Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (partially lost original cut of DC superhero film sequel; 1987)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is the fourth film in the original Superman movie franchise and the final one to star Christopher Reeve as the title character. Suffering greatly from behind-the-scenes wrangling, budget cuts, and a heavy-handed, implausible script, the film was released to uniformly negative reviews and lackluster box office performance, to the extent that it was ignored by later films in the series. After a final disastrous test screening in Los Angeles, forty-five minutes of footage was cut in an attempt to streamline the plot and focus more on the big set-piece battles.
We open on Clark Kent pondering his decision to sell the family farm in Smallville. Upon returning to Metropolis, Kent finds that the Daily Planet has been bought out by business tycoon David Warfield. Meanwhile, a nuclear crisis is looming between the world's superpowers, forcing Superman to grapple with the question of interference in human geopolitical affairs. Ultimately, he decides to intervene, working with all nations of the world to collect and destroy their nuclear missiles by hurling them into the sun. At the same time, Clark is working to fend off the advances of Lacey Warfield, the tycoon's daughter and new publisher of the Planet.
Lex Luthor, having been broken out of prison by his nephew Lenny, reacts to the newfound peace by setting himself up as a profiteer with the help of several shady international arms dealers. To protect their efforts (and, naturally, destroy Superman) Luthor also steals some of Superman's DNA and uses it to create an equally superpowered villain. This accounts for most of the cut footage, as Luthor's first attempt at a 'Nuclear Man' - an utter failure whom Superman easily defeats - was wholly excised from the film. Nuclear Man II is born when Luthor manages to attach the remaining Super-DNA to the last of the missiles heading into the sun. Thus also gifted with radioactive powers, the new NM manages to seriously wound Superman in their first battle.
Superman is able to recover using the last vestige of Kryptonian power that had been hidden on the farm and sets out to re-engage Nuclear Man, who in the interim has developed a fixation on Lacey - explained originally by the first NM having met her in a club. NM II, accordingly, kidnaps her into outer space (where she has no trouble breathing, and at one point is seen in freefall). Superman rescues her and manages to defeat Nuclear Man; he then delivers a speech to the world's powers regretting his decision to intervene and sees Luthor safely back behind bars. As a coda, former publisher Perry White triumphantly announces that he has managed to buy the Daily Planet back from Warfield.
Known Deleted Scenes
- Extended footage of Clark Kent's trip home to Smallville, including an opening scene in which he visits and places flowers on the grave of his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent.
- A montage combining new and repurposed footage of Clark (Kal-El) escaping Krypton as a baby, including his parents Jor-El and Lara placing him in the rocket with the green glowing crystal he rediscovers in the finished film.
- An extended scene of Clark waking up on the morning after his return to Metropolis, in which the Krypton flashback is revealed as a dream. He then hears news of the growing nuclear crisis on the radio, receives a phone message from Lois Lane warning him not to be late for an important meeting (later revealed as Warfield's takeover announcement), and generally bumbles his way out the door.
- A few moments of additional footage featuring Jeremy, the little boy whose letter to Superman asking him to solve the crisis kicks off the central plot dilemma. The scene in the finished film ends with him telling his classmates he's going to write the letter; the original scene extends to him starting to write it.
- Extended footage of Lex and Lenny Luthor at the museum, notably their hasty escape from authorities after stealing Superman's hair from an exhibit.
- An entire lengthy plot thread involving the first Nuclear Man, played by Clive Mantle, who was meant to be created by Lex before the one seen in the finished film. This NM was patterned after DC villain Bizarro, an awkward clone of Superman with the same powers but without intelligence. Bizarro/Nuclear Man first encounters Clark and the Daily Planet's new editor Lacey Warfield while the two are out on the town gathering material for a new Daily Planet feature, 'Metropolis After Dark'. B/NM sexually harasses Lacey and is easily dispatched by Superman tossing him into a power grid and vaporizing him. Afterward, we see Lenny Luthor collecting the ashes and returning them to Lex for a second try, explaining the 'organic material' that is later used in NM II's creation in the finished film.
- A quick sequence of Lois and Lacey in a cafe prior to heading to the United Nations meeting. The two bond over their troubles with men.
- A series of cut scenes that expand on the plot thread involving Jeremy. In the final movie, he is next seen in the company of reporters at the UN, upset that Superman has refused his request, just before the Man of Steel joins him on his way to announce his change of heart and decision to destroy all nuclear weapons. In the original, Jeremy's disappointment and subsequent celebrity status - including Daily Planet headlines - was supported by an intervening scene in which Superman visits the boy's classroom to personally explain his initial refusal.
- Various extended shots of the UN representatives from different nations listening to Superman's speech.
- Changes to the second Nuclear Man's look and costume to tone down the resemblance to Superman. Additionally, Gene Hackman's original voice recordings for the second Nuclear Man (as he was intended to sound like his creator Luthor) were scrapped and replaced with the voice of the second Nuclear Man's actor Mark Pillow.
- In an early draft of the script, there was a short extension of the scene in which Luthor fires the arms dealers. He asks the second Nuclear Man "What's to fear?" with the second Nuclear Man replying, "Destiny!" upon which an upset Luthor grabs an umbrella and shades his creation (who loses power when out of direct sunlight). It's unclear if this was filmed, but most likely was among the lines Hackman recorded before shooting occurred.
- The second Nuclear Man's world tour of minor acts of destruction originally began with a tornado destroying a small town; Christopher Reeve's daughter Alexandra plays a little girl he rescues. Possibly to extend the runtime to a required length, this scene appears to have been kept (in various stages of editing) in at least some overseas prints of the finished film, and the original TV version.
- Another stop on the tour, after the two return from battling in space: the second Nuclear Man flies over a military parade in Moscow and re-activates a nuclear missile, aiming it at the crowd. Superman uses his ice breath to disarm the launcher. Again, this scene was kept in a number of versions, probably for the same reason.
- A quick setup sequence of Lois angrily calling Clark and receiving no answer, after Wakefield shows off the 'SUPERMAN DEAD?' headline on the next day's Planet. This prompts her visit to Clark's apartment shortly after.
- An alternate ending in which Superman shows up at Jeremy's school to take him flying. On their return to the ground, Jeremy excitedly reports to his classmates that there's no boundaries up there, "It's all one world!"
Due to the overall negative reception of the film, there seems to be very little interest in releasing the complete original cut. However, a majority of the film's deleted scenes were included in 2006's Superman IV Deluxe Edition DVD. The deleted scenes that have never been released in full still survive as screenshots, in scripts, and the film's novelization and comic book adaptation.
Pictures and Scans