Monday, May 6, 2024

Superman 2025: First Look at the Costume

For all posts discussing the new Superman movie, you can check out the Superman 2025 tag.

May 6th, 2024 - James Gunn, DC and Warner Bros. released the first look at Superman star David Corenswet in full Super regalia.  The movie isn't set to be released til July of 2025, so we've got a wait.

I've been blogging since before Superman Returns hit in 2006, followed many a Super reveals with that film, Man of Steel, the Supergirl TV series, Superman appearing on Supergirl, cartoons, etc...  and it's always weird to go back and see what I felt based on a single image.  

I'm too old to have the sheer excitement I felt when we got our first look at Brandon Routh in what will likely be one of the last Super-suits during my lifetime to echo the circus strongman look with tights and briefs.*  The image was meant to evoke a return to the greatness of the first two Christopher Reeve-starring movies, with a modern polish.  And it worked!  If you were going to try to stay semi-in-continuity with Reeve's Superman, he was a great choice.

In 2011, WB/ DC released our first look at Henry Cavill as Superman, and I remember feeling.... nothing.  I was happy they'd landed Cavill as he looked the part, and the first look was shrouded in darkness.  It was only later we saw how much Zack Snyder's weird personal Ed Hardy aesthetic had found it's way into the design of at least the "S", if not other elements.  But the scene wasn't particularly evocative.

Supergirl actually looked like Supergirl when she showed up.  Sure, they altered the suit, and in the end, rightfully, gave her pants.  But it was nice to see them *trying*.

I can remember well Tyler Hoechlin and the general excitement I felt seeing him looking A-OK in the weirdo CW suit.  I am sure when he took the gig he didn't see the job lasting for about a decade, but in my book, Taylor Hoechlin has more than earned his seat at the table of the best takes on Superman, especially as he was playing middle-aged Dad Superman (helped along by the extraordinary Elizabeth "Bitsie" Tulloch as Lois).  

I can't say with any certainty that Gunn was going for the vibe from Superman: Peace on Earth with the image, but Superman pondering recent events at home sure was giving me Alex Ross (which Ross noticed, too, if FB is any indication).

And, yes, the high collar and particular stitching on the suit feels like a nod to the New 52 costume, which I wasn't a huge fan of, but have gotten used to over the years - especially the post-armor look.  

Armored look New52 debut

Look, I have my preference for a suit *in the comics* and probably in animation, and it's essentially the look that blew my mind when I was kid and stumbled over the work from Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  

Just look at the strength baked in!  He's cool and confident.  And that cape is rad, and not dragging the ground.  It's s swoosh of motion even when he's holding still.

But I also recognize:  you can't really do this with actors and fabric.  Still, this is why some of us care about the red trunks.  We're focused on how they tie the whole look together so the colors pop and Superman isn't some weirdo running around in a unitard and boots (and arguably this is how the Man of Steel costume as well as the New 52 suit got so goofily busy as they sought to break up the wall of blue tucked between the emblem and the boots).  

Alex Ross rose to fame with a sort of classic, high-end illustrative look one might have found from Norman Rockwell or Robert Maguire and made his mark finding a way to turn the unlikely proportions and physiques of Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, etc...   And that's how we get Henry Cavill.  But there aren't many Cavills.  And they didn't put Hank C in an untextured suit, and they didn't think he'd pull off the trunks (but see how they work there, adding that pop of color?  Throwing a red belt around the middle of the blue is *something* but it's just a reminder that there are no trunks).   

And I do note:  if you zoom in to the picture put out by Gunn, it does look like the suit for Superman (2025) has both a gold belt and red trunks.  So I will be *very* curious what this looks like when Big Blue stands up shows us the whole fit.  

To me, it looks like a glow-up of the classic suit, subbing out dual-peaked boots for the squared notch.  My guess is - because this is not a unitard type outfit, we won't be placing this under his clothes, and we'll borrow Marvel's trick of having uniforms appear from magical nanotech particles.  

