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Superman & Lois' Big Doomsday Moon Fight Echoes Superman IV In All The Worst Ways

Contains spoilers for "Superman & Lois" Season 3, Episode 13 — "What Kills You Only Makes You Stronger"

Superman seems to like fighting on the moon. But there is something about the Man of Steel going head to head on the moon that just doesn't seem to translate well to live action. With "Superman & Lois" ending on a cliffhanger battle on the moon between Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Doomsday, it echoes "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" in one unfortunate way: shoddy CGI.

The moon may be a great place to do battle against your biggest and baddest enemies, since there isn't a ton of collateral damage. Superman does it a lot, including the above-mentioned battles, Superman handing it to the Elite on the lunar surface, and even Lois got into the trend by fighting the Eradicator with Superman on the moon in Superman #5, "Eradication." But the latter two don't have to worry about recreating the surface of the moon in real life and choreographing a fight scene.

"Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" saw the Man of Steel (Christopher Reeve) matching punches with the laughably bad Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow), while "Superman & Lois" saw our hero going toe to toe with a retconned Bizzaro Superman, who is transformed into Doomsday. And while the latter scene ends on a cliffhanger (largely before the moon battle gets going), the two had one very unfortunate problem with the lacking CGI. When you look at all four Superman moon fights side by side, the two live-action versions are in a race for fifth place.

Superman IV's moon fight is laughably low-budget

The story behind the scenes of how "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" even happened is one of the bigger screw-ups of a studio in the last few decades. While Christopher Reeve wasn't too keen on returning to the role after the critical failure of the third installment, he leveraged his desire to write the fourth and bring a passion project to life by agreeing to appear ... something he came to regret after the fact. 

What followed was a mess of a film containing CGI and green screen work bad enough to leave a noticeable halo that made you wonder how you could have ever believed a man could fly. The budgetary restrictions make the super moments few and far between, and the climactic face-off on the moon contains laughable fight choreography involving Nuclear Man scratching instead of punching. The climactic fight scene ends with a super head butt to the gut followed by Nuclear Man burying Superman under the lunar surface, making this the worst fight of Reeve's entire tenure as the Man of Steel.

However, who didn't laugh when Superman's solution to besting his enemy wasn't to fly him around to the dark side of the Earth, rendering him powerless, but to instead move the entire moon in front of the sun to eclipse the Earth? Luckily, Nuclear Man was too busy trying to grab his crush and fly her through space (with no space suit, mind you) to stop Supes.

Superman & Lois repeats the CGI mistake

Let's face it: If you're making a Superman in live-action, you need some CGI. While The CW's "Arrowverse" has had to find creative CG work for many of its characters, like the Flash (Grant Gustin) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), those shows have largely done a good job in developing passable scenes.

The "Superman & Lois" Season 3 finale is going to go down in history for committing the biggest crime in CGI: being noticed. After Bizzaro turns into Doomsday and he and Superman destroy the Kent farm and parts of Metropolis in an ensuing fight, Superman is rendered unconscious while Doomsday carries him out of the atmosphere into space. Luckily for Superman, he is awakened by the sound of Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) saying his name, waking him up to punch the beast down to the moon's surface.

The moment is quick, as it leads into a cliffhanger ending for Season 3, likely setting up Season 4 to open with more of the fight between the two on the moon. Most of the time, you can forgive a TV series for not having the same quality of CGI as a big-budget movie, but when it looks more like a PlayStation 3 cutscene from a decade ago, it is hard to ignore. It was an unfortunate end to a fresh take on the Bizzaro and Doomsday characters, making the use of lousy CGI all the more tragic.

Which Superman moon fight is the worst?

Now that we have seen these two live-action supermen best their foes on the surface of the moon and watched them both flub their opportunities for an out-of-this-world ending (sorry, couldn't help it), which one will we look back on with more vitriol? While we have been cringing about "Superman & Lois" since we saw the finale, we have been fuming about "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" for almost four decades.

You can forgive "Superman & Lois" for having CGI that doesn't stand up to the standards of a big-screen film, with a budget per episode a mere fraction of what superhero films get. What is harder to forgive is botching what turned out to be Christopher Reeve's swan song in his portrayal of Superman. He is the grandfather of the comic book movie, as he and director Richard Donner proved to studios that the genre was a sound investment and could bring a solid return. Rewarding him with a final showdown fit for a student film seems like one of the biggest crimes in supehero movie history.

Metropolites are likely very grateful that their protector relocates his epic knockdown, drag-out fights to the moon because he avoids massive collateral damage that way. But from our point of view at home, these scenes are marred by unbelievable CGI, amateur fight choreography, and an inexplicable disregard for basic science. Hopefully, if James Gunn decides to revisit the moon with "Superman: Legacy," he will take the time to reverse this trend and give us a great-looking fight on the moon.