Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is a 1987
British-American superhero film directed by Sidney J. Furie, based on
the DC Comics character Superman. It is the fourth and final film in
the original Superman film series, and the first film in that series
not to be produced by Alexander and Ilya Salkind, but rather by
Golan-Globus' Cannon Films, in association with Warner Bros. The film
starred: Christopher Reeve as Superman / Clark Kent, Gene Hackman
returned as Lex Luthor, Jon Cryer played Lenny Luthor, Mariel
Hemingway was Lacy Warfield and Margot Kidder played Lois Lane.
Superman IV was a box office and critical failure, with many reviewer
complaints about the cheap special effects, lack of originality and
plot holes. Critics have put it in the category of worst films ever made.
visits his home-town of Smallville after his adoptive parents have
died. In the barn of their now-unattended farm, he uncovers the
capsule that brought him to Earth, and removes a luminescent green
Kryptonian energy module. A recording left by his mother Lara states
that its power can be used only once. Unwilling to sell the farm to a
mall developer, Superman returns to Metropolis only to discover that
the Daily Planet has gone bankrupt and has been taken over by David
Warfield, a tabloid tycoon who fires Perry White and hires his own
daughter Lacy as the new editor who takes a liking to Clark and tries
to seduce him.
Following the news that the United States
and the Soviet Union may engage in nuclear war, Clark is conflicted
about how much Superman should intervene. Superman travels to the
Fortress of Solitude to seek advice from the spirits of his
Kryptonian ancestors who recommend that he let Earth solve its own
problems. After asking for advice from Lois Lane, Superman attends a
meeting of the United Nations, announcing to the assembly that he
will rid the planet of nuclear weapons. Various nations fire their
nuclear warheads into space, which are collected by Superman into a
giant net (yes a giant net) and then thrown into the sun.
Meanwhile, young Lenny Luthor breaks his
uncle Lex Luthor out of prison and after stealing a strand of
Superman's hair from a museum, and create a genetic matrix which Lex
attaches to a U.S. nuclear missile. After the missile is test
launched, Superman intercepts it and throws it into the sun. A
glowing ball of energy is discharged, which develops into the
superhuman "Nuclear Man" which Lex unleashes on Superman.
In 1983, following the mixed-to-negative
reaction to Superman III, Reeve and the producers, Alexander Salkind
and his son Ilya, assumed that the Superman films had run their course.
Reeve was slated to make a cameo in 1984's Supergirl but was
unavailable; that film was a box-office failure. Two years later,
Ilya Salkind sold the Superman franchise to Golan and Globus of
According to Cryer, who played Luthor's
nephew Lenny, Reeve had taken him aside just before the release and
told him it was going to be "terrible". Although Cryer
enjoyed working with Reeve and Hackman, Cryer claimed that Cannon ran
out of money during the production and ultimately released an
In Reeve's autobiography Still Me, he
described filming Superman IV:
We were also hampered by budget
constraints and cutbacks in all departments. Cannon Films had nearly
thirty projects in the works at the time, and Superman IV received no
special consideration. For example, Konner and Rosenthal wrote a
scene in which Superman lands on 42nd Street and walks down the
double yellow lines to the United Nations, where he gives a speech.
If that had been a scene in Superman I, we would actually have shot
it on 42nd Street. Richard Donner would have choreographed hundreds
of pedestrians and vehicles and cut to people gawking out of office
windows at the sight of Superman walking down the street like the
Pied Piper. Instead, we had to shoot at an industrial park in England
in the rain with about a hundred extras, not a car in sight, and a
dozen pigeons thrown in for atmosphere. Even if the story had been
brilliant, I don't think that we could ever have lived up to the
audience's expectations with this approach.
Rosenthal's DVD commentary pointed to this
scene as an example of Cannon's budget slashing. According to
Rosenthal, Reeve and director Furie begged to be able to film that
sequence in New York in front of the real United Nations because
everyone knew how they looked and the Milton Keynes setting looked
nothing like them, but Cannon refused. According to Rosenthal, they
were "pinching pennies at every step". The failure of this
film at the box office prompted The Cannon Group Inc., to cancel a
planned production of "Spider-Man".
