In Superman IV: The Quest For Peace movie, Superman destroyed hundreds of nuclear weapons by throwing them into the sun, in the agreement with the nations of the world.

Why was it necessary to get rid of the nuclear weapons this way? Wasn't it fine to just disable them? It'd save some costly uranium, plutonium etc. which could be used for other purposes.

Superman didn't destroy the technology. Everything was still at the mercy of nations. There was nothing to stop them creating new nuclear weapons even if we assume they gave all of their nuclear weapons honestly. So, destroying those costly natural resources couldn't make the difference.

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    Did you miss the part where he throws the bathwater out and the babies? Really though, the uranium was simply too dangerous with his arch-nemesis Eastern Express skulking around. – John O Mar 18 '13 at 20:56
  • Can anyone explain the reasons of downvote? – Captain Cold Mar 19 '13 at 13:35
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    I understand that it's an honest question, but there are no good answers. The script for this movie is hardly sophisticated, I'd call it juvenile but that would be insulting to children. It's hard for anyone to prove that it's just bad writing (to the standards of Scifi.SE), but we're all pretty sure that's what this is. So it's both unanswerable and yet not close-able... people tend to downvote. – John O Mar 20 '13 at 15:53

From Wikipedia:

Following the news that the United States and the Soviet Union may engage in nuclear war, Clark is conflicted about how much Superman should intervene. After receiving a letter written by a concerned schoolboy, Superman travels to the Fortress of Solitude to seek advice from the spirits of his Kryptonian ancestors. They recommend that he should leave Earth and find a new home.

After asking for advice from Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), Superman attends a meeting of the United Nations, announcing to the assembly that he will rid the Earth of nuclear weapons. Superman collects most of the world's nuclear stockpile in a gigantic net in Earth orbit, then hurls it into the sun. --Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

  • Presented with two choices, Superman found them both unpalatable. The spirits of his Kryptonian ancestors said leave the Earth and find a new home. (Unacceptable)

  • His second choice was to not intervene in Human affairs between nations (i.e. the threat of nuclear war) This had been his role thus far, leaving politics to politicians. For him to involve himself in any war would have been unbalancing to say the least.

  • He chose to remove the entire stockpile, missiles and all to reduce the possibility of anyone using the already existing materials in lesser nuclear devices. He understood the ability to make nuclear weapons still existed, he wanted to even the playing field and reduce the temptation to use a nuclear strike option. Destroying them in the sun made sure THOSE weapons and resources would never be used again.

Quoted directly from the movie:

"After today, I'm not a visitor anymore, because the Earth is my home too. We can't live in fear and I can't stand idly while the world tumbles into madness of possible nuclear destruction. And so I've come to a decision. I am going to do what our governments have been unwilling or unable to do, effective immediately, I am going to rid our planet of all nuclear weapons."

  • Cheering ensues from the UN members. The audience of the UN rises. And applauds. No one is opposed to this.

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  • And given that Superman has proven to be an excellent citizen of the world, as well as a person whose moral fiber is beyond reproach, he becomes an excellent arbitrator of this unilateral decision. Was it the right decision? Maybe not, but no one in that UN meeting seemed upset about this decision in any way.


I suspect the lack of clearly developed script on the part of the production company as well as the lackluster performance of Superman III, lead to this poorly envisioned movie which laid the Superman movie franchise to rest for nearly 20 years. One of the mindsets of the writers of the Superman franchise is that Superman's power is so great, he can only be used to confront threats capable of harming the entire world. With the franchise on the line, the writers used the threat of nuclear war as something only Superman could convince the world to do, because he was the only person who could be trusted (as well as being the only person capable) of doing it.

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    Destroying them in the sun made sure THOSE weapons and resources would never be used again. ~> He didn't destroy technology. Everything was still at the mercy of nations. There was no thing to stop nations to create new nuclear weapons even if we assume they gave all of their nuclear weapons honestly. – Captain Cold Mar 19 '13 at 4:44
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    The goal was not to stop mankind from making war forever. As long as the technology for warfare was available it could always be done. The goal was to stop the immediate threat of nuclear war by putting everyone back on an even footing and removing the threat of someone launching a nuclear weapon before a peace process could be negotiated. Part of the process was the acknowledgement that if he could remove all of the nukes, he could in theory rule the world if that was what he wanted. This was a dangerous gamble on Superman's part. But he did not want to rule the world. – Thaddeus Howze Mar 19 '13 at 6:49
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    The natural resources you are talking about were mostly fissionable materials, of which it is easy enough to get more of if a nation really wanted it. It would take a couple of months to get enough material (assuming he took their stockpiles of plutonium and the like as well) before anyone could make a new nuclear weapon. Surely that would be plenty of time to consider the idea of waging nuclear war as the true folly that it is. Disabling them would not have been enough. – Thaddeus Howze Mar 19 '13 at 6:51
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    Superman would not permanently disable anyone's ability to create nuclear weapons. Are you suggesting he remove the ability to make nuclear weapons from the MINDS of humanity at large? THAT IS NOT HIS WAY. He believes in justice and laws. What he hopes is that mankind will make the right decisions without him having to do it FOR them. If he becomes the JUDGE of every political decision, it undermines the human experience. Find a copy of KINGDOM COME for an example of how his attempt to control human behavior blows up in his face. – Thaddeus Howze Mar 19 '13 at 8:53
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    Destroying the weapons sends a fairly strong message. Sure, people still have the knowledge to build them, but... who's going to waste resources building nuclear weapons when you know that Superman will just come and take your toys away. He didn't take the knowledge from people, but by making his intentions known he pretty much ensured nobody would bother wasting their time on them again. – Phoshi Mar 19 '13 at 13:43

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