The Superman Returns suit was stylistically similar to the comic-based costume, but I never quite understood a few design decisions - like, why make the reds a weird burgundy?  Man of Steel went for a deep, almost wine red and navy blue. Honestly, I can't tell yet where the saturation levels are set on this suit, but it *does* look red, blue and gold.  Which shouldn't be that weird.  And, yet....

As someone who has an army of 12" - 1" high plastic Supermans in his house, I'll also say:  this Supersuit looks incredibly toyetic, and I can kind of see where the articulation is going to fit.  

Corenswet is an interesting casting choice.  I don't know his work beyond the Hollywood series on Netflix from a few years ago.  He's a different sort of physique and face from Cavill, and that's okay.  Of prior Supermans, he may actually look most to me like Kirk Alyn.  But by not casting a lantern jawed fellow, but one that still fits the Super-bill, I'm curious how this is going to work.

Also, I think it's worth considering - beyond the costume - what Gunn put out for the first image that will tell us anything about what WB and DC want to tell us about Superman this time.  

Routh's first appearance (from Singer) was a hands-on-hips look of heroic certainty, a Superman who was going to arrive in a classic superhero mode.  Which, honestly, was not really what we got out of the movie.  The movie itself was more about missed chances with a former lover and the consequences of chasing a past that's out of reach.  Snyder gave us a look at a grim-faced Man of Steel, throwing Cavill into shadow, in a dramatic action pose - and I think the "man of action" we got to see, surrounded by what looks like superhuman catastrophe.  And, I think it wasn't a lie.  That's what we got.

This look puts the human in Superman.  He's a guy who puts his boots on one foot at a time.  He's not boldly posing, he's in a domestic situation, looking like normal guy who happens to be in a wild suit.  He seems lost in thought, not ready for action.  That alone is remarkable.  

Of course there's some cosmic nonsense happening right outside, because that's part of what Superman is called upon to wrangle. (No, I have no idea what that is, and won't hazard a guess.)  And that discrepancy of "small town guy who loves Lois Lane, big city reporter, and wants good things for people" and "nuclear-fueled unstoppable force" is where you get your stories and character beats.

And while I think we're referencing that easy-chair picture by Ross, I'm also reminded of Grant Morrison's famous discussion with Superman that led to All-Star Superman and one of the more iconic images of the modernish-era.  

And if you know Grant Morrison's take on the how's and why's of Superman, one could do worse for inspirational material.  

Anyway, I've had way too many rounds to feel like we know too much, yet.  

*of course, Superman and Lois has shown us what Clark initially wore in Metropolis, which is a bit like the suit from the Fleischer cartoons.  


Stuart said...

I had people asking for my reactions on this yesterday, and I kind of still haven't decided. There are some interesting choices, for sure. But I can't say whether I *like* them. Like, why present our first view of Superman in a non-heroic context? What is the image trying to say, that he is tired of being Superman? It's certainly a novel approach. I'm just not sure I get, to what purpose.

I also think it's interesting both this and the Man of Steel first-look photos obscured the trunks, almost Austin Powers-style. As if trying to deemphasize and avoid the inevitable backlash, like the supersuit version of releasing bad press on a Friday night. (Maybe no one will notice!) Whereas Bryan Singer's suit reveal was extremely trunks-forward.

It does look recognizably like Superman. If that's the bar, then yay, they cleared it! But it also didn't really peak my interest or excitement. So if *that's* the bar, it falls short. But I've also reached an age where this stuff doesn't get me as worked up anymore. I have my Superman. If this one doesn't work for me, eh, just wait for the next one.

The League said...

I am in alignment on most of this, including "I'll maybe get excited later, and a bit disappointed its not just tights and a cape". I do think the non-super pose is intended to separate this from prior first looks, like Cavill looking like he's ready to murder someone from in front of a giant, broken vault door. It feels a lot more intentional than Singer or Snyder's takes. What that is saying is a little murky, but I think he's putting the man in the Super.