derived from the Sun, which are apparently "turned off" when not exposed to sunlight. The movie is incredibly inconsistent about the details of this.
  • Reality Warping: Superman's "Rebuild the Great Wall of China" Vision.
  • Rousing Speech: Superman's speech at the United Nations is played like this, with every delegate, including those from nuclear-armed powers, cheering his unilateral declaration of global nuclear disarmament. Few viewers of the same speech in Real Life have bought it, if any.
  • Rule of Three: Lex gets money from three backers to undertake the project that spawns Nuclear Man: a Renegade Russian military officer, an American industrialist, and a French Jerk.
  • Same Language Dub: Gene Hackman provides Nuclear Man's voice. Lampshaded in Luthor's first scene with him.
    Luthor: You have my voice.
    Nuclear Man: No, you have MY voice.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Clark declines an offer to sell his family's farm to a developer who wants to build a shopping mall on the land — he'll only sell to "a real farmer."
  • Self-Damaging Attack Backfire: During the moon battle, Superman strikes back at Nuclear Man by flying straight into him, bowling him over. Unlucky for Supes, the attack also puts him out of commission, and for longer than it does his foe, letting Nuclear Man gain the upper hand again.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: This trailer for the Superman anthology does not include any clips from Superman IV.
  • Skeleton Key Card: Lois uses a credit card to get into Clark's apartment to return the cape Superman lost in his battle with Nuclear Man.
  • Smokestack Drop: Nuclear Man is thrown down a cooling tower of a nuclear power plant.
  • Stupid Evil: Lex Luthor claims himself to be the biggest criminal mastermind of his generation, yet not only does he launch a nuclear missile before it's in proper firing position and causing it to narrowly miss the bunker he's in, but at the end of the film he tries to flee Metropolis in a car that sticks out like a sore thumb and could not be more obvious if it had a giant neon sign saying LEX LUTHOR were attached to the back.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: At one point Nuclear Man manages to wound Superman with his claws, giving him a cancer-like illness due to the radiation. He uses his last Kryptonian Crystal to cure it, but in the later fights Nuclear Man has numerous chances to claw Superman again (which would almost certainly be fatal, as he has no crystals left to cure it) but avoids doing so for no apparent reason.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: Nuclear Man spends half of the climax trying to destroy various monuments (such as the Great Wall Of China or Statue of Liberty) seemingly just to be a dick.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The comic adaptation has Superman deliberately killing Nuclear Man, which brings up the issue of whether Nuclear Man was a thinking, sentient being or just an automaton with Luther's personality and voice.
  • Time Zones Do Not Exist: The final battle between Superman and Nuclear Man takes them from Metropolis to China to Italy in a fairly short period; it is daytime in all three places.
  • Too Dumb to Live: As shocking as the Statue of Liberty being dropped on you might be, good citizens of Metropolis, if you have enough time to point up at it and yell, "Wouldja look at that!", you probably have enough time to try to run away from it, too.
  • Totally Radical: Jon Cryer is trying far too hard as Lenny Luthor.
  • Two-Timer Date: Pulled when Clark has to go on a date with Lacy and give an interview to Lois as Superman at the same time. Hilarity Ensues as even Superman has trouble maintaining the charade despite having super speed and all that. Made all the more annoying because Clark had outed himself to Lois as Superman twice in the film series, the more recently in this movie, but erased her memory for reasons inscrutable. Similarly, director Sidney Furie applies a heavy-handed, self-serious touch where the sequence calls for a deft, farcical one.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: During the runaway subway train sequence, Superman flies right through another station on the same line, and apparently, none of the waiting passengers thinks the sight of Superman flying through the station is anything worth reacting to.
    • There's also a weird inversion where Superman is flying Lois around and points at something, indicating "hey, look at that". We then cut to his (or maybe Lois') point of view and just see ... a seemingly random shot of the city with nothing special about it. Huh?
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Lex Luthor and his nephew, Lenny.
  • Voodoo Shark:
    • Lex throws in a couple bits of fabric with the Superman DNA, so that the reaction which creates Nuclear Man also "weaves" enough from them to give him a costume. Honestly, would anyone care if the movie just skipped the issue of why he's not nude?
    • Superman's "reconstruction vision": Late in the movie, Nuclear Man blows a hole in the Great Wall of China, Superman just sort of stares at the wall, and it basically magically rebuilds itself. Some have tried to Hand Wave this as him using telekinesis, but this doesn't really work as the bricks of the wall don't reform and float into place but basically just magically reappear, complete with a silly noise. Which raises the obvious question of why he doesn't just do this every time a villain ravages a city or otherwise destroys something important, as, to name just one benefit, it would likely save millions in repair costs. (Indeed, the very same movie has the Statue of Liberty ripped off its base at one point. While Superman saves it and puts it back, it would still need to be reattached to the pedestal somehow. Why didn't he deem that worth using his repair vision on?)
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Nuclear Man loses his strength in the shade.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jeremy and Lacy both vanish from the film without explanation; the former after Superman's speech to the UN, and the latter after Nuclear Man's defeat. Yet again, the scenes showing what happened to them hit the cutting room floor. Clark invites Lacy to carry on at the Daily Planet, but she decides to stay with her father and try to reform him. Jeremy, on the other hand, gets taken on a flight by Superman ... into space. Where the two have a conversation. The former scene's deletion is puzzling given it was only about 30 seconds long, but the latter omission is probably more justifiable.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Superman invites Lois on a flight, similar to the scene in the first film. In that film, Lois accidentally slipped from his grasp, forcing him to rescue her. Here, he decides to drop her deliberately and then rescue her, for reasons which don't really make sense.
    • Actually, it looks like he gently flings her forward, letting her momentum carry her forward for a few seconds; afterward, he asks how she liked "flying solo." Still, given her initial Oh, Crap! reaction, a little warning beforehand would have been nice, so the trope still applies to a degree.
  • Wolverine Claws: Nuclear Man sports some nastily sharp bag-lady claws. And when Big Blue gets scratched, he contracts a case of radiation poisoning.
  • Writer on Board: Christopher Reeve was given creative control of the story, a thinly-veiled veneer for his opposition to nuclear weapons and corporate control of the media. In one particularly jarring scene, Superman saves the passengers aboard a runaway subway car, then offhandedly gives a speech to a group of nearby pedestrians about the benefits of mass transit.
    • Like much of Superman IV, it's a Call-Back to Superman: The Movie, when Supes informs Lois that flying is still the safest way to travel. Again, there's a lack of fine touch, so he seems more like an idiot than a boy scout.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: The look on Superman's face conveys the trope perfectly when he sees Nuclear Man lifting the Statue of Liberty off its foundations and flying it into downtown Manhattan.