A Guide to the “Superman Returns” Video Diary Blogs

Welcome! You may be new to the Superman Homepage, interested in the new movie, excited by the prospect of a new Superman film. Problem is, you're daunted by the history, the past, and everything you don't know about the Man of Steel (and more).

Well, that's okay. We're here to help.

If you're just jumping on the bandwagon of the hype machine (which is crazy and fun and scary at the same time), you might get lost, you might waste a lot of time.

That's why I'm going to try and help you out with a little dissemination.

First, here, below, you'll find a summary, rating, and spoiler alert for each of Bryan Singer's existing Video Diary blogs.

Second, stay tuned to the Superman Homepage, because with the release of each new blog, I'll do the same thing, rate it, commentate, and talk a little bit about the Superman Returns movie in the state of minds of the fans.

If you have any comments, requests, or concerns, just email me, Neal, or my editor, Steve, and we'll try and address them here. Best!


Bryan Singer in Sydney

Bryan's Blog 1: Hello From Sydney

Spoilers warning level: 1 of 5

A few brief reference pictures, including a distance perspective relational of the Alex Ross Superman, Daily Planet pre-visualizations, and storyboards too blurred to see.

Rating: 3 of 5

As an introduction this serves well. You end up constantly pausing and holding on some of the things pictured to try and see more, but there isn't more to see, which is somewhat disappointing. Bryan's antics on the camera are funny, but as for revealing and being juicy with story details and fun new stuff, not incredible.


Tamworth

Bryan's Blog 2: Tamworth Scout

Spoiler warning level: 2 of 5

We see the Kent Farm, Clark's future bedroom, and the surrounding fields. Nothing too big.

Rating: 3 of 5

Again, seeing Singer dance around the camera is funny, he's a really likable guy, and seeing the set is also a neat giveaway, but instead of a shot in motion it's more pre-vis, so there's less to bite on here. A good diary, but not one that when you've finished it, you go, WHOA!


Stephan Bender

Bryan's Blog 3: Children of the Corn

Spoiler warning level: 2 of 5

We see the actor who will play the young Clark Kent in the rigging jumping and practicing flight.

Rating: 4 of 5

This diary cuts away from Singer and actually starts really knuckling in to some interesting, behind the scenes action. We see the kid who will play Kent flying, but it's a vicarious thrill. You see him leap, jump, you expect him to fly, it's a lot like the old making-of films they used to show on television. Very neat.


Crash Site

Bryan's Blog 4: Up, Up, and Away...

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5

We see the movie's mascot dog, Dingo. An aerial view of cranes, fields, and the crash site from when Superman Returns from space.

Video diary 4 of 5

It's a pretty normal video diary, more in the life of Bryan Singer than anything else, and then you're struck in the side of the head by the crash site, which you want to zoom in on again and again. It's a pretty awesome graphic, and it made some waves when it first came out. Definitely what made this diary worthwhile. Seeing the rigs in the field also brings back memories of Clark as a kid in the original Superman movie. The rigging is familiar, and there's definitely a sense that this movie will be hitting the right notes in terms of live action over special effects in that regard, at least.


Crash Site

Bryan's Blog 5: If You Build it

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5

Models of the Kent Farm, more surrounding fields, a possible pre-visualization with a stand-in of Pa Kent on the roof fixing a shake, the "tree house", and an obscure far-off view of the crash site and the exterior of the Kent farm.

Rating: 4 of 5

As the man says: Six tons of wood, four miles of road, 200 square hectares of corn (that's 20,000 square acres). That's a spicy meatball. You also get the teaser of a Pa Kent scene, the lay of the land for the Kent family, and a reference that even a big Superman geek like me doesn't get...the treehouse. Must be a Silver Age comic thing I was too young for. Still, this was the first video diary with an actual scene from the film (potentially) and that's exciting enough to make it one of the best, for sure.


Bryan's Blog 6: Sure This is Safe?

