series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson


written by Dominick Cappello

DR ROCHESTER“Superman IV” was the first of the Superman films which I saw as a kid, so for me there’s a sense of nostalgia. When you’re in kindergarten, you don’t realize that the special effects are terrible and that the third act makes no sense due to the major cuts made during the editing process. It was just a good guy in tights and a cape vs. a bad guy in tights and a cape. More than enough to satiate me at the time. NOW… I cringe at wires showing, dreadfully lame blue screen shots, and inane lines of dialogue.

The Salkinds sold the film rights to The Cannon Group. Cannon was infamous for their low budget exploitation movies starring the likes Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. 1987 was the year that they futilely tried to expand into special effects centric blockbusters like “Superman IV” and “Masters of the Universe,” another childhood favorite that doesn’t exactly stand the test of time.

Christopher Reeve is as solid as he was throughout the entire series. Gene Hackman makes a welcome return as the greatest criminal mind of the modern era. The same can be said for Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, who only made a cameo in “Superman III.” In this film, Superman decides to rid the world of nuclear weapons after he receives a letter from a schoolboy begging him to prevent World War III. The Daily Planet has been reduced to a tabloid and the new owner’s socialite daughter has a crush on the mild-mannered Clark Kent, forcing Superman and Clark Kent to go on a sitcom like double date. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor escapes from a chain gang and clones a super-villain to do battle with Superman. What’s his name you ask? Well, it’s not too clever. His name is Nuclear Man.

Nuclear Man is my favorite. He’s unintentionally funnier than anything that was suppose to be funny in “Superman III.” Who is Mark Pillow? Was he an actor? Was he a male model? Either way, he was dubbed by Gene Hackman and roared a lot. Why did a solar powered clone of Superman come out looking like an aerobics instructor with a perfect Patrick Swayze “Road House” hairdo and Lex Luthor’s voice? Why couldn’t the clone have been Bizarro? That would have made much more sense. I guess we can thank Nuclear Man for making “Superman IV” one of those “so bad it’s good” films. That being said, I still won’t even try to explain how Mariel Hemingway’s character didn’t suffocate in outer space. Nuclear Man beats Superman in their first fight, then Superman beats Nuclear Man in their second fight. The end. Okay, there was more to it than that. There was a nice scene while Clark is convalescing and Lois comes to visit him.

Christopher Reeve did receive a story credit, but his Cold War nuclear disarmament message was reduced to a subplot which merely setup the creation of Nuclear Man. Also, their was another Nuclear Man who was nixed altogether. Since the intentions of this film were noble, I have more respect for it than say Joel Schumacher’s “Batman & Robin.” Sadly, “Superman IV” was Christopher Reeve’s swansong as the Man of Steel. As bad as the sequels became, he always rose above the material. It’s ironic that in the final scene of “Superman IV,” Superman says to Lex Luthor, “See you in twenty,” because it would be nineteen years before these characters would return to the big screen in “Superman Returns”.

– Dr. Rochester

Author: Dominick

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