According to writer Mark Rosenthal's
commentary on the 2006 DVD, in the gallery of deleted scenes included
on the disc, there are approximately forty-five minutes of the film
that have not been seen by the general public. They were deleted
following a failed Southern California test screening. In fact, the
Nuclear Man that appears in the film is actually the second Nuclear
Man that Luthor created. Cut scenes featured the original Nuclear Man
(portrayed by Clive Mantle) engaging Superman in battle outside the
Metro Club and being destroyed by the Man of Steel. The first Nuclear
Man was somewhat more inhuman-looking than his successor, and vaguely
resembled in looks, and significantly in personality, the comic book
character Bizarro. Luthor postulates that this Nuclear Man was not
strong enough, and hatches the plan to create the second Nuclear Man
within the sun as a result.
Not all deleted scenes made it to the
deluxe edition of the DVD, including a scene depicting Clark Kent
visiting the graves of his foster parents. This scene was to have
preceded the film's theatrical scene where Clark returns to
Smallville to meet the contractor in hopes of selling or leasing the
Kent farm. A deleted scene about Lacy Warfield's and Clark Kent's
romance, showing them dancing in the Metro Club, was also not
released on disc.
The film was released July 24th, 1987 in
the United States and Canada, and grossed $5.6 million during its
opening weekend, playing in 1,511 theatres and ranking #4 at the box
office. It ended up with a total domestic gross of $15,681,020.
Of the four Superman films starring Reeve,
The Quest for Peace fared the worst at the box office, and the series
went dormant for the following nineteen years. Reeve regretted his
decision to be involved in the film, saying, "Superman IV was a
catastrophe from start to finish. That failure was a huge blow to my
career." Plans were made to make a Superman V, but they never
came to fruition. Reeve's 1995 paralysis made any further development
of sequels involving him in the starring role impossible. Time Warner
let the Superman feature film franchise go undeveloped until the late
1990s when a variety of proposals were considered, including several
that would reboot the franchise with different versions of the
characters and settings.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported
that 12% of critics gave the film a positive review, with an average
score of 2.9/10. The consensus reads: "The Superman series
bottoms out here: the action is boring, the special effects look
cheaper, and none of the actors appear interested in where the plot's going."
The film received a poor review by Janet
Maslin of The New York Times, although she noted that Kidder's
portrayal of Lois Lane was "sexy, earnest". It fared no
better with Variety. The Washington Post described it as "More
sluggish than a funeral barge, cheaper than a sale at Kmart."
The film was voted number 40 on a list of
'The 50 Worst Movies Ever' by readers of Empire magazine. It was also
nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards, Worst Supporting Actress
for Mariel Hemingway (lost to Daryl Hannah for Wall Street) and Worst
Visual Effects (lost to Jaws: The Revenge).
In late 1987, DC Comics prepared a comic
book adaptation of Superman IV, scripted by Bob Rozakis and pencilled
by Curt Swan and Don Heck. This edition included different dialogue
than the film and incidents from the deleted scenes of the movie. In
place of a voice-over from Lara in the early scene involving Superman
finding the mysterious crystal, there is a projection of Jor-El
himself, much like in the first film. The comic book features a
battle with the failed prototype of Nuclear Man resembling Bizarro,
and an around-the-world fight with the second Nuclear Man. The
adaptation has an alternate ending with Superman and Jeremy flying
above Earth, observing that the planet is, in reality, just one
world, rather than the divided world one sees on a man-made map. In
the adaptation, Jeremy is seen in orbit with a space-suit but in the
deleted footage he is not wearing any protection of any kind, as was
Lacy Warfield when she was rescued from the second Nuclear Man by
Superman. The alternate ending appears in the Deluxe Edition DVD,
incorporated in the deleted footage section. There was also a book
novelization written by Bonnie Bryant, in which scenes based on
deleted footage are included. The novelization was released in 1987,
along with the premiere of the film.
Marc McClure, having appeared as Jimmy
Olsen in the past 3 Superman films (Superman (1978), Superman II
(1980), and Superman III (1983)) and the Supergirl (1984) movie is
the first actor to have played the same comic book character in 5
films. Although this record would be tied many times (Hugh Jackman as
Wolverine in X-Men: First Class (2011), Samuel L. Jackson as Nick
Fury in The Avengers (2012), and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron
Man in Iron Man Three (2013)), it would not be surpassed until
Jackman played Wolverine for a sixth time in The Wolverine (2013),
released nearly 26 years after this film.