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5

You see a cutaway of the script that doesn't give anything away, a close-up of the trench and spaceship as it's being built (without any plot spoilers) and that's about it...

Rating: 3 of 5

While it was neat to see the script highlighted for the first time, and while it was cool to see the ship being built, this diary really didn't give us anything new. That said, Singer is funny, it is still a Superman set and more coming from it, and we get to know the surrounding players (including the screenwriter) a little better.


Bryan's Blog 6: The Call

Spoiler warning level: 1 of 5

There isn't much revealed here. There is some spectacular pre-vis on the monitor of Superman flying around the Planet building, but it's blurred and definitely pre-vis.

Rating: 2 of 5 for Superman, 4 of 5 for Kong fans

Yeah, odd rating, but what can you do? Me, as a Kong fan, as someone who is eagerly anticipating the new movie (In case you want to know, I don't buy the Warsies/Ring battle. It seems like two geeks fighting over a toy to me. I like both.), this diary was very amusing. As a teaser and a pull-in to the new Superman movie...not so much. Pretty funny, though, seeing Andy Serkis and Darrow getting put in front of a new director while Jackson snoozes.

EXCEPT that awesome pre-visualization shot. That had me pausing and going back and forth. Pretty incredible. I suggest checking it out.


Daily Planet truck

Bryan's Blog 8: Extra! Extra!

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5

We see the Daily Planet logo on the stands, the Metropolis General Hospital, the Kent Farm again, various automobiles with the Metropolis logo. Also, Lois in costume.

Rating: 2 of 5

There isn't much shown here, just a reiteration of what it's like to gather a crowd and film crowd scenes, which, while neat, is nothing we haven't seen a hundred times on a DVD before. Neat cell phone animation that the lady has, with Alex Ross, and a few pictures of Lois are tantalizing, but mostly boring, unfortunately.


Bryan's Blog 9: Big, Scary, Lit-Up Director Face

Spoiler warning level: 1 of 5

No real spoilers at all except static shots of the Kent farm.

Rating: 2 of 5

As ever, Bryan is entertaining, as is seeing the process of dealing with digital film (what this diary explores), but it's really not showing anything new or neat about Superman other than how pretty the digital picture can be, which we know from Star Wars.


Concept Art

Bryan's Blog 10: To Fly

Spoiler warning level: 4 of 5

Shot of Superman in flight. Pre-vis, but very detailed pre-vis. Another shot of Superman getting hit, recovering, and flying back. Stunt doubles in rigs fighting.

Rating: 5 of 5

Very neat stuff. The first shot of Superman in flight close up, the first shot stylistically of how the flight may look. A fan's dream. A lot of rigging details, shots of how the previous wire work has been improved. Really just a lot to get excited about here.


Lois & Clark

Bryan's Blog 11: Clark Returns

Spoiler warning level: 4 of 5

The Daily Planet set is shown. Clark is shown talking to an off camera Jimmy. We see scenes from the film on a camera in the background.

Video dairy: 4 of 5

It's incredibly cool to see Clark in costume, also incredibly cool to hear what Jimmy will sound like. There's also the Planet itself, which, in my opinion, looks fantastic. The little peek at the janitor's closet is nice, as is the cinematography we see, what little there is, and all the obvious work that goes into the Planet. A great diary.


Bryan's Blog 12: Shake, Rattle and Roll

Spoiler warning level: 1 of 5

No real plot given away, we just see a giant gimbal.

Rating: 2 of 5

Neat piece of machinery, but it's very frustrating not to know what it does. It tries to make up for that by giving the readers the online poll to try and figure it out, but until then, we're just left to speculate, which is more frustrating than anything. BUT, that said, it's a huge piece of admirable machinery, and the guy in me just really loves that.


Bryan's Blog 13: Ma Kent Andretti

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5

Superman's crash site again. We see Ma Kent in costume, driving her auto into the site. Also a small scene of the former from the dailies.

