It's hard for movie makers to keep anything a secret these days. iPhones and social media spread set photos and rumors like wildfire. It's easy to assume that this was something that only came as a result of the internet though. While it has gotten a lot worse, before the internet, there was Starlog.
I recently stumbled upon an internet archive of seemingly every issue of Starlog Magazine. Surprised to see such a thing exists, and even more surprised that such a thing might be legal, I immediately thought it might be interesting to revisit Superman from the perspective of an early reader of Starlog Magazine.
The first mention of the Superman movie project comes in issue #2 with an article on live action super heroes. At press-time, the role of Superman had not been cast. Apparently Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, and James Caan were all rumored.
Four issues later, the big news dropped. And here we learn that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both up for the role, but neither landed it. Instead, Christoper Reeve did. And that Reeve will need to be working on his "super physique."
Three issues after that, we get our first glimpse of the movie, but not of Superman (well, not as adult Superman). We see Marlon Brando as Jor-El wearing the Superman emblem. We also get a Daily Planet set photo.
Finally in issue 11, we get more information with a feature article on the movie. This article shows Krypton stills as well as Starlog's first published photo of Reeve in the Superman costume.
Issue 15 gives us an interview with Richard Donner and our first color shot of Reeve as Superman and also Reeve as Clark Kent. A big discussion of the article is why the movie was running six months behind schedule which would probably be an omen (no pun intended) of why Donner was not retained as director for Superman II.
Pages 58 and 59 in issue 19 updates readers that Superman is due to arrive in December of 1978 and gives a few more stills from the movie. But issue 20 is where Superman gets his first cover and full feature story.
The feature runs 7+ pages and has a lot of great photography.
The following issue shows the Superman premiere party.
Perhaps even more interesting than the premiere shots is the beginning of the reader reaction about the movie both are very critical of the film.
Issue 22 delivers another similar reader reaction:
In issue 23, there is a complaint from a reader that negative reactions to the movie had been run and Starlog's response indicates that they did not share the negative opinion of the movie.
Finally, issue 24 gives more reader feedback from a positive standpoint:
Issue 24 also brings us our first news on Superman II where it mentions Donner was no longer involved and speculates that Guy Hamilton or Richard Lester will take over.
Finally, it's interesting that Starlog celebrated this anniversary issue with an index of all their stories by subject matter. Page 40 of this issue lists out the Superman appearances in their previous issues.
It's interesting to take a look back at this milestone film from the eyes of those at the time especially in light of the mixed reaction that Man of Steel is receiving. It's worth heading over the Internet Archive and checking out these stories and more from the time and get a real sense of the anticipation people were feeling for this movie and whether these projects letdown or lived up to those anticipations. Not incredibly different from what people were feeling these last few weeks and days.