A Visual History of the Superman Costume

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The original costume concept by Siegel and Shuster took inspiration from Flash Gordon and the traditional circus strongman’s outfit. One obvious trend is the shrinking height of the external underpants; gigantic and high-waisted in the late 1940s and early 1950s and becoming smaller and shorter until they disappear altogether in Man of Steel. There’s also the change in coloring of the suit itself; the red becomes burgundy and the blue shifts to darker tones. Man of Steel costume designer Michael Wilkinson likenes the latest incarnation of the costume to “an alien form of chain mail, a protective layer that is worn under heavier robes or armor.”

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Kirk Alyn, Superman (1948) and Atom Man Vs Superman (1950)

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George Reeves, Superman and the Mole Men (1951)

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Christopher Reeve, Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), Superman IV (1987)

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Dean Cain, Lois and Clark (TV, 1993-1997)

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Brandon Routh, Superman Returns (2006)

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Henry Cavill, Man of Steel (2013)

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