Rating: 3 of 5

It's neat to see Ma Kent in costume, finally, and to see the crash site lit up at night, and especially the way it will look on camera. And del logs is an interesting way to achieve the effect. Not too bad. I wish there had been more, but not bad.


Bryan's Blog 14: Wind Up and the Pitch

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5

We see Brandon in costume as Clark on the Kent farm, throwing a baseball into the sky to incredible heights.

Rating: 4 of 5

Just an incredible visual, and very reminiscent of the older films. It's chilling to see a diary like this. I inevitably wonder what happens when the ball hits the ground (LOOK OUT!), but suspending disbelief, what an incredible shot.


Bryan's Blog 15: Storyboarded

Spoiler warning level: 4 of 5

Storyboards, a scene in the Daily Planet about the "blackout", Perry White. Lois and her child heading into the Metropolis Hospital.

Rating: 4 of 5

Pretty neat, seeing all of those pictures of potential scenes, and also Perry in motion is priceless. It's not what I expected, but it still gives us an idea of what to expect and is pretty neat. From the images you can tell that a lot are comic inspired and very thought-out. One of the better diaries.


Fortress of Solitude

Bryan's Blog 16: Santa's Grotto

Spoiler warning level: 2 of 5

We see the set that the actors will walk in on the lead up to the Fortress of Solitude, and take a tour of it.

Rating: 3 of 5

A very detailed set. It's curious to see it as it's in process. I can just picture Lex and a friend walking through it, or maybe Clark and Lois, Superman and Lois, it's pretty vivid. And the idea of an overhead shot on a set like that is a really interesting visual direction. I look forward to seeing this scene in the film.

But curse it, I want more motion photography!


Daily Planet newspaper

Bryan's Blog 17: Untitled

Spoiler warning level: 5 of 5

Clark Kent in costume, storyboards, a slip about Lex's intentions with the Fortress. Storyboards and visualizations of space scenes, Superman in flight visualization, mock-ups of Daily Planet newspaper props. Clark and Lois in costume together. Perry White on the side. Portions of the script are shown, and we see Superman hovering above the Earth. The Fortress of Solitude visualizations. Lois in a scene looking to the sky. The Kent Farm in a shot.

Rating: 5 of 5

Wow. You want tidbits, here's some tidbits. Now it's getting to feel more like a making of instead of a teaser. This is the kind of video diary you really want to see. Less plot, less story, but a ton of pictures of what everything is looking like coming together. If you have to see one of them so far, see this one.


Bryan's Blog 18: Return Your Tray Tables

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5

Pre-visualization of Superman racing to save a plane, the interior of which we see in its completed form.

Rating: 3 of 5

Seeing Superman flying after the plane is incredible, and it's rewarding to finally know what the gimbal is for and to see it in action. Though admittedly the other options of what it would be for sounded cooler, watching the stuntmen fly around and seeing Superman in motion after the plane, presumably to save Lois (so it would seem, the pre-visualization isn't totally clear) is awesome. Average diary.


Audition photos

Bryan's Blog 19: Newton Thomas Sigel

Spoiler warning level: 1 of 5

Visualization of a scene with Luthor in it (not showing Luthor). Clark Kent and Superman test shots. The revelation that a part of the film will be shot in Dodger stadium. Shot from the finished film of Lex Luthor going out onto a balcony and opening up a paper to read that Superman is back. Lex is BARELY shown, and no features other than his head are seen.

Rating: 2 of 5

This is, by far, my favorite moment in all of the video diaries so far, seeing Lex walk out onto that balcony and realize that Superman is back. It has me more jazzed for this film than anything so far. The comedy, the banter with Singer, it's a bit old, but seeing Luthor sent chills up my spine. I think it's going to be done incredibly with Spacey, and this cinematography, at least what we've seen so far, is really done well.


