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YMMV / Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

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  • Anvilicious: Nuclear weapons are evil.
  • Awesome Music: Unlike Superman II and Superman III, this has a substantial amount of original music. John Williams didn't score this onenote  (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.
    • England is shown as being a member state of the United Nations. Only one problem, England hasn't been an independent country since 1707 (even as a part of the UK it doesn't even have its own discrete regional government). Even more odd since the movie (and that scene in particular) was filmed in the UK so you think some Britons would have noticed the gaffe.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • A particularly horrifying example, where Clark goes to a gym with Lacy 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.
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    • 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.
  • Funny Moments:
    • This quip from Lenny is so stupid that it comes back around to funny:
      Lex: "Do you know what I could do with just a single strand of Superman's hair?"
      Lenny: "You can make a toupee that flies!"
    • Nuclear Man spins Lenny around really fast.
      Nuclear Man: "I am an experiment? I am a freako?"
      Lenny: "Woah-oh! Hey man, I was just kidding about that 'freako' line! Oh-ho, wow!"
    • After Superman drops him in a boy's home, Lenny asks if they have drums.
    • The jailbirds mockingly start whistling "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" to Lex when Superman drops him back to prison. Lex screams at them to shut up.
      Con: "Hey, everybody, Mozart's back!"
  • 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.
    • Also, this moment from Lois where she goes to Clark's apartment after his fight against Nuclear Man which made him deathly sick from radiation, and when asked what she would say to Superman if he was dying:
      Lois: I'd want to tell him that I'll always cherish the time we spent together, and I never expected anything in return. And no matter how few minutes I saw him for, it always made me happy. And I would tell him that I love him and that I'll always love him. And... no matter what happens on this world, I know he tried his best to help us.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Superman tells Luthor at the end of the movie, "See you in twenty." The next live-action movie, Superman Returns, came out just one year shy of that length.
    • Lenny Luthor seems like the prototype for Scott Evil.
    • The pilot for Justice League seems to be a jab at this movie. Shapeshifting aliens convince Superman to disarm Earth's nuclear weapons so they can invade with little resistance.
    • Nuclear Man is a monstrosity made from Kryptonian DNA and Luthor's DNA. Are we talking about Nuclear Man or Doomsday?
    • Jon Cryer (Lenny Luthor) has been cast as "Uncle Lex" Luthor on The CW's Supergirl (2015).
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: A major complaint about Superman IV is how much it feels like a poor man's remake of the original film.
  • Narm:
    • It's laudable that the movie tries to go in a more serious direction from Superman III, but the combination of bad actors trying their best, good actors totally slumming it, a tragically tiny budget leading to loads of Special Effects Failure, and Christopher Reeve turning in the only sincere performance leaves the whole undertaking a treasure trove of accidental laughs.
    • Of note is the deleted battle with the first Nuclear Man, which is already plenty goofy on its own, but the bizarrely silly temporary score pushes it into flat-out comic territory.
    • 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.
    • Superman tricking Nuclear Man into a darkened elevator —complete with him first blocking the doors and saying "Don't go in there; she's not in there!"— comes off as precisely the sort of thing Bugs Bunny would come up with. It's a wonder Supes didn't go for the obvious punchline and hide a giant cannon behind the elevator doors.
  • 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.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Jim Broadbent is arms dealer Jean Pierre Dubois.
  • The Scrappy: Lenny Luthor, for being annoying and obnoxious. Somehow Gus Gorman 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.
  • So Bad, It's Good:
    • Aside from the combination of sincerity and cheese that usually earns a movie the designation, it's quite easy to argue that Superman IV is a better comedy film than Superman III; it has Narm in spades, and Unintentional Humor > 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.
  • Special Effects Failure: A combination of a cut budget, rushed production, and multiple effects teams (including Disney) resulted in this.
    • A human woman breathing perfectly fine in 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.
    • One of the green-screen shots of Superman flying depict him as being way too small compared to the poster in the background (which we just saw him standing next to in the previous (non-green-screened) shot.)
    • One scene has Nuclear Man breath his freezing breath to trap Superman in a block of ice. Ignoring the fact there is no water in space and thus no ice can form, this effect is represented by showing Nuclear Man exhaling his Breath Weapon, followed by a shot of empty space with Superman (already encased in ice) suddenly fading into view. What the hell?
    • The film actually rewinds to simulate Nuclear Man blowing the NYPD cops backwards with his laser vision.
    • Several moments of Superman and Nuclear Man flying, as well as the scene where Nuclear Man levitates some hapless citizens of Metropolis, clearly have the cables used to hold the actors up be visible.
    • 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, since this film at least took itself relatively seriously and tried to have a genuine (if ham-fisted) 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.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Nuclear Man zapping Lenny was very satisfying.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Nuclear Man is a supervillain who is both a physical match for Superman and can deal lethal damage to him in a fight. That should have turned out a lot better than it did.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Superman vs. A Political Issue of Global Importance? Oh What Could Have Been...
  • 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 this film. 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).
  • 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?
  • What an Idiot!: Apparently, no one in Metropolis bothered to install dead-man switches into their subway trains.
    • Also counting is Lex Luthor launching the nuclear missile before it had risen to position. For someone who is supposedly "the greatest criminal mastermind", it was only through dumb luck that he avoided nuking himself.


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