We're less than two weeks away from the CW's annual nerd Superbowl: the Arrowverse crossover event! This year we're being treated to what promises to be the strangest meeting of the heroes yet: Elseworlds. The promos for this event have shown us our first trip into the Arrowverse Gotham City, Batwoman, the cosmic Monitor, and strangest of all, Freaky Friday versions of the Flash and Green Arrow swapping lives, skill sets, and superhero personas.
But, one of the most interesting things we've seen is the return of Tyler Hoechlin's Superman, who we haven't seen since the end of season two of Supergirl. Hoechlin will not only be donning the iconic red and blue suit of the Man of Steel, but he's also been shown sporting an all-black suit with silver highlights. With very few clues as to the purpose of this wardrobe alteration, we're left to speculate. So let's take a look at some potential reasons for the black suit, and a few that are less likely.
10. Possible: Evil Superman From Another Universe
An easy answer to why a usually colorful superhero takes a turn towards the dark is an evil doppelganger. This theory seems to be the most likely. Set photos have shown the black suited Superman not only attacking Flash, but holding him hostage to both Supergirl AND the classic red and blue clad Superman. Not only that, but the trailer that was recently released for the crossover event appears to show black suit Superman facing off against the collected group of heroes.
9. Possible: Superman In Mourning
A new addition to the Arrowverse that we'll be getting in Elseworlds is the long awaited debut of Lois Lane, played by Elizabeth Tulloch. Perhaps by introducing her as the love interest of the classic Superman, Elseworlds is setting up this alternative black and silver Superman to have lost his Lois. In this case, the black suit isn't meant to indicate an evil Superman, but one who is in mourning. Set photos have shown black suit Superman using the Monitor's book, which is apparently what was used to warp reality in the first place. Maybe this alternate Superman is trying to rewrite reality to bring back his Lois.
8. Possible: Solar Suit
The first comic appearance of Superman's black suit came after Death of Superman when it was revealed that Kal-El was only mostly dead following his fight with Doomsday. Superman's Kryptonian robots, who maintained the Fortress of Solitude, retrieved his body and nursed him back to health. One of their tools was a specially designed, black suit with a silver S shield. The shield collected an increased amount of yellow sun energy to help charge Clark's weakened cells. Could it be that this Superman from Elseworlds has been somehow weakened and is using the black suit to recuperate? Or, perhaps he's using the suit to supercharge himself and make him an even greater threat to our heroes.
7. Possible: Split Into Good And Evil Versions
It wouldn't be the first time that Superman has fought a twisted, evil version of himself. In Superman 3 we saw the Man of Steel split apart into good and evil versions of himself that battled each other. Also, at one point in the comics, Superman was turned into pure energy and split into red and blue versions of himself — both with different personality traits. Since set photos and video have shown the black suited Superman sharing screen time with the classic red and blue Kal-El, it may be that there will be a similar fission of the Man of Steel.
6. Possible: Stealth Suit
It would be a bit anticlimactic considering all of the buildups, but the black and silver motif of this Superman suit is reminiscent of the stealth suits worn by the teen DC heroes in episodes of Young Justice. It could be something as simple as this Superman going on a mission where he needed to blend in and not be noticed, so he went with something not quite as striking to the eye.
5. Possible: 'Superman: Speeding Bullets'
Perhaps this version of Superman that we're seeing has taken a darker path, more akin to Batman? Perhaps he's protecting Earth and this darker suit is his way of expressing that angst. A similar story from the comics (and coincidentally an Elseworlds book) was Superman: Speeding Bullets, where baby Kal-El was found not by the Kents, but the Waynes, who adopted him and named him Bruce. After his adoptive parents were shot in Crime Alley by Joe Chill (is this sounding familiar?), Bruce grew up and became Batman. However, he became a Batman complete with the full Kryptonian powers of Superman.
4. Possible: Product Of Darkseid
In the DC comic Earth-2, Darkseid manufactured an evil clone of Kal-El named Brutaal. This clone helped Darkseid defeat many of the heroes of Earth-2. There was also a multi-part episode of Superman: The Animated Series titled "Legacy," in which the Man of Steel is kidnapped and brainwashed by Darkseid into believing that he is one of the villain's greatest conquerors. Could this be the Arrowverse's way of setting up the iconic DC villain, Darkseid? Perhaps the Monitor is just a red herring and Darkseid will be the real villain behind Elseworlds.
3. Unlikely: Bonded With Venom Symbiote
Maybe the CW has done the impossible and actually managed to strike a deal between Marvel/Disney/Sony and Warner Bros./DC! This could be the Arrowverse's sneaky way of teasing next year's crossover event: Marvel vs DC! This version of Superman might have been driven to darkness and evil by the coaxing of the Venom symbiote poisoning his mind. Likely? Maybe not. Different? Definitely.
2. Unlikely: The Snyder Cut
One of the places that the black and silver Superman suit has popped up recently was in a deleted scene from 2017's Justice League. The film was originally helmed by Zack Snyder who left the project due to a family tragedy. Avengers director Joss Whedon was then brought in to finish the film, which had the end result of understandably making Justice League feel out of alignment.
Following the release of the movie, rumors began to swirl online that there was another cut of Justice League that adhered to Snyder's original vision, appropriately referred to as the "Snyder Cut."
The deleted scene featuring Clark Kent seeing the black and silver suit is apparently a piece of that original cut... Maybe Tyler Hoechlin is playing the recently reanimated Superman from the Snyder Cut of Justice League?
1. Unlikely: Superman Lives
If you haven't seen the documentary film The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? by the late, great Jon Schnepp, do yourself a favor and track it down. It tells the incredible true story of how WB tried to make a new Superman film in the late 1990s under the direction of Tim Burton, and how that project ultimately fell apart. There's a decent amount of production art available online from this failed film. Most included a number of different suits for Superman, one of which being a dark colored one with a silver "S" shield. This could potentially mean that the black-suited Superman from the Elseworlds event is actually from Burton's lost Superman film... If you look at Hoechlin in his black suit, he does kinda resemble Jack Skellington.
Elseworlds is a three-part event that will begin on Sunday, December 9th on The Flash at 8pm. Part two will be Monday, December 10th on Arrow at 8pm, and the conclusion will be Tuesday, December 11th on Supergirl, also at 8pm.