Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Our review of the fourth theatrical Superman film and the last to star Christopher Reeve. Unfortunately, it’s also the first to give story and producer credit to our main star, and he had no more real understanding of his character than the Salkinds. Or director Sidney J. Furie. Or screenwriters Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. Basically, this movie was doomed even before half its budget disappeared and Warner Brothers left a third of it’s running time on the cutting room floor. Dr. Lecter was right: half measures are the curse of it. Any sane world would’ve destroyed the film, or thrown enough money at it to finish the job.


4 thoughts on “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)”

  1. Ahem. I realize that the following may not be a ‘popular’ opinion, but I’m going to state it anyways. I have no problem with the fact that Superman 4 suffered to get me Lifeforce. And I would have no problem with Man of Steel suffering to get me a Lifeforce remake or sequel.

  2. Okay, I’ve got a question:

    After both the phenomenal failures of Supergirl and this, why did anyone want to make another superhero movie? I’d figure Hollywood’s collective backwards thinking mind would call a full on retreat from superheroes for at least 5-7 years. Instead, two years later, we got Batman ’89. So what went on to make sure Batman ’89 didn’t die in pre-production?

    1. If you put a gun to my head, my guess would be “Barbara Streisand’s old hair dresser-turned-producer, Jon Peters and his production partner, Peter Guber,” under their professional name, the Guber-Peters Company. Watch Batman again and you’ll see their credit right after Kim Bassinger’s but before “A Tim Burton Film” which tells you where they (and Burton) were in the pecking order at the time. Despite sounding like a primary school playground taunt, the Guber-Peters Company had a string of hits in the middle 80s (Clue, Rain Man, Innerspace, Gorillas in the Mist, Witches of Eastwick) and, while I can’t find all the whethertos and whyfors, I think it’s safe to assume they hitched their star to Batman sometime after 1985 (when they were alienating Steven Spielberg on The Color Purple) but before 1988, when Warners officially gave Batman its greenlight in the wake of Beetlejuice‘s success.

      By this point, the WB had assumed a more-or-less-official hands-off policy towards Superman’s movies. This allowed them to reasonably claim Superman IV was not their fault but, if the higher-ups at the WB were at all human, it would’ve also functioned as one more opportunity to kick themselves for letting Supes’ film rights slip through their fingers back in the ’70s. Best I can figure, Batman didn’t die because it’d already been in Development Hell since 1985 (when they first hired Burton) and everyone on the WB end really wanted an “in house” superhero movie hit. If nothing else, it would’ve been counter-programming to whatever abomination Cannon released next.

      And I don’t just mean a hit at the box office since this was still the 80s, when “everybody” “knew” “the real money from the movie is made” in merchandising. So with Bats’ licensing rights securely under their control (unlike Supes’), the WB could team with a company like Kenner, flood every Wal-Mart in America with movie-related toys, and make bank even if the fan’s worst pre-release fears (that it would be Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure 2 starring Mr. Mom as Batman) came true.

      But, again, that’s just my guess.

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