There are a few days that always deserve to be remembered on geek calendars. Days of superhero castings, days of superhero crossovers, and perhaps near the top of that list, the day that a brand new design for the superhero's genre's leading man. Today is that day, as The CW has unveiled its first look at the new Superman suit set to be worn by Tyler Hoechlin on Supergirl this coming season.
After teasing the Man of Steel's involvement in Kara Danvers' (Melissa Benoist) story by having him only appear via instant messaging, or out of focus/off-screen to help save the day or raise the stakes, the shift from CBS to The CW came with the announcement that Superman would finally be cast, and play a supporting role in the series. Why now, if not before? That answer, likely never to be fully understood by the fans, is a complicated one. But his arrival is imminent - and as this suit shows, he'll be embracing a very new look when he comes.
The image shows a style that fully embraces the alien history of the character, while straddling the line between Supergirl's more romantic take on the Superman mythology, and the need for a costume that fits somewhere along the spectrum of the network's existing superhero styles. Clearly, the costume (designed by the show's costume designer Kiersten Ronning) will be embracing the alien heritage, or 'astro' chic style only implied during the first season's sequences set inside the Kryptonians' base of operations. With the classic logo, of course:
Now, as with the release of every new costume for a beloved hero (not to mention our first look at Tyler Hoechlin as Superman), comes the time for fans to sit back, soak it in, and weight their own expectations and assumptions against those who actually spend hundreds of hours toiling over this finished result. Superman is a particularly strange case, too: nearly anyone could simply state his costume, since it's simply 'blue bodysuit, red boots and cape, and a belt.' And yes, it seems that Zack Snyder was not alone in discovering that in this day and age, putting little red underwear over top of a superhero's costume just doesn't work on camera.
Keeping in mind that these kinds of costumes almost always look better in action, on film (how they were intended to be seen to begin with), the component parts all seem fine on their own. The boots, thankfully a far cry from those seen in Superman's previous cameo on the CBS series (in a coma recovering from mind control), are simple yet clearly inspired by an alien/comic book-y aesthetic.
The texture of the suit and the seams are a subtle match to Supergirl's, reflecting the same goal of adding texture and lines suggesting musculature as seen in the big screen Supersuit, as well.
The Man of Steel's previous supporting appearance.
The cape mounts and belt are almost pulled directly off of an artist's page, and will probably need to be seen in motion to grasp the idea and function. Combined into a finished costume, the most immediate impression will be that this Supersuit is... not what fans expected. But, as is also always the case, few costume designers actually set out to create the image in everyone's mind (doing what's already been done). And at this point, we would hope that everyone realizes the first reaction to a superhero costume and the opinions weeks, months, or a year down the road are often worlds apart (pun intended).
The alien/astro/old-fashioned costume will take some time to get used to, to be sure, but fans will have plenty of it. The producers are obviously aware of how much rides on this casting, and aside from the vocal fan base supporting Hoechlin for... well, any superhero casting, he does look the part (as much as an actor can in a still image). The costume is just the first step: it's how Hoechlin and Supergirl's writers will actually shape this version of the DC Comics icon that have the final say in how this rendition is remembered.
Be sure to let us known what you think of the costume - or what changes/versions/updates you, yourself had in mind - in the comments.
The Flash season 3 will premiere Tuesday October 4th at 8pm on The CW, Arrow season 5 will premiere in the same timeslot on Wednesday October 5th, Supergirl season 2 on Monday October 10th, and Legends of Tomorrow season 2 on Thursday October 13th.