Location, Location, Location: Why Superman Traveled to Milton Keynes


Back in 1987, Cannon Films had purchased the rights to the ailing Superman franchise and were determined to wring another sequel out after the very mixed reception given to the third installment four years earlier.


You know, the one with Richard Pryor mugging like he was in a completely different movie:


Superman III (3/10) Movie CLIP - Superman Is Bad! (1983) HD


A reluctant Christopher Reeves was persuaded to return on the promise of heavy input in the storyline, which was granted, with anti-nuke theme reflecting his beliefs at the time. But, unsurprisingly producers Golan and Globus cheese-paired the budget, cutting down extras, effects and locations.  Director Sidney J. Furie (The Ipcress File) was long past his glory days, which added to the dismal spectacle,  effectively killing off the franchise for another nineteen years.



I came across the movie again the other day and happened to notice the supposed New York locations in the picture – which were in fact the soulless English ‘new town ‘of Milton Keynes, just up the motorway from where I currently abide. A town that was unfortunately the butt of a fair few English jokes/derogatory comments:


‘Milton Keynes is better than Slough and Grimsby’ isn’t a ringing endorsement. It’s like saying ‘cholera is better than ebola and smallpox’

“It looks like the capital of a third world country”

“Milton Keynes: Satan’s lay-by.”


Superman IV (1987) Location - Milton Keynes Station Plaza, Milton Keynes


No way does MK look like Manhattan – Reeves commented:


Konner and Rosenthal wrote a scene in which Superman lands on 42nd Street and walks down the double yellow lines to the United Nations, where he gives a speech. If that had been a scene in Superman I, we would actually have shot it on 42nd Street. Richard Donner would have choreographed hundreds of pedestrians and vehicles and cut to people gawking out of office windows at the sight of Superman walking down the street like the Pied Piper. Instead, we had to shoot at an industrial park in England in the rain with about a hundred extras, not a car in sight, and a dozen pigeons thrown in for atmosphere. Even if the story had been brilliant, I don’t think that we could ever have lived up to the audience’s expectations with this approach.



Superman IV: The Quest for Peace - Trailer



Superman at the United Nations? No, it's Milton Keynes

The Kent family homestead, not the open plains of Smallville, Kansas – but Baldock in Hertfordshire:

Superman lV The Quest for Peace Smallville Scene

Apparently money ‘ran out’ (hmmm) as Superman IV was being made, which I can well believe, as I refuse to credit that $17m is up there onscreen…

Ooo nice nails!

Superman IV (7/10) Movie CLIP - Nuclear Man Weakens Superman (1987) HD


In 2016, an artist, in what might well have been an exercise in masochism decided to recreate some of the scenes in Milton Keynes.


Good to have a hobby, I guess.



Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'