Though its common knowledge Christopher Reeve was given story credit for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, it would be seasoned screenwriters Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal (Jewel Of The Nile/The Legend Of Billie Jean) who would actually collaborate on the doomed project behind the typewriter.
The newest addition to the SUPERMANIA archive is a copy of their third draft (dated June 23, 1986) and while the plot (and maybe 85% of the dialogue) is consistent with the ‘finished’ picture, this particular submission has some startling contributions that, like so many other aspects of the film, were tragically/mercifully destined to be omitted.
First among the numerous improvements on the final film is the opening credits sequence, (top page) which was conceptualised as Superman’s pursuit and elimination of meteorites headed for Earth (having just caused the Soviet Spaceship incident) with a special note to utilize IMAX footage shot from the Space Shuttle. One can only imagine how awesome this would’ve been in stark contrast to the final dull static shot of Earth resplendent with glittery titles.
Another sad deletion is this fantastic scene (second & third pic) taking place after the Subway train rescue where Clark is made even later for work having to deal with a bullying drug dealer and littering clearly written to showcase the charms of the leading man (the limo transformation, although similarly done in Superman III is still a great touch)
Not so inspired is the denouement of the global battle between Superman and Nuclearman (bottom page) where, bafflingly, having been wounded, Superman escapes Nuclearman’s clutches by squishing himself out of his own costume only to land naked at the Kent farm (where he borrows a scarecrow’s clothes before holing himself up in the farmhouse). Rewritten as the equally weak cape detachment from Nuclearman’s kick, as the plot device of the energy module was yet to surface, Superman regains his charge from the ship itself.
Among the other interesting differences is the surprisingly short encounter with Nuclearman I, (who in this version doesn’t even encounter Superman face to face and is disposed of by accident) the non-appearance of Lois Lane until the first Daily Planet scene and later, bizarrely, showing up at the Kent farm to find Clark suffering from radiation poisoning, the description of Nuclearman II clearly as hideous mutated creature rather than man able to ‘morph’ in appearance and Superman’s all-encompassing ‘Super-Vision’ in place of the traditional x-rays.
While there are some solid ideas present overall it quickly becomes apparent every version of Superman IV is a desperate muddle. Whatever honourable intention the story had to address a real-world global issue gets lost amid some truly wacky notions in stark contrast of the verisimilitude set out by the earlier entries…
SUPERMANIA owes another debt of thanks to James Sawyer (editor of 1989 Batman.com) for securing me a copy of this intriguing find…