It's strange how a world obsessed with comic book movies can no longer accept a man in tights... or at least red briefs.
What Warner Bros. (and millions of fans) hope will be a Superman for the 21st century (following the lukewarm reception of Bryan Singer's well-intentioned but perhaps ultimately misguided 2006 would-be reboot, "Superman Returns") will be unveiled next summer, and with him a somewhat dramatic tweaking of that most dubious aesthetic challenge in bringing a superhero to the live-action screen: his costume.
Don't worry -- the "Man of Steel," played by Australian actor Henry Cavill, will still have the red cape and that awe-inspiring big capital "S" on his formidable chest. He'll even have a blue bodysuit and red boots. But what he won't have is the red briefs of previous big-screen Supermen played by Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh.
"The costume was a big deal for me, and we played around for a long time," director Zack Snyder said in an interview with the New York Post. "I tried like crazy to keep the red briefs on him. Everyone else said, 'You can't have the briefs on him.' I looked at probably 1,500 versions of the costumes with the briefs on."
Snyder said the brief-less look was chosen to update Superman's outfit without completely throwing away what makes him iconic. He said, "If you look at the costume, it's very modern, but the relationship to the original costume is strong."
It's a radical variation on what's been the traditional Superman wardrobe, as the removal of the "red briefs" makes way for an all-blue unitard with a somewhat metallic, more armored look... which sets the stage for a superhero who's more of a brooding warrior than perhaps, say, a melancholy stalker of ex-lovers (an element that made for one of the many criticisms of "Superman Returns").
This approach is certainly in line with Warner Bros.' desire to turn the Last Son of Krypton into a more serious, introspective kind of hero -- and with producer Christopher Nolan's insistence on bringing a sense of realism (or, as original "Superman" director Richard Donner put it, "verisimilitude") to even the most outrageous concepts.
"There's a logic and concreteness that has to exist with Chris," Snyder said. "You can't just do stuff because it's cool. He demands that there be story and character behind all of it, which I'm a big fan of."
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Indeed, if the impressive teaser trailer released this past summer is any indication, Snyder will be giving us a more introspective Superman, an alien coming to terms with his remarkable abilities and the responsibilities that come with them -- and how they ultimately might make him even more isolated from the very world he's sworn to defend.
"Man of Steel" opens June 14, 2013.
See the teaser trailer for 'Man of Steel':