Friday, September 02, 2011

Why Superman Needs The Red Underoos

As a Superman fan for as long as I can remember, I've seen the character suffer through his fair share of derision over the years, and one of the things that's received the most derision has always been his famous red trunks, otherwise known as the infamous "underwear on the outside" that he's had since his debut, and which every actor to play the role onscreen has sported. This week, however, we've gotten not one, but two different redesigns of the iconic costume that dispense with the trunks, and both demonstrate, I think, why they were there to begin with.

First up, there's Jim Lee's new take on Superman as part of the ballyhooed DC reboot (the announcement of which I first discussed here), which made a one-panel appearance at the end of this week's debut release, Justice League #1 (a book I was vastly underwhelmed by):
There's just something about this design that I find off-putting. I'm not sure whether it's the vaguely-fascistic collar, the needless aztecking splotched all over his armor, or the fact that freakin' Superman even needs armor. Taken together though, it just feels focus-grouped to within an inch of its life, without any kind of eye toward what's made the look last unchanged for so long. Part of that look is the red trunks (along with the yellow belt), which you realize after looking at the Lee version helped give a much-needed sense of visual balance.

The other reason for Superman really needing those trunks is demonstrated quite ably by these pics of a costumed Henry Cavill on the set of the now-lensing Man of Steel. These might be considered mildly spoilery, so just to be safe, I've placed them after the jump:
Now, on the whole, I actually like this -- certainly far more than the new comic look. It's clearly meant to be alien in nature, and I'm fine with that. I don't even mind the piping on the wrists and waist, and I think the lack of collar goes a long way towards making it seem more Superman-like than the one up-top. Buuuuut if we think of the traditional skintight superhero costume as a comic book shorthand for the perfected human form, then the need for modesty -- and thus the whole "underwear on the outside" thing -- starts making a lot more sense. Just look at Cavill's...*ahem*...area to understand what I'm talking about.


Abdul-Halim V. said...

Yeah, I really didn't really need to see his package.

J.R. LeMar said...

He's Superman. So, naturally, he has a superpackage. Duh.

The Jim Lee costume would be fine if they just got rid of the high-collar and fact that it's armor.

And the movie costume would be fine if it was brighter. Superman should be in bright primary colors.

PM Galloway said...

Yes. Bright colors and not so dirty looking.

Andrew said...

I'm not as worried about the apparent color of the movie suit- still photos from the set rarely reflect what the colors will look like after all the processing is done.

I'm figuring the reason for the armor in the comics is to get rid of suit-damage, without resorting to the "tiny force-field" that Byrne introduces, or the more traditional "kryptonian baby blankets that can somehow be sewn and tailored into a skin-tight costume". Not that it makes much more sense than either of those, but I'm willing to see what Grant Morrison (who, I believe, will be introducing the armor in about issue 4 or 5 of ACTION) will come up with