- The Accident
Reeve began horse riding in 1985 after learning to ride for the film
Anna Karenina. He was initially allergic to horses, so he took
antihistamines. He trained on Martha's Vineyard, and by 1989 he began
eventing. His allergies soon disappeared.
Reeve bought a 12-year-old American
thoroughbred horse named Eastern Express, nicknamed "Buck",
while filming Village of the Damned. He trained with Buck in 1994,
and planned to do Training Level events in 1995 and move up to
Preliminary in 1996. Though Reeve had originally signed up to compete
at an event in Vermont, his coach invited him to go to the
Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association finals at the
Commonwealth Park equestrian center in Culpeper, Virginia. Reeve
finished at fourth place out of 27 in the dressage, before walking
his cross-country course. He was concerned about jumps 16 and 17, but
paid little attention to the third jump, which was a routine
three-foot-three fence shaped like the letter 'W'.
On May 27th, 1995, Reeve's horse made a
refusal. Witnesses said that the horse began into the third fence
jump and suddenly stopped. Reeve fell forward off the horse, holding
on to the reins. His hands somehow became tangled in the reins, and
the bridle and bit were pulled off the horse. He landed headfirst on
the far side of the fence, shattering his first and second vertebrae.
This cervical spinal injury, which paralyzed him from the neck down,
also halted his breathing. Paramedics arrived three minutes later and
immediately took measures to get air into his lungs. He was taken
first to the local hospital, before being flown on by helicopter to
the University of Virginia Medical Center. Afterwards he had no
recollection of the accident.
the first few days after the accident, Reeve suffered from delirium,
woke up sporadically and would mouth words to Dana such as "Get
the gun" and "They're after us." After five days, he
regained full consciousness, and his doctor explained to him that he
had destroyed his first and second cervical vertebrae, which meant
that his skull and spine were not connected. His lungs were filling
with fluid and were suctioned by entry through the throat; this was
said to be the most painful part of Reeve's recovery.
After considering his situation, believing
that not only would he never walk again, but that he might never move
a body part again, Reeve considered suicide. He mouthed to Dana,
"Maybe we should let me go." She tearfully replied, "I
am only going to say this once: I will support whatever you want to
do, because this is your life, and your decision. But I want you to
know that I'll be with you for the long haul, no matter what. You're
still you. And I love you." Reeve never considered euthanasia as
an option again.
Reeve went through inner anguish in the
ICU, particularly when he was alone during the night. His approaching
operation to reattach his skull to his spine (June 1995) was
frightening to contemplate, knowing he had only a fifty-fifty chance
of surviving the surgery. Then, at an especially bleak moment, the
door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat
and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent.
The man announced that he was a proctologist and was going to perform
a rectal exam on Reeve. It was Robin Williams. Reeve wrote: "For
the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had
helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay." Williams
meet Reeve when he attained a full scholarship to the Juilliard
School in New York City. Williams was one of only 20 students
accepted into the freshman class and one of only two students to be
accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school
that year; the other was Christopher Reeve. Williams and Reeve
remained close friends until Reeve's death in 2004. Zak, Williams'
son, said they were like brothers in their friendship. Williams even
paid many of Reeve's medical bills and gave financial support to his family.
Dr. John A. Jane performed surgery to
repair Reeve's neck vertebrae. He put wires underneath both laminae
and used bone from Reeve's hip to fit between the C1 and C2
vertebrae. He inserted a titanium pin and fused the wires with the
vertebrae, then drilled holes in Reeve's skull and fitted the wires
through to secure the skull to the spinal column.
On June 28th, 1995, Reeve was taken to the
Kessler Rehabilitation Center in West Orange, New Jersey. He was
given several blood transfusions in the first few weeks because of
very low hemoglobin and protein levels. Many times his breathing tube
would become disconnected and he would be at the mercy of nurses to
come in and save his life.
At the Institute, one of his aides was a
Jamaican man named Glenn Miller, nicknamed Juice, who helped him
learn how to get into the shower and how to use a powered wheelchair,
which was activated by blowing air through a straw. Miller and Reeve
would watch the film Cool Runnings and joke about Reeve directing the
sequel, Bobsled Two.
left Kessler feeling inspired by the other patients he had met.