Bryan's Blog 20: Love Previs

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5 (don't let the below fool you, it's mostly just stuff you likely already expect and know).

Pre-vis of Brandon in the suit, bald and with hair. Flythrough of pre-vis Metropolis. Revelation that there will be a scene with bullets bouncing off Superman. Pre-vis of Superman flying up through clouds. Flyby pre-vis shot in the clouds. Pre-vis shot of Superman's ship flying through space (presumably through the wreckage of Krypton). Pre-vis of Luthor's yacht. Pre-vis of yet another flyby. Pre-vis of Lois and Superman flying together next to the Planet. Pre-vis of Superman flying over ocean and country. Pre-vis of Superman flying over Smallville. Shot of Brandon in the suit flying up toward the camera melding into the final shot. Pre-vis coupled with regular footage of Superman flying down to the Kent farm.

Rating: 5 of 5

Easily what we've all been waiting for with these diaries. It doesn't give hardly anything away, but we see previews of what the flight will look like, what Brandon will do with the suit, and how much detail is actually being put into the production. The flybys show that they have the flight down, and the little bit about them deciding how he will steer himself is really interesting. Like often, when Bryan doesn't pervade the video, it's really when they're at their best... not that I don't like Bryan, it's just that I really like seeing what he's doing.

This is, notably, where we can first really tell that there's no S on the cape. My guess is that it's just like with the animated series, where if the S were there, it would make it harder to animate. And that makes sense. I wish it could be there, but I'd rather a more realistic flight than a hindering symbol that is somewhat arbitrary in lieu of character as shown through flight...though I know I'll receive flak for that.

Probably the best one yet, all in all.


Lois Lane

Bryan's Blog 21: In Graphic Detail

Spoiler warning level: 2 of 5

Blueprints for a building. A TON of Daily Planet and Metropolis logos. A map of Metropolis. Lois looking at the map in a scene from the movie. Perry talking to his reporters in a scene from the movie. The comic book recreation of the original films that will presumably be used to introduce the film (a la the original movie). Picture of Clark with his father in his teenage years.

Rating: 4 of 5

I am astounded by the level of detail which goes into movies. On the one hand, I always want to just say, "Take all that background stuff and stow it, take the money and make a GREAT flick!", but that's naive. In reality, the little things do make a film. Especially, for example, Smallville. The symbolism which pulled me into that show, from a subtle color in costume design to the recreation of ships, they're all very important.

The map of Metropolis shows that, like with Batman Begins, they have designed and rendered a full impression of a city. It helped make Batman's world real, and I have no doubt when you have a man who can zip across said city in seconds, it will be equally real if done right. This diary leaves me hopeful.

The few scenes shown had a great tone. I want more BANG, a la the last diary, but that obviously can't happen every time. And without the bang, this diary still delivers. I am pumped for this movie.


Kent Family Photo

Bryan's Blog 22: 20 Hours in San Diego

Spoiler warning level: 3 of 5 (there are a LOT of pictures, but very little story information).

Scenes from the movie. Clark, the Daily Planet entrance, shot of Superman in suit flying into the air, Superman walking to Lois on the roof of the Planet (presumably), Superman in suit with Perry, young Clark in the barn, Superman in his ship, the crash site, young Clark waking up, Kitty Koslowski interrupting Bryan's haircut.

Rating: 5 of 5

Definitely what we're looking for. In fact, I think this is the first video diary that has struck the cadence they've been trying to achieve since the beginning, mostly due to the fact that they actually took the time to make this documentary of decent length. It has the comedy of being a director coupled with a TON of tidbits that keep the fan mouth watering but don't give away secrets... and then, finally, there's the footage from the comic con. I want a trailer, and a trailer is supposed to be coming soon, but for now, this is a great tease to keep us going. Seeing the Siegel family was also great.

I am a bit disturbed by the whole "Clark is a disguise" thing, but then, at least Singer understands that there are three personas, at very least. And given that most people understand that Clark is a disguise and don't get the whole Byrne concept, it works for me on film. Film will always have to be general in that sense, because educating a public is impossible.

