Vulcan Stev's Database

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Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Superman IV


Christopher Reeve …  Superman / Clark Kent
Gene Hackman …  Lex Luthor / Voice of Nuclear Man
Jackie Cooper …  Perry White
Marc McClure …  Jimmy Olsen
Jon Cryer …  Lenny
Sam Wanamaker …  David Warfield
Mark Pillow …  Nuclear Man
Mariel Hemingway …  Lacy Warfield
Margot Kidder …  Lois Lane

Synopsis from IMDb: Superman does a lot in his newest adventure. Arch villain Lex Luthor, determined to make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man. The two super-powered foes clash in an explosive screen extravaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, repulse a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna, rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China and perform many more spectacular feats.

Reviewers: VS, PIT#1, PIT #2, PIT #3

VS – .5 pointed ears
The problem with Superman is that he only has two weaknesses (three if count a writer’s inability to come up with plausible movie that the average person would understand) and one major villain.  Superman’s vulnerability to Kryptonite becomes boring when used over and over and downright stupid when misused (see Superman III).  Superman’s vulnerability to magic is probably not something the producer’s of the movie want to deal with.  Lex Luthor works best as villain as a manipulator of events, one of the few things that Superman IV did well.

The idea of a “super”man/god on Earth trying to fit in with his adopted home is something that the comics deal with on a regular basis.  QFP did not succeed in its attempt to cover the same ground.  Superman displays some rather unique abilities in this film, Super-hypnosis (kissing Lois to make her forget), Super-telekinesis (putting the Great Wall back together).  Physics takes a beating in this movie when Superman is able to talk in space and carry the Statue of Liberty by the tablets without it breaking or bending.

The main problem with adapting comic book heroes to the big screen is that a comic book has approximately 24 pages per month to set up subplots, villain backstory, and motivation.  A two hour movie is not always the best media for an ongoing character.  The script for this movie was too ambitious for the time allotted.  People expect a certain amount of action in a super hero movie.  Superman’s internal struggles with being a god among men is good drama when done correctly but makes for lousy action.  This movie didn’t even do a decent job of portraying the internal struggle.

Given the less than stellar script, the hookiness of the villian ( a clone of Superman would’ve made for a GREAT Bizarro as in John Byrne’s “Man of Steel”), and the funky abilities, this movie deserved to die a foul death at the box office.  The one good thing that came from Superman IV is that its box office failure kept the Cannon Group from making an equally crappy Spider-Man movie.

PIT #1 – 0 pointed ears (can I give it a negative rating?)
This movie made no sense.  There are cuts in the movie that felt like the producers left important scenes on the cutting room floor, either that or the script was poorly written.  Superman had some pretty strange powers in this movie as well.

PIT #2 – .01 pointed ears (actually I wanted to give 1/1,000,000th of a pointed ear but Dad insisted on as few zeroes as possible)
The idea behind the script was a good idea but the execution was pretty poorly done.

PIT #3 – 0 pointed ears
This movie did a good impersonation of a Hoover vaccuum cleaner.  It sucked, Daddy.  Why was Superman able to repair the Great Wall of China by waving his hand? 

.51 pointed ears out of 8.
I got this movie out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart only because our local video store didn’t have it to rent and my kids didn’t believe me when I told them this was a lousy movie.  “Dad it’s Superman, how bad could it be?”  You can see from the ratings, that they now agree with me.  Don’t buy this movie unless you’re a completest and have all the other Superman titles in your collection.  Don’t waste your time on this flick.  Seriously, it’s not even a “good” bad movie (like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes).

March 3, 2009 - Posted by | Comic Books, DC, Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , ,


  1. When, oh, when, do we get to see you and the family review Attack of the Killer Tomatoes?

    Are bribes required? Cause I’m not above that.

    Comment by drcheckmate | March 3, 2009

  2. Dude! Get out of my head!

    For Stev, is this part of the “Gaming in the Universe of” series, or a just a break? ‘Cause if it is, you really need to do I-III, as well as Superman Returns

    Of course, having re-read the post, I’m guessing this is one of those ‘bad example’ movies. As in, no movie is completely worthless, as it can always serve as a bad example.

    Comment by Hank Harwell | March 3, 2009

  3. @Hank – I’m intending for this to be a “Gaming in the Universe of…” article but first we need to review I, II, III and ‘Returns’ since that apparently is the sequel to II.

    @Dr.C – Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is on my list of want to review but we have to wait for it to get recent viewing.

    I intend for each movie reviewed (or series) to have an accompanying “GitUo” article.

    Comment by Vulcan Stev | March 3, 2009

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