Because he was constantly being covered by the media, he decided to
use his name to put focus on spinal cord injuries. In 1996, he
appeared at the Academy Awards to a long standing ovation and gave a
speech about Hollywood's duty to make movies that face the world's
most important issues head-on. He also hosted the Paralympics in
Atlanta and spoke at the Democratic National Convention. He traveled
across the country to make speeches, never needing a teleprompter or
a script. For these efforts, he was placed on the cover of TIME on
August 26th, 1996. In the same year, he narrated the HBO film Without
Pity: A Film About Abilities. The film won the Emmy Award for
"Outstanding Informational Special." He then acted in a
small role in the film A Step Towards Tomorrow.
Reeve was elected Chairman of the American
Paralysis Association and Vice Chairman of the National Organization
on Disability. He co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which
is now one of the leading spinal cord research centers in the world.
He created the Christopher Reeve Foundation (currently known as the
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation) to speed up research through
funding, and to use grants to improve the quality of the lives of
people with disabilities. The Foundation has funded a new technology
called "Locomotor Training" that uses a treadmill to mimic
the movements of walking to help develop neural connections, in
effect re-teaching the spinal cord how to send signals to the legs to
walk. This technology has helped several paralyzed patients walk
again. Of Christopher Reeve, UC Irvine said, "in the years
following his injury, Christopher did more to promote research on
spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders than any other
person before or since."
In 1997, Reeve made his directorial debut
with the HBO film In the Gloaming with Robert Sean Leonard, Glenn
Close, Whoopi Goldberg, Bridget Fonda and David Strathairn. The film
won four Cable Ace Awards and was nominated for five Emmy Awards
including "Outstanding Director for a Miniseries or
Special." Dana Reeve said, "There's such a difference in
his outlook, his health, his overall sense of well-being when he's
working at what he loves, which is creative work." In 1998,
Reeve produced and starred in Rear Window, a remake of Alfred
Hitchcock's 1954 film. He was nominated for a Golden Globe and won a
Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance. On April 25th, 1998,
Random House published Reeve's autobiography, Still Me. The book
spent eleven weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list and Reeve
won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
this time, Reeve kept his body as physically strong as possible by
using specialized exercise machines. He did this both because he
believed that the nervous system could be regenerated through intense
physical therapy, and because he wanted his body to be strong enough
to support itself if a cure was found. In 2000, he began to regain
some motor function, and was able to sense hot and cold temperatures
on his body. His doctor, John McDonald of Washington University in
St. Louis, asked him if anything was new with his recovery. Reeve
then moved his left index finger on command. "I don't think Dr.
McDonald would have been more surprised if I had just walked on
water," said Reeve in an interview. Also during that year, he
made guest appearances on the long-running PBS series Sesame Street.
In 2001, Reeve was elected to serve on the
board of directors for the company TechHealth, headquartered in
Tampa, Florida, which provided products and services for severely
injured patients. While serving on the TechHealth board, Reeve
participated in board meetings and advised the company on strategic
direction. He refused compensation for his efforts. He also made
phone calls to the company's catastrophically injured patients to
cheer them up. Reeve served on TechHealth's board until his death in
2004. After his death, Dana Reeve took his board seat with TechHealth
until her death in March 2006.
In 2002, the Christopher and Dana Reeve
Paralysis Resource Center, a federal government facility created
through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention non-compete
grant, was opened in Short Hills, New Jersey. Its mission is to teach
paralyzed people to live more independently. Reeve said, "When
somebody is first injured or as a disease progresses into paralysis,
people don't know where to turn. Dana and I wanted a facility that
could give support and information to people. With this new Center,
we're off to an amazing start."
Reeve lobbied for
expanded federal funding on embryonic stem cell research to include
all embryonic stem cell lines in existence and for open-ended
scientific inquiry of the research by self-governance. President
George W. Bush limited the federal funding to research only on human
embryonic stem cell lines created on or before August 9th, 2001.
Reeve fought against the limit when scientists revealed that most of
the old lines were contaminated. In 2002, Reeve lobbied for the Human
Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001, which would allow somatic cell
nuclear transfer research, but would ban reproductive cloning. He
argued that stem cell implantation is unsafe unless the stem cells
contain the patient's own DNA, and that because somatic cell nuclear
transfer is done without fertilizing an egg, it can be fully regulated.
