Superman Week 2013: BB Hiller’s Superman IV novelization (1987)

Superman Week

So the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, made it’s theatrical debut on Friday.  To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to do another Superman Week.  I convinced CT over at Nerd Lunch and Robert over at To The Escape Hatch to join along.  So leap in a single bound over to those wonderful blogs and see what Superman content they are offering up this week.

Continuing Superman Week 2013 with another look at one of the Superman novelizations.  Here’s a review of the Superman IV movie novelization from 1987.  And yes, I’m pretty sure I hate this weird cover.

Supes 4 novel

The book is written by B.B. Hiller who is a veteran of movie novelizations. This guy has penned novelizations for Little Monsters (the one with Howie Mandell and Fred Savage), Ghostbusters II, Big, ALL of the 90s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and ALL of the Karate Kid movies.  So this guy has been around…so to speak.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at these things, Hiller didn’t adapt any of the other Superman movies.  Only this one.  The last one.  And, ostensibly, the worst one. However, to be perfectly honest, I’m a fan of this last Superman movie.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely f**king terrible but I love it anyway.  And I wanted to see if the book makes an attempt at explaining ANY of the crazy ass insanity that goes down in the movie.  A quick check of the page count (144) tells me that, no, this probably won’t explain a g**damn thing.  But I decided to try it anyway.

The verdict?  It’s actually not that bad.  Somehow, the ridiculous story on the page comes across better than it does on the big screen.  However, there are several added scenes and subplots that help explain some of the ridiculousness.  Just so you know, about 45 minutes of footage was removed from Superman IV including an entire subplot about a first failed attempt by Lex to create a Nuclear Man.

Essentially, Lex creates the first Nuclear Man in his penthouse using nuclear power.  A Frankenstein’s Monster-type creature is created.  This leads into a scene in which the first Nuclear Man falls in love with Lacy Warfield (played in the movie by Mariel Hemingway) and encounters Superman outside a nightclub in downtown Metropolis.  Here’s a still of that showdown.

Nuclear Man #1

Here’s a clip from YouTube where you can see some of the battle between Superman and Nuclear Man #1.

It looks interesting.  I’m not sure I like the realization of Nuclear Man #1.  And it seems like he gets in a few shots against Superman but then it seems like Superman just straight up murders the guy by batting him into the electrical pole.  Was Supes aiming for the pole to electrocute him?  That pole was MILES away from the nightclub.  It’s confusing and weird.  I sort of see why it was cut.

There’s also more scenes involving Lacy Warfield trying to get Clark Kent to date her and more scenes involving Clark getting sick after being scratched by the second Nuclear Man.  Oh, and Nuclear Man #2 actually literally transforms into a nuclear missile in order to incite nuclear war on Earth.  Yeah, that happens.  It’s his plan.

Also the infamous scene of Superman putting together the Great Wall of China with some weird eye beams after Nuclear Man #2 destroys it?  It doesn’t happen in the book.   He actually just uses super speed to rebuild the wall.  Here’s the excerpt:

Nuclear Man, finished with his “fun” in China, fled back into space. Before Superman followed him, he repaired the damage Nuclear Man had done to the Wall. It had taken mankind years to build that section of it. It had taken Nuclear Man only a few minutes to destroy it. Superman repaired it in a matter of seconds and then shot into the sky after his enemy. It had all happened so fast, the tourists weren’t sure it had happened at all.

Overall, this book is a fun read. But I think the movie is a fun watch. Wacky, zany, completely over the top and ridiculous. But fun. And at 144 pages, it’s a quick read.

3 Responses to “Superman Week 2013: BB Hiller’s Superman IV novelization (1987)”

  1. I think that cover is kinda awesome… in a terrible way.

  2. I think BB Hiller must be a very creative

  3. Great write-up, very informative. Superman IV is a fun film, better than I think it’s remembered.

    A heads-up, novelist B.B. Hiller is a woman. Barbara B. Hiller. She also wrote under the name Bonnie Bryant. You can see her Wikipedia page here:

    Thought it worth mentioning since she’s written so many great film novelizations, she should get the credit.

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