SUPERMANIA is proud to present this latest acquisition of promotional prints from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. Pin sharp and measuring exactly 5×5″ – the purpose of these unusually small (but official) stills is unclear yet they are arguably the best representation of their respective flying scenes – indeed, somewhat better quality than the filmed sequences themselves.
Labelled DC Comics Inc. 1987 on the rear, though most of these shots were commonly used throughout publicity material for Superman IV, (with the exception of the fantastic unpublished shot, top) its worth noting that none of the foreground action and background plates match the scene as composited in the final film –
Photographed by Harrison Ellenshaw’s Special Effects team in 1986, an extensive library of background plates of New York City was collated for the many flying sequences/aerial battles scripted for the movie. Though Superman IV would benefit from the highest percentage of ‘live’ flying in the whole Super series, budget restrictions would reduce the process photography (so integral to maintaining the illusion) to almost pitiful standards.
Denied the use of Zoptics and lacking the quality of front projection, Superman IV’s flying unit would mostly be reliant on blue screen technique, (see here) prone to leaving hideous borders (or matte lines) around its subjects – perhaps tolerable on solid objects but inescapable on human subjects. This, combined with poor composition (bleaching out/making the actors transparent) reduce the wistful reprise of the original ‘Can you read my mind’ scenes, among countless others, to ‘B’ Movie status.
The full extent of the aforementioned sequence was not even available until the release of the the Deluxe Edition on DVD, where ‘going solo’ was established with more footage revealed in the deleted scenes. Implausible as Superman flinging Lois through the air at speed may be, there are nonetheless some charming elements and – like most of Superman IV – prime examples of what could be achieved with a tighter edit and digital upgrade…