The Nuclear Man in the movie Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — was he a villain in Superman comics too?
Or did they create a new character just for the movie?
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However, he might be based somewhat on other characters from the Superman comics:
In deleted scenes from the movie (scenes that were included in the comic adaptation), a "prototype" Nuclear Man is created by Lex Luthor first. This Nuclear Man looks a bit like Bizarro, and could possibly be inspired by that character.
The superhero Firestorm the Nuclear Man first appeared in his own comic book in 1978, so he predates the movie and could possibly be an inspiration. However, he's a hero, not a villain, and doesn't really have a whole lot in common with the Nuclear Man from the movie, although some of their solar powered energy powers are similar to each other.
There are only two appearances of Nuclear Man in Superman:
As the title suggests, the comic is based off the movie Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. It is adapted from the story by Christopher Reeve, Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal and the screenplay by Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal. However, the comic book adaption contains scenes that were ultimately cut from the motion picture due to budget constrants.
Was just recently unveiled that Nuclear Man will be getting introduced into DC Comics. Brian Michael Bendis is writing a story with him in it for Superman #2.