A first look at Superman Returns√≥ due in theaters in June 2006 √≥ shows that the skin-tight costume stretches over only the actor’s muscles and frame, without the augmented armored pecs or abs of recent movie superheroes.
Director Bryan Singer famously changed the fluorescent spandex suits of the X-Men into dark, leather-like uniforms for those movies √≥ both of them smashes that sold more than $364 million in tickets. But on Superman Returns, he says, he wanted “something classic.”
Tinkering too much with a hero’s suit can aggravate traditionalist comic fans, who grumbled that Jennifer Garner’s Elektra wasn’t wearing her midriff-baring red suit in Daredevil or that Batman’s armor had nipples in Batman Forever. They aren’t likely to have much to carp about with Superman Returns.
Instead of reinventing the character’s appearance, Singer √≥ via e-mail from Australia, where he’s shooting the film √≥ says he wanted to remain faithful to the previous incarnations of Superman, from the Max Fleischer cartoons of the 1940s to the black-and-white George Reeves TV show to the Christopher Reeve movies of the 1970s and ’80s.
Singer decided to keep the cape, the blue body suit, the red tights √≥ even the V-cut opening of Superman’s boots.
But Superman Returns makes a few subtle changes to the suit:
√Ø The character’s S insignia is slightly smaller and higher on his chest, and instead of being painted on, it’s more of a three-dimensional plate.
√Ø The insignia is added to Superman’s belt buckle.
√Ø Costume designer Louise Mingenbach preserved the blue, red and yellow motif, but the shades are slightly darker than the bright primary colors of the comics. Superman’s yellow belt is more golden, and his cape is a deep scarlet.
The key to filling it out, however, depends entirely on the physique of Routh, 25, the Iowa native who was briefly on the soap opera One Life to Live in 2001. Singer says the Superman costume wasn’t complete without Routh.
“I always had the general idea of the suit. However, when the conceptual art was evolving around the same time that I cast Brandon, I privately had paintings rendered with Brandon’s face, which certainly brought it to life.”
Superman’s body is the key to his power, Singer says.
“With X-Men, although they had extraordinary powers, they also had physical weaknesses,” he says. “The suits were for protection as well as costume. Superman is the Man of Steel. Bullets bounce off him, not his suit.”
What does the movie’s costume say about this Superman’s personality?
“He’s not afraid,” Singer says.