February 25th, 2003, Reeve appeared in the television series
Smallville as Dr. Swann in the episode "Rosetta." In that
episode, Dr. Swann brings to Clark Kent (Tom Welling) information
about where he comes from and how to use his powers for the good of
mankind. The scenes of Reeve and Welling feature music cues from the
1978 Superman movie, composed by John Williams and arranged by Mark Snow.
At the end of this
episode, Reeve and Welling appeared in a short spot inviting people
to help and support the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
set ratings history for The WB network. The fan community met the
episode with rave reviews and praise it as being among the series'
best to this day.
Reeve also appeared
in the Smallville episode "Legacy", in which he met again
with fellow stage actor John Glover, who played Lionel Luthor in the show.
In July 2003, Christopher Reeve's
continuing frustration with the pace of stem cell research in the
U.S. led him to Israel. He was invited by Israels Ministry of
Foreign Affairs to seek out the best treatment for his condition and
visited very proactive rehab facilities, medical schools and teaching
hospitals. Reeve explained, "The research progresses more
rapidly in Israel than almost anywhere else I can think of. The
decision they made about stem cells, where they had a debate and
decided that secular law must prevail over religious teachings, is
something that we need to learn in the United States."
Reeve discussed his trip to Israel on
CNN's Larry King Live while he was in Tel Aviv. When asked what
Israel is doing that other countries are not, Reeve responded,
"They have a very progressive atmosphere here. They have
socialized medicine so that doctors and patients do not have the
problem of profit or trying to get insurance companies to pay for
treatment. They also work very well together. They share their
knowledge. This is a country of six million people about the size of
Long Island, and everyone works together very tremendously. The
people of the country benefit from that."
Israelis were very receptive to Reeve's
visit, calling him an inspiration to all and urging him never to give
In April 2004, Random
House published Reeve's second book, Nothing Is Impossible. This book
is shorter than Still Me and focuses on Reeve's world views and the
life experiences that helped him shape them.
Also in 2004, Reeve
directed the A&E film The Brooke Ellison Story. The film is based
on the true story of Brooke Ellison, the first quadriplegic to
graduate from Harvard University. Reeve during this time was
directing the animated film Everyone's Hero. It was one of his dream
projects and he died during the middle of production for the film.
His wife, Dana helped out and his son, Will was a cast member in the film.
In June 2004, Reeve
provided a videotaped message on behalf of the Genetics Policy
Institute to the delegates of the United Nations in defense of
somatic cell nuclear transfer, which was under consideration to be
banned by world treaty. In the final days of his life, Reeve urged
California voters to vote yes on Proposition 71, which would
establish the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and
allot $3 billion of state funds to stem cell research. Proposition 71
was approved less than one month after Reeve's death.
Reeve suffered from asthma and allergies
since childhood. At age 16, he began to suffer from alopecia areata,
a condition that causes patches of hair to fall out from an otherwise
healthy head of hair. Generally he was able to comb over it and often
the problem disappeared for long periods. Later in life, the
condition became more noticeable after he became paralyzed, and he
would have his head shaved.
More than once he had a severe reaction to
a drug. In Kessler, he tried a drug named Sygen which was theorized
to help reduce damage to the spinal cord. The drug caused him to go
into anaphylactic shock and his heart stopped. After receiving a
large dose of epinephrine, he woke up and stabilized later that night.
In 2002 and 2004, Reeve fought off several
serious infections believed to have originated from the bone marrow.
He recovered from three that could have been fatal.
In early October 2004, he was being
treated for an infected pressure ulcer that was causing sepsis, a
complication that he had experienced many times before. On October
5th, he spoke at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago on behalf of
the Institute's work. This was to be his last reported public
appearance. On October 9th, Reeve felt well and attended his son
Will's hockey game. That night, he went into cardiac arrest after
receiving an antibiotic for the infection. He fell into a coma and
was taken to Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York.
Eighteen hours later, on October 10th, 2004, Reeve died at the age of
52. His doctor, John McDonald, believed that it was an adverse
reaction to the antibiotic that caused his death. A memorial service
for Reeve was held at the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut.
His wife, Dana Reeve, headed the
Christopher Reeve Foundation after his death. She was diagnosed with
lung cancer on August 9th, 2005, and died at age 44 on March 6th, 2006.
They were survived by their son, William,
and Reeve's son Matthew and daughter Alexandra, both from his
relationship with Gae Exton. Christopher was also survived by his
parents and Dana was survived by her father. Matthew and Alexandra
now serve on the board of directors for the Christopher and Dana
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