Superman in motion is not disturbing me, but rather growing on me. People have commented that in the scene with Perry he doesn't look right, but as Steve has pointed out in the comments, this is a candid pic. When you sic a DP on a picture, it can change everything... recall that the Batman costume looks absolutely ridiculous out of context.

Great work, and one of the better diaries yet. Actual flight pics... very nice.


Lex and his train set

Bryan's Blog 23: Derailed

Spoiler warning level: 2 of 5

A train set to be featured in the movie, Kitty, and a shot of the back of Lex Luthor as he looks over the train set.

Rating: 3 of 5

After the last video diary, it's hard to get much better than scenes of the movie and other tantalizing bits, but this diary goes quite a good way toward showing the intricate detail that goes into making this film. Plus, well, there's that shot of Luthor, which sent chills up my spine. Him standing over the model set, plotting destruction or what have you, the possibilities are endless.

What hampers this one is that they tried to focus again too much on Brian and his antics, giving only split second shots of some REALLY great stuff like the Rushmore bit, the dam from Superman: The Movie, the Kent farm, and other little Easter Eggs we're liable to be searching for on DVD in late 2006.

Still, good to see Luthor... now show me MORE!


Steve Younis

Bryan's Blog 24: Stoparazzi

Spoiler warning level: 1 of 5

Parker Posey in costume and a nondescript beach set. Brandon in Clark costume.

Rating: 5 of 5 with Steve, 2 of 5 for content.

I say 5 of 5 with Steve because, if you look, Steve Younis is there, on the right hand side, in the downtown shoots! How cool is that, huh? That made this diary the one I'm always going to hit first, anyway, and it just goes to show you... Steve's right on top of this stuff for us!

The diary itself is one of the cutesy kind, where we see Brian doing stuff but don't get much relevant to the film. The umbrella trick to stop the paparazzi was kind of neat and funny, thus the diary isn't a total loss, but otherwise, this video shows us nothing we haven't really seen yet... EXCEPT STEVE! Woo!


Bryan's Blog 25: Jimmy Meet Jack

Spoiler warning level: 1 of 5

We see Jimmy Olsen in costume, Clark Kent in costume, a few lines of dialogue. Jack Larson in costume. The Daily Planet globe being raised. Nothing too new.

Rating: 4 of 5

Seeing Jack Larson in motion, in the diary, was a blast. We brought you the exclusive of his role, that of Bibbo Bibbowski, and picturing this whole scene in context is just incredible, it makes this video diary something special, and more for the really in-depth, dedicated, constant fans, which I really like.

I think Jimmy's dialogue didn't blow me away, but to see him in motion was still incredible. He looks the part, he acts the part...he's very well cast.

Seeing the raising of the globe was really cool, too. The ones where they focus less on the antics and more on revealing through a subtle play please me more. I much prefer them, even if they're not showing footage, anything new, etcetera.

All in all, a good, solid installment.


Bryan's Blog 26: See Plane

Spoiler warning level: 1 of 5

We see a plane that's used in the film, and the fact that it appears in water in front of green screen, but little else. James Marsden appears out of costume, as does Bryan Singer.

Rating: 4 of 5

Well, heck. Talk about a time to realize that you're human! (In other words, prone to stupidity).

I watched this video diary in its entirety with a solemn frown on my face, wondering what the heck was going on, and this was my original review:

    So far, this is probably the worst one yet, unfortunately, mostly because even though I was paying attention I had a hard time figuring out what the heck was going on, who the second unit director was (and why he was there when Singer was there), and what they were filming. It was basically a scene played for comedy with a snippet of something cool, and when we're used to seeing hints of Superman in motion, tertiary characters at least, and maybe a hint at the movie, this is kind of disappointing.

