Here we go again: Another superhero costume clumsily “adapted” for the big screen with less-than-stellar results – and this time it’s the godfather of all supersuits, the prototypical uniform worn by Superman, the one who started it all! In this first official image from next year’s Man of Steel, we see Henry Cavill portraying Kal-El in a bad mood.
Why does Superman’s iconic costume have to be redesigned to look like Spider-Man’s uniform? Those little hexagonal patterns are pointless and distracting. And the shield on his chest? Is its ginormous size a direct rebuke to the more modest “S” that Brandon Routh sported in Superman Returns? The cape looks like thick, heavy drapes slung over his shoulders (but he should have no trouble carrying it). The bulky costume gives me impression that it’s supposed to help protect Supes, which is, of course, a ludicrous thought; Superman doesn’t need body armor. He may need lead to protect him from Kryptonite, but that’s about all. Kal-El isn’t worried about skinning his knee while stopping back robbers.
What is it with DC character uniforms? First the abomination that was Green Lantern’s CGI costume, then the abortive TV version of Wonder Woman caused such a firestorm that the-powers-that-be actually revamped it, and now not even Superman himself is safe from tampering. Captain America’s equally iconic costume was…er, “adjusted” for the silver screen, but in my opinion that worked because the filmmakers thought about it logically and fine-tuned the threads with the military applications and the time period in mind. This new Superman outfit looks like it was changed just because they needed to to do something — but not something crazy, like GL.
Allow me to point out, however, that I have no problem with Cavill in this photo. The slicked-back hair is great, as is his physical bulk. Cavill appears to be a much older, hopefully wiser Superman. And he’s clearly not happy. His expression screams, “Is that all you got?” as if Supes is confronting an enemy. I think Cavill is excellent casting: He has the look as well a certain gravitas – hopefully enough to carry off portraying an older, more experienced Superman.
Yes, this new movie costume is not as bad as it could have been; in fact, my problems with it are fairly superficial. I guess it’s more a case of holding Superman’s costume in such high regard as the first of the “long underwear” heroes. I am fully aware that Superman’s costume has changed pretty substantially since 1938 – but change is not always a good thing. Look at the so-called “electric” onesies from the craptastic “Superman Red/Superman Blue” storyline in 1998. And don’t even get me started on the Man of Steel’s “jeans” look in the forthcoming DC Comics reboot. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the original, simple Superman, and the version seen in the old Fleischer cartoons – my friends and I call him “squinty Superman.” Still, even this weak costume is not as bad as the travesty that Green Lantern wore. (And I was proven right when you saw that CGI in costume in “action,” wasn’t I?)
I make no secret that I cut director Zack Snyder a lot of slack because I like his style, so I am still giving him the benefit of the doubt and will queue up to watch Man of Steel, but the flick is starting off with one strike against it in my book.