Then Steve writes me an email... hilarious. You should have been there:

    "I think you may want to re-assess your Video Diary review... Watch it again, this time realizing that the "director" is none other than James Marsden pretending to be Bryan Singer and doing one hell of a funny impersonation of him throughout. :D"

Cue the reviewer smacking himself in the head and saying, "This is worse than the time that I realized for two years I'd been writing "Braniac" instead of "Brainiac."

With that in mind, here is the REAL review:

    HILARIOUS. Granted, I had no idea what James Marsden looked like without his eyes covered (that's my excuse, anyway), but when I knew what was going on, I was in stitches. Really, really funny. Granted, I'm still upset that there are no spoilers (thus minus one), but still, the whole event in and of itself as an experience has now humbled me, made me laugh, and put me in traction. I go now! :)

Funny.


Bryan's Blog 27: Bespoke

Spoiler warning level: 2 of 5

We see costumes for Parker Posey and Kevin Spacey, and a reveal of Luthor. We also see assorted Lex wigs.

Rating: 4 of 5

Well, I can't say I'm a namby pamby guy, all into dresses and all that, so I'll just do the guttural thing and say that Parker Posey looks like a Lex Luthor girlfriend. Very spoiled, rich, and accustomed to the best that a rich guy can offer. I don't know much about her character, so it's hard to judge, but nonetheless, she appears to be shaping up, and this diary helps that.

And hey, who can argue with the payoff. LUTHOR. Honest-to-baldness, swiveling and giving you that camera test, Spacey looks every inch the man.

I didn't like the hint at toupees, but at very least it seems they're going to be subdued, so they're saying. Also, at the end there, was I nuts, or did his eyes flare green before the fadeout. Very cool.


Superman Returns Trailer

"Even though you've been raised as a human being, you are not one of them. They can be a great people Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son." Jor-El

When I need something to get me writing, when I'm down, actually, I pop in a few certain songs that give me faith again in humanity.

One of those songs is "Jupiter", by Gustav Holst. This is when I want to survey something from all sides mentally, my first person omniscient voice.

Another is "Waiting For the Great Leap Forwards", by Billy Bragg. That's when I want to get political, use rhetoric, and fight the good fight.

"Inertia Rhapsody" by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies is a great song for love.

"Somebody Save Me" is a good one for reviewing. That's a joke.

Radiohead's "You and Whose Army" is so good for overwhelming odds that it makes any story about the underdog stronger. It made it into one of my books.

And almost anything by Rancid helps me write about the working man.

Long intro, but here's my point.

I have one song for intellectual hope. And when I say intellectual hope, I mean the rationale that though we have wars in Iraq and children who are beaten to death and HIV and festering boils and every other nasty thing, there is still intellectual hope.

That's the feeling I get from John Williams and "The Planet Krypton".

There is no better way to write than with blaring music in the background, out of your head, and in terminal madness.

This trailer reminds me why I do what I do.

This trailer signifies the best of Superman, intellectual hope.

My first, gut reaction was that they didn't show us anything we hadn't seen before. My second gut reaction was that I didn't give a solid damn.

The words Jor-El speaks, above, speak to the very essence of everything Superman means to us all. Superman is the story of the ones who choose to do good, and for that, are not human beings, but rather alien creatures in a world of hells.

This is Superman as a better example, this is the story of his father's hope.

Whereas we live in a coarse world with little idealism, Jor-El lives in a world of such idealism that he has become inhuman. What Superman represents is the balance between the stark contrasts of our warlike nature and out capacity for good, both those with good intentions, and those whose hedonistic endeavors strive to strike the world.

Encapsulated in that single moment of the trailer when all of the people look up to this intellectual hope and Jor-El says, "They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way." we have that which motivates me as a person, the reason why I so identify with Superman, and the reason why, easily, this trailer is the best teaser it possibly could be. 5 of 5.

If the message of the film even remotely touches what this trailer has, it will be the best comic film ever.